Crossing the Border from Kanchanaburi to Myanmar
At present it is possible to travel freely over land between the Myanmar borders with neighboring countries Thailand and India. The border crossing with both Bangladesh and China are closed to foreigners, and the border with Laos is remote and permission to cross remains uncertain.
Four Thai/Myanmar border points are officially open to foreigners for through travel, and Thailand offers visa-free travel for the citizens of many countries; the length of the stay period depends on what country you are from – varying from 14 days to 3 months.
Myanmar's simple e-visa system is valid at all Thai-Myanmar border points – Mae Sai / Tachileik, Mae Sot / Myawaddy, Phu Nam Ron / Htee Kee and Ranong / Kawthaung – except Phu Nam Ron / Htee Kee, for which you must obtain a normal paper visa beforehand.
As for vehicular crossings, crossing into Myanmar with your own vehicle – either by motorhome, car or motorbike – requires special permission and you will have to be accompanied by a guide and sometimes a Ministry of Hotels and Tourism liaison officer. Note that cycling groups also need permission for any border crossings.
Crossing the Border from Kanchanaburi to Myanmar
The Phu Nam Ron border crossing is the most direct route into Myanmar from Thailand. This remote border crossing point allows access between Phu Nam Ron (Thailand) and Htee Kee (Myanmar).
Phu Nam Ron is a pass across the Tenasserim Hills on the border between Thailand and Myanmar, at an elevation of 350 meters (1,150 feet). The border checkpoint on the Thai side is located in Ban Kao Subdistrict, Mueang Kanchanaburi District, Kanchanaburi Province. Phu Nam Ron is circa 200 kilometers from Bangkok and so perfect for the do it yourself Thai visa extension for people staying in Thailand. You can travel further the Southern Myanmar beaches of Maungmagan and Nabule which are just 160 kilometers west of the border.
Htee Kee is the name of the new town in the Tanintharyi Region on the Myanmar side of the border which is currently being developed. The nearest town is Dawei. The Phu Nam Ron pass is expected to gain in importance if the planned Dawei deepwater port project goes ahead, which includes a highway and a railway line between Bangkok and that harbor. The road on the Burmese side leads to Dawei via Sinbyudaing and Myitta; it has been recently been upgraded.
Here is how your border crossing trip from Thailand to Myanmar goes:
1) If you have a visa for Myanmar, you can make your way from Bangkok to Kanchanaburi. You can get to Kanchanaburi from Bangkok via train, bus and minivan all for around 100 Baht. You can easily spend a few days in and around Kanchanaburi. Visit these places if you want your visit worth the most: Erawan Waterfall, the Bridge over the River Kwai, Hellfire Pass Memorial Museum, War Cemetery, a train ride along the Death Railway.
2) There are four local buses per day from the main bus stop of Kanchanaburi to the small border town of Phu Nam Ron (which has one guest house). The trip takes just under 2 hours and costs 70 Baht. Earliest bus leaves at 10:30 in the morning – there are also buses at 11:30 clock and 12:30 in the afternoon. But you should take the earliest 10:30 one, since it is still another 5 hours on the road until you arrive to the coastal town of Dawei and there is no accommodation option between the border crossing and Dawei.
3) After stamping out from Thailand border office, there is a stretch of 6 kilometers “No Man’s Land” before you arrive at the Myanmar border office in Htee Kee; there are also two separate checkpoints separated by around one kilometer. You can take a motorbike taxi that drives you to the other side for around 100 baht, or try to hitchhike between these points or further afield, in either direction.
4) From the Myanmar side of the border, minivans are waiting to take mostly returning locals to Dawei at the border crossing in Htee Kee. It takes five hours to get to Dawei and the cost is 800 Baht. Chances of negotiating a lower price are little as you don’t have different options and can’t stay in Htee Kee but some people managed to get a price of 600 Baht.
Bear in mind that if you arrive late in the day there may be no transport, and the road can become impassable during the rainy season. Htee Kee is only a new town and you can’t stay there overnight and there is nothing to do as well.
Travelling from Dawei to Thailand, daily minibuses to Htee Kee can be booked through most hotels and guest houses in Dawei.
In Dawei, there are probably 9-10 hotels that can accommodate foreigners. You have to pay everything in Myanmar’s local currency (Kyat) rather than USD, although many hotels accept it. There is an ATM in Dawei where you can withdraw Kyat. Like everywhere in Myanmar people are happy and excited to see foreigners, especially at this remote place. There are still only a few hundred foreigners who have come through this newly constructed road.
Once you did this border crossing you are in a part of the world which up to 2014 is mentioned in hardly any travel guidebook – not even the Lonely Planet. You can’t get much further away from the beaten path.
Bonus: Three Pagodas and Singkhorn
Known as the 'Three Pagodas Pass', this border crossing point allows the access between Sangkhla Buri (Thailand, Kanchanaburi Province) and Payathonzu (Myanmar, Kayin State) although it is not open to foreigners.
The Singkhorn Pass is only open for Myanmar and Thai residents travelling either way for up to two days. You can travel Mueang Prachuap Khiri Khan in Thailand, and on Myanmar side, down to a very remote part of Tanintharyi Division (nearest large town Myeik) although this would take over one day's travel.
Enjoy this exciting border crossing and Southern Myanmar!