It seems scary, applying for the Myanmar visa, with many rules and limits and strictures, just like ordering a soup from Seinfeld’s ‘Soup Nazi’. But don’t worry, it’s dead simple.
It was actually quite straightforward in Bangkok (I applied for my visa in June 2012). A few weeks earlier in Hanoi I tried, but the embassy asked for all sorts of unusual paperwork, such as a recommendation letter from my employer (?), proof of inbound and outbound flights, and a detailed itinerary. So after a little internet research, I decided Bangkok was far easier.
Here’s what to do.
1. Go to Bangkok.
From my experience, and those who I talked to, applying here is a very smooth process. Kuala Lumpur is also a good option. You don’t need an agent to take care of it, it’s easily done at the Myanmar embassy.
2. How do I find the embassy?
The embassy is easy to find, located in Silom not far from Surasak BTS Skytrain station, at 132 Sathorn Nua Road. If you’re a little lost, it’s not far from the Skytrain track, so keep following the track overhead, you’ll bump into the embassy eventually. It opens around 9am. I arrived at around 8:15am and found a small line waiting to go on the side entrance. By 9, the line was very long, so get in early.
3. What happens inside the embassy?
When you get inside the embassy, you’ll line up and hand in all your documentation and your passport at the first window, and be given a plastic number card. You’ll wait a few minutes while they check things over, and then call your number to the next window, where you’ll pay and receive your receipt. That’s it! Done! Come back in 3 days for standard processing time.
4. What paperwork do I need?
If you arrive a little earlier than planned, and walk an extra 5 minutes down Sathorn Nua, you’ll find a few photocopy shops that will print out a copy of the application form for you. You can fill it out whilst you’re lining up outside; this saves a lot of time when you enter the embassy. The one I went to had a bright yellow ‘Photo Copy’ sign on the street, and is just down a side alley. They will print off the application form for you ready to go, as well as take passport pictures. At the time I applied, the Burmese government didn’t like to see ‘journalist’ or any media-related profession on the application forms, so if you’re in that line of work, invent something else.
You’ll also need 830 Thai Baht (about $28 Aussie), 2 passport photos, and it can’t hurt to bring flight details (though I personally wasn’t asked for them). For same-day visas, the cost is around 1360 Baht. Obviously, bring your passport too (with at least 6 months validity).
5. When do I pick it up?
Picking the visa up is in the afternoon, around 3:30pm. With everything paid for, just provide your yellow receipt and you receive your passport, ready to enter Myanmar!