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Mae Sot

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Mae Sot is in Tak Province, Thailand. It has an elevation of around 210 m, and in 2010, a population of about 36,000.

Get in

By road

The distance from Tak is about 100 km along Hwy 105 via Doi Musoe (870 m altitude) and Doi Son (784 m altitude). Tak is connected to regular bus services between Chiang Mai and Bangkok.

Frequent mini buses connect Mae Sot directly with Tak bus station starting at 05:30 and finishing around 19:00 and, in theory, departing every 30 min from the lower end of the Burmese Market. However, those buses that are already full can be expected to leave early, and those that are not will probably go late. The journey takes about 90 minutes and costs about 78 baht/person. The surcharge for putting a bicycle on the roof rack is 50 baht. There is a through bus from Mae Sot to Sukothai, via Tak.

There are buses in the early morning and late evening from Mo Chit Bus Station in Bangkok. VIP buses are approximately 613 baht per person. Try to get a spot on the top level of the bus (VIP) as you are not near the toilets at the bottom level, they stink! There are also cheaper first and second class buses, 394 baht and 306 baht respectively as of Feb 2011. The buses leave Mae Sot and Mo Chit early in the morning and throughout the evening (several around 08:00 and 21:00), day bus or night bus. After approximately 7-8 hours of travel time you reach your destination. Tickets on first class and VIP buses entitle you to a free light meal and/or drink when you stop half-way. There are motorbike and tuk-tuk taxis at Mae Sot Bus Station. It is best to have a map of your destination, with Thai directions, if possible. The average fare into town or to one of the guest houses listed here, is between 50-100 baht. Negotiate prior to embarking!

Tickets for the scheduled buses (i.e., not mini buses)to Chiang Mai can be purchased at the bus office on the Asian Highway, and a ticket to Bangkok can be purchased from the main bus station. Chiang Mai buses leave at 06:00.

Songthaews travel frequently to Mae Sariang (north) and Umphang (south). They leave from the market (ask for directions to the collection points) or you can flag them down on route, but beware, they are bone shakers and sometimes very full (spare seating on the roof).

By air

Mae Sot Airport is about 2 km west of the edge of town, and just 1 km from the border.

Happy Air flies every other day from Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport. Nok Air operates flights from Bangkok and Chiang Mai.

As of Nov 2011, there is a flight from Chiang Mai on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday with Kan Airlines. Journey time is about 50 min and costs about 1,900 baht.

Get around

Wat in Mae Sot (Thailand)

Getting around town is pretty simple by foot but if you are looking for other forms of transport, bicycles (approximately 50 baht per day) and motor bikes (approximately 150 baht per day) can be rented by the day from one of the guest houses listed here, or from the lovely Thai Tiny Tim (speaks good English), on the left just past Mae Sot Hospital. You must wear a helmet (supplied) as the police do fine people (especially foreigners!). You have to leave your passport for bond and fill up with petrol when you return it. Cars and 4 wheel drives can be hired from several places around town (eg Well Driving, close to Casa Mia). Be careful as driving in Thailand can at best be described as unconventional and at worst, downright dangerous.

Taxis come in the form of motorbikes or tuk-tuks, usually found near the Burmese Market and outside Tesco (drivers sit around with special licensed number jackets). Obviously, prices depend on distance and passengers, but as a rough guide, 50-100 baht will get you to most places around the town.

See

  • Myawaddy in Myanmar: Accessed via the border bridge, for a small fee, with passport. Overnight stays are not permitted. As of Dec 2011, the border was reopened. Situation around the Myawaddy / Mae Sot border region is perpetually a bit unstable.
  • Rim Moei Border Market: Well worth a visit for a whole range of locally made and Chinese and Burmese imports, including bootleg Viagra, 'knocked off' cigarettes, whisky, and designer goods, plus gems and plants.
  • Town markets: The vibrant Burmese Market in the centre of town represents an amazing cultural mix. There are Indo-burmese textiles, food and teak; as well as Karen, Mon, Hmong and other Burmese minority shops of all kinds. Turtles, eels and frogs all available at food stalls (mostly these are live) while pork, chicken, beef and lamb are also sold. There are numerous gem and jade shops (not for amateurs). You had best be able to tell the difference between real and fake gems if you plan to buy. There is a small indoor (morning and evening) Thai market at Baan Nua, on the way towards Mae Sot villas, with lovely fresh vegetables, meat and cooked take-away meals.
  • Wat Mani Temple : On the eastern side of town (near the Tesco Lotus) has a sauna, for about 20 baht.
  • Reclining Buddha and Buddha Foot: On your way to the border, look toward your right for a beautiful Buddhist temple which contains a giant reclining Buddha. Continue straight on and find the Buddha's footprint.
  • Temples: Many and varied, some Thai and some Burmese style. Try to get to the one down towards the border (last main road on the right) - reclining Buddha and other delights.
  • Swimming pools: Delightful one in a private house in Mae Sot villas (follow the signs), plus a gym and pool at Centara Hotel (Asian Highway).
  • Phra Charoen WaterfallLocated 40 km out of Mae Sot, this waterfall is accessible by car or motorbike. There is a well-beaten trail alongside its 97 steps, providing a beautiful stroll through the jungle. Bring a picnic with you and be prepared to get wet. The route up the 97 steps is often closed during rainy season.
  • Gibbon Sanctuary: While many other animals reside here, the gibbon sanctuary houses dozens of rescued gibbons, of the great ape group, who are often adopted as pets and then neglected by their owners when they reach adulthood. These fascinating creatures speak to you as you walk among their pens and hand feed them ripe fruit. To get there take the light blue songthaew #48 from the main road for an hour and a half; ring the bell to disembark at km41.5. Don't forget bags of ripe fruit.
  • Mae Kasa Hot Springs: Located at km13/14, legend has it the Mae Kasa Hot Springs are hot enough to boil an egg. There's a nice walk you can take around the area and it's a great place to have a picnic.
  • Tararak Waterfall: Just 26 km south of Mae Sot, the Tararak is part of the Ti Lor Su waterfall group and like its cousin Phra Charoen contains a nice walking trail and plenty of places to picnic.

Do

  • Thai massage: Most recommended is the one on the grounds of Mae Sot Hospital, rear entrance, and the one on the Asian Highway on the left towards the river, just past the traffic lights to Mae Ramat.
  • Go to the Herbal Sauna at Wat Mani (in the eastern part of town). If you walk on the northern main road (in an easterly direction) enter the temple complex at the sign Wat Mani, walk straight and turn right around the main building. The herbal sauna is at the back of the main temple. Bring your own towel and water bottle. Women should wear a sarong or loose cloth. There's a separate section for men and women. The steam room is tiny but this gives a good opportunity to mix with locals. Open afternoons. GPS-coordinates: N 16° 43.019 E 98° 34.455
  • Volunteering in an orphanage The Center for Children in Need offers short- or long-term volunteering in their grass-root project for abandoned Burmese children. The volunteers participate in the daily activities and there are also often small construction and renovation projects going on. Conditions: you pay 200 baht per day, which includes 3 meals plus use of bicycle. The director also takes the volunteers to the market and shows them around. [1]
  • Puzzlebox art courses: The Puzzlebox offers courses in Batik, ceramics, sandblasting, or basic art. Professionals teach you basic techniques and you create your own original work. The course culminates in a product you can take home. Participate individually or schedule a group course- great for organisations or parties! [2]
  • 2Wheels bike rental: Explore the scenic surroundings of Mae Sot on bicycle. Fully loaded Trek 3900 with disc brakes; 216, 218 and 220 inch available for rent from 2Wheels for 100 baht/day, 50 baht/half day. Call +66 87 2001495.
  • Gecko Garden Yoga Studio: Yoga in a peaceful setting. Everyday from 18:00-19:00, 50 baht per class. Mat provided. Regular classes Monday, Wednesday and Friday; advanced classes Tuesday and Thursday. Call +66 87 7324019.

Buy

Gem stones in a shop in Mae Sot
  • The main market is a great place to purchace some Burmese goods. Wandering around it is easy to see the ethnic diversity in Mae Sot. It is also a fantastic place to buy great fresh, often live, food.
  • There are many gem stone and jewellery shops, with most of the trade being for wholesale. As with anywhere in Thailand, although many sellers are reputable be wary that if you look European, low quality stones might be sold for high prices. Do some research before you buy.
  • For locally made ethnic handicrafts (Fair Trade/Social Enterprise) goods try the WEAVE or Borderline shops, which are almost opposite each other, on Inthrakiree Rd heading into town from the west. Borderline also has a local artists gallery and a coffee shop and free Wi-Fi out the back.
  • There are a couple of treking/tour companies in Mae Sot offering jungle trips, elephant rides (if you have to) and white water rafting. SP Kitchen on Asia Highway is one option, Bai Fern in the centre on Inthrakiree Road is another. Some routes are seasonal and cannot be accessed during the height of the rainy season in May - October.

Eat

Mae Sot is fast becoming known as a gourmet town, catering for tourists, NGO workers, business visitors and local residents. Most of the places below have English speaking staff.

  • Aiya, (Intharakiree Rd when heading east, across from Bai Fern). Thai-Burmese restaurant on An expansive menu in English. Friendly but very slow service.
  • Cafe de Moei, (next to PTT, left-hand side of Asian Highway on the way to Moei River). Good Thai fusion cuisine.
  • Casa Mia, (left off Intharakiree Rd when east from the bus station at the west end of town). Thai, Burmese, and Western food. Friendly, English-speaking staff, with home made bread, pasta and cakes.
  • Coffee Corner, (at DK Plaza opposite DK Hotel on Intharakiree Rd). Thai, Burmese and Western food. Comfortable with friendly staff and Bu, the owner, speaks English. The food is reasonably priced with good service. They make excellent coffee.
  • Hazel Cafe, (right-hand side of Intharakiree Rd, just before the police station). Sleek décor with delicious cakes and chocolates. Air conditioning and free Wi-Fi.
  • Krua Canadian Cafe, (centre of Mae Sot, opposite the police station on the western route of Inthrakiree Road). 07:00-. European, Mexican and Thai menu. The owner is very nice and kind, always offer help to foreigners. Reasonable price with good quality of food. Sells take-away bread, wine and Thai coffee in gift bags. Now has a pub attached next door. Free Wi-Fi.
  • Mai Thai. Lovely place to eat and drink. The Thai owner and chef cooks each dish to order according to her northern Thai roots. Open early for "after-work" drinks and on until late. Food is tasty, but standards of hygiene are not perfect.
  • Opposite T Corner (Fishtank, due to its location next to an aquarium shop). Good Thai food. Don't be put off by the décor and TV soaps as the food is all freshly cooked in front of you by a chef recently returned from a top Bangkok hotel.
  • The Passport @ HCTC, +66 83 2147716. Th F Sa nights. Call for reservation.. Vocational restaurant run by the Hospitality & Catering Training Centre, a charity offering a hospitality programme to under-privileged children of the Tak-Myanmar border. As part of their studies for the Certificate of Hospitality and Tourism, students are required to master basic cooking and service techniques. In order to enable this, HCTC has opened a casual dining venue opened to the public 3 nights per week. Great cocktails and the most extensive wine list in Mae Sot; Thai specialities: sum tam spring rolls, tom yam goong, curries, dessert tray. All priced very reasonably.
  • Peace Cafe, (Sawanwithi Rd in town centre, at the traffic light of Intharakiri Rd, just round the corner from the VIP bus stop to Bangkok), [3]. 09:00-21:00. Supports The Best Friend Libraries and education projects. Sunday night at 19:00 is the Burma Film Series, admission free. European and Burmese food. Many vegetarian dishes. Bicycles for rent and guided tours.
  • SP Kitchen, (left side of the Asian Hwy heading towards the border with Burma.). Delicious Burmese, Thai and Western food.
  • Wadee Restaurant, (up the road from Casa Mia). Delicious Burmese food, also some Thai dishes. Very friendly service.
  • Yellow Green Coffee Shop, 599/1 Inthrakiree Rd (west-bound, before Irawadee Resort). Owned by a husband & wife, who bake daily. Free Wi-Fi and has a nice balcony on the 2nd floor.
  • There are many restaurants and good street food sellers in Mae Sot. Som tam on the street heading east from Tesco towards the temple, pad Thai on the left just before the traffic lights on the road towards Mae Sot Villas, fish on the right (also on the road to Mae Sot Villas, (just before the Gigahertz shop), Vietnamese on the left heading towards the bus station, fish opposite the junction to Casa Mia, Burmese chicken curry at Mandalay (second turning left after Mae Sot Hospital), a lovely atmospheric Thai diner just off the main road to Tak (turn right at the top of the first mountain) and the up-market place a couple of kilometres on the left on the road north towards Mae Ramat. However, good vegetarian food is limited: there is one good restaurant on the left hand side of the road heading out towards Mae Sot Villas (just before the traffic lights and close to the pad Thai place) and a small, very reasonably priced cafe off the main road leading towards Mae Sot Hospital. Incidentally, the turning left to this place is just after a good curry cafe opposite the main town mosque.
  • A bit past the mosque, the road splits. Left takes you to the hospital, but on the right fork, at the end of the 1st block is a wonderful fried chicken take-away.
  • Two steak houses are on Asia Highway. One is named "Cowboy & Indian". The other is a bit further east and has a bright yellow sign.
  • Night Market is terrific for late diners as the open air shops stay open quite late. All Thai food with English menus.

Drink

  • EFCC (ExPPACT Foreign Correspondents Club), 206 Intarakhiri Rd (opposite Yamaha show room, near Tesco Lotus), [4]. Run by Burmese former political prisoners. ExPPACT is now defunct, but the club lives on. Set in a nice garden, this laid back place mainly attracts longer-term residents. Cocktails, Burmese snacks and weekly film screenings.
  • Mai Thai welcomes drinkers as well as eaters, screens live sport games and has a menu stuffed with traditional northern Thai fare.
  • Sweet Harmony Coffee Shop and Bakery 2/3 Sripanich Rd, Mae Sot, +66 55 544810 or +66 81 9711731. Pleasant atmosphere in a bustling downtown location with good snacks and drinks.
  • Y2K A local Thai night club. Admission is 70 baht, with a free small Leo beer. The interior is "table style" where everyone has their own group and table (few dance outside of their own table). On Friday and Saturday nights host a large number of ladyboys with live music.

Sleep

Lusy's Home Guest House (Mae Sot, Thailand)
  • Auntie's B&B, (Intharakiri Rd), [5]. A tiny, friendly, and comfortable bed & breakfast that will make you feel like home when staying here. They also have a good selection on their menu with a big breakfast, excellent coffee, a selection of teas, and delicious yoghurt smoothies.
  • Baan Tung Guest House, +66 55 533277 (), [6]. A boutique style mid-range place to stay. Quiet location, close to the town, markets, eating places and en route from the bus station. Large, clean and very comfortable en suite (with hot water) double rooms with locally crafted furniture and seating area. Have a fridge, cable TV, and free Wi-Fi. Enjoy fresh coffee on the balcony or terrace and obtain excellent information (places to see, places to eat, places to drink) from the Thai owner, Kung, or his friendly staff who speak Thai, English, and Burmese. 350-500 baht.
  • Center for Children in Need, (in Ban Nonq King Fa, close to KWO, Backpack, CDC, airport and bus terminal). Home stay in grass roots project. 3 rooms available with fan, shared bathroom. Village has Wi-Fi, taxi, restaurants and shops. 25 min by bike to town centre. Supports the non-profit orphanage. 80 baht.
  • The Charm, 11/41 Intharakiri Rd, Soi 3 (just outside the gate to Mae Sot Villa in the east of town), +66 90 6956100; +66 83 4220854. A boutique hotel with style and atmosphere. Offers clean, quiet, affordable accommodations. All rooms are en suite with A/C, cable TV, hot showers, towels, complimentary water, free unlimited Wi-Fi. Free bikes for guests. Services include pick-up and drop-off, massage, laundry, room service, English classes, cooking classes, and photo/video. Native English-speaking staff can provide excellent information regarding the area and assist in organizing local sightseeing trips. Long-term rates available. The Charm Hotel has a full-service restaurant on the ground floor. Best views of Mae Sot are from The Charm's penthouse, from where you can enjoy a beer or mango smoothie while watching the sun set behind the Burmese mountains. Conference room available. Smoking is permitted on balconies and the outside eating area of the restaurant. two single rooms (400 baht, 550 baht with breakfast, 650 during high season) and six double rooms (600 baht, 700 baht with breakfast).
  • DK Guest House. A well-used tourist hang out with mostly older NGO people, missionaries, and the like. Tiled BIG double rooms with air, Western toilet (hot water), cable TV, and a balcony; fan double rooms (cold water) are cheaper. Don't get the rooms at either end (next to the road or at the opposite end) as the noise can be a bit much from chickens and cars very early in the morning. The staff are nice; Internet is available in the lobby, as well as free Wi-Fi throughout the hotel. Cable TV includes BBC, Al Jazeera, MTV to Thai, Burmese, and Chinese channels. 250-400 baht.
  • First Hotel. has invested its time and energy on its interior with wood carvings covering ceilings and bedposts, leaving the exterior to be remarkable only for their omission. Air-con rooms with double beds are available, as are other variations.
  • Irawadee Resort, 758/1-2 Intharakiri Rd (west-bound). Hotel decor is of old classic Thai-Myanmar style. You will find nice, clean and well-maintained rooms making you feel like you're staying in a real hotel, not only overnight sleep room. Free Wi-Fi and breakfast included in the room rate. Opposite and surrounding it are several restaurants and coffee shops: Bor-Kung Phao (dinner only, with seafood caught from Myanmar), Krua Kon Wan (lunch & dinner Thai-style food), Som Tam shop, Chansuda Shop (Thai traditional desserts and snacks), Yellow Green Coffee Shop (coffee, tea and baked goods), T Corner (coffee and some food). 850-1,250 baht.
  • Lusy's Home Guest House, (GPS-coordinates: N 16° 43.012 E 98° 33.882). TV, hot shower, fan, and a water bottle. 200 baht.
  • Picturebook Guest House, 125/4-6 Soi 19 Intharakiri Rd, +66 90 4596990, [7]. A non-profit guest house run by a local organization that works in vocational training. Its design is unique and detailed and the rooms clean and comfortable. Described on their website as "boutique on a budget", it contains one-of-a-kind art and a secluded garden that boasts a horseshoe recreation area and a great beer-drinking table. Breakfast, air-con, hot water showers included in all rooms. Ground floor rooms 500 baht and balcony rooms 700 baht a night.

Get out

In addition to the Mae Sot to Mo Chit route Bangkok), buses also travel directly to Mae Sai, via Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai. Departure times from Mae Sot are 06:00 and 08:00 from the main bus terminal. Tickets can usually be purchased without problems at the station on the morning of departure. Ask your guest house to arrange an early morning tun-tuk to the station. The ticket booth opens at 05:30. The Green Bus (direct route to Chiang Mai) has moved its ticket office to a building on the Asia Highway just to the west of 105 North.

There are two classes of buses, but both are very clean and spacious and also include a free or 10 baht lunch voucher. Total travel time to Chiang Mai is about 6 hours; Chiang Rai, 9 hours. Tickets are 250/350 baht and 350/500 baht, respectively, and depending on the bus class. Green Bus buses from Chiang Mai to Mae Sot depart daily at 11:45 (2nd class) and 13:10 (1st class).

As of early 2009, bus companies have also opened for daily travel to Laem Ngop (Ko Chang) and Mukdahan. The company running this service is Phetprasert.

The Laem Ngop bus travels south towards Bangkok, veering east before entering the city, and then travelling along the coast via Chonburi and Rayong. The travel time from Mae Sot to the ferry departure point for Ko Chang is around 16 hours and the ticket costs 750 baht.

The Mukdahan bus makes station-only stops, including Sukhothai, Phitsanulok and Khon Kaen. The company claims that total travel time is 12-14 hours.

Another way to leave Mae Sot is to catch the minibus to Tak to connect to onward buses. These leave throughout the day around every 40 minutes from the old market area which is over the bridge from Green Guest house. The trip to Tak takes around 1.5 hr and costs 78 baht.




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