Htee Kee: The Border Crossing from Bangkok to Dawei
There are plenty of ways of travelling into Myanmar. Most of the tourists fly into one of the three big international airports. However, if you are backpacking, adventurous and want to experience something different for a little money, the trip from Bangkok to Dawei might be of interest for you.
It is a little more time consuming, however it saves you a lot of time later if you want to travel from South to North of Myanmar, ending up in Mandalay for example. And it's more fun, including a little bus tour through China Town and along the royal palace and declining Buddha as well as a short boat trip in Bangkok and a nice local train ride through the coutryside in the West of Thailand. You'll get the chance to see the change of the countryside and environment when land border crossing and have your first bus ride in Myanmar, which is a experience itself!
Make sure you have a visa which is valid for the land border crossing Htee Kee - Phunaron border west of Bangkok (see Visa Information). This is the shortest way to enter Myanmar in the South coming from Bangkok.
Day 1: From Bangkok to Kanchanaburi
Exemplarily this trip is starting from a central point, the Hualamphong station in Bangkok. If you're in Khaosan or another part west of the city, the travel gets shorter indeed. Make sure you arrive at latest at 11:00 am at Hualamphong to be able to catch the last train at Thonburi station at 13:55.
1. Take a free bus (Bus Nr. 53) from Hualamphong station (Bangkok) to the Chao Phraya boat stop near Khaosan Road (at Sawasdee 13 Smile Inn in Phra Athit on maps.me). The bus leaves behind the building on the opposite side of the main entrance. Bring some time, since the schedule is not clear despite hanging out and time is not a rare resource in Thailand 🙂 The little sightseeing-bus tour goes zig zag around several areas of Bangkok and takes around 50 minutes.
2. Pay 15 THB for the orange boat from Chao Phraya to Thonburi Boat station (2 stops direction South, leaving left handside). Alternatively to the boat trip, there's a big bridge you can cross.
3. Walk 1 km straight from Thonburi Boat station to Thonburi Railway Station. You will see the trains shortly after stepping off the boat on the right handside.
Get a 100 THB ticket for a local train from Thonburi Railway Station to Kanchanaburi train station. The ticket can be bought straight next to platform 1 where the train leaves. It's free seat picking and the train is not very crowded. If you want to escape other Farang (that's how the Thai call the tourists) you can go to the back wagons of the train, where you might have a higher chance to be only with some locals. The train takes around 2.5 hours for the 130 km. No worry about food: at several stops some women will jump into the train selling fruits, nuts, meat and several stuff for a little money. Take the chance and stand at the open doors for having a look at the local Thai life at little villages along the railway...
Step off in Kanchanaburi...
4. Stay in Kanchanaburi for a night and explore the area. To get to the bus station and city center take either a tuk tuk for around 30 THB or walk along the cemetery all way straight for 1km at the main street towards the city center.
A cheap private room in a guesthouse costs around 150 THB. Do you want to stay at a floating guesthouse on the river? Then visit 'Nita Raft House'. The tiny rooms with a fan and shared showers outside the room start from 150 THB, more expensive rooms are available a as well. And it is close to the bus station where the buses to Phu Nam Ron depart. No worry about buying a ticket in advance: If you are not in a big group, there is no pre-booking for the bus transfer needed, since you can or even should buy the ticket shortly before departure.
So enjoy your day by exploring the city, eating amazing Thai food or watching the beautiful sunset view before grabbing your backpack again and getting ready for the bus trip towards Myanmar the day after. Ask Sonthanant, the owner of the guest house for advices to visit the area around.
Day 2: From Kanchanaburi to Dawei
The day starts by waking up early, having breakfast and heading to the bus station (a 750m walk). Make sure you have at least 880 THB left and some small money for food and drinks (80 for the bus to Phu Nam Ron, 800 for the trip to Dawei). No worry about getting Myanmar Kyat (MMK) in advance. Dawei has ATMs and money exchange offices.
The buses are operating at 9:00 am, 10:30 am, 12:00 am, 13:30 pm from Kanchanaburi to Phu Nam Ron for 80 THB. But again, time seems not to be money and the minivan might leave around 20 mins later than announced. A taxi to the border is around 800 THB which could be traded down maybe to 600.
You find the ticket counter at the left-hand side after entering the bus terminal near area B1. The desk has a sign saying 'Kanchanaburi-Border' and the minivans leave right behind at the sign '8172 Bankao, Phunamron'.
Additional information: The visa run from Kanchanaburi bus station to the border of Myanmar is 1000THB by Taxi - untraded price for both ways, just quickly getting the stamps at the Htee Kee - Phu Nam Ron border. Sure, also possible by minivans for a cheaper price but more effort.
Sitting in the bus you'll have a curvy 1.5 hour trip along the mountainside to Phu Nam Ron, where you grab your backpack and have a last chance to refill your food and drinks with Thai stuff. Then you walk to the Thai immigration office for your departure stamp.
Right behind the office there is a travel agency located on the left handside. There you can buy the ticket to Dawei for 800 THB. No worry, you wont get a receipt or ticket. Then a minivan picks you up right in front of the agency and brings you to Htee Kee, a little village in between the two countries where you get your Entrance stamp for Myanmar in a white building at the upper right hand side of the village. Then you'll wait to be re-seated again and change from the minivan to a car. In the meantime you can get some food, drinks, cigarettes or find the restrooms (it says 5 THB but it's for free indeed). THB are accepted. Make sure you have your passport with you, since there are 2 police checkpoints along the way.
And then... just enjoy the 4-5 hour drive!
You can expect an amazing nature, a bumpy road for half of the way, little villages in the jungle, the street winding through the mountains, an amazing view on a river along the road, temples, and and and...
Experience it by yourself!
Or if you are up for a fast travel from Bangkok to Dawei you can jump in a bus from Bangkok to Kanchanaburi for around 100 THB. Be ready to leave at 6:30 am latest then to get the transit to Dawei done in one day.