Despite the alleged visa on arrival program posted on Myanmar governmental websites, your best bet for a visa to Myanmar (outside your home country) is the Myanmar Embassy in Thailand.
The Myanmar Embassy in Bangkok is reliable and can be fast if you are in a hurry. When I arrived at 8:30am there was already a line of about 30. Continue down the block (away from Sathon Road) and you will see a few yellow signs for a copy shop that is tucked into a side street.
Here you can get the required photocopies of your passport and flight reservation (only required for same-day express visas). They also do passport photos. You can actually pick up the Myanmar visa application here for a few baht coins and fill it out at tables here or while you’re waiting in line for the visa section to open.
When I returned with my visa application a few minutes later the line had exceeded 40. By 9 am when the doors opened (promptly), the line had to be close to 80. Despite the numbers, it took about 15 minutes before I was inside the air-conditioned waiting room. From there the line moved a bit more slowly. In 30 minutes I handed my application in at Window 1, the clerk looked it over for anything missing, she glued the photo on (the copy center even included a paperclip with the application for the second required photo). She gave asked me why I needed an express visa. Technically they don’t have to give it if you have no proof of the necessity to rush it (ie. a flight departing too soon for you to wait). I had a flight that day to Vietnam and my Myanmar flight which was too close to my return date to Bangkok to get a visa. So I had both itineraries to show her, but later in the day I found other travelers who simply had claimed the impending flight without any paper proof.
The application asked for an address in Myanmar. I already had a hotel reservation (with free cancellation) from Agoda.com; others just put a likely hotel address.
For a tourist visa you have to include a short work history. What were your last two jobs, beginning and end dates, work phone number, job title. It’s important not to include the obvious red flags: journalist, photographer, human rights activist, rabble rouser, terrorist, missionary.
When the clerk at the first window affirms that you have filled in everything necessary and provided all the paperwork, you receive a number and wait to go to Window 2 to pay the fee. This was about another 5 minutes wait for me. Cash only (Thai baht) and plan for exact change because there’s no guarantee they’ll have it. (I paid 1260 baht on February 1, 2013). You hand in the paperwork and your passport, hand over the money, and receive a receipt telling you to return at 3:30pm that day (hours can change but will be posted outside the door) with the receipt to collect your passport. I was back on the Skytrain platform by 10 am. One hour from doors open to heading home.
I returned at about 3:15 and the line was 100 people long! When the door opened, it moved fast as the line split into normal visas (Window 1), express visas (Window 2 and the clear majority that day), and business visas (Window 4). Despite the long line, I was inside in under 15 minutes and up to the counter to collect in another 15 minutes, so a 30-minute wait from when the doors opened at 3:30pm.
There is also a new Visa on Arrival in Myanmar. Or so the government officially says. The Myanmar Visa on Arrival is not recommended. (Please read if you need convincing.)
Give yourself time and do it with a few days to spare if you can. It takes two business days normally, or one business day for a fee, and the express visa (as indicated here) for yet another fee. The Embassy of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar in Bangkok is closed on both Thai and Myanmar public holidays.
Read more tips on travel in Myanmar here on The Mad Traveler.
132 Sathorn Nua Road, Bangkok 10500 (entrance is on Thanon Pan not Sathorn)
Tel : (662) 233-2237, 234-4698, 233-7250, 234-4789, 237-7744
Fax : (233) 236-6898