Second Ride To India-Myanmar Border And A Bike Trip To Moreh In Manipur
A few weeks back, I wrote an article on “Places In India That Lies on International Border in the North-East Region.” In that article, I mentioned areas that are on the borer and where tourists can visit without restrictions. I also explained about Integrated Check Post (ICP), which acts as a major trading point between India and its neighbors. While there are many ICP on the border, the biggest ICP in northeastern India is the Moreh Integrated Check Post. During my ride in the north-east, I toured the international border many times. I rode to the Dawki-Tamabil in Meghalaya, Agartala-Akhura in Tripura, and Rih-Dil in Mizoram. In Manipur, I revisited the India-Myanmar border and crossed the international border for the second time. This time I rode to the town of Moreh in Manipur and explored Tamu in Myanmar. Therefore, in this article, I will be sharing important information related to planning a trip to Moreh on the India-Myanmar border. I will share information about permits, security checks, conditions of the road, and the accommodation facilities in Moreh. I hope this article would be beneficial for travelers planning a trip to Moreh. In a separate blog post, I will also share my bike ride to Moreh and how I completed my trip to Moreh.
Why Is Moreh Famous Among Travelers?
Moreh is famous as a trading hub on the eastern side of India’s border. The city is also known as the commercial capital of Manipur. The Integrated Check Post (ICP) constructed by the Indian Government helps in facilitating trade with Myanmar. In the last decade, the tourism boom in North-East India allowed Moreh to became a popular tourist destination. Today, tourists visiting Manipur also visit Moreh to explore the border. At the same time, Tamu, the border town in Myanmar, is famous for its markets and Monastery. The FMR Policy also facilitates tourism as it allows Indians to visit another country without a visa requirement.
Moreh is also called India’s Gateway to South-East Asia, and currently, India–Myanmar–Thailand Trilateral Highway is under construction. The ICP at Moreh also provides visa facilities for an extended trip to Myanmar. One can explore Myanmar and ride through the heart of the country via Moreh. The Indo-Myanmar Friendship Bridge in Moreh connects India to the Sagaing Division in Myanmar, and the highway from Moreh runs up to Mandalay in Myanmar.
Where Is Moreh Situated In North-East India?
The town of Moreh lies in the Chandel district in the Indian state of Manipur. Chandel is one of the sixteen districts of Manipur and forms the border of India with Myanmar in Manipur. Moreh is 120 kilometers from the state capital Imphal and requires three to four hours of journey from Imphal. The Purvanchal Range, which is an extension of Himalayas, separates the Moreh from the Imphal Valley.
How to Reach Moreh From Imphal
Visiting Moreh is the easiest task as the town lies close to the state capital Imphal. Due to its proximity from important tourist places in Manipur, one can visit Moreh during the day and return by evening. The National Highway 102 connects Moreh to the rest of Manipur, and the road is in excellent condition. The stretch from Tengnoupal to Moreh (38 Kilometers) is a boon for any biker keen to ride in the hills of north-east India. When I visited Moreh, I rode from Loktak Lake and enjoyed my ride of 130 kilometers. I spend three days in and around Loktak Lake and Keibul Lamjao National Park, and later I rode to Moreh. The route I followed while visiting Moreh was: Loktak Lake-> Moirang -> Wangoo-> Kakching-> Tengnoupal-> Moreh.
While I was riding my two-wheeler, not all tourists have the privilege of managing private transportation. If one is relying on public transport, then the best option to reach Moreh is by bus. The Manipur State Transport Department buses daily ply on the Imphal-Moreh route, and one can find the bus to Moreh at the bus stand. Apart from buses, local Sumo and Winger (Modified Tampoo) also ply on this route. Due to hills in the nearby areas of Moreh, fewer options are available, yet the method mentioned above is sufficient for a trip to Moreh. The nearest airport to Moreh is the Imphal Airport serving the capital city. In the case of railways, the nearest railway station is Silchar (340 kilometers ) and Dimapur 320 (Kilometers).
Condition of Road From Imphal To Moreh
The road condition is excellent from Imphal to Moreh. The road is well built and maintained owing to its importance. The way from Loktak Lake to Moreh is also in excellent condition; it’s just the route is a slightly narrower compared to the Imphal one. The stretch from Imphal to Moreh is a mixture of single and double laned roads, but the entire route is well-paved. Once Tengnoupal approaches, the double lane road changes to a single lane with the next forty kilometers ride on the hills. These hills give an idea of the forest cover in Manipur (77% state area is under forest cover). Although the condition of the road is good, frequent convoys of trucks make the drive miserable. Apart from this, there are two checkpoints where visitors have to register and show identification documents. I will cover the permits and security checks in the later part of the article.
Permits And Security Checks While Making A Trip To Moreh
Since visiting Moreh requires traveling to the border of India, security checks are mandatory. Also, as Moreh is famous for its cross border trade, frequent inspections are necessary to counter illegal trade activities and trafficking of illicit drugs. Moreover, the state of Manipur suffers from insurgency, and therefore additional checks are performed by both Assam Rifiles and India Army. Keeping these factors in mind, one can imagine that a trip to Moreh requires a hell of a process, but in reality, it is not. The drive till Tengnoupal from Imphal or Loktak Lake is smooth with no security checks. The real tests start as soon as the hills start.
The India Army manages a checkpoint at Tengnoupal, and individuals have to provide a valid document. The document can be any document issued by the Government of India like Aadhar Card, Driving License, or Passport. Upon verification, visitors are given a slip that needs to be shown at every checkpoint. There is another checkpoint near Moreh, and Travelers are required for another entry here before finally arriving at Moreh. Similarly, while returning, all belongings of visitors are checked, ensuring they haven’t bought anything illegal. During my ride from Tengnoupal to Moreh, I cross three such check post where I had to complete documentation before I was allowed to ride further.
An important thing to note while traveling to Moreh is the time of the visit. Since the hilly area is under insurgency, tourists and local people are required to cross the Army Check-Post at Moreh before 4:30 PM. This measure ensures that the visitors have safely exited the hills before sunsets. If you fail to reach the check post after 4:30 or 5: PM (depending upon season), security forces may or may not allow you to ride further, and you might have to spend a night in Moreh.
Permit Procedure For Crossing Border And Visiting Moreh And Tamu
Ideally, there is no permit required to cross the border at Moreh. There are two conventional ways to cross the border at Moreh and visit Tamu in Myanmar. These are two gates called gate one and gate two. The gate two is also known as The Indo-Myanmar Friendship Gate and handles the majority of export and import. Through gate 2, one has to carry valid documents at the check post and present it to the concerned authority if asked. The security personnel allows tourists to cross the border and check only if they sense something fishy. The gate one is the old route and now hardly used for trade. At gate one, after crossing the bridge, you are in Myanmar. Adjacent to the bridge is a Myanmar Border Police check-post, and Indian tourists are required to submit the document and obtain the gate pass. Once you have the gate pass, you are officially in Myanmar and can visit the Tamu town in Myanmar.
One important thing is that vehicles are allowed only through the gate one and not through gate two. In case you are traveling by a private car and intended to go to Myanmar, visit the gate one and pay a small fee. The gate two at Moreh is solely for trade-related activities, and no vehicular movement is allowed there.
What To Do On A Trip To Moreh In Manipur
Being a border town, visiting Moreh gives a feeling of a great accomplishment. Clicking pictures with milestones and signboard is not less than an achievement. For road and nature lovers, the route from Tengnoupal to Moreh is scenic, and another must-do activity in Moreh. In Moreh, you can cross the border and visit the local Burmese town, Tamu Market, famous for shops and bars. Tamu is also renowned for its Gompas and Monastery, and understanding Buddhism in the neighboring country could be an excellent informational tour.
When I entered Myanmar via Moreh, I rode for a few kilometers in Myanmar territory before settling to a small restaurant. I ordered tea and tried communicating with the local population of the town. The language was an issue, and the only person who could understand English was the shop owner. I talked on various topics, but my primary question was the unique sandalwood applied by locals on their faces. To this, he explained that the paste is called Thanaka, made from ground bark. Thanaka is a part of Myanmar’s culture for hundreds of years and used by Burmese women for over 2000 years. Later, I explored the local Monastery and temples. After spending 2 hours in Tamu, I bid farewell to the border town. Moreh was the second time when I crossed the border of India and explored a township in the neighboring country. Previously I did the same when I visited the Rih Dil Lake in Mizoram. I also knew that I would be revisiting the India-Myanmar border as I planned to visit the Longwa Village in Nagaland before finishing my north-east India ride.
Accommodation Facility In Moreh
As Moreh is a crucial trading outpost in North-East India, the town offers a lot of facility and accommodation is one of them. The city has plenty of hotels and homestays, ranging from a few hundred rupees to thousands. A short walk through the town and one will find hotels in Moreh. As I planned to return to Loktak Lake, I had no intention of staying, and thus didn’t give much importance to hotels. Moreover, the majority of tourists visiting Moreh tends to return to Imphal city on the same day. Anyways if one is visiting Moreh and planning to spend the night there, he/she should not face any issue in regards to accommodation.
Mobile Connectivity, Petrol Pump And Other Facilities In Moreh
Regarding Mobile networks, Petrol Pumps, and other amenities, the same thumb rule is again applicable. Due to its importance as a commercial and tourist center, almost all the facilities are available. Since the town is near the border, the mobile network drops as you approach the border. If you are 2-3 kilometers away from the border, you will get a cellular network on your phone. I was able to surf the web, and both my sim, i.e., Airtel and Vodafone, had a strong signal. There is one petrol pump at the beginning of the town, and it accepts credit and debit cards (thanks to digitalization in India).
I have already listed additional facilities like accommodation and restaurants in Moreh. In case you are looking for any specific information for planning a trip to Moreh, do let me know via the comment or message. I will try to help based on my experience of my bike ride to Moreh. Meanwhile, do read my other posts on my bike ride to North-East India, where I explore all the seven sister states of Inda.