Thailand's North

MAE SOT

Global Mark : 12.13

Ratings by criteria : 

Charm Scenery Parks Culture Minor. Market Relax Fiesta 

Cost

AVER.
3 3 2 3 5 4 3 2 3 12.44

Ratings by backpackers :

Surveyed Liked  Comeback  Recommend  Range AVER.
11 82% (9) 36% (4) 82% (9) 6 to 15 11.82


Description : 
A near-border-with-Burma town with a huge market and a lot of multi-cultural people (Thais, Burmese, Karen, Indian & Chinese)

Comments : If it is not to spend the day in Burma or check the border, the main reason to come here is to board a songthaew North to Mae Sariang or South to Um Phang (trekking). But the town has also got some charm on its own.

What to do ? Have a glimpse at Burma or spend a day there if affinity / Watch smugglers crossing the river to & from / Buy smuggled cigarettes or whisky / Shop for Burmese souvenirs, from decorative to useful stuff / Walk around the day market / Check out the golden Wat / 

What you may not like : Not finding your guesthouse as some maps are inaccurate / The dirtiness around the border / The confusing bus stations (each destination has got its own)

How long ? One day should be enough but a bit longer would not hurt.

Orientation ? It is likely that you arrive at one of the bus station north of one-way Intharakhiri Rd (pass a wood bridge and a car cemetery to reach the road). If you continue south, you will reach the reverse one way Prasitvithi Rd. 


Where to stay ? 

Recommended places :

bulletNo4 Guesthouse (tel/fax 055 544976), 736 Intharakhiri Rd, on the west side of town, on the way to border or airport, 10mn walk from bus stations / Dorm 50 (mattresses on the floor of a huge room), Room Sgl or Dbl occupancy 80 or 100 / Free cold water / Go there for the best clean teak rooms in town, the nice bathrooms, the services the good location / What you may not like : the mattresses on the floor, the proximity of the noisy road
bulletBai Fern Guesthouse (055 533343, rungrapee@hotmail.com ), 660/2 Intharakhiri Rd, east of the above / Dorm 50 on a common 5 peoples' beds, Sgl 100, Dbl 150 / HW / Restaurant / Go there for the central location and the hot shower / What you may not like : the dorm, the basic furniture, the noise from the road
bulletMaesot Guest House (tel/fax 055 532745), 208/4 Intharakhiri Rd, on the east side of town, 700m from stations, just after Wat Mani / Basic rooms Sgl or Dbl occupancy 80 or 120, Dbl w. A/C & shower 280 / Go there for the great relaxing common area, the free map,... / What you may not like : the small & basic rooms in a not so clean backyard, the basic toilets

Also worth considering :

bulletDK Hotel (055 542648-9), 298/2 Intharakhiri Rd / Great looking room w. shower in a modern building 250 w. fan and 450 w. A/C and TV.
bulletSuwannavit Hotel (055 531162), Suwanwit Rd, just off Intharakhiri Rd, east bus station to Chiang Mai, same block as Post Office / Basic and not so fresh rooms w. shower 120
bulletSiam Hotel (055 531176, fax 531974), 185 Pratsatvithee Rd, in the market area / Sgl or Dbl w. fan and shower 180 or 200 / More expensive AC


Where to eat ?
At the night market on the east of Prasitvithi Rd

Internet ? At least two places on Pratsatvithee Rd (west of the market) charge B25 per hour.

One day in Burma ? To go to the 4km- away border (toward the West) , board a songthaew for 10B and a 10mn ride. It cost foreigners US$10 or B500 (Thai people pay B35) to be allowed into Burma for the day : your passport will be kept until you come back at 4pm. Burma is certainly a very different world from Thailand but opinions differ whether or not it is worth crossing. Going to the border and overlooking the Moei River is already an interesting experience...

Trekking ? Treks (raft + walk + elephant) can be organized from Mae Sot, in particular by No4 Guesthouse. However they usually really start from Um Phang (a nothing to write about village with plenty of guesthouses) so it would make sense to go there on your own and book a trek from there (around B3000 for 3 days 2 nights, BL Tour was recommended). During the low season, groups are composed of a few people only so it is possible to visit Karen villages in good conditions as well as waterfalls, hot springs and caves. But for how much longer ?


Backpacker's Tips : Bret Ingold, Swiss/American (Sept 09)
I would like to add a posting about Mea Sot to share a couple gems I discovered there: I found Mea Sot to be a very interesting and nice town especially for a border town. I highly recommend Auntie's Coffee address at 489 Intarakeeree road, the one way road in the center of town headed away from the border. In addition to WiFi, friendly service, good music, you can inquire about their farm stay. The Burmese/Thai family has an Great Organic farm north of Mea Sot that they offer home stays at. It is a unique experience, a great way to see a different side of Thailand and interact with some locals. They had just started the program and I expect they will be offering more and more as time goes on, there was talk of a guest house in Mea Sot, cooking courses, and more. If visiting Mea Sot I definitely recommend stopping by and chatting with Oui, she also makes really nice unique postcards and you can rent bicycles there. They have a picture sight at shutterfly: http://auntiescoffeemaesot.shutterfly.com 
The border is in biking distance if you want a little exercise and to not to have to deal with the Tuk Tuks. I recommend getting an early start. Also in and around Mea Sot there are some different sights and interesting stuff to check out if you are there for awhile. Caves and hot springs to the north, waterfalls to the south, The Mea Tow clinic, Steam room at the temple, great sunsets up at the reservoir, interesting day and night market and a lot of opportunities to get involved with the Burmese refugee community.

Backpacker's Tips : Maurits, Dutch (Fev 07)
"Green Guest House": Conveniently located in the town center between the market/bus station and the police station.The rooms are 120 baht for a dormitory, 150 baht for a single room and 200 - 250 for a double room, they are clean and decent. Breakfast is good. Also you can get your loundry done here, rent a motorbike(150bht) or bycicle(30bht). Even better they have wifi internet at no cost. Overall it was a pleasure to stay here. they are currently expanding to make things even better, and is supposed to be finished by march 2007. Adres; 460/9 Intharakeeree road. tel; 055-533207 / 01-6800751. email; krit.sana@hotmail.com  or kritsanaya@yahoo.com )
To me it was very relaxing the scenery was beautiful and the culture is great. I stayed for two weeks. Mae sot is beautiful because of the many different people that live there. The (Ti Low Su) waterfall located in the umphang area about a 4 hour drive away is often said to be the most beautiful in thailand, i for sure have to get back here in the rainy season to see it.)

Backpacker's Tips : Cristina, USA (Nov 04)
Don't forget to go donate blood (Totally clean and safe) at Dr Cynthia's Clinic for the Burmese (undocumented) refugees and migrants! 

Backpacker's Tips : Amtrak Amtrakker, Australia (April 03)  
 
Getting from Kamphaeng Phet to Mae Sot was very easy - a bus leaves from KP to Tak on the hour from 7a.m. (35THB - 1 hour) and only had to wait 15 minutes for 9.30 a.m. minibus to Mae Sot (44THB - 1.5 hours). Dropped in bus station/market area and nearby is Kame Guest House/internet bar. Mattress on floor with fan and shared hot shower cost 100THB. Extremely clean and friendly. (Internet 25THB an hour). Could hire a bike there (30THB) and ride to Rim Moei, the border town with Myanmar 7km away (can visit spectacular reclining Buddha at wat on RHS as approach border). Immigration official told me it cost 400THB for 1 day visa to Myanmar. Interesting market to north of border - lots of gems sold (12000THB a large, 2000THB a small sapphire!). Can buy cheap cartons of cigarettes (150THB for Camel, 250THB for Marlboro) and pay less for a bottle of Burmese rum (60THB) than for a bottle of Singha beer! Good place to practice Burmese/Karen phrases with the stall holders.
Songthaews are supposed to leave from 7a.m. from Mae Sot to Mae Sariang - today's first departure was at 8a.m. (160THB - 6 hours) and was heaving with people after a couple of hours (27 I counted, not including babies!). Most alighted at Ban Mae Tam village and comfortable and scenic ride thereafter (albeit very winding road).

Backpacker's Tips : Jan Peter (April 02)
 A quiet and interesting place for real backpackers is the open Burmese area close to the govt. hospital and Mosque; unusual in Thailand. There, many Burmese refugees speak English and like foreigners but they are very shy and poor. Also waterfalls around. You can do the trekking tour to Umphang on your own by going to the main songthaew station behind the market.  Mae Case Falls and Hot Springs also pleasant. Meeting & infos place : Mr Davits Restaurant, close to Mae Sot police station. 

Backpacker's Tips : Tam Chiwai, Hong Kong (Sept 00)
 A border town where you can get your re-entry stamp for USD18. Not much to do here unless you are heading to Um Phang, a popular place for Scandinavian, but I think trekking up north is far more better than in Um Phang. If you trek there, make sure you carry all you passport and money when you set off to trekking, don't leave it in the safety box (or do they have one?) in the guesthouse. You can't trust them, they took some of my money.


Leaving Mae Sot ? Check on a map (a fun looking one is provided by K. Bakery on the west Pratsatvithee Rd) where your bus will leave from as there is no central bus station.

 << Discover a few sights of Mae Sot


Bus Schedules :

To Price Class Duration Time Nb Freq.
Tak 33 mini 1.5 6 to 20:30 a lot 30mn
Sukhothai 65 ac 2 to 3 8,9,10,14,15,16 a few na
Mae Sariang 150 songthaew 5 to 7 6 to 12 7 hour
Um Phang 100 songthaew 4 to 6 morning a few hour
Chiang Mai 115/207/220 fan/ac 6 to 7 6,8,9:30 3 na
Bangkok '151/272 fan/ac 8 19/20,20:30,21 4 na

Note : To Bangkok, also VIP bus at B420 & private at B224/317

The trip to Mae Sariang : SSSS / L / B150 / 6 hrs / songthaew
A long but great ride at the back of a songthaew, sometimes full but most of the time empty of locals (hence the price). The OK road pass by Karen villages through a mountainous area. Some agencies discourage travelers to use this road, claiming that it is hazardous in terms of robbery (proximity of Myanmar & large Karen refugees camp). It looked fine with us, as long as done during daytime. Still, double check with travelers for the latest...

See also the trip from Sukhothai

 

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