Crossing Myawaddy to Mae Sot
Just last year, the Burmese government opened up a few new border crossings to Thailand and made it possible to tourists to enter and exit by land. Prior to this, foreigners needed prior approval and about $50 to cross over. I always prefer to cross by land rather than taking flights. It’s always an experience and is usually much more economical. So we decided to take a stab at crossing from Myanmar into Thailand at the Myawaddy/Mae Sot border.
Getting to Myawaddy
We decided to head to the border after our time at Inle Lake. The best way to get to Mywaddy was by taking a bus from Inle Lake (Naungshwe) to Bago (11 hours, 15,000 kyats ($15)), then take a bus from Bago to Hpa-An (4 hours, 9,000 kyatts ($9)), then finally Hpa-An to Mywaddy (5 hours, 10,000 kyatts ($10)). Before doing this trip, I was hoping that we’d be able to do this all in about 24 hours when using the night bus from Inle Lake to Bago.
Like many things when traveling in developing countries, this trip wasn’t as easy as it seemed. We were right on our way and thought we’d have a chance at making it to Myawaddy a full day after leaving Inle Lake. However, we later found out that the road leading from Hpa-An to Myawaddy was a small road passing over a mountain range, only allowing one direction of traffic. So the road is only available for cars to go up (Hpa-An to Myawaddy) on even numbered days and down (Myawaddy to Hpa-An) on odd numbered days. Because of this system, we were forced to stay in Hpa-An for a night and head for the border the following day.
Hpa-An was a nice town. Jagged mountains rose up from the countryside, and we were able to watch a beautiful sunset over the river. Many people come to this area to tour the caves outside the town and to also rock climb. We found it a relaxing stop from our travels.
So at 6:30am on the following day, we were picked up in a shared taxi and we taken to the border. It’s a beautiful road leading you up over a mountain pass before descending to Myawaddy. Getting our stamp out of Myanmar and into Thailand was surprisingly easy. We had already walked across the bridge over the river separating the two countries and all the way through immigration within 20 minutes. Actually much easier than I had expected!
Mae Sot to Chiang Mai
After crossing into Thailand, we took motorcycle taxis (riding on the back of a motorcycle) to the bus station. We asked around for buses to get to Chiang Mai, Thailand, and found that we had already missed those buses and needed to go to Tak (1.5 hours, 80 Baht ($2.5)) and, from there, get a bus to Chiang Mai (4 hours, 200 Baht ($6)).
After starting our trip from Inle Lake at 6pm on Saturday, February 22nd, we finally arrived in Chiang Mai at 8pm on Monday, February 24th. We had spent 26 hours of the past 50 hours on buses and taxis, so we were a bit tired when finally arriving to Chiang Mai.
Although the trip was not as easy as we had hoped, it was still more convenient and much cheaper than flying from Yangon to Bangkok and then busing from Bangkok to Chiang Mai. We took the following day to relax and catch up on blogging. It was much needed after that much traveling.