Tucked away along the border of Myanmar is the western city of Mae Sot in Thailand. The city is a melting pot of cultures, and although the journey there is an extensive one, the final destination is certainly worth the trek. Here are the top 10 things to see and do in Mae Sot, Thailand.
Mae Sot Market
The Mae Sot Market is one of the most vibrant and busy finds in the city. Self-proclaimed foodies will be happy to hear that the streets feature vendors who are selling the country’s most noteworthy dishes as well as some who are offering Burmese cuisine. In addition to food, visitors will find clothing and a number of traditional Burmese products for sale, and all are affordably priced, so shopaholics can indulge as much as they please without worrying about breaking the bank.
Visitors cannot leave the Land of Smiles without partaking in a cooking class. The cuisine here is some of the best and most unique in the world, and it is a rite of passage for those traveling to Thailand to take some culinary skills back with them, and this is where Borderline’s cooking classes come into play. Diners can expect to learn how to make the most delicious Shan, Karen, and Burmese food in the region. After a visit to the market to purchase the ingredients needed to make the delicious cuisine, visitors will head back to Borderline to prepare the food, only to later enjoy it in the tea garden. Visitors will also leave the amazing culinary experience with their very own cookbook. Classes start at ฿500 per person for groups of three to six people.
Found almost 40 kilometers (24.8 miles) from Mae Sot is the stunning Thararak Waterfall. The falls flow over limestone cliffs and consists of calcified rocks, though the most memorable feature of this waterfall is certainly the large chedi that sits at the top of the tier. The best time to visit the waterfall is around the monsoon season; otherwise, it tends to lose the majority of its falls and is a bit lackluster.
Located some five kilometers (3.1 miles) west of the city is the Border Market, known by locals as the Rim Moei Market. The large, indoor bazaar is sure to please even the pickiest of shoppers with its wide variety of goods. Vendors sell everything, including electronics, clothing, and jade jewelry, to name but a few. Be sure to check out the food stalls to refuel as you make your way through the extensive market.
There are seemingly one too many places to shop in Mae Sot, which is good for both visitors’ wallets as well as locals’ pockets, as tourists give back to the community just by purchasing a few handicrafts or two. One of the best places to find gifts is at Borderline Shop, the same venue in which visitors can take a cooking class. In addition to serving up some amazing cuisine, they also sell goods handmade by refugee women. Weave (Women’s Education for Advancement and Empowerment) is another store that supports local communities and handicraft groups around Thailand. Unique finds line the Municipal Market and Walking Street as well.
Built in 1857, the Wat Thai Wattanaram Temple is one of the most stunning religious structures in Mae Sot. The Shan temple houses a 45-meter-long (147.6 feet) reclining Buddha image and an additional 28 sitting Buddhas on its grounds. The second floor of the temple also houses traditional instruments. Visitors are likely to see monks roaming and locals frequenting the temple to worship. The temple sits off the Asia Highway 1 going towards the Myawaddy River, near the General Hospital.
Located near the vibrant daily market is an herbal sauna on the grounds of a Buddhist temple. The temple accepts ongoing donations, but visitors do not have to pay anything to enjoy the sauna and can later indulge in an herbal drink. The Buddhist temple lies on Bao Khun Road.
Visitors may technically be in the Land of Smiles, but instances of the heavily influential Burmese culture can be found throughout the city. One place in which visitors can get a taste of Burmese culture in Mae Sot is at Poe Htoo, a traditional Burmese tea shop found in the center of the city. It is here that visitors will find a wide variety of Burmese snacks, meals, and drinks. These little eateries are important to the Myanmarese people, as they symbolize a place where families and friends can get together and spend quality time indulging in delicious food while enjoying one another’s company.
Located some 25 kilometers (15.5 miles) north of Mae Sot are the Mae Ka Sa Hot Springs and Cave. These natural wonders lie in the Mae Ka Sal village, complete with local restaurants around its exterior for those who build up an appetite exploring. The Mae Ka Sa Hot Springs and Cave are nestled between stunning mountains and greenery, making for some of the best views just outside the city. Ambitious travelers should also make the 20-minute walk up the mountain to explore the Mae Usa Cave, which apparently floods during the monsoon season, so tread lightly when visiting during this time.
Nestled in the Namtok Pha Charoen National Park is the stunning Pha Charoen Waterfall. As it’s only about 40 kilometers (24.8 miles) south of Mae Sot, it is an easy destination to frequent from the city center. All visitors have to do is climb about a blue songthaew (truck with two benches) with the number 48 on it. This vehicle will drive right past the national park. The waterfall is only reachable after visitors climb almost 100 steps, so be sure to wear comfortable shoes. Visitors can swim in the waterfalls’ pool or photograph its falls. Those visitors who work up an appetite on their journey should head to the local restaurant found just adjacent to the overflowing falls. The waterfall is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.