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Burma for a day

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Rebekah Joy
Rebekah Joy

In the good old days, Kiwi's received a 90 day visa on arrival in Thailand. While all the other nationalities had to either apply (and pay) before they came or do visa runs once a month, the Kiwi's sat back on the beach.

This all changed when the amount of Thai overstayers burgeoned in New Zealand and now we too get just one month on arrival. The old scam of giving your passport to a travel agent and them taking it across the boarder for the visa stamp has also folded, meaning its now more expensive to do a visa run. Good news for those with a bit of cash is Air Asia do incredibly cheap flights to neighboring countries. Or if you’re like me and just want to get it over and done with, there are two visa run options that all the travel agents book.

The first is Penang in Malaysia for 5000 Baht ($250NZD) the second and most popular is to Myanmar. There are two options, the first is for 1800 baht ($90NZD) and the second deluxe tour for 2300 baht ($115NZD). Deluxe basically means lots of air conditioning, lunch (they did promise breakfast but it was just a banana and coke) and the $10 USD Myanmar visa fee. I took the deluxe option, and they picked me up at 5.30am from my house.

The mini van journey takes about four hours to the border town of Ranong. The pier is supposed to be incredibly smelly, but the deluxe tour uses a private wharf. If you have overstayed the minivan has to make a detour to Ranong pier where you are expected to pay the overstay fee of 500 baht per day ($25NZD).

Apparently the deluxe tour is worth the extra money as the next stop is Thai immigration where you are stamped out then on to the speedboat. The normal visa run involves boat touts, navigating a busy pier and bargaining salespeople. The speed boat from the private pier takes just 15 minutes and upon arrival you are escorted by bus to a deluxe casino for lunch.

Gambling in Thailand is illegal so this resort is a popular place to come for those who wish to indulge in a bit of Black Jack. You won’t get to see much of Myanmar but you will be stamped with another 30 days entry stamp to Thailand.

Arrival back to Phuket is around 17.30 depending on traffic and the amount of illegal overtakes and death defying stunts your driver wishes to perform.

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