Mae SAI (province of Chiang Rai, Thailand)
The town of Mae SAI (Mae Sai, Mae SAI) is the most Northern city of Thailand and is located near the border crossing to Myanmar (Burma) and 61 km from the city of Chiang Rai (Mae SAI on the map). Nothing remarkable in the town, and people visit it mostly to take pictures of the "North gate" of Thailand to Myanmar, or take a day "outing-tour" to a neighboring country, in the city without stopping. And, of course, is a staging post for those travelling from Thailand to Myanmar. The city area has a couple of interesting places to visit is the temple Wat Phra That Doi Wao and the local market (right in town) and Khun Nang beach Us Laguna (lagoon of the sleeping lady, is a few kilometers from the city).
We also do not recommend to stay in Mae SAI for more than one day (or even half a day), but to categorically refuse to include it in your route is not worth it. Stop at Mae SAI on the way to Golden triangle could be very interesting.
On the other side of the border, across the bridge lies the Burmese town of Tachilek (Tachileik). Two cities on both sides of the border, separated only by the narrow river, a tributary of the great Mekong river. To get to the other side you can not even processing visa to Myanmar. You can get one-time 14-day or one-day pass at the border, leaving the passport to the guards and paying $ 10 or 500 baht (to pay the dollars, but the bill needs to be new, otherwise you can refuse to accept). Upon returning, the passport is returned and you can get the stamp for extension of visa-free stay in Thailand, if you have a right to it. This pass will allow you to stay on the territory of the cities of Tachileik and Kengtung, but you can't navigate through the rest of the territory of Myanmar. You ask, and what to do on the territory of Tachileik? Nothing special: you can walk through the market, walking around the city, sit in restaurants. The big difference between the two border cities from Myanmar and Thailand you feel.
Attention. Due to frequent conflicts between the parties sometimes (fortunately in recent years, very rarely), this border crossing stops issuing passes to get into Myanmar at the pass (without a visa) will not succeed. You must check the information before planning trips to international sites.
How to get to Mae SAI
To get to Mae SAI by bus from Chiang Rai (40 baht from the old bus station), Chiang Mai (160-300 baht), Bangkok, Tatana, Fanga. The bus from Chiang Rai departs every 15 minutes from the old bus station in Chiang Rai from the centre of town, on the road from 1 hour 30 minutes. Bus station in Mae SAI is not in the heart of the city, near Tesco-Lotus on highway 1 in the four and a half kilometers from the center (of the border) (bus station of Mae SAI on the map). From there to reach the centre by taxi-tuk-tuk for 20 baht.
Taxi for Golden triangle and Chiang Saen (Chiang Saen) leave the highway No. 1B center a few hundred meters from the border crossing. Finding them is easy, they are always in one place (see photo below).
Rented transport to Mae SAI from Chiang Rai to get even easier: you just need to drive along highway 1 to the North, never deviating, until, until you hit the border crossing with Myanmar. This will be Mae SAI. The route will be a great (highway smooth and wide). To go from Chiang Rai just over 70 miles (on the bike will take about 1.5 hours). There is also another, more interesting and extreme road through the mountains along the border with Myanmar, but this road is not for everyone (read more about the road review "the Road to Mae SAI").
Attractions Mae SAI
In the town of Mae SAI not too many attractions. To visit here is only to Wat Phra That Wai Dao with the famous sculpture of a Scorpion and an observation deck with views of Myanmar, to photograph the border crossing to Myanmar, walk through the market. If possible, drive to the lagoon Khun Nang Us, but she is already outside the city. More nothing to do here.
Wat Phrathat Doi Wao
Wat Phrathat Doi Wao is situated on top and at the foot of a small hill right in town, a few hundred metres from the border crossing (Wat Phra That Doi Wao on the map). To climb the hill walking up the stairs, but you can get on the motorcycle/car to the top. There, at the top, in a small Burmese temple is the famous statue of Scorpion sting eerily directed towards historically unfriendly neighbors – the Burmese. And, of course, from the observation deck you can see the border on Myanmar, if I can't get there.
The entrance to the temple is free. Working temple in the daytime. The narrow road to the Shrine starts a few hundred metres from the border crossing directly off highway 1 (the turn is marked, which is almost not visible from the road, see photo below), and passes through the market.
The market in Mae SAI
Almost the whole of Mae SAI day is a trading platform that is not surprising, because it is a border town. Here you can find not only Thai goods, but also goods from Myanmar. To search the market don't have, it's everywhere. Most interesting and rich is the main market on the way to the Wat Phra That Wai Dao (market of Mae SAI on the map), but in fact trade is conducted in the shops on route 1 and other city lanes.
Laguna Khun Nang Us (Khun Nam-Nang Non) and caves
Just about five kilometers to Mae SAI is a lagoon Khun Nang Us (Laguna on the map). The name of this lagoon is translated as "the lagoon of the sleeping lady." In fact, the lagoon to the sleeping lady has no relation, and the name of this place comes from the rock formations near a lagoon, which resemble the most the sleeping lady. This place is popular among local residents for peace and tranquility, and they often come here for picnics or just for walks.
Close to the lagoon (within several kilometers) there are many caves that you can visit. The most famous of them are three caves: Tham Pum, Tham Pla and Tham Phayanak. They are located a couple of kilometres South of the lagoon. They are filled with stalactites and stalagmites, and the cave Tham Pla and Tham Phayanak still flow streams.
This is a great place to stop off here for an hour or two and rest from a long road in the shade of the trees near the water.
Wat Tham Pha Chom and caves
There are in Mae SAI, another special place. It is visited by tourist is rare, because few people know about it. Wat Tham Pha Chom itself is very beautiful temple. But in addition to its beauty near the temple there are caves that you can visit. The caves house Buddha statues and other relics.
The temple is located about a kilometer from the gate to Myanmar, and to reach it it is possible on foot (Wat Tham Pha Chom on the map). The entrance to the temple and the caves is free, donations are welcome.
Hotels in Mae SAI where to stay
Hotels in Mae SAI located mainly near the border and along highway 1. It is best to choose a hotel near the border crossing. Luxury hotels, as tourists usually stay here for one night. Mostly budget hotels offering basic facilities at a reasonable price.
If you want to find a hotel cheaper, you should go through the lanes away from highway 1. There you can find very cheap guesthouses, but they will have to look for, since they are not at every step.
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