For decades, Myanmar (formerly known as Burma) had closed its borders due to a political instability and a tight military-run government. Entry into the country was extremely limited to those traveling on official business. Since 2011, the tight restrictions have slowly been lifted, and every year, the people of Myanmar have steadily welcomed more and more visitors each year. In 2015, an estimated 4.6 million tourists visited – up more than 400% from 2011. Back then, curious tourists would have to apply for a visa at the Myanmar consulate, but these days, a tourist visa can be obtained online(!).
Though it’s been a few years since Myanmar opened its borders, it’s still not a top tourist destination by any means. While people have flocked in to visit the country and experience much of its untouched beauty, it’s still got a long way to go in terms of tourism infrastructure. Visiting Myanmar isn’t quite like visiting other countries – there are a few more hurdles you’ll have to cross as you set up your travel plans.
Keep reading for a series of articles to help you set up your trip to Myanmar.
1. Applying for an E-Visa
2. Booking Flights in Myanmar
For those who have never had to apply for a visa – here’s a step by step guide on how to navigate Myanmar’s fairly simple e-visa process.
1. Determine Eligibility
Myanmar allows passport holders of 100 countries to apply for tourist visas through their web portal. Check their page to make sure you’re eligible (it’s point 11). Citizens of 8 countries (Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Philippines, Thailand, Singapore, and Vietnam) are exempt from visa requirements for stays less than 14 days (except for Singaporean citizens who are granted 30 days).
2. Before You Apply
You’ll need to have a few things before you start the process.
- A passport valid for at least 6 months from your date of arrival in Myanmar
- A scanned color photo (4.8 cm X 3.8 cm in size) for your application. If the size isn’t perfect, you’ll be able to crop this as you fill in your application
- Payment for the e-visa, which you’ll process on their website via credit card. Visa, Mastercard, American Express or JCB cards are accepted
- Once you apply for your e-visa, the letter you receive will be valid for 90 days from the date of issuance – so don’t apply too early
Something to keep in mind before you apply – e-visas are only accepted at 3 international airports (Yangon, Mandalay, and Nay Pyi Taw) and 3 checkpoints (Tachileik Land Border Checkpoint, Myawaddy Land Border Checkpoint, Kawthaung Land Border Checkpoint). If your point of entry is different (via seaport for example), you’ll want to contact the closest Myanmar consulate for further details (although you’ll likely have to submit for a visa in person). If you’re intended first stop is another airport, (ours was Bagan), you’ll have to fly into one of the aforementioned airports and take a domestic flight on a Myanmar-based carrier (as with most countries, only local airlines are able to operate domestic flights) to your intended destination.
2. Start the Application
Head to the main website landing page where you’ll find some helpful information about the process. You’ll want to click “Apply for E-Visa” to start your application. Tourist visas cost $50 for processing and are non-refundable. As you start the process, you’ll have to select your point of entry from a drop down menu.
From there you’ll hit the next screen with some reminders about the visa process, before moving on to the actual visa application.
The application page is fairly straightforward – if you’ve ever filled in a visa application before these fields won’t be unfamiliar to you. Some helpful things to know:
- Be sure to enter your name exactly as it appears on your passport.
- You’ll need to enter the address of the hotel you’ll be staying at. The application allows only for 6 types of accommodation types – hotels, motels, inns, resorts and guest houses. It specifies guest houses must be registered, so if you’re planning on staying with a local friend, this won’t do.
- It’s in this section that you’ll upload your passport photo. Once uploaded, you’ll have the option to crop the photo to the correct size. Remember – you’ll need to use a colored photo, as a black and white version will not be accepted. The page even has some visuals to show you the type of passport photos not to submit.
Once you fill in the application and submit your payment you’ll receive an email to confirm receipt of your submission, along with your application number and payment reference number.
3. Application Result Email
The website states that it could take up to 3 business days to receive a response, however, we got ours in one business day. The email stated that the visa had been approved, and an approval letter was attached. The letter included the approved duration of stay (28 days), and a reminder (in red!) that the validity of the letter was only good for 90 days.
The letter did include a section worth noting:
Possession of a valid Approval Visa alone does not guarantee entry into Myanmar. You must also meet the following entry requirements:
1. Have a passport with at least 6 months validity,
2. Have sufficient funds for the period of stay in Myanmar, and
3. Have confirmed onward / return air ticket(s)
While we were never asked to prove this, it would be worth having a print out of your itinerary to show when you arrive that you have a confirmed ticket to leave the country.
4. Entering Myanmar
Be sure to bring the letter with you (and maybe a copy of your itinerary, as mentioned above) at your point of entry and present it to the immigration officer along with your passport. When we entered, no questions were asked – the letter was reviewed and the passport was stamped.
Overall, the visa process was fairly painless. It might seem almost too easy – but hey, no complaints here. Just be sure to have all your trip information as you fill in the form. It took about 10 minutes total (compare this to the 1+ hours you’ll spend applying for a consulate in person) and the approval letter came via email timely. If this was a yelp review I’d give it 5/5 starts. 😊
Did we miss anything? Hit any bumps in your application? Drop us a line!