VISA RUN: Burmese Border

Myanmar… an unexpected & unwanted addition to our travel plans but on returning to Thailand via a land crossing we had only received a 15 day visa. As we wanted to spend longer in the country we had to cross into another country, then cross straight back in to get a new 15 day visa… highly irritating!!… but 100% necessary. We jumped on a bus to a small town called Ranong, right on the border with Burma/Myanmar… not really sure what they are calling it these days, political correctness would suggest Myanmar, Burma ‘on the streets’?! We got straight into a pickup truck on arrival in Ranong & went to the boat pier. There, we ‘checked out’ of Thailand, got on a ricketty looking little longtail boat with a FIFTEEN YEAR OLD driver & ventured across an estuary to the Burmese side of the border.

Burma/Myanmar across the estuary

Probably the least organised border I have ever witnessed… nay, probably the least organised anything I’ve ever witnessed!!… that’s bearing in mind at the Laos-Cambodian border the ‘Customs’ sign was painted on a wooden fence next to a barrier that our driver proceeded to lift up to drive under, uninterrupted & straight through to Passport Control. So quite an achievement by the Burmese to top that!!!!

Burma Border Control

The ‘officials’ who were anything but official were all asleep, & were quite ok with our 15 year old boat driver showing them our passports while we sat in the boat confused as they waved us on from their shack on stilts to another check point. Point 2 required us to pay a handsome fee of $10 to the Burmese ‘officials’ for allowing us to cross the border… for 2 bloody minutes!!! The ultimate cheek was when the ‘official’ looked at our $10 bills & refused 1 of them because of a teeny tiny crease in the top corner!… while he sat on his garden patio chair in his wooden shack!!!… refusing money ’cause of a crease! The phrase ‘cutting off you nose to spite your face’ came to mind, but I held back & luckily we had a slightly more pristine bill for his highness on the white durable throne!

On the way back to the boat for a not too soon journey back to Thailand I was offered all kinds of drugs that were apparently on sale for a very reasonable price?! What a horrifically corrupt & poorly structured country!… though I have heard it’s beautiful there… I’m guessing those comments relate mainly to natural scenery. The odyssey continued back into Thailand when we were told because of a 30 minute time difference between the two countries we may not make it back before the border closed, which would force us to stay the night in Burma. We kindly asked our adolescent driver to act with haste & try to use his ‘wealth of experience’ to get us back before the 5 o’clock deadline.  A rough & ready 35 minutes later we were back on dryland, bolting it up the pier to Passport Control with minutes to spare… bolting it may be an exaggeration considering we were carrying our MASSIVE backpacks. With our new-found appreciation of the apparent security in Thailand we carried on our merry way to the original destination of Chumphon, to catch a boat to the REAL, ORIGINAL destination of Koh Tao.


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  1. […] over creased dollar bills not fit enough for the border ‘officials’ ( read more here: – – VISA – – RUN – -)… just another reason to have reserve […]

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