Fly to Myanmar is easy but crossing the border over land is way cheaper and easy as well. This post is a guide for the ones who are up for a little adventure and an amazing experience. The Phu Nam Ron – Htee Kee border is open for foreigners since 2014 but still not known by most travelers. It’s the border closest to Bangkok and Dawei in Myanmar. Dawei is only open for foreigners since 2013 and because of that you won’t see a lot of tourists there. The locals will first look surprised when they see you. But when you greet them with Mingalaba (‘hello, bless you’) you’ll get a big smile and a wave back. So how do you get from Bangkok to Dawei?
Bangkok → Dawei
Visa: Before leaving Bangkok, make sure you have a visa for Myanmar. You can get one at the Myanmar Embassy in Bangkok. If you don’t want to wait, pay a little bit extra and the visa will be ready in a couple of hours. We payed 1200 THB and could pick up our visa at 4 o’clock in the afternoon.
The trip: From Bangkok we took a minivan to Kanchanaburi. You can book a minivan to Kanchanaburi in every hostel, guesthouse or tourist information centre in Bangkok. I would definitely recommend spending some days in Kanchanaburi. It’s a very interesting place because of it’s history with Myanmar. There are some beautiful waterfalls in the area and it has one of the best and cheapest nightmarkets I’ve been to.
When you want to go from Kanchanaburi to Dawei make sure you catch the earliest minivan. I heard some stories of people who had to wait at the border for hours because there wasn’t a van going to Dawei anymore. For us it wasn’t clear when the first van to the border departed so we set our alarm at 6am and took a tuktuk to the busstation. The first minivan to the border departed at 9am, price: 70 THB. We had a female driver and she drove very calm and safe. After two hours we arrived at the border. It’s a small border and very quiet. There isn’t an official bus or minivan company and there aren’t many options. Because of that, the ride to Dawei is relatively expensive. We had to pay 800 THB each but it was a good deal, don’t expect to pay less. First you have to get a stamp to travel out of Thailand. Then you get into the car and the driver brings you to the checkpoint where you get a stamp to travel into Myanmar. The ride from Htee Kee to Dawei is a little bumpy but very beautiful and will take 4 to 5 hours. Along the way there are several checkpoints where you have to show your passport. We arrived in Dawei around 5 o’clock in the afternoon. The very friendly driver dropped us at a hotel so we didn’t have to walk. The hotel was fully booked though, so he dropped us at an other hotel. There aren’t many hotels in Dawei so there wasn’t a lot of choice.
Money: You might have heard about taking brand new dollars to Dawei but don’t worry! There’s one ATM where you can get Kyats, the local currency.
Traveling up north: We stayed in Dawei for three days and booked a bus to Mawlamyine. In the bus we were the only foreigners and we had to show our passports several times at checkpoints. The ride to Mawlamyine took 12 hours and was full of small and bumpy roads. The driver couldn’t drive very fast because of the bad road conditions. I recommend to stop at Ye, to break the 12 hour busdrive. We didn’t do it because we didn’t know it would take us that long. From Mawlamyine traveling up north will be easier and faster.
So crossing the border over land from Kanchanaburi to Dawei is not a clear mapped journey. But obvious trips are boring so be a little adventurous, you’ll be fine! 🙂