southeast Asia holiday day tours travel and shopping

Heading 3


Mae Sot Thailand-Myanmar Myawaddy

Border Area Hotels Shopping Trade & Outdoor

Mae Sot & Myawaddy

The border area between Thailand and Myanmar (Burma) is along the "blue mountains". Mae Sot is the center of Myanmar's border trade. A large part of Burmese fresh "foreign trade" moves over the bridge of the Mooi River.

That's the same way the old Burmese Kings made their raids into Siam and the last one which finished with the destruction of the old capital Ayutthaya. Today Bangkok hold this function.

Mae Sot (Myawaddy on the Myanmar side) is one of the border crossings, other are Mae Hong Son and Mer Sei further north. It's very wet around here in the "blue mountains" the wet floor is slippery everywhere and overgrown by plants.  Around is green Thailand exotic and colorful with waterfalls and rough nature, typical cross-country and the destination of many foreign tourists on holidays. The town itself is not very interesting, it is even difficult to find a good restaurant for dinner.  for hours we follow him through the undergrowth. Mae Sot is the jadeite jade "interface" into Thailand, gemstones are sold in many main street stores. Valuable rock crystals, amethysts, dark green jade and smoky quartz are on sale.

Mae Sot is the gateway to Myanmar

The treasures available are not at the very end but every day quite some people travel to this sleepy town to make gem deals very similar to Chanthaburi south of Pattaya. The difference is in Mae Sot they deal in jadeite jade in Chanthataburi they deal mainly with ruby and sapphire which finally means corundum.

Many people have addicted to gem fever with plenty of stone dealer around but not many sparkling since jade hardly sparks, to do so it needs some diamonds or good cut. sapphires. They also offer malachite  quartz rock crystal  amethyst and other pretty stones raw and cut plus polished.

Only a few years ago this was an "Iron Curtain" for about four decades. The most interesting on Mae Sot is to travel there and to leave from there. From a travelers point of view, it's visiting the daily jade market which is held on the main street either on the boardwalk or in small open shops.

The hotel situation is not as easy because since there are no foreign tourists and the border rather only opened about 5 years ago no much travel business is going on. The lifeline is about a dozen big and small buses which come from Tak direction from the north and south and a steady caravan of huge trucks supplying the border with Myanmar (Burma) trade. Plus a lot of jade and precious stone smuggle business is going on.

Where to stay Hotels and Guesthouses

Near the main road at the city center are several cheap hotels. Probably the best hotels are at the entrance to the city from Tak and at the northern bypass road. The Central Hotel at the bypass road has a very pretty restaurant just beside a pond, the hotel is operated by one of the big Thai hotel chains, also the Mae Sot Hill Resort is in a pretty environment.

Traders on the main street

Along are shops to inspect gems either with the naked eye or by means of pencil-light torch or lens -like the specialist- pictured right- who make a living as an expert to estimate the value of the precious stones -here some jade pearls- smuggled into Thailand from neighboring Myanmar or Burma. 

There are plenty of people in Mae Sot from Myanmar. Here is brisk trading with gems such as Myanmar jadeite pyroxene nephrite jade ruby and other precious stones going on along the main street. 

Many traders inspect gems either with the naked eye, by means of pencil-light torch or lens picture right. They make a living as an expert to estimate the value of the precious stones -here some jade pearls-. The Burmese can easily come into the Thai border area and are prevented from moving further.

Myanmar is also an important economic factor in this -and other areas such as Mae Hong Son- since a lot of goods are bought here and moved into Myanmar via the “border trade”. On the Myanmar side towards Yangon are again many roadblocks where the guys in the uniform milk the truck driver like cows.

Myanmar-Thailand border trade is also the other expression for smuggling. On the Myanmar side towards Yangon are again plenty of roadblocks where the guys in the uniform milk the truck driver like cows. The whole area on this western border is only minimal developed for any kind of tourism which is rather strange since the places are really attractive by any means, but the people who should promote this are sitting in Bangkok called TAT and their focus is Thailand beach almost all other is ignored, it's not a good idea considering this potential.

Probably the best restaurant is the Kaomao

In particular in terms of the setting and environ is the Khaomao, just ask for a motorcycle taxi to guide you there you won't find it easy on your own. At downtown hotels are below Baht 800,- per night, other are around Baht 1200,-. There are also guest houses which are cheaper than the hotel, but be careful, they usually are not up to a good hygienic standard and usually very noisy.

Myanmar people come in -via the border trade regulations- and offer their more or less cheap jade items right on the road or in 
an empty shop space they rent for a few baht. Lots of other Myanmar people work in all kind of services and nightlife places. Since this is very well known to the authorities they implemented 3 roadblocks on the way out of the city towards Tak, staffed by the military to make sure there is no illegal crossing into the rest of Thailand.

The Myanmar’s can easily come into the city and the Thai border area but are prevented from moving further east by this way. 
Myanmar or Burma is also a huge economic factor here and other- areas since a lot of goods are bought here and moved into Myanmar via the “border trade”. The usual gem smugglers route is from Myanmar to Mae Sot, down to Tak and after to Bangkok and Chanthaburi. From Cambodia, it usually comes in via Trat Province in Thailand and also to Chanthaburi.
  1. Just before Mae Sot
  2. monastery in Mae Sot
  3. Buddhist Monastery in Mae Sot
  4. small rice planting
  5. at the khao mao restaurant
  6. the waterfall national park
  7. Managing Director
  8. Managing Director
A short trip to Myanmar over the bridge crossing the Moei River

This could be done, but keep in mind that officially you will exit Thailand and come back on a new entry stamp. On the Myanmar side, you are allowed only in the area of Myawaddy no way to go further unless you have a normal visa from the embassy.
A couple of kilometers in the south in direction to Umphang is the Nam Tok Phra Charaoen.

That is a marvelous waterfall over 20 cascades. Especially attractive shortly after the rainy season when there is plenty of water rushing down the slope. This is limestone and all is very slippery. There is nothing to hold on once it gets moving.
Tags: Mae Sot Thailand Myanmar Mae Sot Myawaddy border trade Moei River
Photos from the roadside

Road travel in Thailand

  1. Bus station at Tak
  2. Towards the Myanmar Border west of Mae Sot
  3. the A2 between Tak and Lampang
  4. Typical through road in Thailand are among the top in Asia
  5. in north Thailand
  6. military police roadblocks
  7. main road between Bangkok and Chiang Mai
  8. A bus ride between Bangkok and Chiang Mai
Every day from around 10 am along the main street the gemstone shops opens and trade in cheap and expensive raw stones starts. Mainly jade and semi-precious stones are on sale.

The Myanmar's bring them through the border, after they rent a space in one of the stores, place the items on the floor and wait for a buyer. 
Mae Sot Flower Pond
Road Travel Photos
Thailand Flowers
However the really interesting spots are found in the vicinity, the landscape around is tropical mountain jungle with small rivers, waterfalls, and caves. The ideal surroundings for hikes, trekking, rafting, kayaking or a simple walk through the national parks. The entrance fee for a foreigner visiting national parks is Baht 200, - , Thai pay officially only Baht 50,- normally, however, nothing at all. But the people in the north-west are not as greed driven as in Bangkok they don’t take any admission at all.

Along the south road to Umphang and to the north to Mae Hong Song are some so-called Mae Sot Karen refugee villages but this actually is villages which just look the same like any other normal Thai village in the area.

The fact is that most "Karen Refugee" in this area

Live somehow better than the Thai population since they are taken care of by several welfare groups from the European Union, some NGO etc. they have modern minibuses to carry the refugees to a clinic if there is any problem. The only difference in the living of the refugees is, they are not allowed to work and also not to leave the village, except they have a special permissioThe EU & several NGO's supplies all necessary items and services they need to live. The refugees live much better here than in Myanmar and this is the main reason why they left Myanmar, it's not the Myanmar military. The military story was already over several years ago but is kept boiling by certain Karen groups to keep the overseas money flowing. I mean I really wish that they have a better life, but about 80% what we hear from the media concerning this conflict is propaganda from certain groups who make money out of this situation.

Close to the road to the south is the Kaomao restaurant in a beautiful setting with a lake and some big birds, see picture below. a real beautiful one, it's almost a must to do the trip to Umphang in the south to experience a real Thailand adventure travel with lush tropical mountain jungle, river rafting, and great waterfalls (see below). Actually at Umphang is the biggest waterfall in Thailand and probably whole Asia.

More about travel to Umphang is further below. There are a couple of real beautiful spots around plus good Mae Sot hotels and restaurants as you can see the pictures here, it's a pleasant environment within a tropical vegetation, the elevation is about 200m but it needs to cross through the hilly region when coming from Tak and Bangkok with some hills of up to around 800 meters.

Beyond the "Blue Mountain" of Mae Sot and a day in the bus is Yangon.