MORE visitors to Myanmar are entering by land crossings, according to the country’s travel authorities. According to the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism, about two million out of three million visitors entered the country through border gateways in 2014, as compared to 465,000 in 2012.
In line with economic and political reforms, Myanmar began allowing land entry from neighbouring countries like China and Thailand, while the Myanmar-Laos Friendship Bridge was launched last month.
Khiri Travel has been offering packages for tourists to cross the Thai Myawaddy-Mae Sot border, a trip that general manager Edwin Briels said is popular with high-end and adventurous travellers. Budget travellers continue to arrive by flight due to high costs associated with travelling overland.
Lee Sheridan, general manager of Peak Adventure Travel, said that although overland travel numbers remain relatively low, he expects to see a significant increase over the next 12 to 18 months.
However, challenges still remain for tourists arriving via land borders.
Thomas Burrows, product manager of Exo Travel Myanmar, said: “The road conditions to most of the borders are fairly bad. They tend to wash out frequently in the rainy season and you run into the problem of one-lane roads serving two-way traffic.”
“There are also security issues with sectarian violence, mostly along the Myanmar-Chinese border,” he added. Nevertheless, the country continues to inspire travellers.
While interest in the Big Four destinations of Yangon, Mandalay, Bagan and Inle Lake remains high, more visitors are adding excursions to less-visited sites such as Mawlamyine, Hpa An and Ngapali Beach to their itineraries, commented Burrows.