Myanmar opens its eastern borders

Myanmar_toursistPicture credits: Flickr/Travel Aficionado

It’s been in the air for a while, buzzing among the Southeast Asian traveler’s enclave, and making the day of many resolute overlanders. We all knew that the Golden land of Myanmar was changing. After the liberation of Aung San Suu Kyi, punk rockers storming the streets of Yangon, and everyone turning their backpacks to the country, something HAD to change, hadn’t it? And it has: now, the Thai-Myanmar borders are open to overland international traffic and travel, as reported by Mizzima.

People! Rejoice because the country that back in the 1980s wouldn’t let you in for more than 6 days, now has lifted travel restrictions on its eastern land borders. Regardless, the western side bordering with India and Bangladesh still remains locked, and pretty dangerous. Well, please be happy with this first accomplishment, and postpone your overland dreams of shaving off the bulk of Central Asia and China for the next decade, cool?

But my question is: how good will the opening of these land borders be for the country?

I am certainly not wishing that Myanmar stepped back into the darkness of its autocratic military regime, but at the same time, I am afraid that its face might change forever and ever. Something that was still quite magical will be lost, buried under a mound of foreign dollars.

In 2012, the country has already received 1 million tourists. 1 million! An awful lot for a place like Myanmar, which doesn’t have the infrastructures needed to support such an amount of arrivals. I’ve heard many horror stories of travelers who have been forced to sleep on guesthouses’ floors, and paying full price (a lapidary 20 $ minimum per person per night, quite a big sum for SE Asia today) as the demand for accommodation amply surpassed the supply. The Burmese are also starting to become a bit greedier, it seems. My experience goes back to year 2009, and I must say, I had a splendid time, and had basically the country all to myself. When I flew in – as it was impossible to enter by land back then-, my group of 4 whiteys was the only drops of clear skin inside of the airplane’s dark, bottled humanity. Now, the numbers have definitely changed: everyone I meet in Malaysia is bound -or he’s returning – from Myanmar. So much that it makes me feel like as of now, it’s Malaysia the place that nobody dares to visit!

The point of this post is to suggest to the new visitors to go to Myanmar with a respectful attitude, and an open mind. I would not like it if in five years I’ll meet people telling me how Myanmar be a new version of touristy Thailand. I’m crossing my fingers, but the responsibility is not on me. It’s on all those who decide to visit. Please, I am begging you, take care of Myanmar, until we can.

Posted by | Comments (3)  | August 22, 2013
Category: Asia, Destinations, Vagabonding Advice

3 Responses to “Myanmar opens its eastern borders”

  1. Barefoot Reading: This Week’s Recommended Stories and Insights from Around the World Says:

    […] Myanmar opens its eastern borders […]

  2. Terri oloogalin Says:

    I visited Myanmar for a month back in 2009 as well and despite being on an AIr ASia flight full of Westerners, it was still the most incredible place i visited in 18 months in asia.i was questioned by several people around ASia whether u I should be going and “supporting” the regime. I’m so glad I did go, and the place made me feel like I’d been transported back in time. However, everyone who is considering going should be made aware of the fact that every hostel bed, meal, and especially ever single beer you buy is contributing towards an, improving- yea, but still a hideous government rights record that is hidden from view all too much. The Burmese people don’t need an influx of tubing tourists to hide this further.

  3. Vincent Says:

    Went there in january 2010. It was amazing, but as you said, it is changing. I confirm that my cousin slept on the floor in Bagan last year… I’m afraid the opening of the border will make Myanmar a new Thailand (although I love Thailand, one is enough) quicker than expected. Bringing more money to the Brumese people can be a good thing if they actually see and use the money (to build new touristic infrastructures for instance).
    Oh, let’s keep it in here but if you wanna have a similar experience, try F*L*O*R*E*S.