Myanmar-India border

I’m not a big fan of flying. Not because I’m afraid of flying but because I always find crossing a border overland more interesting and exciting. Of course, I know that a plane would be quicker and easier, but sometimes the best stories come from those times when the journey seemed to take forever and was more difficult than anticipated. Crossing the Myanmar-India border was not necessarily difficult, but it was certainly long and tiring (tip: bring plenty of snacks).

The border was only opened to foreign tourists from August 2018, as before that time foreigner’s had to obtain a special permit to cross. Although the border is now permit free, a proper Indian visa is required, and an e-visa is still NOT permitted. I actually saw a French man at the border, and at first I was excited to see another foreigner, however, he was being turned away from entering India due to only having an e-visa and being left in no-mans-land is not the ideal situation.

So, here’s a guide to crossing the Myanmar-India border as a foreign tourist.

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How to cross the Myanmar-India border

The easiest way to head to the border from Myanmar is via Mandalay. Mandalay has direct buses to Kalay (or Kalaymo) and even, Tamu (the border town). However, by ‘direct’ bus to Tamu, it really means a direct bus to Kalay and then switching to a minivan for Tamu. I paid 21,000kyats or AUD$20 for a ticket all the way through to Tamu.

Tamu is a small, dusty border town, with not a lot going on. If you wanted to break the journey up somewhere, I would suggest a night in Kalay would be a better option. The journey from Kalay to Tamu is only 3-4 hours, from where the border is just a couple of kilometres from the bus stand.

On the other hand, crossing the border and spending a night in Moreh, on the Indian side, is another option where there are plenty of hotels available.

Read next: 10 Things You Need to Know About Travelling to Myanmar

Bus travel in Myanmar
Mandalay Bus Station

Once I arrived in Tamu, the minivan driver dropped me straight at the ‘Friendship Bridge’ at the border point, where there was a small Myanmar immigration office. After getting an exit stamp, I walked across the bridge and turned left towards the newly constructed Indian immigration complex. It’s much larger than Myanmar’s, however, it was completely empty when I was there having only recently been completed. 

There was one man at a small desk in the centre of a large room and he took his time flicking through my passport looking at the numerous visas and stamps I’d collected. He finally stamped my Indian visa and I had to go to the back of the room where there was another man behind another small desk labelled ‘Customs’. He gave me a form to fill out and despite, ticking ‘yes’ to carrying nuts, seeds, fruits or vegetables, he just waved me through without checking my bags.

Myanmar border bus
Mandalay-Kalay bus

Out of the building there was a large gate and it had ‘Moreh 2km’ written on it. I decided to walk the easy 2km to Moreh town, and in fact, there wasn’t really any other option in the form of taxis anyway.

Moreh is a much busier town than Tamu with plenty of restaurants, hotels and ATMs and of course, many minivans lined up along the road ready to go to Imphal, the capital city of Manipur. A shared minivan to Imphal cost 500 INR or AUD$10 and took around 4 hours. Again, the driver actually offered to drop me at whichever hotel in Imphal I wanted, which kindly saved me a taxi fare.

From leaving Mandalay, Myanmar to arriving at my hotel in Imphal, India, the total travel time was 28 hours. Like I said, crossing from Myanmar to India isn’t difficult just tiring!

Read next: 10 Best Things to Do in Mandalay

Kalay bus station
Kalay bus station

Heading in the other direction?

If you’re planning on entering Myanmar from India, I believe it is a pretty similar journey, just in reverse.

There are frequent minivans running from Imphal to Moreh at the border, from where you can walk across yourself. From Tamu there are a couple of bus options to Mandalay, likely with a stop in Kalay. You can either use minibus to Kalay and then change to Mandalay by bus or take a direct bus straight through. I believe the direct buses all leave Tamu before midday though, meaning you’ll have to leave Imphal early if you’re planning on crossing the border in the same day.

Basically, just be prepared for a long, overnight journey and possibly a lengthy wait, depending on the bus schedule at the time.

Read more: The Ultimate Guide to Northeast India

Imphal
Imphal

Imphal accommodation

Budget hotels don’t necessarily exist in Northeast India and the same goes for Imphal, Manipur. The best option and probably best value is Hotel Nirmala. Single rooms start from 800 rupees or AUD$16. The room was large, with a hot shower, Wi-Fi and restaurant on site. It is recommended in Lonely Planet and most rickshaw and minivan drivers seem to know it.

Another option in the city centre is Hotel Shirui Lily, 300m away from Hotel Nirmala. Single rooms starting from 1000 rupees. It was definitely not as good value and the room was not as nice, however, it still had Wi-Fi and a decent restaurant. 

A third option, although a few kilometres away from Thangal Bazaar, is Fair Haven Homestay, right opposite the Interstate Bus Terminus. The manager, Danny, is probably one of the most charismatic and helpful guesthouse managers I’ve come across. The rooms are ridiculously large, there’s hot water and breakfast is concluded. Rooms starting from 1000 rupees (after a little bargaining). Danny’s number is +91 8787597523 if you want to call ahead.

Find Imphal accommodation here.

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20 Comments

      1. Let us know about how you fare – and if you are by any chance an Indian or Myanmari National – which would make your feedback more difficult to use for the rest of us ;-).

    1. Hi Amy, I got a proper visa from my embassy in Australia before leaving for India which worked out better for me as it was a 12 month visa. In 2019, it also allowed me to cross land borders, whereas e-visas weren’t allowed for land borders at the time. I’m not sure of the current immigration rules and laws for India, so you might want to check them out depending on your nationality. Thanks!

    2. Hey Amy, India land borders are, contrary to official information, mostly open. I used 3 of them in September and was bumped on a fourth one. I ended up enquiring at each entry about the next one I wanted to take and these guys were able to tell. There is no other way (no telephone) of getting the information. At some stage local Nepali Police made the enquiry for me. So, I don’t know about Moreh (as the MYanamar side is currently closed for international travellers, but other land borders are open. I ones I used successfully are: Raxaul (from Nepal), Agartala (from Bangladesh), and Jaigaon (from Bhutan). Panitanki (from Nepal) is closed to international travellers in the direction of India. The other way (to Nepal) probably works. Gelephu ((from/to Bhutan) is closed to international travellers. As there is no clear directive from Delhi, the state Chief ministries seem to currently be making it up as they go.

  1. hi guys i am thailand and i plan to go india through pass myanmar is it okey to all way hithkike till border ?

    1. I have not hitchhiked in this part of the world, and would recommend you use public transport where possible. You should also check the latest border situation, as many nationalities aren’t allowed to cross there at the moment.

  2. According to my information there is no crossing of either border, except for the local population residing within a few km of the border. Tamu/Moreh is completely closed for Myanmaris wanting to enter India.

    1. We would like to cross the Myanmar – India border near Moreh in March or April.
      @Felix, how could I find out if it‘s open for international travelers, where do I get this information reliably?
      Thanks for your help!

      1. Dear Helene,

        currently there is still a Covid Ban on all land borders and sea ports. The official source of communication for this is here:http://www.mip.gov.mm/announcements-in-english/
        and here:https://evisa.moip.gov.mm/home/NoticeToTourist
        In the meanwhile I keep contact with the Myanmar representation in my country to get updates. Issue is that
        (A) Due to the political situation, depending on the representation, you will talk to one side or the other.
        (B) Due to the Civil Disobedience Movement (CDM), the ministries are only partially functioning because there is an ongoing general strike of many of the staff, meaning that I have so far not been able to find out what the review process is for the Covid related restrictions.
        (C) Culturally, it is apparently considered bad luck to make predictions in Myanmar, meaning it is very difficult to get them to tell you much about things in the future (not that other places are much better, but here you tend to get silence).

        Once and only after the covid restrictions will be lifted, there is still no guarantee that the borders will actually be open. The Tamu/Moreh crossing is currently dangerous to access on the Myanmar side due to armed conflicts on the road leading to it. The Indian authorities have sealed it completely to try to prevent an overspill of the conflict into Indian Manipur (meaning its also closed for freight and local traffic). The alternative is Rih Khaw Dar that can be reached through Indian Mizoram. This crossing should currently be open for local foot passengers only (ie people living within 25 km of the crossing). Chin state on the Myanmar side is also unstable. I am getting this information through local travel agents in Myanmar that I keep contact with.

        I am also keen to cross ASAP, so I am happy to hook up to share information.

  3. Dear Felix,

    How are you?

    I am planing on crossing from India to Myanmar via Tamu Land Border on June. For now, the Ministry of Immigration answered me only about land borders crossing from Thailand, when I specifically wrote to them that I was crossing from India. Do you have any update on that situation?

    Kind regards,
    Lei.

  4. Hello Lei,
    I have attempted this trip in March. The situation is as follows:
    (1) Tamu/Meru is closed to all traffic and has been for many months now and there is no chance that this will change. It is closed both from the Indian Side for fear of entanglement with PDF forces in Myanmar, as well as from the Myanmar side, where even though Sagaing region is not officially off limits, much of it is under martial law and in practice you not be let through the roadblocks (‘For your own safety’)
    (2) Zowkathar/Rihkawdar, the only other crossing was in an inconsistent state when I was there around March 20, 2023. The Indian side was open for business and border guards let people (but not vehicles as far as I could see) pass the Indian side both ways. On the Myanmar side, the immigration check post was deserted, meaning it was possible to roam into Chin state as far as one would dare, but then you would end up in Sagaing region again (see above) and additionally you would not have been prcoessed in by Myanmar immigration, leaving you in a very weak position liable ending with some form of more or less serious detention. So, at the time, I did not use the crossing to get into Myanmar proper. Since, this informal border traffic has resulted in the violent death of some Indian citizens that ventured into Chin State, and the latest news I have is that India has proceeded to seal the border from the Indian side as well. Again, the chances of this improving any time soon are basically inexisting.
    Both border crossings have also since been delisted by Burmese Immigration as international boder crossings (meaning there is currently not international land border crossing available between India and Myanmar). There is no way a visa could be valid. I ended up flying over Chin and Sagaing. (Aizawl-Kolkata-Yangon) even though this was absolutely not my intention. Your only, very adventurous chance would be to go undercover with rebel groups, which is extremely risky, and I will not be seen to have recommended something like that. The administration in charge has has no way of supporting your intended trip (since they are not in charge of the territory you are looking into) with the required paperwork and neither has the elected government of Myanmar (since they have no way of issuing papers, and they are not in charge of central Burma).
    The only feasible Thailand crossing right now is Tachileik. You can travel as far as Keng Tung from there. Travelling from there through Shan state into Central burma by road may be achievable with skilled local negotiation, but is officially not possible (I ended up flying from Heho to Keng Tung).
    The other Thai crossing (namely Myawaddy) is open in Theory only, as the border station is subject to intense fighting and right now (the past couple of weeks) there is no way to travel inland into Burma from there, as Kayin State is mostly under NUG control right now, especially the eastern half. This situation may relax, but has been unstable on and off for the last few months.
    The current prognosis is that things will become gradually worse rather than better through summer 2023, but this could tip suddenly anytime after.
    If you want to visit Burma right now, do the fly in fly out, stay on the tourist circuit. If you want to venture closer to the edge, you will need multiple permits, a sticker visa and a local agent to deal with the multiple secret services. And you will need to take flights anyway similar to what I describe above. But you radius of action will increase.
    Kind regards
    Felix

    1. Thank you, Felix! It is very kind of you to update me in such detailed way =)
      Yeah, I have already changed my plans and I will skip Myanmar for now.
      Let’s just hope that this situation can be solved soon, and people stop dying and families stops suffering. I hope that one day we can learn that wars only lead to a terrible path and nothing good can come out of it.
      Best regards,
      Lei.

    2. Hi Felix, thank you for your incredibly detailed answer, do you know if there has been any new changes between Zowkathar/Rihkawdar.
      Thanks also to Elisha for the great post!

      1. Dear Leo,
        I have no current updates but I assume the situation is largely unchanged. If you want to connect to people in Chin that can give you the full rundown, there is a website (https://www.chintravel.com.mm/en/travel-services/guides/) that lists guides. Try to find one that responds on say whatsapp and they may be helpful. Be sure to show no acceptance or affiliation with the government in charge to get an open and frank explanation of the current situation or a direct contact in Rihkawdar that can give up to date testimony.
        Kind regards
        Felix

  5. Freakin’ awesome!! Travelled for two decades in se asia, but necer made it to south asia. great!!!!

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