The overland Thailand Myanmar border crossing between Bangkok (or Kanchanaburi), Thailand and Dawei, Myanmar is simple, but time consuming as the cities are separated by a long dirt road.
All Day Long
Also, it can be confusing to understand, as you must change vehicles a few times and have your passport checked three times. Starting from Kanchanaburi at 08:30 am, expect to arrive in Dawei around 16:00 pm (4 pm), assuming there is minimal waiting time for transport and passport control. The time in the opposite direction is approximately the same.
Foreigners pass through 3 passport control offices: 1 – exit Thailand; 2- entry Myanmar; 3 – Myanmar 2nd entry check (some foreigners have reported not stopping here, if hitch hiking).
Toilets & Food
If on paid transportation, there will also be a lunch stop with delicious food that is priced fairly for Myanmar at about $1 USD or 1,200 kyat for food. Toilets are available at each of the three passport control stops and the lunch stop, however like anywhere in Asia, I suggest you bring your own toilet paper in case it is not provided.
Note: This route may be impassable during the rainy season, due to the road being dirt and crossing various bridges over rivers and streams. Check current information by inquiring about minibus tickets, even if you ultimately intend to hitchhike.
From Bangkok to Kanchanaburi
From Bangkok either take the 2-hour bus ride from the bus station, book a taxi, or take the train to Kanchanaburi. The bus and tax will conveniently leave you at the bus station.
The bus station in Bangkok may be a 1-hour taxi ride from your accommodation (or more during rush hour), so enquire with them. Purchase tickets to Kanchanaburi at the bus station and buses run frequently.
The train station is some distance from the bus station, and you can easily take a moto-taxi from the train station. However, if you arrive in the afternoon, you should plan on spending a night in Kanchanaburi. There’s plenty to do in town and in the surrounding area.
From Kanchanaburi, Thailand to Passport Exit
At the Kanchanaburi bus station buy a ticket for the border town. Arrive at the station 1 hour in advance to purchase the 8:30am bus ticket. There are also later departure times, but earlier is better, since it takes about 7 hours total to travel to Dawei.
Tell someone at any ticket table that you want to cross the border to Myanmar by using simple English such as “Myanmar border, please.” They will point you towards the correct ticket table, as each ticket table sells bus tickets for a specific destination. The minibus will leave you at the border directly in front of the Thai exit passport control desk. For no additional cost you can request the front seat on the minibus.
Thai Border Crossing to Dawei, Myanmar
About 15 meters beyond the Thai exit passport control desk, there is a big sign in English for transport to Dawei. This transport may be a combination of a minibus and car and will take you through both Myanmar passport control offices (2) and drop you off at your hotel of choice in Dawei. The cost as of April 2016 is 800 baht. Know a hotel name in Dawei, as your driver may need to communicate this at Myanmar passport control, although no proof of reservation is necessary. You can obtain a hotel name from a Lonely Planet or Rough Guide guidebook. Although there are many hotels and guesthouses in Dawei and throughout Myanmar, only those with a special permit may accommodate foreigners.
Of course, you can hitchhike the entire border crossing, but I found it helpful, convenient, and relaxing to have a driver who knew the ropes for tourists. Also, as my travels were during the hot season, I appreciated the air-conditioned car for the 4-hour ride on very bumpy dirt roads, as I was still acclimatizing to the heat. However, the sound of the woman vomiting in the seat behind me was not so nice.
From Dawei, Myanmar to Kanchanaburi, Thailand
You have two options. One is to book a bus ticket, and the other is to hitchhike.
Book a bus ticket through your accommodation, since the Dawei bus station is several kilometers from town, so paying commission is ok. Confirm whether or not the transport will drop you off at the Thai passport control entry desk. There is 6 kilometers of no-man’s-land between the Myanmar exit and the Thai entry, so you should not get dropped off at the Myanmar exit point.
It is possible to hitchhike, but a woman I met in Kanchanaburi who hitchhiked was left at the Myanmar exit passport control and had difficulty finding her way to the Thai entry area 6 kilometers away.
It was a very hot day, and when I met her in Kanchanaburi, she was exhausted and stressed from the journey. Apparently she received typical Myanmar directions when she asked at the Myanmar exit point in which direction she should walk to the Thai border– a wave of the hand in a general direction. This was no help at the fork in the road. Meanwhile, travelers she knew arrived in Kanchanaburi by minibus shortly after her and were relaxed, having paid for the ride.
I would suggest having a travel partner if making the border crossing via hitchhiking, simply to reduce the stress. Like all the rest of Myanmar, I would not expect any danger or crime to occur to a tourist while crossing the border.
Both Dawei, Myanmar and Kanchanaburi, Thailand are great places to relax for a few days, or even a week in the cities and surrounding areas.
Rent a motorbike and roam around the countryside, or take a taxi. Stop along the way and taste all the delicious homemade soups and curries. Western tourists are spread out, so it feels like you’re off the beaten path. English speakers can be found in restaurants and hotels.
- In and around Kanchanaburi
- 7-level waterfall – Erawan Falls
- Elephants World sanctuary where you can spend a day or two and watch baby elephants
- In and around Dawei
- Pristine white beaches
- Fishing villages with no tourists
Would you rather cross the border by paid minibus or by hitchhiking? Leave a comment below!
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