Burma has eased restrictions on its border crossings to allow travel throughout the country from neighbouring Thailand.
Until now, travellers entering Burma at Tachilek and Kawthaung had been restricted to visiting just those towns before returning to Thailand, making the crossings useful for those on visa runs but not those hoping to explore more of the country.
Options for overland travellers also increased recently with the opening of a new checkpoint at Myawaddy, which borders Mae Sot in Thailand. There is a fourth border point with Thailand at Htee Khee-Sunaron.
Travellers must obtain a full tourist visa in advance.
Burma’s minister of immigration and population U Khin Ye, said that the recent ease on border restrictions “is the fruits of the peace building – there will be more benefits and opportunities from developments, jobs, trade and tourism.”
According to a report in Burma-based Karen News, tourists will be permitted to stay for 28 days.
It said government officials suggested that plans to open its borders with China had been stalled due to ongoing conflict in the northern Shan state where the border lies.
The Foreign Office still advises travellers to be vigilant in border areas. “There is ongoing military activity close to borders with Thailand, Laos and China especially in Shan, Karen, Mon and Kachin States,” its website states.
It also reminds travellers that restrictions on travel at the borders of Muse (in Burma’s Shan State) and Ruili (in China), and Tamu (in Burma’s Chin State) and Morei (on the Indian border), remain.
Burma has experienced a boom in tourism in the past year since an international boycott on travel was relaxed. Concerns remain however over many of the issues that led to the boycott.
Reports of clashes between Buddhists and Muslims in the Rakhine state, on the western coast, continue. According to human rights groups, around 800,000 Rohingyas, a Muslim minority, live in the state but most of them have been denied citizenship. Thousands have fled to Thailand as refugees.