Myawaddy (also sometimes spelt Myawaddi, Myawadi or Myawady) is a border town in Myanmar.
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. The Mae Sot - Myawaddy border crossing is the main overland entry point for foreigners wishing to get from Bangkok to Yangon or Thailand to Myanmar in general, and vice-versa. Also it 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. But be aware that for western foreigners no visa-on-arrival is available on the Myanmar side.
Until recently, access for foreigners was only possible from Mae Sot in Tak Province, Thailand. Foreigners were not allowed to travel further overland into Myanmar from Myawaddy, and were not permitted to stay in Myawaddy overnight.
The time in Myanmar is 30 minutes earlier than in Thailand, and the traffic drives on the right.
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 from Mae Sot is between 20 and 50 baht.
Foreigners must have a visa for Myanmar prior to entry. It can be obtained in Bangkok within a day when applying in the morning.
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:
- Kyan Khinn Monestry.
- 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.
There are more temples with big pagodas a bit away from the town centre and in neighbouring villages. Visiting these distant places gives a bit of experience of "real Myanmar" with small wooden huts and locals working in their fields. If you possess a decent kind of transport the following sights might be of interest to youː
- Pagoda & field of status. There are more than a hundred similar sitting Buddha images behind this sight.
- Circle of posts
- Circle of little pagodas
- Little pagoda
- Hill pagoda. This temple is situated on a hill 200 m walk from the previous one. It also has a big pagoda and gives a good view of the surrounding area.
- Water hole
- Stadium like Place of Worship
Although Thai baht used to be accepted in Myawaddy (as written in many places online and in guidebooks) this is no longer the case. There are ATMs that can be used to withdraw kyat. Also, there are many money changers along the road right after the border post, but be cautious and double check.
There are many restaurants and shops around the border.
There are several guesthouses and small hotels, but be sure to call or book ahead since not every accommodation in Myanmar is available/licensed to tourists.
- 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) for about 5,000 kyat. Depending on when you arrive, it will be easier to take a private taxi (for about 10,000 kyat). You will be approached by taxi drivers or their friends who speak English after passing the customs office. Depending on the route, the ride will take about 3-5 hours including stops.