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In and out in a day: The longboat to Myanmar

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The release of Aung San Suu Kyi in late 2010 and the more recent easing of social, political and economic restrictions in Myanmar have turned the long-isolated nation from the pariah of Southeast Asia to the region's hottest travel destination.

Around 425,000 foreigners visited Myanmar last year, according to the Ministry of Tourism, with the number projected to grow to 640,000 in 2012.

But foreigners based in Thailand have long been traveling to Myanmar's deep south -- and just for one day. Strictly for visa runs as opposed to tourism, the trick allows them to skip across an international border and apply for a new 30-day tourist visa on return.

Accomplished by longboat, the journey crosses the mouth of the Pak Chan River, a broad estuary that marks the maritime border between Thailand and Myanmar.

On the Thai side sits Ranong, a prosperous provincial capital. On the other side lies Kawthaung, the southernmost point of mainland Myanmar and a key transit point on the Singapore-Calcutta shipping lane.


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