In a nutshell
Myawaddy is a border town between Myanmar and Mae Sot in Thailand and is a well known stop off for those making the crossing.
Why go to Myawaddy
Most visitors who choose to pass through Myawaddy do so to travel onwards to Hpa-An but if you happen to be in town for the night then there are a few pleasant places to explore here.
Some of these include the Golden Pagoda and the Crocodile Temple, as well as a lively and colourful market. Many border towns in Southeast Asia have little to recommend them, but Myawaddy is worth a stop if you want to break a long journey before onward travel in either Thailand or Myanmar.
When to go to Myawaddy
The rainy season in Myanmar runs from May to October and it is best not to visit as this time as flooding is common. The period from October to December is widely thought of as one of the best times to travel to Myanmar as the weather is warm but not fiercely hot. Temperatures peak in March and April and you can expect it to be extremely dusty and rather oppressive.
Where to stay in Myawaddy
You won’t find a huge range of accommodation in Myawaddy and this is further complicated by the fact that guesthouses in Myanmar have to be licensed if they want to accept foreign guests. You should note that you will also need to have a valid visa to be accepted by one of these guesthouses.
One option open to foreigners in Myawaddy is the Myawaddy Hotel which has rooms between USD 20-30 which come with breakfast. The hotel is a little run down but clean and serviceable if you are only planning to stay for a night or two. It also has an attached restaurant.
Another choice is Ngwe Sekar which has rooms for USD 20 although it is located a little way from the centre of town and the cheap rates reflect this. Rooms come with showers and cable televisions and if everywhere else is full then this can be a good spot.
Note that if you are on your way to or from Thailand, it makes more sense to spend the night on the other side of the border as Mae Sot offers a far better value for money as well as a greater choice.
Where to eat in Myawaddy
You certainly won’t go hungry in Myawaddy although the food here is not the best you will find in Myanmar either. When it comes to local fare you can expect to find a range of typical Burmese tea shops as well as some larger restaurants that sell curries and noodle dishes.
If you end up staying at the Myawaddy Hotel then you can eat at the onsite restaurant which has typical fare for visitors including some Western choices and Thai dishes.
If you want to splurge however then you can try the Myawaddy Casino Complex which has its own steak house as well as a large bar with draft beer and cocktails. The restaurant also serves Chinese and Thai plates which are more expensive and upscale than you will find in the centre of Myawaddy. It is certainly not the cheapest choice in town but there is also a nightly live band to keep you entertained.
How to get around Myawaddy
Myawaddy is not very large and most of the town sits along a main street that runs from Friendship Bridge. As a result you can walk around the centre of town easily and there are plenty of bicycle trishaws that can be rented if you want to check out some of the sights. You can also rent motodop if you want to venture to the outskirts of the city and should only cost 1-2 USD for a short journey.
How to get to and from Myawaddy
Most people arrive in Myawaddy from Mae Sot in neighbouring Thailand. From the town of Mae Sot you can take a motorbike taxi to the border and then walk across the bridge and catch a trishaw or motordop on the Burmese side.
From Myawaddy you can get a bus to Hpa-an or Mawlamyine. There are some buses running to Yangon that costs MKK 13,000 and leave at 8 am, 9 am, or 10 am although these do not leave every day so it is best to check in advance when these buses will run and you should note that the journey takes around 12 hours. Schedules also change frequently and some operators have a 1 pm service to Mandalay although this is not always in operation with no reason given. The bus station is on Bayintnaung Road so it is best to ask at the ticket counters here for the latest information.
Another option to travel between Myawaddy and Hpa-an is to hire a car which can be more economical if you are travelling in a large group. The journey takes 6 hours and you can get a car for around MKK 50,000 depending on your bargaining skills. There is also the option of renting a car to Kawkareik which takes around 4 hours at a cost of MKK 5,000. From here you can then get an Express Bus to Yangon for MKK 6,000 which will take 10 hours.
Is Myawaddy a safe place to visit?
Myawaddy is a safe place to travel and violent crime against foreigners is very rare. One thing to look out for however is the presence of touts who hang around the border crossing and are also prevalent on the main street that runs through Myawaddy. Many of the touts just want to book you tickets for a bus or car, or they may offer to help process your visa, but sometimes they may overcharge you so make sure you have an idea of how much you want to spend before you start bargaining with them.
Myanmar is home to both malaria and dengue fever so make sure to check with a health care professional if you want to take anti-malarial tablets. The best way to avoid mosquito borne diseases is to cover up and wear long sleeved clothing particularly in the evenings and use repellent.
There is a basic hospital in Myawaddy as well as some small clinics although if you are get seriously ill then it is best to cross back over the border into Thailand where the standard of medical treatment is generally higher.