Since 2013 foreigners are allowed to cross the Thai-Myanmar boarder at Myawaddy. Traffic between Myawaddy and Hpa An goes alternatively (one day each) west (Myawaddy to Hpa An) and east (Hpa An to Myawaddy) as the road is too narrow to allow both direction driving. Try to obtain information on the driving directions beforehand and plan your border crossing accordingly.
The border closes at 18:00 Myanmar time and the immigration procedure is quite simple. Coming from Myanmar foreigners don't have to join the queues but can go right into the office while locals are queuing outside, and entering Thailand you can go straight to window number 4. Pick-ups and taxis are easily available on both sides.
The Myawaddy - Mae Sot border crossing is a moderately popular destination for tourists and expats in Thailand who want to make a "visa run" (ie, get a new Thai entry permit stamp by making a short visit to another country).
The time in Myawaddy is 30 minutes earlier than in Mae Sot, and the traffic (mostly) drives on the right which makes an interesting scene on the bridge where cars from both ends have to switch over to the other side.
From the Thai town of Mae Sot, take a songthaew or other transport to the border crossing at the Thai-Myanmar Friendship Bridge over the Moei River; Myawaddy is immediately on the other side of the bridge.
To do a visa run, foreigners must deposit their passports at the Myanmar immigration checkpoint and pay a fee of either USD10 or THB500 for entry.
On re-entering Thailand without a visa, passport holders from the G7 countries of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States now get another automatic 30 days in Thailand without the need for any visa.
If you are a citizen of Brazil, Chile, Peru, South Korea, or Argentina, you will fare even better as you'll be stamped into Thailand for 90 days. Citizens from most other countries get only a 15 day stamp put in their passports. According to the Thailand Immigration Bureau, the number of times you can cross a land border into Thailand and be given 15, 30 or 90 days in Thailand is now unlimited. The Thai authorities have a nasty habit of changing this quite frequently with no warning, so do re-confirm this at the time you are travelling.
While in Myawaddy the Thai baht are universally accepted, and so there is no need to change baht into kyat (the Burmese currency).
Since 2014, there is a direct bus leaving every odd days to Yangon for 13,000 kyat, departing at 8am, 9am and 10am and taking 12 hours.
Myawaddy is centred around the wide strip of highway that leads from the Friendship Bridge through town and is small enough to be explored easily on foot; alternatively, ubiquitous red bicycle rickshaws go everywhere.
Places of interest in town include:
Very picturesque site with several big Buddha images enshrined on its grounds, one of which is a replica of the golden Buddha image of Mahamuni temple in Mandalay. Locals claim that this pagoda is more than 1,000 years old. Three more temples with big pagodas a bit away from the town centre in neighbouring villages (there are many more pagodas in surrounding areas, as everywhere in Myanmar).
One of these pagodas is situated on the grounds of the children's dancing school, so you can see many small kids there. There are also more than a hundred similar sitting Buddha images on one of the sides of this pagoda.
Another temple is situated on a hill 100m walk from the previous one. It also has a big pagoda and gives a good view of the surrounding area. Visiting these distant places gives a bit of experience of "real Myanmar" with small wooden huts and locals working in their fields.
The crocodile temple (Shwe Muay Wan)- Click for Aerial view on google, GPS location: N16°40.97167', E098°30.36500'. Library built on top of a giant crocodile (no acces for women). A series of displays explaining the life of Budha. Walk anti-clockwise to start at birth. the accompanying temple has some interesting 3d art in stone on the wall.
A giant standing Budha - Click for Aerial view on google, GPS location: N16°40.88964', E098°30.08634'. A standing Budha about 15/20m high. Behind the meeting hall they are building a giant sitting Budha. Next to the Budha a rather large golden bell shaped tower.
Neat entry gate - GPS location: N16°41.18532', E098°29.96550'. A lion topped gate leading off the main road
Golden bell tower complex - (Myikyaungon in Burmese/ Wat Don Jarakhe in THai) Click for Aerial view on google, GPS location: 16°41.32482', 098°30.49416'. Square complex with multiple temples, many golden bell tower constructions and very, very bad toilet facilities.
Outdoor market (mostly food) = GPS locatoin: 16°41.29698', 098°30.63420'. Single street market. About 2km long. Busier in the afternoon. Prepare your nose ;) If you are adventorous, the market is right in the midle of a slum city. Roam to one of the side alleys and see the real Myanmar.
There are several guesthouses and small hotels. You can find cheap guest houses from MYK6,000 for a single room, and MYK10,000 for a double room. Foreigners are only permitted to stay overnight if they've got their visa.
Myawaddy Hotel +95 5850519 has rooms for US$22 - US$30. Breakfast is included. Rooms are a little shabby-looking, but clean and staff don't speak much english. On the highway, about 1km from the boarder. Hotel has a restaurant with good food at reasonable prices.
All onward travel towards inner Myanmar is limited according to which day it is - (one way driving only, see above.)