Golden Triangle--cross the borders?

Feb 19th, 2004, 04:15 AM
  #1  
P_M
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Golden Triangle--cross the borders?

How difficult is it to cross into Burma or Laos from Thailand? Is it worth the time and trouble? Thanks.
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Feb 19th, 2004, 04:49 AM
  #2  
 
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I assume you mean by land, as you can fly into either country. You of course will need a visa for each.

You can enter Laos by land. According to the US State Dept's website (travel.state.gov):

"Visas are issued upon arrival in Laos to foreign tourists and business persons with two passport size photographs and $30 at Wattay Airport, Vientiane; Friendship Bridge, Vientiane; and Luang Prabang Airport as well as at the following international entry points: Boten-Bohan, Hoeyxay, Khammouane-Nakhonphanom, Savannakhet-Mukdahan, Vangtao-Chong Mek, Pakse Airport, Daensavanh-Laobao, Namphao-Kaopae, and Namkan. Foreign tourists are generally admitted to Laos for 15 days with a visa issued upon arrival or for 30 days with a visa issued at a Lao Embassy. The Department of Immigration in Vientiane will extend 15-day tourist visas for up to 15 days and one-month visas for up to one month for a fee of $2 per day of extension."

For Burma, you have to go to the website for their embassy in the US (http://www.mewashingtondc.com), I could not find anything about land arrivals. You might want to contact the embassy. Burma generally only allows tourists to visit several main cities like Yangoon, so unless you are entering at one of the permitted places for tourists, it is unlikely you would be granted a visa for a land entry. Interesting, mobile phones are not allowed in the country and will be impounded on arrival and returned when you leave. (Assuming they find one). You also have to exchange US$200 at the airport when you arrive and you can't get a refund even if you don't spend this much. Just a foretaste of the regulations you can expect. . . .

I have not done an overland journey to either, so can't speak for the road conditions or how long it would take. I am not sure an overland trip is worth it.
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Feb 19th, 2004, 05:08 AM
  #3  
sandi
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We did a land cross from Mae Sai, the northernmost point at the Golden Triangle. We first stopped at a Thai border station about 5-minutes from the crossing point, where we got exit stamps in our Passports and handed over USD$5.

We then drove border bridge (which we learned they open/close on a whim and there is no notification when) where our driver dropped us. Along with our female guide we crossed the bridge, stopped into the Immigration office, where we had to leave our passports (as we only had a day-pass) for which we received a receipt. We were hesitant to do this as we had heard that passports often disappear, and we'd be better just leaving a photo copy, but we gave them our originals).

From there we continued over the bridge and went down into the People's Market. Like most markets, they sell everything and anything - clothing, food, cigarettes, cosmetics, even "faux" Gucci, LV, Prada, Kate Spade (we got a chuckle on this, yet the prices weren't any better than what we can find faux for back in the States - if this is what someone wants).

We spent about 1-1/2 hrs. and made a few puchases. Then back across the bridge, collected our passports and once on the Thai side had to fill-in entry forms and have our passports stamped again. It was rather easy, a third country stop which we didn't know beforehand we would be able to accomplish; interesting to do so, but again sad to see how much poorer it appeared in Burma. However, I don't know what the procedures would be for a longer stay.

It was interesting to look at our passport upon return home - I managed to get all my entry/exit stamps on two-facing pages (not all over the passport) and realized I had been in/out of Thailand three times this one trip, all nice a neat.
 
Feb 19th, 2004, 05:25 AM
  #4  
 
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Sandi gave a good summary of the procedure for a day trip into Burma from the Golden Triangle. Note that you can only do day trips this way, and cannot proceed farther into Burma overland.

You can also cross the river into Laos to visit a local market in a similar way (but without a visa or passport stamps). The private boat takes you to the Laos shore, and you pay something like 20 baht at a small immigration stand and get a small piece of paper. You can shop and return to your boat. Frankly, this trip was not worth it. The market was poor quality goods and you didn't see local crafts to purchase, any hint of traditional Laotioan life, etc.
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Feb 19th, 2004, 09:57 AM
  #5  
P_M
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Very interesting, thanks to all who replied. This will help me to make a more informed decision as to whether or not to cross these borders.
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