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Mae Sai

Travel Guide

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One of the few well known border towns between Thailand and Burma, Mae Sai is a bustling town which has profited on legal and illegal trade.

Your first impression would be of the incredibly wide main street that runs essentially north-south through the town finishing at the bridge that spans the river and gives access to Burma.

The border end of this street is lined by an enormous market. The wares available are many and varied with a very heavy Burmese influence - clothes, gems, you name it they have got it.

One of the more interesting pursuits in town for travellers is to watch the action up river from the bridge that spans the Sai River. Throughout the day, boats ferry people and goods back and forth between Burma and Thailand.

Goods including alcohol and cigarettes pass under the dull gaze of the border guards and can be had for rock bottom prices.

If you're planning on crossing over to the Burmese town of Thachileik for a bit of a poke around, all you'll find is a Burmese version of Mae Sai -- a town dominated by trade. There's lots of shopping in smuggled wares and cheap Burmese goods, but if you're expecting some classy Burmese handicrafts, you'll be disappointed.

Apart from Mae Sai's close proximity to Burma and the Golden Triangle there is really nothing appealing about the town. The one saving grace is the large and diverse market mentioned above.

There are some well placed guesthouses overlooking Burma in which you could concentrate on doing little for a few days and from which you could explore some of the surrounds.

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Text and/or map last updated on 11th August, 2009.

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