There are basically two visa options for people who want to enter Myanmar to meditate: a Religious (Meditation) Visa or a Tourist Visa.
A Religious Visa allows one to stay in Myanmar for up to seventy days. You must apply specifically for a Seventy Day Religious Visa from the Myanmar embassy in your country and you will need a sponsorship letter provided by Panditarama. See How to Apply for information on obtaining the sponsorship letter from Panditarama.
A Tourist Visa is not ideal for yogis who plan to attend the sixty day retreat at the Panditarama Forest Meditation Center because this type of visa only allows a twenty-eight day visit and is not renewable. If you have to overstay your visa (which is allowable for short periods of a month or so), you will be charged $3 US per day which you must pay at the airport before you leave Myanmar. This type of visa is available at the Myanmar Embassy in Bangkok and should also be available at the Myanmar Embassy in your country.
Where to Obtain a Visa
If there is a Myanmar Embassy in your home country, then apply there for your Meditation Visa (using the Sponsorship Letter issued by Panditarama). If there is not enough time to apply and receive your visa, then a good alternative is to go to Bangkok, Thailand, where yogis have been able to receive their meditation visas within 1-2 days.
Most embassies are now able to process meditation visas in 3 months or less. It varies according to the country where the embassy is located. Please consult the embassy where you plan to apply. Once you receive your visa, it is valid for entry within 3 months of the date stamped in the visa. After entry, your meditation visa is valid for 3 months. If afterwards, you plan to continue practicing at Panditarama, the visa can be renewed with the permission of your meditation teacher to stay.
For American Yogis
Go to www.mewashingtondc.com/visa_en.php to download the Religious Visa application form, or for shorter stays, the Tourist Visa (28 days) application form. You will need to send the completed application to the Myanmar Embassy.
Make sure your passport is current and will not expire while you are in Burma. It can be quite a hassle to renew it in Burma. Also bring extra passport photos (8-12). The Embassy will send your passport back to you with the Meditation Visa. Processing can take up to 2 months before you receive your visa.
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Residents of Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, New Mexico, Oregon, Nevada, and Washington State should send completed applications and sponsorship letters to Myanmar's west coast consulate:
Consulate General of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar
Residents of all other states should send send their applications to the Myanmar Embassy in Washington DC:
The Embassy of the Union of Myanmar
2300 S. Street N.W.
Washington, DC 20008 - 9044
Phone: (202) 332-9044
Alternatively, if you are in Thailand you may also obtain a Meditation Visa or a 28 day Tourist Visa from the Myanmar Embassy in Bangkok. It usually takes between 1-2 days. See above for more information on Tourist Visas.
If you have any question about this call or email Saddhamma Foundation for assistance:
Please contact us at:
firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com
as soon as you have your arrival information and keep us informed if your itinerary changes.
Yogis need to come to the Panditarama city center office on either:
In Burma, the local currency is called the Kyat (chut). The Kyat is used in all market transactions. However, hotels and airlines will not take Kyats as payment from foreigners. Therefore, you must have US dollars. (Travelers cheques are difficult to exchange.) The best rates are obtained with US dollars. Bring $100 and $50 bills that are as new as possible with no tears or markings. You can now exchange your foreign currency for Burmese Kyats in the airport at competitive rates.