Meditation in Myanmar: Do I Need a Special Visa?

Meditate in Myanmar

Travelers who wish to learn more about meditation should consider visiting Myanmar. As the majority of the Burmese population is Buddhist, there are many monasteries and meditation centers across the nation offering people of all nationalities and faiths the opportunity to benefit from spiritual instruction.

Meditation is an excellent way to reduce stress and anxiety, overcome problems, and find inner peace. Taking a course or participating in a retreat in Myanmar is the best way to master the art of meditation or simply take some time away and disconnect from everyday life.

Visitors heading to a meditation center are often unsure which type of Myanmar visa they require: a religious visa or a Myanmar tourist eVisa. Both can be used for the purpose of meditation, this article provides information about both kinds to help visitors select the best visa for them.

Meditating in Myanmar with a Tourist Visa

Many foreigners heading to Myanmar for meditation do so with a tourist eVisa. There are a number of benefits to the eVisa, the main one being that it can be obtained from home, online, with no need to visit an embassy.

As the Myanmar eVisa is valid for stays of up to 28 days, provided the retreat or course does not last any longer than this, the eVisa is the most convenient option.

To apply, travelers simply need to complete the Myanmar eVisa application form. Personal details and passport information is required along with a scan of the passport’s biographical page and a recent passport-style color photo. These documents are uploaded digitally, it’s not necessary to present paperwork in person at a diplomatic mission or visa application center.

Processing times for eVisas are quick, most applicants receive the approved permit by email within 3 working days. The visa is also ideal for those travelers who wish to combine meditation with sightseeing in Myanmar as, unlike the religious visa, the eVisa is valid for tourism purposes.

Furthermore, most hotels will only accept guests with a tourist visa, not a Myanmar meditation visa, so for anyone staying outside of a meditation center at some point during the trip, this is the best option.

Religious Visa to Meditate in Myanmar

To remain in Myanmar longer than 28 days, a religious visa is required. Travelers should be aware that this type of visa is only valid for religious purposes such as staying at a meditation center, and cannot be used for tourism.

The Myanmar meditation visa is valid for 70 days, an extension can be applied for if necessary.

Unfortunately, the religious visa can only be applied for at a Myanmar embassy or consulate, it is not available online and paper copies of all supporting documents are required.

To be granted a meditation visa, participants must meet the standard tourist visa requirements and also provide the original invitation letter from a meditation center in Myanmar or from the Ministry of Religious and Cultural Affairs.

Multiple entry religious visas are available to travelers who have obtained at least 2 single entry religious visas and are able to provide an explanation for returning to Myanmar multiple times.

As the religious visa application process is more complex than obtaining an eVisa for Myanmar, it is only recommended for those visitors who wish to spend longer than 28 days in the country for solely meditative or religious purposes.

Can a tourist visa be changed into a religious visa in Myanmar?

Religious visas to meditate in Myanmar can exclusively be obtained at a Myanmar embassy or consulate.

Tourists in the country with a visitor visa who decide to attend a meditation center or retreat need to depart the country, apply for a Myanmar meditation visa, and return.

Foreigners are reminded that this is only necessary if the planned stay extends the 28 days permitted with a tourist visa.

The Best Meditation Centers in Myanmar

Travelers will find a wealth of meditation centers and retreats to choose from in Myanmar. Most do not charge a fee but instead run on donations of money, food, and other items.

Foreigners should check that instructions are given in English or another language that they understand. It is also important to be aware that the rules of the meditation center or monastery must be observed, these often include not eating after 12 pm and only speaking when necessary.

Some of the most renowned mediation centers in Myanmar are:

Chanmyay Yeitha: Vipassana meditation center

  • Location: main center in Yangon with bases in other areas
  • Vipassana and Metta meditation techniques
  • Minimum stay 10 days

Dhamma Joti: Vipassana meditation center

  • Location: Yangon
  • Vipassana meditation
  • 1, 2, and 3-day courses available in addition to longer stays

PA-AUK Forest Monastery

  • Location: Mudon, near Mawlamyine
  • Based on instructions by The Buddha in Tipiṭaka (the Pāli Canon)
  • Different lengths retreats available as requested

Shorter residences are recommended for beginner or intermediate yogis, with 10-day stays being popular. For this reason, many foreigners who wish to mediate in Myanmar can do so with a tourist eVisa.