Once a closed up country, Myanmar has transformed into a hot tourist spot, and the number of tour buses will continue to increase with much thanks to Lonely Planet naming it one of the top travel destinations for 2017.
And by the looks of it, Myanmar has progressed much when it comes to the travel industry – intercity buses are aplenty and convenient, hostels are abundant, and the price of entrance fees are world-class.
The only thing I hope does not progress in Myanmar is its touts. The Buddhist country is still blissfully honest, but I fear the travel boom will turn Myanmar into another Thailand or Cambodia. Popular spots like Bagan and Inle has already become so touristic that it’s nauseating. For now, Myanmar is a very lovely country to travel with some of the most sincere and welcoming locals I’ve met. Let’s hope the tourism boom don’t change the community.
Malaysians travelling to Myanmar for work, holiday or a meditation retreat will need to apply for a visa beforehand. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to apply for the Myanmar visa in Kuala Lumpur.
Where to apply
Firstly, you could apply through the official Myanmar eVisa website, they charge USD$50 for visa on arrivals. Alternatively, you could speak to a human and apply through the appointed tourist agency in KL.
The Myanmar embassy in Malaysia has outsourced the Myanmar visa application to an agency called Everfine Services. Applying for your Myanmar visa through them is easy and can be done both online or at their office. It’s surprisingly fuss-free; I was actually impressed by how quick and painless the entire process was, though the hole it left in my pocket did sting a little.
- Your passport with 6 months validity
- Printed copy of your return flight tickets
- Printed copy of your accommodation booking in Myanmar (the first hotel you’re staying in will do)
- 2 passport-sized photos (this can be done at the visa office for RM20)
- Approximately RM223 (prices as of 2016)
- If applying for Meditation Visa, you’ll also need a letter from the meditation centre.
How to apply:
- Make your way to Everfine Services in Jalan Tun Perak Kuala Lumpur. The address is searchable on Waze. Taking the LRT might be smarter and cheaper as the traffic and parking there is unbearable. Located above KFC, Everfine Services is just a short walk away from the Masjid Jamek LRT station.
- Submit your forms before 11am if you want to receive your visa on the same day. The passport pick-up time is at about 4pm.
- If you arrive after 11am, you’ll have to leave your passport with them and pick it up the next day.
- At the visa office, the nice people there will give you an application form and will ask for all the necessary documents.
- You can ask to shoot your passport-sized photos there for an additional fee
- The cost for a regular Myanmar tourist visa is RM170+ for the visa fee and RM50+ for the processing fee, totaling to RM220-ish. Meditation Visas are slightly more expensive.
- Leave all your documents with them, you’ll be given a receipt. Just return at the scheduled time and date to pick up your passport to your next adventure ;)
- You can also apply for the Myanmar visa online via Everfine’s website. Online applicants can opt to have the visa delivered to you for a small fee of RM20, or pick up the visa yourself at the office.
When I was applying for the visa, there wasn’t a queue at Everfine Services and I was served in no time. I gave them my money, dropped all my passport and documents with them and was told to come back the next day for the pickup. The whole application process took no longer than 30 minutes.
When to apply
They did, however, delayed my passport pick up by a day. In the end, my visa took three days to get ready. Fortunately, I sent in my application about four days before my flight or else I wouldn’t have been able to travel! Though it is possible to get everything done in one day, please don’t do it last minute. Get it done as you have your flights booked.
Myanmar tourist visa conditions
The Myanmar tourist visa for Malaysians is for single entry only and is valid for 3 months from the date of application. Travellers are only allowed to stay for a maximum of 28 days in the country. It’s not the longest travel time, but 28 days is plenty of time for you to get to know Myanmar beyond their beetle nut-stained roads.
In typical communist fashion, every hotel that you check into in Myanmar will require you to fill in a Foreigner Report Form. The form will ask for your passport and visa details including visa number, visa application date, and such. I’m not sure what the purpose of the form is for besides monitoring our every movement and making sure that we’re not travelling to restricted areas. There are several areas around Myanmar that are still closed to foreigners and require special permission from the authorities to enter. On top of that, tourists are only allowed to stay in guesthouses and hotels, so good luck finding a host on Couchsurfing.
Where to stay in Myanmar
For a country that only recently opened up to independent travellers, Myanmar has some of the best backpacker’s hostels that I’ve stayed in. Even the dorms are great – free yummy breakfast, professional service, good facilities, safe, and my favourite – curtained dorm beds for much-needed privacy. Here are the hostels I stayed in Myanmar that I highly recommend:
- Yangon: Backpacker Bed&Breakfast, I was really impressed by the central location and high-quality dorms here.
- Bagan: Bagan Central Hotel, the garden area is really chilled out and they offer e-bike rentals and bus bookings.
- Inle Lake: Ostelle Bello Nyaung Shwe, it’s a bit of a party hostel so expect lots of fun here.
- Hsi Paw: Mr Charles Guest House, one of the most popular guesthouse here with a good tour desk for hiking trips.
- Mandalay: Four Rivers B&B Mandalay, breakfast is served on the rooftop where you can overlook the city.
Enjoy Myanmar, and make sure you have a delicious Mohinga with a side of crunchy tomato salad for me!
NOW, READ A RANDOM ANECDOTE FROM YANGON:
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