This is a tricky process and I wanted to describe our experience for those attempting it. Here’s how we did it:
1. In Yangon, we applied for a special land-entry visa at the Indian embassy. We had help from a small storefront they recommended near the embassy because part of visa is done online and we needed it printed out, etc. It took about 4 days plus a weekend. $101 each. We were able to get a double entry, 90 day visa. It’s best to get longer than 30 days since the visa starts on day of issue.
2. We applied for the special permit to enter Sagaing region of Myanmar. The country is still opening to tourists and some places are off limits, others are accessible, and some require a permit to enter. We went through the government agency of MTT (Myanmar Travel and Tourism). We paid a lot, at least for our budget- $80 each in cash, kids too- and received a handwritten receipt and a phone number for a man who was to meet us at the border. We had no permit in hand. This seemed unusual to us, sketchy even, but we went to another travel agency and both places had same price and plan. We had to specify a date to cross, and we were told we could cross up to 3 days earlier, but not after that date. We looked into flights, realized yet again we had more time than money, and we decided to give it a try.
3. We travelled to Mandalay, then Monywa. We contacted the man who’s number we had been given. We told him our ETA. He said he was ready for us.
4. We took a night van from Monywa to Tamu, the border town. We did not need to show any special documents, which kind of surprised me since we were traveling through the restricted area. There was a checkpoint as we got into Tamu, and a guard seemed to check a list there. We did not show passports or our receipt when we bought the tickets or when we passed the checkpoint. BTW, our van broke down around dawn. The trip took about 18 hours.
5. We reached the immigration post at Tamu. This was an official building and they looked at all of our paperwork. We called our contact person, and he came. While the kids made drawings and took photos with some of the friendly young guards there, a more serious guard went through everything with our contact. We were asked for photocopies of our passports, which we hadn’t been told we needed and we did not have. This did not seem to hold up things. I kind of sweated this out, but things went smoothly and we were allowed to proceed.
6. We walked across a bridge (yellow Myanmar, silver India!)and said goodbye to Myanmar. Then we were in Moreh, India but we weren’t done yet. We were happy but a bit worried about the next part. Our MTT contact said something about needing a permit on the Indian side, which we did not have.
7. Indian customs. Declaration forms x 6, uniformed soldiers with guns, a quiet beaurocratic outpost that doesn’t see much action, it seemed. They pointed up the road to where they said we had to go to a police station to get our passports stamped.
8. The six of us walked on the hot, dusty road and looked for the police station. We stopped at a checkpoint and they looked at our passports. They were young smiling soldiers who were sweet with the kids but also kind of worried the kids because they carried large rifles. We went on, passing several schools and even a fire station but no police station for a mile or more. We were sleep deprived and lugging all of our baggage. We realized we could not return to Myanmar if this didn’t work out. This was not a pleasant thought.
9. Police station. An unimpressive building up a small hill of a driveway. We sweated our way up to an open-air pavilion surrounded by chickens. We filled out more forms and finally got the visa stamps. They did not ask for a permit, whew. We were in!
10. There are guesthouses on Moreh but we decided to push on. We negotiated a private taxi to Imphal right there at the police station. Several drivers said there are no busses, and that it costs 500 rupees per person for the 3 hour drive. We rejected one pushy driver with a vehicle that looked too small. We went with a driver for 2500 rupees. Leaving Moreh, there were at least three checkpoints. They went through our paperwork and luggage, but still smiled and chatted a little. We unpacked and repacked the car. We admired the amazing mountains around us and felt the cool mountain breezes as we waited to get through the checkpoints. Several more checkpoints were left, but we didn’t have to unpack the car again. The ride to Imphal was a roller coaster of sharp turns and steep hills.
And that’s how we did it! Looking back, it was a little crazy but we were lucky and it worked out. I understand, though, that things change and this plan may no longer be valid. Look into more current tales of this unpredictable border crossing. Good luck travelers!
Whew, sounds stressful. But exciting! And beautiful!
Thanks for the great post! I’m planning/hoping to make the same crossing next month. Sounds like a lot of seat-of-your-pants moments, guess I should just be prepared for that. One question though: do you know if they issue tourist visas for India longer than 90 days in Yangon? I read somewhere that in Mandalay the Indian embassy only gives 3-month visas, but I was hoping maybe I could get one for 6 months+ in Yangon (for US citizen). Any idea about that? Thanks! -Lucas
Hi! Yes, I think we could have gotten a one-year, multiple entry visa to India in Yangon, but we had already filled out our papers for the 3 month visa and didn’t want to re-do six applications, also didn’t think we’d use the longer visa. If you beg or maybe bribe the guy at Indian embassy, I think you could get the longer visa. I’m excited for you, good luck!!
That’s great to hear, thanks for the info!! I guess I’ll just make sure to plan for plenty of time in Yangon to get things sorted. If I learned anything about Indian bureaucracy it’s that it always takes more time (and more paperwork) than it should–plus getting lucky and the occasional bribe. 🙂
Thanks for sharing all that helpful info! I’d really like to do much the same thing soon (I’m about to enter Myanmar from Thailand), but before reading your post I feared it might be impractical. Now it sure sounds like an adventure, but quite doable (evidently). I like! 😀 Still: So far I thought the MTT permit would take like 2-3 weeks to be issued and then come whith some kind of mandatory package tour attached… Yet it seems you managed to settle this almost on the spot?! If yes, could you tell me which travel agent in Yangon you used? Or is it just like every travel agent does it? Any advice would be much appreciated – Thanks!
Hi! No, we did not have to specify anything except the date to cross the border as I mentioned. MTT is a government agency, not a travel agency, and I think the travel agencies also have to go through MTT. I can’t remember the travel agency names. Getting the permit only took a day or two; the India visa took longer for us. It was a strange process. Good luck!
Hi! Thanks again for being so helpful! In the meantime I arrived in Yangon, made inquiries and there are news readers might be interested in. Sad news.
Short story first: Overland travel from India to SE Asia (and vice versa) through Myanmar will currently not be possible! Sheetals info (comment below) turns out to be correct.
Long story: I asked about a permit for crossing the Tamu/Moreh Border, in person and both at the Ministry of Tourism/MTT outlet and at some private travel agencies. The answer was identical everywhere. The border is still open and a permit is still required. However, I was told that by rules of the new govt., travellers may only (and then must) exit to India via Tamu/Moreh if they also enter from there. Everybody was apologetic but very matter-of-fact about that. Nobody offered any opinions as to why this change was made, which has apparently been in effect for some months now (apart from some aside mumbles I couldn’t quite make sense of. I didn’t ask more questions). It’s all quite odd given the fact that the e-visa system was rolled out to Thailand border posts just weeks ago, making things way easier there. Yet they are obviously and very deliberately preventing overland transit through Myanmar. Whyever. It doesn’t look like a temporary measure in any case. So the the overland route to India seems effectively unavailable to travellers, for the time being…. 🙁 Consider yourself lucky, guys, you made it! I will have to find me a flight now 😉
I am so sorry to hear this! You are right, it will dissuade travelers from crossing here at all since everyone we met or heard about was traveling through. Things change, though, and it may change again. Also, I wonder what would happen if you try to exit to Thailand after entering that way. I would be interested to know if anyone tries it, though I’d be worried to try it myself.
I just recieved mail from exotic myanmar.
And one more travel company..they told me you have to enter and exit at same border. I enter from India and exit to Thailand.as I am indian passport holder. And my plan is to travel by land to Thailand and laos,cambodia.
But suddenly I heard this new policy. Anyone travel like this or aware this type of prob.?
I have never heard of that. I hope it is not true! We entered from Thailand and exited to India. We have US passports. They do change the rules, making it hard to plan. But many people go the route you describe, and the Thai border is much less restricted. Have you checked the boards on boots’n’all or thorntree (lonely planet)? May be helpful. Good luck!
It’s true ,check with 2 to 3 agency who gives permit in Myanmar. So decided to flying then visit thailand by road.
1) in what countries, and cities in these countries (and by what address in each city) can i take permit to cross myanmar border zone near india?
2) how much does permit cost? how much day should i wait it? and how long does is it valid?
You will have to check with MTT in Yangon or with a travel agency like Exotic Myanmar because these details change frequently. Good luck!
i’m getting a bit confused now… just a little, also because of the sequence of the posts (dates)
I want to travel from thailand by air or land to myanmar, and then go to india on the land way.
Does anybody know something if it is possible now, and if there is a special permits required (costs?) ?
Thailand to Myanmar is easy by land or air but you will need a visa beforehand. You can get Myanmar visa in Bangkok. Crossing by land from Myanmar to India is much harder. From what I have heard, it is not possible now. To find out the current situation you can check in Yangon at the exotic travel agency or the state tourist agency I mention in this post.
As per my knowledge and research from any thailand border you can visit Myanmar and exit from any border.
But only if u enter from India and Chinese border you have to Exit from same border.
Still you check with Myanmar agencies to clarification. As their policies change so frequently. You need permit in some areas of myanmar border. I know Moreh border if we came from India. Kindly check for thailand borders to Myanmar.
First Exotic Myanmar people told me.then confirm with other agencies also.
Hi great info, where did you go after imphal? And how?
We went by bus to Shillong, check the next few posts after this one for details and happy traveling!!
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An very untereating post, And it helps me a lot. But I have got one more question, I heard that there is a new rule saying that If coming from thailand or by air, the authorities won’t allow you to cross the crossing with India. Is it in force?
The rules change a lot, so that may be true. We had to be in Yangon, the capital of Myanmar, and speak with people in the tourist office to learn the current rules.