A day trip to Burma’s bazaar town: Tamu, Myanmar
Tamu is a small bazaar town in Myanmar along the Indo-Burma border near Manipur in North India. Tamu is located 5 km from Moreh, the last town in India. A friendship bridge connects the two towns with each other.
To reach Tamu from India one has to first reach the town of Moreh in Manipur. Once in Moreh, you can take an auto-rickshaw to the Myanmar immigration office.
At the immigration office, you need to provide a valid India document and pay an entry fee of ₹ 20 (as of February 2018) and in return, you get a receipt slip which grants you entry into Tamu for a day i.e. till 4 pm IST.
Remember to keep the receipt slip safely since it’s your ticket back into India. The immigration officers will keep your ID proof till you return back from Tamu and hand over the receipt slip.
From outside the immigration office, you’ll need to hire a Tamu-bound Tuk-tuk. The cost of the mere 5-6 km ride is steep. Bargaining won’t really help since language is a major barrier along the border.
The Tuk-tuk to Tamu will cross a small suspension bridge which is the actual border between the two countries and again you’ll need to get off the Tuk-tuk and get your receipt stamped and that’s it. You have successfully entered Myanmar (Burma) but you are only allowed into the town of Tamu not beyond without a visa.
Once in Tamu, the town honestly has a much happier feel as compared to back home in Moreh, India. In Tamu, everyone is smiling and looking to make conversation and are more than welcoming towards everyone who sets foot on Myanmar soil.
The houses in Tamu are made completely of wooden plans and are raised above the ground, this is to prevent the heavy rains from washing them away. People have plenty of herbal paste applied to their face. This herbal paste is called Tanakha, an aromatic paste made from the tree of the same name which has anti-ageing and sun protection properties.
The main attraction in Tamu is the village monastery which is a short ride away from the border check-post and is an absolute must-visit. The next place worth visiting is the local markets which have nearly everything from China and Thailand being sold here at very affordable prices.
While in Tamu, a must-have is the sugarcane juice which is sold at every nook and corner of the town. If you’re up for something harder then try the Tiger Beer which is a local beer from Myanmar and is easily available in the market.
The market is always bustling with locals selling everything from fresh vegetables and fish to shoes, clothes and even electronics. It’s a great place to get some good close up pictures of the people going about their daily routine. Unlike back in India, the Myanmar people love posing for the camera and will even give a big smile to make the picture better.
Since Indians are not allowed to spend a night in Tamu there are only a handful of accommodation options which provide neat and clean rooms and payment for the same is only acceptable in USD.
Food options are in plenty with numerous eating stalls and small wooden make-shift restaurants serving both Burmese and western cuisine. A must-have is the local chicken Khao Soi (egg noodles and chicken drumstick) this is a dish which anyone and everyone from India will like and it goes very well with a bottle of beer.
So while you’re in Tamu for those few hours, a must-do thing is to try and exchange a few Indian Rupees for their Kyat. It’s a great souvenir to bring back with you.
But do remember that while you’re in Tamu, no Indian network connection works and only the market area which includes the shops and restaurants will accept Indian Rupee.
Tamu is a great place to visit and spend a few hours just strolling through the streets and looking at how different yet very similar life across the border in neighbouring Myanmar is.
The place has nothing much to offer for a tourist but it’s the kind of place a traveller will surely love purely for the entire experience starting from Imphal to Moreh and then to Tamu. It’s one epic road trip.
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