It all started with a Skype call with my editor at Bootsnall (a popular indie travel website that I’ve been using since 2009), a conversation about solo travel in Southeast Asia, and adventure. A conversation where I ended up suggesting an article on travelling solo, and before I realized what was happening the word ‘Myanmar’ had trickled off my tongue. I didn’t even thinking about getting my Myanmar visa.
Booking the flights was easy, and cheap thanks to Air Asia. I was filled with excitement, so much so that I completely forgot I would need a tourist visa to go to Myanmar. Not that I was in a panic, I wasn’t. In fact I was so relaxed and ‘meh’ about the whole thing that I forgot, again, once I was in Bangkok.
In my first week in Bangkok I was caught up in acclimating to the heat, the food, and being back on the road full-time. I hung out with friends, wandered around Silom, and slept, telling myself I have plenty of time to do things as my return ticket to Canada is March 1, 2016. I even started working at a co-working space in Silom, which also happened to be RIGHT NEXT DOOR to the Embassy of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar, and I still didn’t bother to apply.
A week before departure, while on my way to the co-working space I decided to stop in a shop I had seen advertising passport photos, and photocopies for Myanmar visas. For 150THB ($5.56 CAD) they would give me an application to fill out, photocopy my passport, and take the required passport photos. A great price. It was already after 9:00 a.m., so my intention was to get the photos and paperwork done, then go to the embassy the following morning to apply.
The Myanmar Embassy is probably one of the more busy embassies in Bangkok. There are always crowds of people outside the gate, and I was not mentally prepared to spend an hour or more waiting in line to hand in my passport and paperwork for a tourist visa.
“Tomorrow, I’ll go before they open tomorrow morning”, I told myself.
After filling out the paperwork the women then asked if I wanted to go in person, or to use her visa service. If I go in person, I wait in line in the morning to drop it off, then wait in line in the afternoon (3 days later) to pick it up. If I used her service I simply return to her office in three days, late afternoon, and pick-up my passport and visa. The charge for everything is 1,400 THB ($51 CAD), 810 THB ($29.85 CAD) for the visa, and 590 THB ($21.72 CAD) for her services.
It sounded like a good deal, especially since an online visa application costs about $50 USD. I gave her my paperwork and passport, and agreed to come back in 3 days to pick-up my passport and visa, and to pay her.
Three days later I walked into Nice & Clean, Hong’s storefront visa shop, and picked-up my passport. Hong took the time to show me the visa, pointed out the validity, the stamp, and signature. When I agreed that everything looked good I paid her 1400 THB, thanked her, and left.
As my seven year-old niece would say, “Easy peasy, lemon squeezy”. Ha ha
Myanmar Embassy in Bangkok
Address: 132, Sathorn Nua Road, Bangkok 10500
Closest BTS: Surasak (about a 5 min walk to the embassy)
Visa application: Open 9am to 12pm for application drop-off. Applications must have two passport photos.
Visa costs: Same-day visa 1,260 THB, Next-day 1,000 THB, Three day processing 810 THB
Visa pick-up: Open 3:30pm to 4:30pm for visa pick-up
Nice & Clean visa services: 137/21-22 Pan Rd, Silom, Bangkok (on the same street as the embassy, about a 5 min walk). You can email Hong at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information on applying for the visa in person, visit the Embassy of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar’s website.
During my time in Myanmar I used the Lonely Planet guide, which was quite helpful in terms of the base planning – a good option for getting the basics together. Once that is done, I highly recommend speaking to locals and fellow travellers for up-to-date tips and advice.