Mae Sot is located on the western border of Thailand with Myanmar, stretching to reach the Sangklaburi province.

The town of Mae Sot is a busy border town, located just 5km from the border. At present (August 2003) 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 goods from teak to gems to Burmese banana leaf cigars.

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 Myanmar side 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.

Border fees. At the bridge the Thai immigration check-point will stamp foreign visitors' passports out of Thailand, and in when you come back.

The Myanmar authorities will keep your passport, and charge visitors $US 10 for border pass fee.


Driving North of Mae Sot, one reaches Mae Sariang town and district, through a no man's land road. The road follows the border all the way up, sometimes tracing the Moei river, which flows North along the border. Don't travel at night as you will encounter nearly a dozen military and police check-points, where you may be searched (this is a sensitive border area). You will certainly see nobody else.

It's worth bearing in mind that after a minibus was attacked by hand grenades on this road (around Tha Song Yang) in 1995, and the subsequent Karen fighting the road was under curfew at night for a couple of years. It is no longer prohibited to travel it by night, but not recommended.

The road is also in quite bad condition at a few places (with frequent landslides), and a normal vehicle (i.e. non 4WD or pick-up truck) might have difficulty during rainy season.


Passing the district of Tha Song Yang, there are large refugee camps. These are Karen (Christian Karens from Burma) that fled the country when they were overtaken by Bhuddist Karens allied to the Burmese army.

The refugee camps with 3 or 4 sections host over 10,000 refugees, in thatched roof huts on the flank of the mountain. The camp stretches on a few kilometers.


An interesting cave which you enter on one side, explore through and exit on the other side before you trek back to the car park in front of the cave. Consider one hour or more to explore this cave. Local Karen children can be your guide with flashlight for a modest fee.



Trekking and Rafting in Umphang

Umphang is a small district in the northwest of Thailand close to the Burmese border. It is 165 km south of Mae Sot and is reached by a scenic road which twists and turns through forests, hills and valleys.

Umphang is an undisturbed area for trekking where the people still maintain their traditional beliefs and ways of life. Its boundary connects with two national parks and three wildlife zones. This evergreen forest area is the largest and richest in Thailand, with a wealth of wildlife including monkeys, gibbons, bears, tigers and other wild cats, barking deer, giant squirrels, monitor lizards, and about 200 species of birds. Most treks or rafting trips descend on the Khlong river passing through the wildlife sanctuary.

River rafting along the Mae Klong river is nothing less than spectacular with beautiful scenery, waterfalls (including Thee Lor Su, the largest in Thailand), dramatic cliff faces and caves going deepl into the limestone mountains.

  1. Bullet Mae Sot