After our brief stop in Ayutthaya, we hopped on an early(ish) morning train to Bangkok. Ayutthaya is about 2 hours away from Bangkok, and the tickets cost us ฿15, or 30p. Yes, THIRTY ENGLISH PENCE. Take note, Virgin Trains… Once we’d navigated our way off the train, the Human Mosquito Bite (aka Craig) and I made our way to the Silom district to accomplish our first (and most important) task in Bangkok – sorting out a Myanmar visa.
We’d been told by fellow travellers to arrive at the embassy by 8:30 ready for the doors to open at 9am, and to be prepared for a long wait. We took a slightly more relaxed approach, and rocked up at just after 11am. I don’t know whether it was because there were less people heading to Myanmar, or if the 8:30 keenos had just been dispatched, but we were in and out in 20 minutes with no queues. Easy peasy.
The Myanmar visa situation is ever-changing, and you can (as of March 2015) pay $50 (£34) for an e-visa which (purportedly) takes 3 days to process. Getting a 48 hour Myanmar visa in Bangkok costs ฿810 (£16) so is significantly cheaper, and as our flight left from Bangkok it made sense for us to take this cheaper option. This did mean we had two days in Bangkok to kill, and we made the most of it by finding new haunts in one of my favourite cities. I’m sure I’ve said this before – and no doubt will again – but it’s always good to be back in the Big Mango.
We were staying at new digs – the Lub D hostel in Silom. Although not the cheapest in town, it did have clean bathrooms, a comfortable twin room and incredibly helpful staff, as well as being located conveniently for the Myanmar embassy. It was our first hostel since Australia, and we were impressed.
To celebrate our success at the Myanmar embassy, we headed to the Smokin’ Pug for dinner. It seems odd that the best pulled pork I’ve ever had was in Thailand, but this was the case. Gut busting portions and meat so good you could taste the smoke, all set to a soundtrack of blues music. What’s not to like?! Sadly our budget didn’t stretch to their beer or cocktail selection but I’d recommend them based on the Smokin’ Pug’s ability to cook meat.
The next day – still slightly full of pork – we waddled down to the Neilson Hays library, which is a beautiful corner of colonial English serenity in a hot and crazy city. All dark wood, freestanding ornate bookcases and a mini art gallery, this is the perfect place to kick off your shoes (not optional: footwear and photography are banned) and spend an hour or two with the Times newspaper.
By night, we headed to explore Bangkok’s Chinatown which – to my shame – was completely new to me. We wandered down the bustling streets dodging taxis, tuk tuks and workers heading home, and soon stumbled across a little food stall selling pork noodle broth. It was their only dish, so we sat down at a little table and gestured for two steaming bowls of noodle, dumplings and roast pork and wordlessly slurped our delicious dishes.
Satisfied but greedily seeking more, we found ourselves down a side street where the smallest woman I have ever seen was stirring up a storm in a wok that almost dwarfed her. “NO PHOTO” she roared at some haplass tourist trying to sneak a shot of her in action. We meekly gestured we would like two of her delicious noodle dishes and were waved away to some seats. Moments later, we were chomping down on a small but perfectly formed dish of fried noodle, pork, egg and greens. Heaven.
The next day was Visa Collection Day! Or at least, it would be if the Myanmar Embassy officials deemed us worthy of 28 days in their country. As we had the morning to kill, we whiled away the morning with a decadent brunch at Rocket Coffee Bar. Although a naughty splurge, we had the best Eggs Benedict since we left London, and we then sat reading and working on their terrace until it was time to head to the visa office.
As we drew closer to the embassy I gulped. The queue was halfway down the road and we still had 20 minutes to wait in the afternoon heat. Thankfully, at 3:30 the doors opened and the queue moved at startling speed. Within 20 minutes we were out, clutching our passports with our shiny new visas in them. Our last stop was the Super Rich money exchanger on Silom Road for some pristine US dollars and by 5pm we were ready. Myanmar here we come!!
If you need to arrange a Myanmar visa in Bangkok
- The Myanmar embassy is located in the Silom district (hence why we based ourselves here) on Pan Road, in between Silom Road and Sathon Nuea Road. Surasak BTS stop is about five minutes away.
- The embassy only receives applications between 9am and 12pm. You’ll need a copy of your passport, two passport photos and a pen to complete the two forms. There is a photocopier in the office which charges a nominal fee and also two enterprising chaps with vans just outside.
- Collections are from 3:30pm the following day or two days after (depending on which service you paid for); the queue is generally long but moves quickly once the doors are open. We arrived at 3:15pm and were out by 3:45pm.
- Alternatively, you can apply for an e-visa for a slightly higher fee (this may be negated by not staying in Bangkok of course); you’ll need to upload a passport photo as part of the online application. Have fun with the awesome website..!