Myawaddy (also sometimes spelt Myawaddi, Myawadi or Myawady) is a border town in Myanmar. Access for foreigners is currently only possible from Mae Sot in Tak Province, Thailand, though this is set to change in a few years time.
At some point this is expected to be a full international border crossing as part of the Asian Highway Network route AH1 which will connect Tokyo in Japan with the border between Turkey and Bulgaria. At that time the Mae Sot - Myawaddy border crossing will probably become the main overland entry point for foreigners wishing to get from Bangkok to Yangon, and vice-versa, overland.
Until recently, foreigners were not allowed to travel further overland into Myanmar from Myawaddy, and were not permitted to stay in Myawaddy overnight. It is the most common overland entry point from Thailand into Myanmar that allows onward travel. The Myawaddy - Mae Sot border crossing is a moderately popular destination for tourists and expats in Thailand who want to make a "visa run", i.e. get a new Thai entry permit stamp by making a short visit to another country.
The time in Myawaddy is 30 minutes earlier than in Mae Sot, and the traffic drives on the right.
Foreigners can only cross the border into Myanmar at this point on foot, and foreigners are not even permitted to cross with bicycles.
From the Thai town of Mae Sot, take a songthaew or other transport to the border crossing at the Thai-Myanmar Friendship Bridge over the Moei River; Myawaddy is immediately on the other side of the bridge. The ride will cost between 20 and 50 baht.
Foreigners must have a visa for Myanmar prior to entry.
Although Thai baht used to be accepted in Myawaddy (as in written in many places online and in guidebooks) this is no longer the case. Even USD is not widely accepted. There are ATMs that can be used to withdraw kyat. Avoid changing money on the street.
Myawaddy is centred around the wide strip of highway that leads from the Friendship Bridge through town and is small enough to be explored easily on foot; alternatively, ubiquitous red bicycle rickshaws go everywhere.
Places of interest in town include:
The Golden pagoda, 2-3 minutes from the border checkpoint by rickshaw. Very picturesque site with several big Buddha images enshrined on its grounds, one of which is a replica of the golden Buddha image of Mahamuni Temple in Mandalay. Locals claim that this pagoda is more than 1,000 years old.
The Crocodile Temple, 6-7 minutes from the border checkpoint by rickshaw. Very unusual temple on the back of a gigantic crocodile statue.
Three more temples with big pagodas a bit away from the town centre in neighbouring villages.
One of these pagodas is on the grounds of the children's dancing school, so you can see many small kids there. There are also more than a hundred similar sitting Buddha images on one of the sides of this pagoda.
Another temple is situated on a hill 100 m walk from the previous one. It also has a big pagoda and gives a good view of the surrounding area.
Visiting these distant places gives a bit of experience of "real Myanmar" with small wooden huts and locals working in their fields.
There are several guesthouses and small hotels.
- You can cross the border to Mae Sot in Thailand.
- There are several buses daily from Myawaddy to Hpa-an (Pa-an) and Mawlamyine (Moulmein). Depending on when you arrive, it will be easier to take a private taxi. You will be approached by taxi drivers or their friends who speak English after passing the customs office. The fare is normally 10,000 kyat to Hpa-an and 15,000 to Mawlamyine. Depending on the route, the ride will take about 5 hours including stops. Generally the direction of traffic leaving Myawaddy is westbound one day, eastbound the next. Try to find recent information online about which direction the traffic is going on the day you plan to arrive.