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Flatouthruthefog

Driving Own Car In Burma

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I've recently driven my own-Thai registered 4x4 in and out of Malaysia (a dream) and Laos (a potholed pain).

Not to be discouraged, I now want to try Burma/Myanmar, but can't even find a road map. Can anyone advise on any aspect?

I'd prefer to enter from Mae Sot over the newly re-opened bridge and head for Moulmein and Rangoon.

I hear one must take a local guide in the car the whole way.

Are inquiries at their Embassy in Bkk likely to be met with sweet reasonableness?

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Last time I enquired about overland travel through Mae Sot I was told by Burmese Immigration that it was impossible as farangs were not allowed to go any further than the city limits. This was just before the border was closed last year.

Posted with Thaivisa App http://apps.thaivisa.com

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I read that it used to be possible to enter at Mae Sai (only) and drive to Kengtung and the Chinese border in your own vehicle, however this info is about 4 years old and I haven't heard anything since. I was keen to do it (on my motorcycle) but never got around to trying.

I managed to drive in Burma once when I rented a motorbike from a moto taxi guy in Inle lake. It was a completely trashed bike with an odmeter stuck at 99,999, but it got me around most of Inle lake and out to a couple of hot springs. Burma would be an amazing country for a self drive tour, hopefully it will continue to open up.

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Congratulations to FlatulantFrog for driving in and out of Malaysia and Laos, I have driven in and out of both countries and they are very different, suprisingly they are very different on both the Thai and other sides of the borders as there is much more paperwork needed to leave Thailand via Laos than leaving Thailand via Malaysia.

The comment made by edwinchester is normally only an issue if you turn up at the Burma (aka Myanmar) border without a pre-arranged visa, and under those circumstances you perhaps cannot leave the town of Irrawady, however I'm quite sure that restriction does not nesseseraly apply if you arrive with a suitable visa issued in Bangkok at the Myanmar Consulate.

This is different when you go to Tachiliek as Shan State issue a temporary (14 day) pass and hold on to your passport IF you don't have a visa already, it's easy enough to drive on up to the Chinese border but you cannot cross into China unless you have your passport (which means you needed a Visa for Myanmar in advance) and of course a Chinese Visa, though you probably still won't be allowed into China with a car, I say probably because it really dependes on who is on duty that day at the border and which way the wind is blowing, ie it's hit and miss at best. Your best bet is to keep smiling, tell the border guard how hansome he is, and be driving a Mercedes Benz !

In any event check the following, this is my quick guide to passing international borders in a car.

1/ The car should be in your name, and you should have the blue book (in your name). Whilst letters of authority MAY be acceptable, it's a easy reason to be refused.

2/ Though technically not required for countries other than Laos (where it's madatory) you should have a International Travel Document (car passport) issued at the Land Transport Office, you CANNOT get this if the car is on finance. It acts as a translation from the Thai and looks all very official and proper

3/ Arrive at the border early, my experience is that tricky borders are easier very early in the morning and I have passed through a border in Vietnam early that is reputed to be difficult/impossible and I'm sure it's because the border staff are half asleep!

4/ Expect a long wait and a lot of paperwork, if you are lucky they can't be bothered they will just wave you past, that's more likely if you arrive early.

5/ Keep smiling, and act like it's something you do all the time.

6/ Carry some packs of cigarettes to smooth the path when dealing with officials, and a small bottle of whiskey can work miracles if you really need it.

7. Be in a Mercedes Benz wherever possible

Maps can be difficult in Burma, you can buy photocopied road maps at the border sometimes but it's probably best to print some pages from Google Earth before you go. You will need to have a guide with you and hopefully he will know the way. If you travel on the Bus or by Taxi you don't need a guide, travelling by car you need an approved (licenced) guide and that will cost you about 1000 baht per day.

I'd be in interested to hear the "personal" expericences of others in Burma with a car, not so intereted in the opinions of armchair travellers who tho think they know it all !!

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Most of the roads in Burma are off limits to foreigners. Can't post links here - check map on the website tools4fools info

Locals are allowed on these roads with special permits. For example the road going south beyond Moulmein is off limits. Similarly, the roads beyond Lashio to Myitkina is also off limits, as also most coastal roads. One has to fly to those destinations with special permits [expensive] issued by the MTT.

It would be nice to know if someone can drive their own vehicle from Thailand, the last I knew was a cross-country rally a decade ago, that required clearance from the chief himself.

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Any information about hire cars and the like??

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Off course, you can hire cars and drivers. Be sure that you personally see the vehicle before committing to it. Most of the vehicles are over 20-30 years old held together with wires :)

You can get a few decent SUV's on hire if you look around - hire charges a lot cheaper than Thailand.

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Recently returned from Myanmar with my Burmese wife,visiting her family.

It seems travel is very restricted "in country" .

Some roads are open for one way traffic on alternate days.

There can also be several checkpoints along the way.

Whilst in Yangon, discovering that motorcycles have been banned since about 1999,we enquired about car rental,

The best way seemed to be to rent the vehicle and the driver for the day,for the touristy stuff,very agreeable Toyota S.U.V .

Taxi's seemed to be reasonable though some were in minblowingly dangerous condition! all adds to the excitement.

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Recently returned from Myanmar with my Burmese wife,visiting her family.

It seems travel is very restricted "in country" .

Some roads are open for one way traffic on alternate days.

There can also be several checkpoints along the way.

Whilst in Yangon, discovering that motorcycles have been banned since about 1999,we enquired about car rental,

The best way seemed to be to rent the vehicle and the driver for the day,for the touristy stuff,very agreeable Toyota S.U.V .

Taxi's seemed to be reasonable though some were in minblowingly dangerous condition! all adds to the excitement.

One of the problems is the huge queue that forms at each filling station. It is far better to have a prearranged driver and car. If you use a reputable tour company you can get with someone/thing decent but in my visits I've had the most awful ramshackle vehicles with drivers who probably learnt to drive the previous day! Having said that it was always fun.

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I have driven my own vehicle into Myanmar twice legally, via Tachileik. That appears to be the only legal land crossing for private vehicles.

I think it might be possible to bring a car to Kawthoung, opposite Ranong province, as well, if you can find a way to ferry the vehicle.

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In the year 2003 me and my daughter, 30+ at that time, took a trip to Burma.

We stayed a couple of days in Rangoon and then rented a car with driver. It was

a Toyota Crown and the driver was a nice man in the fifties.

The roads were bad at that time so it took a long time (2 days) to go to Pagan that was our first goal.

But it was great, we were not in a hurry and it was a good way to see the country. We stopped when ever

we saw something interesting or for a drink or a bite.

After a couple of days in Pagan (great place) we headed for Inle Lake. We did not see many checkpoints and

we saw only one or two military vehicles during 10 days.

Trip to Inle Lake from Pagan took also 2 days and the views on the trip were fantastic. We met soo many nice people

and many of them spoke quite good English.

After a couple of days in and around Inle lake we were heading back to Rangoon and then back to BKK.

The whole trip was very pleasant and I want to make it again, maybe start in Mandalay and go north.

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I"d like to take my 4WD pickup into Myanmar.

I have taken it into Laos.

What docks will I need to get in advance from the Myanmar officials?

Could I get as far as Mandalay?

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Congratulations to FlatulantFrog for driving in and out of Malaysia and Laos, I have driven in and out of both countries and they are very different, suprisingly they are very different on both the Thai and other sides of the borders as there is much more paperwork needed to leave Thailand via Laos than leaving Thailand via Malaysia.

The comment made by edwinchester is normally only an issue if you turn up at the Burma (aka Myanmar) border without a pre-arranged visa, and under those circumstances you perhaps cannot leave the town of Irrawady, however I'm quite sure that restriction does not nesseseraly apply if you arrive with a suitable visa issued in Bangkok at the Myanmar Consulate.

This is different when you go to Tachiliek as Shan State issue a temporary (14 day) pass and hold on to your passport IF you don't have a visa already, it's easy enough to drive on up to the Chinese border but you cannot cross into China unless you have your passport (which means you needed a Visa for Myanmar in advance) and of course a Chinese Visa, though you probably still won't be allowed into China with a car, I say probably because it really dependes on who is on duty that day at the border and which way the wind is blowing, ie it's hit and miss at best. Your best bet is to keep smiling, tell the border guard how hansome he is, and be driving a Mercedes Benz !

In any event check the following, this is my quick guide to passing international borders in a car.

1/ The car should be in your name, and you should have the blue book (in your name). Whilst letters of authority MAY be acceptable, it's a easy reason to be refused.

2/ Though technically not required for countries other than Laos (where it's madatory) you should have a International Travel Document (car passport) issued at the Land Transport Office, you CANNOT get this if the car is on finance. It acts as a translation from the Thai and looks all very official and proper

3/ Arrive at the border early, my experience is that tricky borders are easier very early in the morning and I have passed through a border in Vietnam early that is reputed to be difficult/impossible and I'm sure it's because the border staff are half asleep!

4/ Expect a long wait and a lot of paperwork, if you are lucky they can't be bothered they will just wave you past, that's more likely if you arrive early.

5/ Keep smiling, and act like it's something you do all the time.

6/ Carry some packs of cigarettes to smooth the path when dealing with officials, and a small bottle of whiskey can work miracles if you really need it.

7. Be in a Mercedes Benz wherever possible

Maps can be difficult in Burma, you can buy photocopied road maps at the border sometimes but it's probably best to print some pages from Google Earth before you go. You will need to have a guide with you and hopefully he will know the way. If you travel on the Bus or by Taxi you don't need a guide, travelling by car you need an approved (licenced) guide and that will cost you about 1000 baht per day.

I'd be in interested to hear the "personal" expericences of others in Burma with a car, not so intereted in the opinions of armchair travellers who tho think they know it all !!

Not sure what you mean in #2 of your list about Laos. Never needed such documents when taking vehicle into Laos.Only regerstation card or papers were needed.All other entry doc's where always supplied on Laos side. Have done so 4 times and it was extremly easy.

All your other points are spot on.

I have taken my motorcycle into Burma two times,Shan State.Mind you I did this illegally north of Pai with some Thai Special Forces friends of mine. Toured a couple of rebel regions in the mountains the Thai have been training for years.Very beautiful country and the people there really impressed me. Hoping the country will open in the next year or two for foriegners to bring their vehicles in to travel more of the country than just the out skirts of the boarder towns.

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I have read some reports on a foreigner driving a Thai car from Mae Sai across to Tachileik and towards the Burmese/Chinese border at Daluo via Kengtung, some 200km away. When I was last at that border crossing in 2007, I asked the customs agents there and they advised it was quite straightforward to bring a Thai car across for a fee of about 150 Baht for the paperwork, together with a letter from the individual who owns the vehicle in case the owner isn't present that gives permission for the car to be driven across the border temporarily.

I have been close to Daluo from the Chinese side driving a Chinese car, but the border there is not an international crossing so it can't be used for crossing between China and Myanmar whether you arrive by car or not. I saw one Lao car in the vicinity, which normally have unrestricted access to all of Sipsongbanna, but I'm certain that vehicle wasn't coming from Myanmar as permission to cross would have been denied. In fact, only Chinese tourists are allowed to cross for a few hours for day trips from Yunnan and back again, but are not to leave the town on the Burmese side, which due to it's proximity to the border and the presence of ethnic Chinese Kokang peoples is 100% Chinese speaking, with very few Burmese elements.

I believe it is possible to bring a Thai vehicle across and drive up to the Chinese border opposite Daluo and back again with a stay of up to 14 days, but no deviations off that route are allowed and an official guide is supposed to accompany you too. Very occassionally foreigners have been allowed to travel where they want in Myanmar by car and there are some reports on the internet about this, but in general it's very rare to receive such permission. Given the recent positive developments in Myanmar recently, there is every reason to be positive about the possibility that the country will open up quite soon with many of the current restrictions being removed, but when exactly this may happen is anyone's guess.

For the time being, I'd recommend either that itinerary (Mae Sai to Kengtung to the Chinese border) or perhaps considering driving into Laos again, Vietnam (either driving a Lao car or in your Thai car provided you join a caravan tour) or southern China. Lao cars can be driven without restrictions into Sipsongbanna, southern Yunnan province of China and apparently Thai cars are afforded the same privileges, but I'm not sure as when I was there earlier this year I only saw Chinese and Lao cars.

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