RANGOON — Travelers will soon be able to make a single-ticket overland journey between Bangkok and Burmese cities.
A Bangkok-based travel agency will launch its first trips on Saturday from the Thai capital to Rangoon as well as Mandalay, Bagan, Pa-an in Karen State, Dawei in Tenasserim Division, and Moulmein and the Golden Rock in Mon State. The agency, Vega Travel, also plans to begin trips departing from Rangoon, Pa-an and Moulmein to Bangkok later in February, with an option to travel onward to the Cambodian city of Siem Reap.
It will be the first travel agency to offer single-ticket overland trips from Burma all the way to Bangkok. Currently, buses from various cities stop in the Thai border town of Mae Sot, and travelers must book separate tickets from there to Bangkok.
“The trips are planned to start in February, and we are already accepting reservations,” says Thant Zin, ticketing manager at Vega Travel Myanmar.
Passengers will need to book tickets two days in advance. Vega Travel can assist with Thai visa applications for a 5,000 kyats fee (US$5), in addition to the visa cost of $40. Passengers to Cambodia can apply for a visa on arrival.
A ticket to Rangoon from Bangkok will cost 1,500 baht ($45). From Burma, tickets to Bangkok will cost 55,000 kyats from Rangoon, 45,000 kyats from Pa-an, and 40,000 kyats from Moulmein. The trip from Rangoon to Siem Reap will cost 60,000 kyats.
The journey from Rangoon to Bangkok will take about 24 hours. Travelers will depart Rangoon at 6 am and arrive at the Burmese border town of Myawaddy at about 4 pm or 5 pm. After checking in with immigration across the border in Mae Sot, a double-decker bus will depart about three hours later, at 7 pm or 8 pm, and arrive in Bangkok the next morning. From there, travelers can continue on for another eight or nine hours to Siem Reap.
Vega Travel says it will schedule trips on days when buses are allowed to pass the Dawna mountain range to Myawaddy.
In August, Burma’s Ministry of Immigration and Population announced that foreign visitors with Burmese visas would be allowed to enter and leave Burma overland through four gates along its eastern border with Thailand. In the past, travelers could only go between the countries by plane.
For decades earlier, international road travel was restricted by the former military regime, which was wary of foreign visitors and wanted to limit access to the conflict-ridden ethnic areas along the border.
President Thein Sein’s quasi-civilian government has signed ceasefires with most major ethnic armed groups since 2011, and peace talks are ongoing.
Officials and ethnic representatives said last year that the decision to open the border for overland travel would boost tourism and facilitate foreign investment in ethnic areas and the rest of Burma.