Mae Sai

Mae Sai

Infamous border town

For a long time, the small far northern town of Mae Sai was the only Thai border crossing that consistently allowed foreign tourists to enter Burma. Admittedly it was only for the day — you could either deposit your passport at immigration, pay some cash and wander around the Burmese border town of Tachileik for a bit.

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What made the town famous among expats and long-term visitors though, was to take your passport with you and get new exit and entry stamps for Thailand, in the so-called visa run. Nowadays, pre-equipped with a Burmese visa, you can travel onwards into Burma from Tachileik or, if having already travelled around Burma, re-enter Thailand at this point.

Enjoy the views. : Mark Ord.
Enjoy the views. Photo: Mark Ord

Due to good transport links to Chiang Rai and Chiang Mai as well as being the terminus of a wide modern highway from Bangkok, Mae Sai has also been the main trading and commercial hub between Thailand and Burma in recent times. It’s a hectic town with cars, pick-up trucks, bikes, hand carts and passengers queuing up either side of the short bridge that crosses the narrow Sai River separating the two neighbours, while almost every available inch of town is given over to trading.

Unless you are either shopping for cheap Chinese goods in the markets, crossing over to Burma for whatever reason, or just intrigued to see Thailand’s northernmost point (a sign just down the lane to the left of the bridge indicates the precise position), then the town does not hold much interest to the casual traveller and is largely devoid of any ... Travelfish members only (Full text is around 600 words.)

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