Apr 23-25, 2016
2 Days in Tachileik, Myanmar
Location: Tachileik, Myanmar
Busy Market Scene
Immediately after crossing into Myanmar, the big border market was already there with clusters of vendors, cafes and hotels. You can practically find everything there. The market is big. Everyone was selling something from fake Viagra to fake cigarettes. I speculate that these products are all imports from China. The only thing they don't fake there is water. It is not clear to me who the buyers are. It can't be cross-border Thais since Thailand has better (and genuine) products. Laotians? But why? Perhaps the buyers are the locals themselves for local distribution in the region.
The Nich Hotel
My immediate concern was a place to stay for the night. I haven't booked anything yet since all the hotels in Agoda are expensive. I thought I might find a B150/night hostel by walking around. I didn't have my bearing on the place yet and I was tired from the long trip and exhausted from the visa snag at the border. I just checked-in at the first hotel I saw - The Nich Hotel at B400/night for a fan room with ensuite. Ok room but B400/day is way off my limits - I'd be hemorrhaging cash. I would rather pay B100 for a spartan dorm bed. Perhaps I would find something cheaper the following day.
Bright and early the following day, I started pounding the pavement for a hotel deal or at least look for a cheaper alternative. All my efforts were in vain. The energy just felt dead. The cheapest I could find was a B250/night fan room with shared washrooms at Erawan Hotel. At that rate, my funds will still dwindle fast. Apparently, that's the cheapest available in Tachileik - not exactly encouraging.
The tuk-tuk drivers already have their tourist attraction laminated sheet with about 6 destinations, mostly pagodas, to showcase. Their rate was B200 for the entire gamut. I thought about renting a bicycle and seeing them myself, much like what I did in Angkor Wat. But there were no bike rentals. I had to do a lot of walking...and it was dusty. There was a low-roller casino that would accept B10 wagers but that's not my thing. Padoga? In Southeast Asia, to be honest, I am already pagoda-out. I've already seen one too many. My excitement about Tachileik was wearing thin.
$3/Day in Tachileik
While browsing the internet for more info about Tachileik, I stumbled upon one info that was a deal breaker - that Immigration will charge 10,000 Ryat/day (about $8.55) for every day of stay in Tachileik. What??? How come this wasn't discussed in the forums? I panicked. With 2 days' stay, that's roughly $17 already I have to pay. And I'm staying here for 2 weeks? Definitely a deal breaker!!! Just to be sure, I went to Immigration for a confirmation. The guy I talked to said the fee is only $3/day. Still!!! It was already close to 12 noon. I hurriedly got back to my hotel to check out before the noon cut-off and make it back to the border. I told the hotel owner the situation. She called Immigration and confirmed that indeed, there is a $3/day charge for staying in Tachileik. With that, I packed up and headed for the border, back to Thailand.
I was supposed to stay in Tachileik for 2 weeks but I was plagued by too many set backs at the very outset - the visa-run issue, the B500 entrance fee to Myanmar, the expensive lodging, no bike rental, being dusty, etc. I still would be been resilient with that, but the daily fee for staying in Tachileik? It was the straw that broke the camel's back. I made a mad dash across the border into Thailand. The funny thing is, Myanmar Immigration gave me back my passport without charging me for staying in Tachileik. Weird. I'm just glad to be back in Thailand. Tachileik would be my version of Twilight Zone. I was on edge the entire time.
The following people like this:
(Apr 12, 2016) Thats crazy...go straight to Yangon. I live in Yangon, I only visit Manila often....Yeah thats a rip off....they shouldn't do that. I'll message you my mobile.... Maybe you can put up a nice yoga studio here...
(Apr 12, 2016) I would be so scared to leave my passport anywhere. That's a strange rule. Your travels are always so inspiring Gigit. Our schedules always seem to be out of sync. Let me know when you are in Manila again.
Next stop: 4 Days in Mae Sai, Thailand
- Visa-Run to Tachileik, Myanmar Sep 28, 2019
- 2 Days in Tachileik, Myanmar Apr 23-25, 2016
- Border Crossing - Mae Sai (Thailand) to Tachileik (Myanmar) Apr 23, 2016
Tachileik FYI / Tips
- there are no bicycle rentals here
- don't expect to be hanging out with backpackers. There are no tourists here.
- the cheapest lodging here is B250 for a fan room with shared bathrooms at Erawan Hotel
- you can use Thai Baht. It is the preferred currency
- there is now internet in Tachileik
- there is a B500 entrance fee to Tachileik. Asean member countries are NOT exempted
- there is a $3/day fee for staying in Tachileik (Immigration said so, but I was not charged for my 2 day stay)
- when crossing an international border, always start early. You'll never know what will delay you.
How to Get to Tachileik from Chiang Mai
- take the Green Bus at the Arcade Terminal 3 Bus Station in Chiang Mai, bound for Mae Sai, B319 for VIP seats, (mine left 9:30am, arrived Mae Sai city proper 2:10pm -there are other time slots). You can also buy the bus ticket within Old City (Thonon Rachadamnoen Alley corner Singharat Rd) but you pay B20 extra.
- at the Mae Sai town proper, take the red taxi to the border, B15, 10 mins
Things to do, Places to go in Tachileik
- Tachileik Market - big border market for local shoppers and wholesaler buyers. Lots of fake cigarettes, fake Viagra, mostly fake items.
- Enrobed Elephant Temple
- Tachileik Shwedagon Pagoda
Tachileik Cost Indexbackpacker places (US$1 = Thai Baht 35.15 = Php 46.74 = MYR Ryat 1168.80 as of Apr 25, 2016)
- B20 one can Leo beer
- B80 1.0 liter Myanmar bottled beer
- B40-60 noodle soup with meat
- B40 coffee
- B250 fan room, shared toilet at Erawan Hotel
- B400 fan room, ensuite toilet
- B20 1km tuk-tuk ride
Hotels in Tachileik
USEFUL INFORMATION(as of Jan 2020)
Myanmar FYI / Travel Tips
- accommodation - not all destinations in Myanmar can accommodate foreign travelers. Walk-in hotel guests could be refused. Better make an online booking, or make sure the hotel you wish to stay, at is listed in the online booking sites (Agoda, Booking.com, etc.)
- local time - adjust time 30 mins behind from Thailand (if arriving from Thailand)
- Burmese people - Burmese people are new to what's happening to Myanmar - being opened-up to the rest of the world. They remain friendly, helpful and curious. Tourism being new, the culture is not yet corrupted by it.
General Travel Tips
- arrive early - in case there is a snag (visa snag, documentation snag, transport ticket snag, etc.), you will have ample time to troubleshoot the problem if you arrive early (to the airport, to the bus terminal, etc.)
- put detailed itinerary on the Calendar apps of your smart-phone according to timelines - this is where you do all your thinking and planning. Once written down, you don't have to think anymore while you are on the journey...you just follow the steps. This frees your mind for something else that might happen while you are already en route
- avoiding scams - as a general rule, I ignore the touts or anyone I don't know who call out to me. The calling comes in many forms - "Hi! Where are you from?", "Excuse me! Excuse me!", "Where are you going?". I don't look them in the eye and I remain non-verbal with them. If you reply to them, you just gave them an 'in' to hound you. In order not to look rude, I smile and wave the 'not interested' hand to them, without looking at them.
- power bank - hand-carry your power bank. Do not check it in. You can be called in when you are already inside the plane to go all the way to the loading dock so you can personally remove the power bank...and chances are, you'll have to surrender it to them. And you might delay the plane departure!
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