Crossing the 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. I also usually at multiple points on the journey think to myself, ‘Damn, I should of just caught a bloody plane’. 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 from Myanmar to India 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.

How to cross from Myanmar to India

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 switch to a minivan for Tamu. I paid 21,000kyats or AUD$20 for a ticket all the way through to Tamu.

Bus from Mandalay to Kalay

Tamu is a rather small, dusty town and if wanting to break the journey up, a night in Kalay would be a good option, as from there Tamu is only another 3-4 hours away. 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.

The minivan driver took me straight to the ‘Friendship Bridge’ at the border point in Tamu, 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.

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 down to Imphal. A shared minivan to Imphal cost 500ruppees 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, it wasn’t difficult just tiring!

Back in India again. Imphal, Manipur

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 800ruppees or AUD$16. The room was large, hot shower, Wi-Fi and a 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, only 300m from Hotel Nirmala. Single room starting from 1000ruppees. 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 1000ruppees (after a little bargaining). Danny’s number is +91 8787597523 if you want to call ahead.

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14 thoughts on “Crossing the Myanmar-India border

  1. Thanks it was a informative blog, was regularly searching internet for this land crossing article, like the way your blog has covered everything to detail. I am Indian but still not traveled to north east part of my country but wish to travel one day…

    Enjoy your travel 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much and I’m glad the article was some help to you. The Northeast area of India has to be my favourite place to travel, you should definitely try and make it there! I will also be posting some blogs over the next few weeks about what to see and how to get around the Northeast region if you’re interested.

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  2. Very happy to find this post on crossing from Myanmar to India. I will be overlanding from Yangon to Bhutan in May and have been struggling to find reliable details on this stretch of the journey.

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      1. Wow, it took 28 hours from Mandalay to Imphal?

        From what I have gathered, it should take around 20 hours:

        Mandalay – Kalay 10
        Kalay – Tamu 3
        Tamu – Moreh 3 (border crossing/catching taxi)
        Moreh – Imphal 4

        Where were the additional delays for you?

        Thanks,

        Ken

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      2. The Mandalay to Kalay bus took around 16 hours, I left mid afternoon and arrived in Kalay at sunrise. Then I had to wait for the changeover bus to Tamu.
        Hope that helps!

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  3. Hi Elisha, thanks for the very helpful information on this crossing!!
    We just crossed in the other direction (June 2019), so here’s some useful advice:
    – actually, there is a REAL budget accommodation in Imphal: The International youth hostel with dorms for 160rs/person or private twins for 300rs/room! You find it on Google Maps, it’s on the north-east corner of the ring road.
    – The minivans/winger leave to Moreh from 6am to 4pm whenever they are full (500rs). Just opposite the winger stand is the MST state bus station, where there are daily buses (except Sunday) at 7am and 1pm for just 130rs – and they take 4.5hrs, so not much of a difference. I don’t know of the timings for the other direction though.
    – Border is only open from 7am to 4pm(!), and the big buses to Mandalay leave Tamu at 11/12.30am. So a night stop seems unavoidable unless you take a minibus for the long road to Mandalay.
    – we took the 1pm state bus, naively thinking we could cross the border the same day to secure tickets for the vip bus and spend the night in Tamu. So we slept in a grubby hotel in Moreh (500rs), crossed at 7.30am (when the immigration people showed up for work) only to find the bus to Mandalay fully booked. We took a minivan to Kalay (4000rs), where we could easily choose between 3 overnight buses to Mandalay leaving within the next 2 hrs. We actually think we ended up in the one coming from Tamu which magically had 2 front seats available 🙂 – 15.000rs
    – make sure to change your Indian rupees in Moreh (for us all the changers were closed in the evening/early morning), since the only money changer we found in Tamu offered us a terrible rate. There are ATMs to pick up Kyat though!
    – in retrospect, we would recommend taking the morning state bus/winger to the border, cross and then check for bus tickets for the following day, and spend the night in Tamu – or take a minbus to Kalay and check for overnight buses from there/spend the night in Kalay.
    We hope that helps! Safe travels!!
    CC

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    1. One more thing:
      – if you ask for the border crossing in Moreh, people (incl policemen) might misguide you to Gate #2, which is for locals only! You have to ask for Gate #1, which is the official crossing about 2km from Moreh Bazaar with the new ICP complex as described in your blog.

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    2. Wow thanks so much for adding up to date information to the post! I’m sure this will help a lot of other travellers, this border seems to still be a bit of a mystery for many. Enjoy Myanmar!

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  4. I am also happy to have found this site. Next week we will cross the border. At first we tried to make an arrangement with a travel agency, But they tried to cheat us with a horrible price. With your experience our fears are down to zero now. Thanks!!!
    In addition to your article our experience for visa application may be helpful for other travellers.
    It is a step by step instruction for getting Indian visa in Myanmar.
    https://www.rucksackundrentner.de/tipps/how-to-get-indian-visa-in-myanmar/

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    1. That’s great, I’m so happy this could help you, it’s always nice to know if the information is useful for people. Thanks for adding more information for others too! All the best with your travels. I’ve posted a lot of blogs on the Northeast region so if you’re spending time there have a read!

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