Whenever American tourists talk about visiting Asia, they usually restrict themselves to countries like China, India, Thailand, Japan and South Korea. However, the world’s largest and most populous continent has a lot more to offer than the aforementioned countries. If you are a travel junkie who wants to explore slightly lesser known places, then Myanmar (Burma) might just hit the spot for you. The ancient country boasts some of the most beautiful landscapes in the world. Top Gear’s Jeremy Clarkson called it “God’s Garden”. Myanmar (Burma) also features some of the most beautiful Buddhist temples and sacred pagodas in the world. A trip to Burma will see you immerse yourself in amazing history and culture, surrounded by some of the most beautiful scenery in the world. However, before you can stuff your backpack and catch the next flight to Myanmar, you will need to get a visa for entering the country. In this post, we will take a look at the rules governing the issuance of Burma visa for US citizens. We will also talk about how you can apply for a visa and how you can enter the country after getting one. Let’s get started.
Travelling From America to Myanmar (Burma): All You Need to Know
Myanmar witnessed a significant political change after the 2010 elections. Since then, the once closed country has become much more open towards foreign tourists. This has been reflected in the ever increasing number of tourists coming to Myanmar every year. American tourists have also shown a keen interest in visiting Myanmar and enjoy the unique brew of culture, history and natural beauty that the South East Asian country offers. In order to visit Myanmar (Burma), you need a visa.
Immigration laws have become far less stern and demanding since 2010, making it a lot easier for people to visit the country. As a matter of fact, Myanmar even introduced the eVisa system from 2014, making it possible for potential tourists to get their visas online. Just remember that the pandemic affected a lot of immigration rules and visa issuance was suspended for a long time. So check the official website to stay abreast with the current Myanmar visa regulations.
What are the different types of visas available for visiting Myanmar?
American citizens can enter Myanmar using one of these types of visas:
- Work or business visa – costs US $50, valid for 70 days.
- Tourist visa – costs US $50, valid for 28 days.
- Transit visa – costs US $20, valid for 24 hours.
How can US citizens get a Burma visa?
Myanmar Online Visa (e-Visa) or Visa On Arrival
Currently, the online visa is only available to those who apply for the tourist visa as long as the interested parties belong to one of the 43 nationalities that the Myanmar government considers eligible. To proceed with the e-Visa process, you will need to follow these steps:
- Fill in the online application form with the required data. At the time of application, you must upload a colour photo (4.6 cm X 3.8 cm) taken during the last 3 months.
- Verify that all of the information provided is correct and then proceed to pay the visa issuance fees by card. Visa, Master, American Express or Alipay credit cards are valid for Visa Online payment. You will receive an email with a reference code that will be sent as confirmation of the payment received. (please remember that this fee is non refundable).
- The approval of the application will take around 3 working days. If your visa is approved, your electronic visa (e-Visa) will be received in the email, which will have to be printed and carried along with the passport at the time of arrival. Make sure your passport has a minimum of six months validity remaining
- Finally, once we arrive at the Myanmar airport * Immigration post, you will have to present your Myanmar e-Visa and passport to get it stamped by the immigration official. The visa is valid for 90 days from the date of issue. So make sure you travel in that time frame.
What are the different entry points in Myanmar?
In Myanmar, you need to enter via certain land border checkpoints or certain airports. As of current rules, eVisa passengers can use these points of entry:
- Airports: Yangon, Mandalay and Nay Pyi Taw.
- Land border checkpoints: Tachileik, Myawaddy, Kawthaung, Tamu and Rih Khaw Dar.
Is it possible to get a visa through the Burmese Embassy?
Yes, aside from the eVisa, it is also possible to get a visa for Myanmar (Burma) through one of its Embassies or Consulates. Unfortunately, at present, such representation is scarce so it is difficult to carry out the visa management in person. A lot of countries don’t have Myanmar consular offices and Embassies. Luckily, the US has it so you can apply for a visa from there. If you happen to be on a tour of countries like England, France, Switzerland, Germany and Italy, you can apply for a visa for Myanmar from the embassies over there as well. In the event that you are already travelling through Southeast Asia, where the representation of Burma is greater, the visa processing in any of the Embassies of its neighbouring countries such as Vietnam, India, Cambodia, Thailand and Laos will be much faster and easier. The visa is processed in less than 3 days from these embassies.
How can you process the Myanmar visa in embassies or at the airport?
In order to do so, you will need the following:
- Visa application form
- Valid passport (valid for more than 6 months from the date of arrival in Myanmar)
- 2 photos of 3 × 4 cm or 4 × 6 cm (preferably white background)
- US $50 in cash to pay visa fees.
What is the validity of the Burma Visa for American citizens?
The visa is valid for 90 days from the date of approval. However, that doesn’t mean you can stay in Myanmar (Burma) for 90 days using it. All tourist visa holders can only visit Myanmar and stay in the country for a maximum of 28 days. The validity period is to help you with applying for authorisation in advance.
You should also remember that the Burma visa is a Single Entry visa. Which means that if you leave the country before your visa’s expiry, you won’t be able to re-enter it using the same document. You will need to apply for a new visa if you want to get back to Myanmar.
Do many American tourists go to Myanmar?
While the country of Myanmar might not be a very popular tourism destination, it is bordered by some of Asia’s biggest tourist hubs like India, Thailand and China. However, because of its past and strict nature, it isn’t inundated with tourists. This makes it a great alternative tourist destination. Around 80,000 Americans visit Myanmar every year. So it’s quite likely that you will come across your fellow American citizens on your visit there.
How can you reach Myanmar from the USA?
No airline flies directly from the USA to Myanmar. You will need to hop on to another flight after a layover in the Middle East or South Asia. If you wish to leave the airport during your layover you will need to check the transit visa rules of the country your layover is in.
Where can American tourists stay in Myanmar?
You can only fly to one of the three international airports in Myanmar: Mandalay, Nay Pyi Taw or Yangon. Nay Pyi Taw has been designed and built as the country’s new capital. However, Yangon (formerly called Rangoon) is the largest and most famous city.
Foreign tourists can only stay in registered hotels or guesthouses. The list of these hotels and resorts is published officially by the Burmese government.
Which languages are spoken in Myanmar?
The official language of Myanmar is Burmese. Because it was a British Colony at one point in time (part of British India), a lot of people speak English as well. The neighbouring countries have also contributed to the languages spoken in Myanmar as you can find a lot of people speaking Cantonese, Mandarin and Hindi as well.
Which religion is practised in Myanmar?
Most of the people in Myanmar are practising Buddhists. The country is very strict against any perceived insults made towards its religion. It’s best to exercise extreme caution around Buddhism in Myanmar. Some tourists have been deported from Myanmar because they had tattoos that resembled Buddha. You must exercise extreme caution when it comes to any kind of religious symbolism. Don’t make irresponsible comments on social media either, you can be persecuted and prosecuted for it.
Is Myanmar safe for LGBT tourists?
People of the LGBT community can visit Myanmar but they should remember that any kind of same sex relations and activities are illegal there. While these laws aren’t enforced with extreme strictness, some LGBT tourists have talked about facing discrimination during their stay in Myanmar.