Quick short recent history of Burma

Myanmar Thailand Border, Travel & Visa

is easy to get this days, this was not always so. Over centuries both countries had a long trail of war and fighting, somehow like the relation between Germany and France until the end of WW2. The country is also known under its previous name Burma and is located in Southeast Asia. Bordering Thailand to the east and south, as well as India, Bangladesh and China, the country lies on the Bay of Bengal and the Andaman Sea coast. Many people who come to neighboring countries would like to add some holiday there. The biggest obstacle with holiday or vacation is the visa, to overcome this hurdle it is probably the best to take a package deals where the travel agent handles everything. This is very advisable when going on a trip with a planned tour.

Traveling Burma and Thailand

the first time this is the best method anyway. On the other hand to get a

tourist visa is very easy, just go to the embassy in Bangkok at Pun Road, a side road of Silom Road, fill out the form, fix 2 photos from you and usually if you come there in morning you get the visa in the afternoon.

At Mai 2010 there was a small hope that all this visa problems and passport requirements were a matter of the past after the authorities started with visa on arrival for $ 30,- to be paid at Yangon Airport, but in August 2010 visa on arrival was trashed and application are back to the old way, tourism and travel got the same problem again. Its really not nice especially now with cheap flights to Yangon holidays could be really exiting as you can easily see by having a look at the photos and videos here. The whole is very strange anyway because they have a computer system almost identical as the Thai have at every land border crossing but they don’t permit

Yangon is less than an hour flight time from Bangkok Airport. It is not possible to enter the country via the land border, actually there is a very limited possibility but this kind of travel stops at the town boundary on the Burmese side, means its possible to enter lets say at Kawthaung, the former Victoria Point in south Myanmar but you cant pass the city boundary to travel further, the same procedure is at any border crossing not only at the Thailand border but also at the Laos, Chinese, India and Bangladesh border, now we are back at square one. Its close proximity to Thailand has always been a source of conflict between the two, with arguments persisting over the geography and alignment of the respective borders between them, the migration of refugees, as well as ongoing problems with drug trafficking. Additionally, trade and economic issues, like so many neighboring countries, have also caused their share of discord over the years.

Burmese Invasion to Siam at Ayutthaya in the 18. Century

Burmese Invasion to Siam. Murals painting from a Ayutthaya temple.


Myanmar Thailand Relationships

have been strained for almost all the time, the last major problem was  in 1767, when a Burmese invasion conquered the capital of Siam (Thailand’s former name) Ayutthaya. In more recent times, it has been the countries own internal disputes that have ultimately caused tensions with neighboring Thailand.

In 1948 Burma gained independence from British colonial rule, which immediately lead to internal fighting between the new government and a number of ethnic groups within the country. More lately the internal conflict has been against the strict military regime and it is not uncommon for fighting in the border regions to spill across the  border at the north east.

Burma was colonized by Britain and since then it only went downwards

Burma was colonized by Britain


From the mid 1800`s through to the 1970`s, Thailand spent its time building up its states and independence, whilst Burma remained, for most of the period, as a colony. Thailand continually portrayed the Burmese leaders and people as weak and corrupt, using Thailand’s independence to highlight its apparent superiority, with an ability to withstand any influence from the West, unlike its allegedly feeble neighbor. This was particularly apparent during Word War II, when Thai proBaganda relied heavily upon the theme of nationalism, using it to support their accommodation of the Japanese.

When Burma was colonized by Britain in the early 1800`s, Thailand’s biggest concern had been that Britain may have the same designs on their country. In an effort to allay these fears, in 1825 the Burney Treaty was agreed, which redefined the border – the benchmark which is still used to this day, despite various conflicts and incursion.


Burma border at Isthmus of Kra the shortest land distance between Indian Ocean and Pacific

Burma Border at Isthmus of Kra


The relationship

had in fact been relatively stable and unremarkable from that point, until Burma gained independence in 1948. When ethnic groups used the border regions as their strongholds, the  leaders in Yangon believed that the Thai was supporting the insurgents. So began a period of intense distrust, which prevailed until the mid 1950`s, when exchange visits by the countries respective leaders lead to a thaw in relations and the eventual signing of a peace and friendship treaty.

The friendship was short lived, however, after a coup in 1962, the new leader was deeply suspicious of Thailand and its motives.

South Myanmar Border Harbor at Kawthaung

South Myanmar Border Harbor

In turn, Thailand became equally concerned by the actions, particularly the new leader’s proclamation of The Burmese Way to Socialism, fearing that they would try to export socialism to Thailand. Dialogue between the two countries ceased and Burma cut itself off from the rest of the world. After almost twenty years of staunch socialist and an unstable economy, the government relaxed some of its control,

Kawthaung Waterfront
Probably the most common similarities in both countries is Buddhism.


including visa Myanmar

which finally led to a reopening of trade relations and dialogue. Their relationship began to strengthen again throughout the 1980`s, distrust diminishing, particularly when the Thai leadership began to push back the Burmese insurgents who had sought sanctuary across the border. The Joint Border Committee, originally established in 1967 but discarded, was resurrected to help tackle specific border issues. Problems were never far away though and in 1988, the military government launched a violent military crackdown on pro-democracy student protests, bringing international condemnation and calls for sanctions.

myanmar thailand border near Mae Hong Son
Border near Mae Hong Son left is Burma, right is Thailand

Thousands fled to Thailand

to escape the bloodshed. Whilst the then Thai leader initially supported international opinion on the action that should be taken against Burma, he later claimed that the problems should be dealt with internally and refused to join the rest of the international community in their stance against the country. Thailand’s actions at that time helped to once again rebuild relations, as the Burmese realized it needed the friendship of its neighbors.

A period of strong trade developed,

with many trade and commercial concessions being made and bilateral agreements being signed. This was strengthened even further in the early 2000`s, with Thailand’s new policy of `forward engagement`, priority being given to improving economic relations with all its neighbors.

An ambivalent alliance prevails between the two countries to this day, promoted in some proportion by their common membership of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) where both have been obliged to show their support for the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation. However, no amount of harmonious economic and trading agreements has

been able to resolve the ever escalating problem of border drug trafficking, nor that of illegal immigration, problems which continue to fuel sporadic and often violent, border clashes. That said, both countries are mindful of the need to seek resolution to the problems and the Joint Border Committee continues to look at possible ways forward.

The future of the relationship

is in tourism and developing infrastructure such as roads from the Andaman Sea into the Gulf of Thailand with the help of the Chinese government via Dawai or Tavoy.  this will also undeniably shape both their futures, although with vastly contrasting attitudes, in addition to checking flight deals for the best in travel deals visitors will need to be clear on military controls and off-limits areas which are still prevalent across the country.