Earth : Asia : Southeast Asia : Myanmar : Southeastern Myanmar : Myawaddy
Myawaddy (also sometimes spelt Myawaddi, Myawadi or Myawady) is a border town in Myanmar. Access for foreigners is currently only possible from Mae Sot in Tak Province, Thailand, though this is set to change in a few years time.
Since 28.8.2013 foreigners are allowed to cross the Thai-Myanmar boarder at Myawaddy. Traffic to Myawaddy from Hpa An goes west (Myawaddy to Hpa An) on even numbered days, east (Hpa An to Myawaddy) on odd numbered days so plan your border crossing carefully. The border closes at 18:00 Myanmar time and the immigration procedure is quite simple. I crossed from Myanmar to Thailand on the 29.9.2013 and didn't face any problems. 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" (i.e. 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.
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 $10 or 500 Thai baht for entry.
On re-entering Thailand without a visa, passport holders from G7 countries now get 30 days, everyone else gets 15. The Thai authorities have a habit of changing this quite frequently, so do re-confirm this at the time you are travelling.
While in Myawaddy the Thai Baht is universally accepted, and so there is no need to change Bhaht into the Kyat (the Burmese currency).
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:
The Golden pagoda, 2-3 minutes from the border checkpoint by rickshaw. 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.
The Crocodile temple, 6-7 minutes from the border checkpoint by rickshaw. Very unusual temple situated on the back of a gigantic crocodile statue.
Three more temples with big padodas 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 100 metres 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.
There are several guesthouses and small hotels. You can find cheap guest houses from 6,000 kyat for a single room, and 10,000 kyat for a double room. Foreigners are only permitted to stay overnight if they've got their visa.
Note that all onward travel is limited according to which day it is - see above.