Mae Sot is a bustling little town on the border with Myanmar.
Many people just come here for a flying visit to renew their Thai visa but it’s worth staying a couple days just to observe the unique mix of cultures here. Thais, Burmese and Karen people mix with Indians, Chinese, foreign aid workers and missionaries. There are some good restaurants in town and a few decent hotels, making it easy to linger.
Sleeping: Duang Kamon Hotel is in the centre of Mae Sot. From the outside it doesn’t look like much but the rooms are spacious and clean, if a bit dated. Reception staff are friendly and you can keep your bike near the front desk. There’s free coffee in the morning, wifi in the rooms and cable TV. The best beds are in the air con rooms (400 Baht) which also have hot water and a balcony overlooking the street. The fan rooms (250 Baht) have slightly thin and springy beds, not the most comfortable.
Bai Fern Guesthouse is just east of the town centre on the main Intharakiri Rd. It’s a very popular spot that gets good reviews for the clean rooms and friendly staff. Like Duang Kamon, they offer wifi access.
Self-catering: You’ll find everything you need in the market or in the Tesco Lotus, near the town centre.
Eating out: The Krua Canadian Restaurant is a must-stop place. Owned by Dave from Toronto, it’s a favourite with the expat crowd and does the best burgers we’ve ever tasted! The menu is lengthy, with both Western and Asian food. Servings are generous and prices reasonable.
Mae Sot is also awash with street food. The night market has about twenty stalls offering all the usual stir fries and soups as well as one just selling grubs. Roasted cricket, anyone? All of the street food we tried was excellent and very good value at just 25-30 Baht a dish. If you see a woman deep frying bananas, stop and try one. They are to die for.
What to see: Mae Sot doesn’t have many of the typical tourist attractions. The market is definitely worth a walk through and there are a couple wats to see but that’s about it, unless you want to make the long but beautiful trip to Um Phang, about 160km down a winding mountain road. In general, Mae Sot is more of a place to just hang out and people watch.
The border itself is interesting to see for its informality. There aren’t many borders where you can see people crossing between countries on an inner tube, with the police watching but not really caring.
Staying connected: Internet cafes are on almost every corner, most offering access at just 15 Baht an hour. There’s also free wifi in a number of hotels and cafes.
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