Replies: 18 - Last Post: May 12, 2012 5:46 AM Last Post By: tabmow66
May 1, 2012 12:19 PM
Kengtung-InleHi, I am looking for current info regarding travels in Shan State? If crossing at Mai Sai I know about the procedures of getting the guild and going to kengtung and taking day trips around, only to come back to the hotel in kengtung each night. But has anyone done more? I am looking to go from kengtung to Mong Pan then to Mong Nai and onto Inle and Mandalay. Would be glad to exit out of tachilek if it was possible to pass back via train to lashio onto Kengtung by....
anyone been able to work around the guild/restriction area system, or in this new Burma era have things changed?
May 1, 2012 2:57 PM
1in this new Burma era have things changed?
No.. Same as before...
May 1, 2012 10:16 PM
2I'm not sure what you mean by the word "guild".... guide?
The motorcycle video is interesting but there's nothing of Eastern Shan State in there. I'm going to assume that they had their motorcycles shipped to Yangon or Mandalay or bought or rented them there. I also believe they had a guide following in a car ("Myint Than and Crew" as credited in the credits) and had a permit.
You will not be allowed to travel overland west from Tachileik or Kengtung. Bribes will not help if you have a non-Asian face and can't speak Burmese or Shan etc.
May 2, 2012 6:12 AM
3Thanks for answering. A friend of mine met one of the bikers in Bkk and he said they started there (mai sai) and went on. Yes I saw the Burmese names on the clip and assumed they had help but certainly did more than the normal (I don't know about following in a car, they could have had a bike as well). Plus there has been others stating about the not having a guide at the border (sorry about the typos, it happens). Actually I'll be with 2 Thais who speak lanna/shan, but understand I am the problem and stand out no matter how much Burmese I speak. tabmow you've been in Shan State?
I'm just trying to figure out if the new freedoms the country is experiencing filters down to IFT. I spoke to many taxi divers, car taxi, motorbike and sidecar, in November 2011 and they all told me that the police stop coming around and checking on foreigners every time they leave. In the past (prior to 11/11) the police would follow up with all guides, taxi drivers and hotels to find out where foreigners were going everyday and what they were doing. At lease in Mandalay that stopped. hoping that it has stopped in the rest of the country too.
Again just looking for real info on the ground. The old mechanism is still in place I just don't know if it is being enforced any longer. Let me ask a different way. Has anyone recently wandered off into restricted areas and not been hassled?
May 3, 2012 1:52 AM
4"in this new Burma era have things changed?"
Not really when it comes to where independent western travelers can go. some parts of the country have even become more difficult than years ago.
About the bikers. That was an expensive organised tour. Permits & driving licences arranged by Burmese travel agent. Bikes rented locally, accompanied by 1 official Burmese guide, 2 mechanics and 1 driver. They never started at (or even went to) Mae Sai. They kicked off in Yangon -> Pathein -> Ngapali -> Toungup -> Minbu -> Bagan -> Kan Pet Let -> Mindat -> Gangaw -> Monywa -> Mandalay -> Naunghkio - > Pindaya -> Inle Lake -> FLY back to yangon.
Except for the fact that they did it by dirtbike, the above trip (with parts through Chin State and Shan State) is not exceptional and can be done easily with an agent.
May 3, 2012 3:24 PM
5Thanks for the info about their trip. Like I said I heard the info 3rd hand and they said they started in Shan state.
But a bike trip is not what I am looking to do and certainly not an excursion like that. I am trying to get to Mong Pan in Shan state. I just asking here if people have crossed the hills on their own or have avoided the guide at the crossing. Other than that I agree the other areas have been accessible for years.
Things are changing fast over there. Sooner or later they will question the need to restrict foreigner's moments in certain areas, but of course not in all areas. This is changing already and I'm sure there are others out there looking to cross over the hills if some haven't already.
May 3, 2012 3:57 PM
6I've been in Eastern Shan State twice, in 2009 and last December.
In 2009 I entered at Tachileik and took shared taxis to Kengtung and Mong La. No guide was necessary then (unless you wanted to do trekking). I gather things have changed at Tachileik since but I don't have experience of it.
Last December I flew to Kengtung from Yangon. No guide necessary (unless you wanted to do trekking). However things had become more restricted. Mong La was now off limits and though I didn't go trekking, I understand that the trekking options are much more limited.
There are military check points along all the main roads. Between Tachileik and Kengtung there were I think five, and maybe 6 between Kengtung and Mong La. They check your papers and keep copies at each of the check points. And this was when things were less restricted than now.
I attempted to get permission to travel to Mong Ping (about 50 miles west of Kengtung), feigning being a devout catholic on a pilgrimage to visit the grave of Father Clement Vismara, a beatified catholic priest buried there. No way! And the immigration officers were not friendly.
When heading west out of Kengtung on Highway 4 towards Taunggyi the first check point is just 5 miles out of town in a ravine that cannot be detoured.
Things may loosen in the future but the political/military/drug situation in much of Shan State is too unsettled now (as ever and probably will be for quite a while). I did speak with a local who motorcycles from Kengtung to Taunggyi, two days I think and beautiful scenery. You won't be able to.
There is a train line being constructed from Kengtung to Taunggyi. The train station just outside of Kengtung has been completed and even has a train there sitting on the tracks, but I have no idea when the line will be finished or if foreigners will be allowed on. For now the train at Kengtung station is just for looks.
There are varying degrees of sensitivity for restricted areas in Myanmar. Some areas are restricted for lack of infrastructure and some for military, political, ethnic or economic reasons. I have gone into restricted areas without repercussion but not in Shan State. Eastern Shan State is very sensitive.
May 3, 2012 10:52 PM
7"Sooner or later they will question the need to restrict foreigner's moments in certain areas, but of course not in all areas. This is changing already and I'm sure there are others out there looking to cross over the hills if some haven't already."
--> travelling the states independently will remain very difficult the coming years. there are too many (obvious) reasons/explanations why that is.
the majority of the people with an apparent obsession to go there are independent (mainly budget) travelers, compulsively attracted by the inaccessibility of the area. well, myanmar authorities aren't waiting for them, nor are the locals (despite the naive but charming amazement when they meet a foreigner).
as for shan, kayah, kayin, mon (= states bordered by thailand): too much extortion, too many illegal tax gates, too many drunk soldiers, too many drunk freedom fighters, too many landmines (more casualties every year than in Cambodia), etc: the area is not safe.
May 4, 2012 6:40 AM
great detailed info. Thanks.
I have also traveled to restricted areas and it was no problem but that could have been just luck. I did read in LP that some people have reported sleeping outside of Kungtung in villages, other then Mong La. I'm trying to get info from those folks and wondered where they stayed and how they did it. If with a guide, then things are changing because no guide would take that chance without some assurance they will not be held responsible, which would be extremely serious for the guide if caught.
Last time I was in Tachilek was in 2010 and they would not let me go to KungTung without a minder. we turned around and headed back to Thailand. It was a "new rule" at the time and he even showed me the order from Yangon (written in Burmese).
How about since then? have people gone to Kung Tung since 2010 without a guide? I am hoping this rule was short lived.
May 4, 2012 3:13 PM
May 5, 2012 10:11 AM
I have a similar question I am wondering if it is possible to go to Mongla now. I have read that there was some kind of peace agreement. I am also curious if the rule that you need a guide from Tachileik to Kengtung is still in force, I have already planned for it but it would of course be nice not to have one.
May 8, 2012 2:29 AM
May 10, 2012 8:56 AM
May 10, 2012 11:48 AM
14I am crossing the border from Mae Sai and then up to Kengtung so Lashio is not possible but thanks for the tip, and thanks for the tip about Mae Salong I might go there if Mongla is still closed. One of the things that appeal to me about Mongla is the bizarre thing that you have to change your money to yuan before going there even though it is still inside Myanmar.
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