Classic border town
Set opposite the Thai border town of Mai Sai, for many years Tachileik was one of the only overland border crossings between Thailand and Burma open (albeit in a crippled fashion) to foreigners in Thailand. It was one of the most popular spots to do a "visa run"—popping over to get another 30-day visa (or 14, depending on nationality) from Thailand.
This popularity gave the town an affluence that you don’t see in many other border towns between Thailand and Burma. Today it’s a hectic and modern town with round-the-clock electricity. Thai baht is the de facto currency, everyone is able to speak Thai and Thai telephone services work everywhere, making Tachileik quite unlike any other town in Burma.
While it’s easy to think of Tachileik as a Thai Burma crossing, it’s worth remembering that the Chinese frontier is also not all that far away via a decent road through Kengtung and Mongla. So although most of the local population is of Shan origin, you’ll find a diverse ethnic mix, including Indian traders in the border market and ethnic minorities in the local markets.
While there is considerable potential for tourism in the area surrounding Tachileik, regulations governing access to the surrounds will need to change before this is realised. Given other dramatic shifts in the country, these changes may come quickly—or not.
Until then, there’s not a lot to see, though a brief stay can be fun in a hectic kind of way. Visitors are drawn to the vast labyrinth-like border market; a couple of temples of moderate interest and the local market, and there are also plenty of eateries and numerous passable hotels within a short walk of ... Travelfish members only (Full text is around 1,700 words.)
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