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Mae Sai

Mae Sai is the northernmost district (amphoe) of Chiang Rai Province in northern Thailand. The town of Mae Sai is a major border crossing between Thailand and Burma. Asian Highway Network AH2 (Thailand Route 1 or Phahonyothin Road) crosses the Mae Sai River to the town Tachileik in Burma.
One-day passes for non-Burmese nationals crossing into Burma are issued at Burma customs in Tachileik. Passports are confiscated and a temporary travel permit is issued; the permit is exchanged for the traveler's passport upon crossing back into Thailand.
Burma-Thailand bridge in Mae Sai
Neighboring districts are (from the east clockwise) Chiang Saen, Mae Chan and Mae Fa Luang. To the north is Myanmar, separated by the Mae Sai River and the Ruak River. The westernmost part of the district contains several hills, the most important one is the Doi Tung with the Wat Phra That Doi Tung temple on top.
History The minor district (King Amphoe) Mae Sai was created on March 1 1939, when the two tambon Mae Sai and Pong Pha were split off from Chiang Saen district.The area was upgraded to a full district on May 1 1950.
Administration The district is subdivided into 8 subdistricts (tambon), which in turn are further subdivided into 92 villages (muban). There are two subdistrict municipalities (thesaban tambon) within the district - Mai Sai itself covering parts of the tambon Mae Sai and Wiang Phang Kham, and Huai Khrai covering parts of the tambon Huai Khrai. There are further 8 Tambon administrative organizations (TAO).


No.

Name

Thai name

Villages

Inh.

    

1.

Mae Sai

แม่สาย

14

21,697

2.

Huai Khrai

ห้วยไคร้

11

7,609

3.

Ko Chang

เกาะช้าง

13

9,964

4.

Pong Pha

โป่งผา

12

8,348

5.

Si Mueang Chum

ศรีเมืองชุม

9

5,090

6.

Wiang Phang Kham

เวียงพางคำ

13

19,945

8.

Ban Dai

บ้านด้าย

8

4,117

9.

Pong Ngam

โป่งงาม

12

9,528

Mae Sai (แม่สาย) is the northern-most city of Thailand. It is mainly a stepping stone for visits to Myanmar and has few attractions of its own.

Get in
By bus
By bus from Chiang Rai or Chiang Mai. Buses from Chiang Rai are very frequent (every 10-15 min), cost 40 Baht (one way) and take about 1.5 hours, while buses from Chiang Mai take about 4 hours (210 baht one way). All public buses terminate at a bus station well south of Mae Sai, so you have to continue onward to the city proper with red songthaews waiting outside (20 baht per passenger fixed fare). The blue songthaews to/from the Golden Triangle and Chiang Saen, on the other hand, leave from a stand in the city center a few hundred meters down the street from the border. The last blue songthaew that departs for Chiang Saen leaves at 2PM.
There are also day-tours taking visitors to Mae Sai, the Golden Triangle, and a couple of other places to see on the way as well. Tourist minibuses are more expensive (around 800 baht for a day tour from Chiang Mai including lunch) and, if fully loaded (but this is not always the case), are much less comfortable. However, this is still an option worth considering, if you want to combine your visa run with a sightseeing tour through Chiang Rai province.

By car
By car which can be rented in Chiang Mai (4 hours away) and other cities. Mae Sai is 61 km from Chiang Rai on Highway No. 110.

Get aroundMae Sai is a one-street town and the center is easily covered on foot.

See

There's really only one place to visit in Mae Sai, but many visitors breeze past it on their way to Myanmar.

  1. Wat Phra That Wai Dao, (before Immigration, turn left and go through covered bazaar). Built on a small hill up a steep staircase, overlooking Mae Sai and Tachileik, this temple and its stupa are unremarkable, but there are a few interesting monuments around it. Next to the stupa is a small Burmese temple that gives a nice taste of what awaits on the other side. Towards the river is a multistoried monument to King Naresuan, a Lanna king famous for beating back several Burmese invasions and dispatching the Burmese crown prince in a duel, and just in case the message of this isn't clear enough, there's also a giant scorpion statue brandishing its claws towards Tachileik. Free.  
  2. Take a picture with the gate marking the northern-most point of Thailand

Do

  1. Cross the bridge into Tachileik, Myanmar (which the Thais call Tha Khi Lek ท่าขี้เหล็ก). An entry permit valid for up to 14 days costs 500 baht or 10 US$. Travellers using this option are given a paper entry permit and their passports are held at the immigration office until they return to Thailand. Stop at the entry point and talk with the Thai officials to organise this.It is easily done. In the Tachilek market just over the border, expect to be assaulted by any number of persons offering cheap cigarettes and viagra/cialis (if you are older!) From here, you can travel as far as Kengtung (Thai Chiang Tung), 160 km away, but to travel to the rest of Myanmar, a visa in advance is needed. Transit travelers can arrange for a visa and can have their passport sent to their port of exit. Some local NGOsare worth visiting to see some of their humanitarian work

Buy

Covered bazaar leading to Wat Phra That Doi Wao
There are plenty of small shops lining both sides of the street leading to the border crossing that sell:

  1. Cheap jewels (rubies, emerald and jade) imported from Myanmar
  2. Cheap curio items, many of which are imported from China
  3. Fresh cut fruit

Eat

Kik Kok restaurant(no seriously, there is a sign outside!) It is about 1Km up from the border on the right as you walk in that direction and there are a few Thai restaurants about this distance along the main road away from the tourist shops near the border. It closes about 8pm. The one immediately next door, run by Chinese descent people will give you a good feed quite cheaply even later, with alcohol if you want it, and the menus are easy to work on. They are either in English or with pictures of what you get.

Drink

There are several comfortable coffee shops on the main road leading to the immigration checkpoint.

Sleep
  1. Thip Sukon House Hotel. This hotel is probably the best of the lot on the same road as the old King Kobra hotel.From the 3rd floor you have a view right into Myanmar and the Sai River.

Get out

  1. On foot across the short bridge to Tachileik, Myanmar
  2. By bus or car to Chiang Rai and beyond
Mae Sai Chiang Rai
Mae Sai Chiang Rai
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