Mae Sot is located on the western border of Thailand next to Myanmar with Sangklaburi province to the South. The town of Mae Sot is a busy border town, with the center located just 5km from the border.
The Moei River forms the border, flowing from South to North, and there is a market called Moei River Market. Nowadays the border is open for a day crossing, but sometimes it is closed depending on the current political and military situation. In any case, the local people are always crossing the river to trade merchandise ranging from large teak wood to tiny precious gems. Overland crossing for foreigners has been allowed since early 2015.
Dozens of ethnic groups live in this area and on any day one can easily run into 4 or 5 different exotic hats and faces. The Karen, Hmong, Yao, Lahu, Buddhist and Muslim Burmese all live together in this frontier town speaking different languages, wearing different clothes, eating different foods, and dancing different dances. It’s a fascinating place to walk around and learn about many cultures and peoples.
On the other side of the Moei river, in Myanmar lies the little town of Myawaddy. Foreigners can only cross the border to enter Myanmar for day trips. No overnight stays and no travel further inside Myanmar is allowed.
The friendly friendship bridge!
From time to time, foreigners can enter Myanmar, crossing the “friendship bridge” and obtaining a border pass from Myanmar which allows you to stay for the day in Myawaddy town; the fee is usually $10USD. Since 2015, this border crossing is officially open to foreigners and if you have a Myanmar visa, you can cross and travel overland in the country. The border and bridge can be closed from time to time, depending on political situation between two countries; you also must NOT take pictures in this area.
In 2011, the bridge was closed down for nearly 6 months, so all the local ‘traders’ were crossing the Moei river by small wooden boats, just a few hundred meters from the bridge. Today, the bridge is open again but most of the goods are still smuggled or traded “under the bridge”.
From Chiang Mai to Mae Sot
From Chiang Mai, Mae-Sot is a 5 hour’s drive via Tak. Chiang Mai to Tak is along Highway 1 (Asia Highway One). Then from Tak, it’s a wide mountain road with a few tourist attractions. Many of trucks use this road, so if you are driving your own car, be particularly careful.
We can organize private transfer by comfortable minivan with driver at a price of 6000 Baht (including petrol costs).