That's true and it will only get tougher in future. Laos also makes it tough to get a visa for these nationals if not resident in the country they apply in. Or they might need to go on a tour. I am not confident this Nigerian guy you met would have been issued a Lao visa. They require the purchase of a tour package, local guarantor and return flight tickets so going in by bus is a no-no unless a multiple entry visa that has been previously used has been issued but Laos does not routinely issue anything other than single entry visas.
User profile: Tom69
- RegisteredNovember 17, 2010
- RegisteredNovember 17, 2010
A little off topic, but the USD advice is old news. Since late 2012, all banks that deal in foreign exchange (the best are CB Bank and KBZ Bank) can exchange three currencies: USD, EUR and SGD. There are however plenty of official money changers that take other currencies including AUD, CHF, JPY, MYR, THB, GBP and even CNY and possibly a few other major currencies such as HKD and NZD all at good rates and these money changers are plentiful in Yangon and Mandalay including their respective airports. Near the Chinese border nearly everyone deals only with CNY and not USD.
ATM's are nearly everywhere now even in some smaller towns although maybe not in the most out of the way places. Again, CB Bank and KBZ Bank ATM's are reliable and work without any problems (except in rare cases) however, if you're in Yangon you'll have like 100 other ATM's to choose from in case one is down but I didn't even have problems from the one ATM in Hpa-an for example. Even Mu-se now has 3 ATM's in case you happen to pass through town once the border crossing opens officially.
I just came back from Mu-se to deliver some goods to the border with China. I was in mu-se for one night at the beginning of this month. This was my second trip to the area the first time being in 2013. The procedure to enter the Mu-se economic zone is much the same as 2 years ago.
You will have to show your passport at the 105 mile checkpoint with a sign in English, Burmese and Chinese indicating this. There is a certain sense of paranoia amongst the local immigration guys who will assume you are coming to cross into China and will ask for your permit. After telling them you don't have one as you just want to stay in town and then turn back and return to the interior of Myanmar, a few phone calls to the head immigration guy at the border some 10km away they'll let you go. But then you still have to fill in an accommodation registration slip and report in person to immigration. The procedure was thus identical to 2013.
However, last time the immigration guys at the 105 mile checkpoint were rather easygoing with immigration at the border a bit stern. This time it was the exact opposite: 105 mile checkpoint was paranoid but border immigration very quick and quite friendly. Note that leaving the zone for other parts of Myanmar also requires checking in with both border immigration and 105 mile however, that was a very quick process compared to arrival in town. If you have crossed over from China with a permit it might take longer though.
Apart from myself and a friend, I spotted only one more foreign looking individual in town on the back of a pickup.
However, this may change once the border crossing opens officially to all - Chinese, Burmese and third country foreigners with passport and relevant visas (if required). Although there has been talk of an imminent opening of the border since various news sources first announced it in late 2013, about half a year since I first went to mu-se, the opening dates have been delayed again and again.
But the good news is that the immigration complex at the border, which is under construction is projected to be completed soon in order to allow the passage of third country nationals. This construction should be finished around June and allow the upgrading of the border to international status to take place between June-August according to various news sources and Myanmar immigration. While this is quite good news, I wouldn't hold my breath as further delays wouldn't surprise me. Although I am confident the border should be opened fairly soon in time for the Aec 2015 ASEAN economic community, a priority for all ASEAN member states including Myanmar.
The recent outbreak of fighting near the Chinese border some 100km east of mu-se at Laukkai shouldn't have any effect on the Mu-se-Ruili crossing because 1) the Mu-se-Mandalay road is under full government control and an important trade corridor and 2) the Laukkai area, which is not under direct government control is not anywhere near Mu-se and therefore one will be able to pass through the border from Mu-se to places like Lashio, Pyin u lwin and Mandalay without passing through any dangerous areas/territory in much the same way that the Thai-Myanmar border crossings allow you to cross into the Myanmar interior along main roads even if there may be instability in the hills not too far away in some cases.
Like last time the only Chinese in town appeared to be Ruili locals and no Chinese were crossing at night. Perhaps because they're not allowed to.
I'm afraid you won't be able to enter Vietnam on a Chinese registered bike (or car for that matter) unless maybe you go on an organized tour with arrangements made at least a month in advance. There is no way you will be successful if you attempt to enter independently and forget about trying to enter from Laos to Vietnam as the Lao authorities won't allow your bike to leave their territory. The Vietnamese consulate is no use so go to www.ride-asia.net or gtrider.com for more detailed info.
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