Myanmar Visa in Bangkok
We have made it to Burma. The visa-acquisition process in Bangkok was smoother than I’d dared hope. Here is a brief account, written mostly to help future travelers who find it on Google.
The Myanmar embassy in Bangkok is surrounded by a tall grey wall topped with iron fencing, and the visa processing entrance is down a little side street. It opens at 9am. It has different hours from the consular office used by Myanmar citizens. Do not be fooled.
We were told that the embassy only processes a limited number of same-day visas every day, and people showing up after 10am are turned away. So we showed up at 7:45 expecting a queue of travel agent runners in front of us, but we were the first ones there.
If you walk down the side street away from the main street, after two blocks you find a little shop that is effectively an adjunct of the Myanmar embassy. They will take your visa photos, give you the application forms and a pen, glue your photo to the form, etc. This place is a must. They know what to do and what not to do. It is also very easy to find: look for a little yellow sign on the right side of the street that says “photos, copies, visa” (or words to that effect).
Apparently getting the visa is no problem if you do not list a profession like “journalist” on your work history (reverse side of the form). It has been rumored that the embassy in Bangkok will google your name and refuse a visa to anyone with obvious journalistic connections, so if you are a journalist trying to sneak into the country you might want to get your Burmese visa elsewhere. Of course in this day and age, it’s a strange distinction to draw, when everyone’s blogging or otherwise communicating their experiences.
We got back to the visa entrance at 8:30 and found a cluster of Western travelers waiting for the door to open. None of them knew about the shop. We strutted around with our completed, stapled, and glued forms and sent the whole lot scampering to the shop, leaving us first in line.
The cost for a same-day visa is 1200 baht. We paid our fee, handed over our forms and passports, and were told to come back at 3:30 to get our visas. We had printed the itinerary for our flights to and from Yangon, but they didn’t seem to care. The whole process inside the embassy took about 15 minutes.
And at 3:30 we had our visas (which had our pictures on them). That’s it.
This time in Bangkok was marginally more pleasant than previous experiences. We discovered the elevated train which is far nicer than the subway in Boston, and we availed ourselves of the excellent shopping to pick up a few supplies we’d neglected to pack (probiotics for my prima donna of a stomach, a new lens for Stephanie’s camera, DEET-based bug spray). Prices are similar to the US.
Yesterday we flew on AirAsia to Yangon, and I’m writing this from our hotel lobby. Yangon is mindblowing. Walking the streets is a huge adventure, like time travel. But more on that later. It deserves its own space.