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Myanmar has over years been very strict with their entry regulations and required tourists to obtain a visa ahead of time at a consulate but now a selection of countries is eligible to obtain a visa on arrival.

The Visa on Arrival (VOA) will come with a US$50 fee to be paid in cash when arriving at the airport, alternatively travelers can also obtain an e-visa or a regular visa at the consulate which used to be cheaper when I last got one in Hong Kong.

Last year Myanmar already granted tourists from Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong and Macau visa-free entry into Myanmar, while Indian and Chinese nationals were permitted Visa on Arrival. This regime has now been extended to five additional countries: Australia, Germany, Italy, Spain, Switzerland and Russia.

As the Myanmar Times reported yesterday since making changes to the visa regime tourism in the country surged notably which contributes to the local economy.

Tourists from Australia, Germany, Italy, Spain, Switzerland and Russia have been given visa-on-arrival access for US$50 each at Yangon, Mandalay and Nay Pyi Taw international airports. Starting from October 1, passport holders from the six countries will no longer require pre-arranged approval, the authorities said.

“We hope the new regulations to ease access to Myanmar will lead to more travelers from around the world,” said Daw May Myat Mon Win, chair of the Myanmar Tourism Marketing Association.

Last year, tourists from Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong and Macau were granted visa-free entry into Myanmar, while Indian and Chinese nationals were also given visas-on-arrival in a move to draw more visitors from Asia. As a result, Asian tourists to Myanmar have risen this year.

In the eight months from January to August for example, Japanese tourist arrivals increased by 24 percent compared to the same period last year, said Daw May Myat Mon Win.

According to statistics released by the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism, more than 82,000 Japanese tourists visited the country in the first eight months of the year compared to 65,000 last year. …

Obtaining the visa in person always takes plenty of time going to the visa office, standing in line and then returning for pickup. In some places you can use an agency which also adds to the cost.

Visa on Arrival is definitely a more practical and time conserving way to go where available.

For nationalities that aren’t eligible for the VOA there is still the route of an e-visa which also has been introduced not too long ago.

Don’t fall victim to the various agency (scam) sites and apply through the official government site:

The fee for tourist visa is US$50 – the same amount as people eligible for VOA have to pay CASH at the airport. Considering the ease of having everything taken care of I’d probably go the e-visa route instead. Unless you’re concerned submitting your data and cc information ahead of time this seems to be the more sensible thing to do.

Alternatively I checked the cost of a visa in Hong Kong and it’s actually still cheaper there with HKD320 which is roughly US$40. If you’re around there anyway, why not. Otherwise E-visa is best.

Getting your Tourist Visa in Bangkok is actually more expensive – THB1600 which is US$53 and I can say from experience that obtaining it at the Myanmar Embassy in Bangkok is the worst experience ever. The lines are insane stretching around the entire compound and in fact that drove me to get mine in Hong Kong when I needed it prior to the e-visa.

Conclusion

Ideally countries would drop this visa nonsense altogether if they truly want to encourage tourism from developed countries in order to drive their local economies. When Indonesia abolished the Visa on Arrival for a whole range of countries it was a game changer.

Most of the chaos when arriving in Bali or Jakarta went away as the requirement to purchase the sticker and facilitate payment was no longer there. I also imagine there was quite a bit of skimming going on, meaning some of the money ended up is various pockets and not the government.

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