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Published on April 1st, 2013 | by Simon
Myanmar is an increasingly popular destination. Although there has been much talk of a Visa on Arrival system (with or without pre-approval) this still does not operate for tourist single visits. So a visa application must be made and a visa entered into your passport. Outside Bangkok, this requires mailing your passport, application and fee to the nearest Myanmar Embassy. In Bangkok, however, application can be made in person.
First, the ground-rules.
Go to Surasak BTS Skytrain station (S5 on the Silom line). Take Exit 3. This is what you will see at the upper exit level.
You will be walking down past the 7-Eleven store you see on the left.
Walk down the exit stairs from the BTS and turn back on yourself at the bottom so the branch of Krungsri Bank is on your left.
Walk about 500 metres past the Bangkok Christian College until you reach the second traffic street on your left.
Turn left and the Myanmar Embassy Visa Section is directly across the road.
Note that the embassy is closed on both Myanmar and Thai public holidays. You can check when these occur here.
If you already have your passport copy and photos, you can join whatever line you find and collect an application form inside. Or if the line looks too much and you need copies (and useful advice), continue 100 metres down the road on the same side as the embassy until you see this sign.
Follow the arrow and you will find a small office about 20 yards up the lane. These people know the Myamar Embassy system. You can get the necessary forms, passport photocopies and photos, plus invaluable advice (even glue to attach one photo to the form). As you can see, charges for the forms and copies are reasonable (less than $1 for everything).
Now you have a choice. You can go back to the embassy with all your paperwork, join the queue, find your way to the first vetting window (on the left) where they will check all your data is present and give you a number. Then you wait to be called, and give in your papers to a different window where you pay your fee and receive a yellow receipt with a date and number for collection. Three day processing means if you apply on a Thursday, you can collect between 2pm and 4pm on the following Monday. The application process took me about 90 minutes from joining the line, to exiting with my yellow receipt. It’s definitely not a well-ordered experience and might be quite challenging, especially given the absence of much in the way of signage or written advice. In other words you will find lots of people asking if you are in the right line/have the right paperwork/have long to wait/etc.
Collection means joining an identical queue, but this time be aware on entering the visa area, there are four collection windows (Normal tourist, Express tourist, Business, and Thai). You need to join the line for the correct window. The system is chaotic and the right line for you will not be readily evident!
If, as happened to me (second time around), you arrive and find the embassy closed for a public holiday, or the queue looks too much, you can use the agency which supplies the forms above. They charge 2,000Baht for a 3 day application, or 3,000Baht for same day (both including the Myanmar Embassy visa fee). This is quite a markup, but does save you two hours in a very hot room. They were totally reliable and I got my stamped passport back at exactly 4pm three days later without having to go near the embassy. They clearly do this for quite a few applicants…
Things are changing in Myanmar at a startling pace, so this information may change at any time.
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