February 2014 Update: With incredible growth and political changes in progress, the visa situation for Myanmar is in constant flux. ASEAN citizens may no longer need a visa to enter Myanmar. Visa-on-arrival may be available in some airports. An e-Visa program is also in the works. Check with the official Ministry of Immigration website for new announcements.
Due to the strict regime currently governing Myanmar, getting a Myanmar visa is slightly more involved than obtaining visas for other countries in Southeast Asia.
Despite the challenges of dealing with a military bureaucracy, Myanmar can be an exciting and beautiful place to visit. The Burmese people are more than welcoming and want the world to experience their beautiful country.
Learn more about travel visas and how they work.
- Exactly where is Burma?
- Is it Burma or Myanmar? Learn the difference.
- Find out what to see in Burma while you are there.
How to Get a Visa for Myanmar
Foreigners must have a visa sticker in their passport -- obtained in advance -- before they enter Myanmar. Several new border crossings opened up along the Burmese-Thai border in August 2013, allowing visitors to enter Myanmar overland and then exit via three different international airports.
Travelers to Myanmar have two options: apply for a Myanmar visa in their home countries, or apply for a Myanmar visa in China or Southeast Asia.
Due to international sanctions against Myanmar's regime government, there are no direct flights between Western countries and Myanmar. Many travelers opt to apply for a Myanmar visa at the embassy in Bangkok, then grab a cheap flight from Bangkok to Yangon.2013 Update: Many international sanctions against Myanmar are being dropped by both the United States and European Union in 2013 -- direct flights may be soon to follow!
The Myanmar Visa
The Myanmar visa allows you 28 days of travel inside of Myanmar after flying into the airport or crossing the border with Thailamd; the visa can not be extended. A visa for Myanmar is only valid for three months from the date of issue, so plan your trip accordingly.
Visa regulations and lengths can change frequently, confirm with the embassy where you apply.
The Myanmar Visa Application
While applying for a Myanmar visa is slightly more involved than that of neighboring countries, the process is fairly straightforward. As with any regime, you may be asked additional questions and the application can be killed at the whim of officials who may be having a bad day.
For US citizens, the following must be mailed to the Myanmar Embassy in Washington DC:
- Completed visa application form (obtainable from the Myanmar Embassy website)
- Completed work history form
- A copy of your flight itinerary or a letter from your tour operator
- A money order for US $20 (no cash or personal checks)
- Your passport (valid for at least six months)
- One prepaid, self-addressed FedEx Return envelope
- Two recent, color photographs of your face taken against a white background. Photos must be 35mm x 45mm.
The above should be mailed to:
EMBASSY OF THE UNION OF MYANMAR 2300, " S" ST. N.W. , WASHINGTON D.C. 20008-4089
Note: Your passport is important! Always use registered mail with tracking before sending it to the unknown. The Myanmar visa takes around one week to process; allow time for mailing.
Contacting the Myanmar Embassy
Although you are not guaranteed a response, you can contact the Myanmar Embassy by dialing (202) 332-3344 or (202) 332-4350. Email is the most unreliable option: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Applying for Myanmar Visa in Bangkok
To simplify flights and see two interesting countries, many travelers opt to fly into Bangkok, spend a few days or longer, then fly on to Yangon. You can enjoy some activities and shopping in Bangkok while you wait on your Myanmar visa to be processed.
The Myanmar Embassy in Bangkok is located:
1 Sathorn Soi 3 South Sathorn Rd Bangkok 10120, Thailand 02-2340278
Contact them at: 662-233-2237, 234-4698, 233-7250, 234-0320, or 637-9406.
The application process is usually completed in two working days, although the embassy can rush the process if you beg!
Flying into Myanmar
The typical port of entry for international flights is Yangon.
The following airlines in Southeast Asia fly to Myanmar:
- From Bangkok: Air Asia, Bangkok Airways, Thai Airways International
- From Singapore: Jetstar, Silk Air
- From Hanoi: Vietnam Airlines
- From Luala Lumpur: Malaysia Airlines, Air Asia
Note: When leaving Myanmar, all travelers must pay a US $10 exit fee at the airport counter before allowed to board a flight.
- Read more about finding cheap flights to Asia.
Safety in Myanmar
Although Myanmar has little violent crime directed at foreigners, there is a long history of protests and unexpected uprisings. Err on the safe side: register your trip with the US State Department on their travel registration website.
Read more safety tips for Southeast Asia.