My girlfriend is off to Yangoon/Rangoon next month with an organisation that she interns for as part of her University exchange programme and requires a visa to enter the country. Today we set off to get her visa and it was (relatively) straight forward.
Here are the steps you need to take to get a Myanmar visa directly from the Embassy in Bangkok. First you need to get some passport photos sorted for your visa application, these are your standard sized passport photos used in most countries. If you are travelling SE Asia or living in Thailand I suggest you get some spares made up, as you’ll always need them when doing a visa run or travelling overseas. These are cheap and can be done anywhere in Bangkok (we got ours on Khao San Road as it was a Sunday and it cost 150 Baht for 8, or 100 Baht for 4). Make sure you get a photocopy of your passport ID pages as well. If you forget to do either of these there is a van outside that will arrange this for you and also offers some form of visa service (we used them for some glue and paperclips).
To get to the Embassy of the Republic of Myanmar, simply take the BTS to the Surasak station, and get out on the exit by the Mode Sathorn Hotel. Walk up the street about 500m, crossing one Soi in the process. You will come to the official entrance (132 Sathon Nuea Road, Sathorn, Bangkok, 10120) to the Embassy – this entrance is for Myanmar nationals only. Back track a bit and go down the side road (Pan Road) where you will find the entrance to the visa section of the Embassy, and probably a huge line. Myanmar is slowly opening up to foriegn visitors again, and they are seeing far more visitors than they used to. The visa office officially opens at 9am, and we arrived at about 9:10am – there was already a massive queue, I’d recommend coming early, or waiting a bit and coming later (say 11am and chancing it – it closes at midday) to avoid the queues. Skip the line and go inside and to the left. Walk directly to the front counter and pick up a visa application form. You’ll need to fill the form out completely including employment details at the back – be careful with this part, as obviously they don’t want a load of journalists, government employees or cameramen in the country considering its current status. I’d suggest that your current employment be “unemployed” or “tourist”. You’ll need to glue one photo to the application, and paperclip the other one to it – this is where you’ll need to run back outside, to the car parked next door, and ask politely for some glue and a paperclip, they didn’t charge us for this. At this stage, you’ll jump into a line, that is basically lining up to get into another line. Expect to wait 30 to 40 minutes to get to the front of the queue, pass them your paperwork, then have them give you a number where you wait to go join another queue to pay for your visa. You’ll be given one of these cards, and then have to sit down and wait for your number to be called, once its called you can go to the cashier and pay for the visa application fee, and leave your passport behind at the embassy. Upon this you’ll be given a yellow receipt for payment and your passport – don’t lose this, you’ll need it to pick up your visa.
You’ll have to wait a few days for your visa to be processed, depending on the type of visa and how much you’ve paid, but typically its around 810 baht for a standard tourist visa. Next day is 1035 while same day is 1260 baht. Pickup times for visas are between 3:30 and 4:30 pm.
Myanmar Visa options include:
- Business Visa: 1440 Baht, stay in Myanmar for up to 10 weeks, valid for 3 months from date of issue. Two business day processing time (7200 Baht for Multiple Entry)
- Tourist Visa: 810 Baht, stay in Myanmar for up to 4 weeks, valid for 3 months from date of issue. Two business day processing time.
- Social Visa: 1440 Baht, stay in Myanmar for up to 10 weeks, valid for 3 months from date of issue. Two business day processing time.
- Visa on Arrival: $40 USD, stay in Myanmar for up to 28 days. Available in Yangoon/Rangoon Airport only for nationals of 26 countries.
What if you don’t want to line up?
It is possible to use an agent for a Myanmar visa, and there are plenty to choose from. Many travel agencies around tourist hubs such as Khao San Road offer such as service, which is usually same day, and around 1800 baht, so once you factor in the cost of taxis and your time – can be quite cost effective.
That said – there is some risk in doing so. I don’t trust embassies in South East Asia with my passport at the best of times, let alone agencies where I’ve never met the people I’m dealing with before. Thailand has a massive problem with stolen passports (two were used on the recent plane that went missing from Kuala Lumpur – Bejing this week), and they often involve theft from dodgy car rental companies, motorbike companies or visa agencies. Buyer beware in this situation.