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4 Days in Mae Sai, Thailand Apr 25-28, 2016

4 Days in Mae Sai, Thailand

Location: Mae Sai, Thailand

Clueless in Mae Sai
After my abrupt departure from Tachileik (Myanmar), I found myself back to the border town of Mae Sai (Thailand), with no place to stay and no plan on what to do next. I was on edge. Luckily, the hotel owner I talked to, approved of my proposal and agreed to give me 3 nights in his hotel. That was a tremendous sigh of relief to me - the first time since I crossed into Myanmar. I now have 3 days in Mae Sai to get my bearing, catch up on things and plan ahead.

Visa Run Refuge
Up until recently when the Thais cracked down on visa runs, this border town has been the favorite crossing by expats wanting to extend their stay in Thailand. The bombing in Bangkok in 2015 caused a stricter enforcement of the visa-run law by Thai Immigration. Now, you have to show proof of onward travel as they favor the formal tourist visa issued by the Thai Embassy (outside Thailand) rather than the transit visa-on-arrival. Until they cut a slack on the law (I don't think they will change the law. They just enforce or loosen it), visa-runs in Mae Sai is a thing of the past.

4 Days in Mae Sai, Thailand

Big Market
The big market is Mae Sai's biggest draw. Because of cross-border shopping, with Myanmar and Laos converging into what is called The Golden Triangle, Mae Sai sees a frenzy of shoppers given its expansive market. You get all kinds here from the typical colorful Thai clothing to jewelry, buddha figurines, gadgets, dried fruits, etc. Unlike Chatuchak Market in Bangkok where a big grid is allotted for the market, here in Mae Sai, the market is a labyrinth of alleys and streets densely filling up the inner west area of the border. It's like an intricate spider web - every which way you turn is an array of vendors usually specializing in a particular merchandise (eg. - umbrellas, slippers, etc.). The ambience shifts during the night time when the inner stores close and the night vendors occupy the side streets. Street eating is fabulous, delicious and cheap.

City Center
About 4 kms south, towards Chiang Rai, the city center of Mae Sai has a big Makro with an equally big Tesco across the street. There isn't too much city life in Mae Sai. The main action still happens in Chiang Rai, about an hour south.

Ending Thoughts
Mae Sai was not even on the plan. I was to go to Chiang Rai after Myanmar. But it called out. With hardly any tourist and locals who don't speak English, I was mostly alone exploring the market scene. Except for its cross border ease (unless you're doing a visa run) and the big market, there isn't much happening in Mae Sai. But if you are in the area, it's worth a visit and dabble in what it has to offer. At this point, the frontier of Laos is also a short trip away or you can venture more within the Golden Triangle area of Northern Thailand - Chiang Saen, Chiang Khong, Chiang Rai and Sop Ruak.

--- TheLoneRider

Next stop: Chiang Saen, Thailand

Mae Sai, Thailand

hotels in Mae Sai - hotel cafes in Mae Sai - cafe
coming out of Myanmar and into Thailand monks on a shopping spree? ice cream vendor a Wat (temple) in the midst of the market
stairway to heaven view from the hilltop Wat Wat on a hilltop the Scorpion Temple
street side pork rinds and chestnuts bicycle rickshaw who says it always  has to be a rocking horse? why not a rocking Vespa? coffee time at Heart Cafe
costume jewelry the chestnut lady the afternoon vendors are putting up their makeshift stalls fried meat and processed meat
grubs at B20/half cup mango, jackfruit and jam festive afternoon in Mae Sai vendors, cars and shoppers sharing the street
Top North home for 3 nights I travel on a tight budget, but with Durian, I can't say no. I haggled this one down to B150 good Khai Soi at the Khao Soi Islam resto Mae Sai is a third class city but look how orderly and manicured
cutsies for the garden this is truly the northernmost tip of Thailand, being on the overhang of a resto by the narrow river separating Myanmar from Thailand taking a break by the Wat lots of Buddhas inside the Wat
at the cafe of Top North Hotel, taking care of business kids playing in the care whatsoever they're crossing international borders riddle me pig on a tree with hair made of nails you see a few monuments like this stating it's the northern most part of Thailand
Thailand on the left and Myanmar to the right finding shelter on a hot afternoon walk this guy knows how to relax cold beer on a hot day, Chang Beer at B70. Behind me is Myanmar
big shady tree similar to Acacia Tree...maybe it is Acacia sun dried chili cheap roadside dining....priceless! madonna and child...working class heroes
Top North Hotel

Top North Hotel

Location: 306 Phaholyothin Maesai, Mae Sai, Mae Sai (Chiang Rai), Thailand 57130
Mobile: 086-1797173
Tel: 053-731955, 732331
Fax: 053-640417
Features: along main road, 1 min walk to border, songthaew stops directly for drop-off or pick-up in front of hotel from Mae Sai city bus terminal

Mae Sai FYI / Tips

  • best to book your hotel near the border since that's where most of the action is
  • there are cheaper lodging not listed in Agoda that go for as little as B150/night. Just coast the street along the river towards the west direction, towards Mae Sai Guesthouse

How to Get to Mae Sai

  • from Chiang Rai - it's one straight bus ride from Chiang Rai at the bus station. Take the Green Bus and you get off at Mae Sai city center bus station. Take a waiting red taxi to the border, B15, 10 mins
  • from Chiang Mai - there is a straight bus all the way to Mae Sai. Take the Green Bus at the Chiang Mai bus station, Arcade Bus Station, Terminal 3, B319 for VIP seats to Mae Sai city proper, ~4.5 hours. Then take the red taxi to the border, B15, 10 mins

Things to do, Places to go in Mae Sai

  1. Mae Sai Market - the expansive market is really the main draw of Mae Sai apart from being a visa-run destination
  2. Fish Cave aka Monkey Temple at Wat Tham Pla - you can feed the monkeys and carp. Food can be purchased at the temple for B20
  3. Cross into Myanmar - tourists can pay B500 to cross into Myanmar and take a peak at their daily life. There is also a big market across the border, selling mostly fake stuff imported from China
  4. Tum Luang-Khun Naam Naang Norn Forest Park - water fall, rock pools, swimming
  5. Wat Phra That Doi Wao aka Skorpion Temple - panoramic view of Myanmar from the Golden Triangle

Mae Sai Cost Index

backpacker places (US$1 = Thai Baht 35.15 = Php 46.74 = MYR Ryat 1168.80 as of Apr 25, 2016)
  • B70 one big bottle Chang beer
  • B5 bottled water
  • B100 one hour street massage
  • B40-60 noodle soup with meat
  • B40-60 coffee
  • B40-60 pad thai
  • B75 muesli + yogurt + fruit breakfast
  • B400 double bed in a fan room, shared toilet incl. breakfast
  • B15 red taxi ride from bus terminal to border

Thailand Blogs by TheLoneRider

  1. 15 Days in Bangkok July 10-24, 2018
  2. Rope Skipping, 4mins Full-on July 22, 2018
  3. Sunday Visit to Chatuchak Weekend Market July 17, 2018
  4. Fork on the Road: Abundance or Poverty by Choice? July 16, 2018
  5. Loving Bangkok All Over Again Feb 22-26, 2016
  6. Adventure Hostel Review Feb 22-26, 2016
  7. Hotel Review: Riva Surya Bangkok Oct. 20, 2014
  8. The Shopping Malls of Bangkok Oct 6-20, 2014
  9. Bangkok's Street Food Delight Oct 6-20, 2014
  10. Bangkok Revisited 3 Oct 6-20, 2014
  11. Bangkok Dec 31, 2005

  12. Chiang Khong
  13. Ten Days in Chiang Khong, Thailand Apr 30 - May 9, 2016

  14. Chiang Mai
  15. A First Timer in Chiang Mai Apr 9-23, 2016
  16. Dance Mandala in Chiang Mai at The Yoga Tree Apr 19, 2016
  17. Songkran Waterfight Festival in Chiang Mai Apr 13-15, 2016
  18. Border Crossing from Siem Reap (Cambodia) to Chiangmai (Thailand) April 9-10, 2016

  19. Chiang Rai
  20. Exploring Chiang Rai, Thailand May 11-16, 2016
  21. Visiting the White Temple of Chiang Rai (Wat Rong Khun) May 15, 2016

  22. Chiang Saen
  23. Exploring Chiang Saen, Thailand Apr 28-30, 2016

  24. Mae Sai
  25. 4 Days in Mae Sai, Thailand Apr 25-28, 2016
  26. Border Crossing - Mae Sai (Thailand) to Tachileik (Myanmar) Apr 23, 2016

  27. Pai
  28. Exploring Pai, Thailand May 19-24, 2016
  29. Visiting the Land Split in Pai, Thailand May 23, 2016
  30. Trekking the Ridges of Pai Canyon May 23, 2016
  31. Climbing up the White Buddha (Wat Phra That Mae Yen) May 21, 2016

  32. Pak Chong
  33. Pak Chong (Thailand) En Route to Siem Reap (Cambodia) Mar 20-21, 2016
  34. Goodbye Thai Plum Village Mar 20, 2016
  35. Yoga at Thai Plum Village Mar 19, 2016
  36. Pond Picnic with the Monastics Mar 14, 2016
  37. Sentence Expansion Mar 12, 2016
  38. Alms Round of the Thai Plum Village Monastics Mar 10, 2016
  39. First Day of Teaching English at Thai Plum Village Mar 8, 2016
  40. Cyber Monk Redefined Mar 6, 2016
  41. Thai Plum Village, Day 6: Plum Village and Vipassana Mar 2, 2016
  42. Thai Plum Village, Day 5: Visa Snag Mar 1, 2016
  43. Plum Village, Day 4: Picnic with the Monastics on Lazy Monday Feb 29, 2016
  44. Plum Village, Day 2-3: Getting Settled Feb 27-28, 2016
  45. Plum Village, Day 1: Arrival Feb 26, 2016

  46. Phan District, Chiang Rai Province
  47. Yoga with Amm Prajna Pitchaya and the Sivananda yoga community of Phan May 16-18, 2016
  48. Visiting the Nam Lot and the Pha Khong Caves of Phan District May 18, 2016

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Reader Comments:

Jim WardJim
(Apr 28, 2016) Like a Rolling Stone...

Edwin ContrerasEdwin Contreras
(Apr 28, 2016) 250 baht pa rin ba charge nila sa foot massage?

Amazon CarpenterAmazon Carpenter
(Apr 28, 2016) I love the contrast of the look on your face vs the lady rubbing your feet! LOL oh dear. Such is life eh!

Apr 25-28, 2016

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