Laos to Myanmar Border Crossing | How to Make the Journey

How to make the Laos to Myanmar border crossing, OVERLAND! After hearing some fantastic stories about Myanmar and its charm, we couldn’t resist a visit. Whilst in Laos, we found ourselves in the Myanmar embassy, in Vientiane, eagerly applying for a Myanmar visa. Shortly after we were ready to make the gruelling 36-hour journey across three countries; Laos, Thailand and Myanmar.

The circular train in Yangon, Myanmar

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Leaving Laos & troubles in Khon Kaen, Thailand

Obtaining a Myanmar visa in Vientiane

Most nationalities need a visa to enter Myanmar. You can apply for an e-visa, but this was more expensive than applying for a visa at the embassy in Vientiane. The visa process was simple and took just 2 days to process and cost just $25. Once you have finished your backpacking trip in Laos, Vientiane is the perfect place to apply for any necessary visas.

Bus from Vientiane to Khon Kaen

The day after we picked up our Myanmar visas, we headed straight for the bus terminal in Vientiane and boarded a bus bound for Khon Kaen in Thailand. The direct bus that runs from Vientiane to Khon Kaen leaves twice a day, (7:45 am and 3 pm) and takes 4 hours. The price of the bus is $5.95. There is no need to book your tickets in advance, you can simply just go to the bus station and purchase your tickets from the counter on the day.

Bangkok to Koh Phangan bus with Lomprayah
A sleeper bus in Thailand

Khon Kaen to Mae Sot by bus

We took the bus in the late afternoon, expecting to be able to hop straight off, and straight on to another bus that runs directly to the Mae Sot border crossing. Well, here is where we met our first problem …BUS FULL AND NOWHERE TO STAY THE NIGHT! We ran around helplessly to each bus company’s desks to see if there were any seats available. Just when we thought our luck had run out, a woman shouted us over and gave us another option. Albeit, this option required a little more effort and a change of bus during the night…but without hesitation we took it!

FYI, the direct bus from Khon Kaen to Mae Sot runs twice a day (at 7:30 pm and 8:45 pm) and costs around $15. The journey takes 9 – 10 hours and will get you to the Thailand/Myanmar border by early morning.

Approaching Thailand to Myanmar border crossing

Finally, after a stressful time trying to get to Mae Sot, we could relax and nap on the bus for a few hours. When we woke up, we had arrived at the bus terminal we needed to change at. With all the stress and tiredness, we could not even tell you where this was, we just went with the flow and boarded the second bus that would take us to the border crossing. As we approached the border, the presence of security and police grew stronger. Our bus was stopped multiple times along the way, and every passenger, but ourselves for some strange reason, had their ID checked.

Tuk-tuk across the border from Thailand to Myanmar
Tuk-tuk across the border from Thailand to Myanmar

The next challenge was to try to find a reasonably priced tuk-tuk to the border! We finally found a tuk-tuk driver to take us to the friendship bridge for 50 baht each. Again, whilst on the tuk-tuk we were stopped multiple times by armed police for ID checking. After the police had inspected everybody sternly, we were on our way. As we drove through the back streets approaching Myanmar, the culture notably began to change. Men wore longyis, and women and children wore thanakha on their faces. Locals waved frantically and children belted out hellos.

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The Myanmar border crossing at Mae Sot

Weary-eyed, and slightly apprehensive, we handed the very jolly lady at border control our passports. Normally, at border crossing points the security just gives a scowl, look you up and down a few times, and let you on your way. But this was different…the jolly woman asked us a ton of questions; not about entering Myanmar, but about us and our lives. She also recommended some great places to see. She even when to the extent of calling her friend so her friend could have a chat with us.

Smiles and greetings in Myanmar

They call Thailand the land of smiles, though we aren’t so sure why because not everybody is so smiley. The same, however, cannot be said for Myanmar. From the moment we stamped out of Thailand, everybody greeted us with giant smiles, good mornings and curiosity. Even the guys at the stamp point at the Myanmar border crossing were very smiley and friendly. Anyway, we had finally made it to Myanmar…but our journey was far from over yet.

Smiles and waves in Yangon, Myanmar
Smiles and waves as we entered Myanmar

12-hour minivan from Myawaddy to Yangon

In Myawaddy (the border town in Myanmar), we quickly used an ATM and withdrew some local currency (Kyat). We then had to figure out a way to get to Yangon. This was simple enough as one of the many friendly locals was happy to help, by showing us where the minivans leave from. After waiting for an hour in a local café where a local man told us stories about his country, we were on our way. Crammed up with 12 locals, in what we think was supposed to be an 8-seater minivan, we began the 12-hour drive to Yangon. By mid-day, we were hot, clammy and starting to feel nauseous.

Minivans leave regularly, but there is no obvious station. We recommend asking around for the bus to Yangon. Prices of minivans vary from $10 – $15. You can also book a bus online beforehand.

Arriving in Yangon

1 hour out from Yangon and it started to rain heavily. GREAT! This is all we needed with our uncovered backpacks getting soaking wet through on the roof of the van. Upon arriving at the bus terminal in Yangon, we pulled down our drenched bags and went in search of a taxi. The nice thing about Myanmar is that the prices you are quoted are generally the same as what locals pay, so there is no need to be afraid of being ripped off. We hopped in a reasonably priced taxi and headed to our accommodation. The traffic in Yangon was horrendous, and to top things off, our taxi needed to stop for petrol. The queue for the petrol was a mile long, and it took at least 40 minutes to fill up the tank that was rolling around in the back of the car.

The streets of Yangon, Myanmar
The streets of Yangon

By the last leg of our journey, we had gone without a change of clothes for 2 days, and were smelly, bad breathed and completely shattered. When we eventually arrived at our accommodation, there were only a few things left to do; freshen up in a nice hot shower, brush our gritty teeth, change into the few dry clothes we had, and take a long nice sleep.

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Where to stay in Yangon

Agga Youth Hostel – This property is one of the few places that has dorm rooms. Whilst the property has many room options to choose from, we stayed in a 12-bed dorm because it worked out much cheaper than a private room. The dorm room is very clean and has plenty of lockers. A bonus with this hotel is that breakfast is included in the price.

For more prices and deals on properties in Yangon, CLICK HERE.

Essential resources for travelling in Southeast Asia

Travel Insurance – No matter where you’re travelling to, it’s a good idea to make sure you’re covered for any accidents or losses. We spent days and weeks searching for insurance, but most insurers would not allow us to take out a policy as we were already abroad. Our personal choice is Safteywing. You can opt for automatic monthly payments, just like a subscription. More importantly, it is available in 180 countries and can be purchased whilst already travelling. There is no cap on the duration of travel.

Visa – Before you travel to any country, make sure to check if you need a visa. iVisa is a fantastic website that is super easy and quick to use. Just type in where you are from. and where you are going. to check if you need a visa. If you do, you can quickly make an application online.

AccommodationBooking.com is our go-to when looking to pre-book accommodation online. Booking.com tend to almost always have the best rates and a FREE cancellation policy for most properties.

Overland transport – Our go-to website for overland transport is Bookaway. Bookaway offers multiple forms of transport, from buses, mini-vans, trains, and ferries. The routes on offer are extensive and certainly cover most of the backpacker trails. Bookaway works a little like Skyscanner but for overland transport. You will find plenty of transport options from a range of companies. All you simply need to do is book online and receive your ticket by email. The email will contain essential information, such as where the bus leaves from and departure and arrival times.

Tours & Activities – If you want to book tours and activities online, make sure to check out Get Your Guide. Get Your Guide takes the stress out of booking activities abroad. You will also find a range of benefits, such as skip-the-line passes, lunch included in your tours, and so much more.

Travel tips ebook -Before you head off on your adventure, make sure to download our free ebook. It has a whopping 109 budget travel tips to help you make your hard-earned cash go further. Click here to download your FREE ebook.

It’s safe to say that taking the Myanmar border crossing overland from Laos is one hell of a treacherous journey and is certainly not for luxurious travellers. However, we wouldn’t change this experience for the world. It was a long 2-days, but we had many precious interactions with locals and created memories to last a lifetime.

Looking for the perfect Myanmar itinerary? Check out our backpacking Myanmar guide.

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How to Get From Laos to Myanmar Overland | Myanmar Travel Guide

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