Mae Sai (And An Hour Or So In Myanmar)

From Mae Salong we caught the 11:15am songthaew down the mountain to Mae Chan. In Mae Chan the driver stopped in the middle of town and deposited us on a footpath saying, “Mae Sai. Here. Bus station.” We were most definitely not at a bus station and there was nothing to indicate it was even a bus stop, but we waited and after five or ten minutes a bus came along heading to Mae Sai and we climbed aboard.

On the bus to the Burmese border! Heading to Mae Sai to extend our visas.

Bus to Mae Sai

The trip from Mae Chan to Mae Sai took about 40 minutes and was basically straight up the highway. At Mae Sai bus station we got onto a songthaew heading to the border.

We had no hotel reservation but did have a place in mind and knew it was approximately two kilometers from the border so we were looking out the windows ready to spot it and press the buzzer for the songthaew to stop. Except we didn’t spot it, so ended up at the border and then started walking back looking for it again. We finally found it and I’m not sure how we missed it in the first place.

Navy Home Hotel Mae Sai

Navy Home Hotel

Yep, the hotel looked like a ship and it was called Navy Home Hotel (though there is no English sign on the building, only on a portable sign out the front.)

We paid 1000 baht ($AUD33) a night which was pricier than our recent accommodations but I didn’t want to stay somewhere dodgy in a border town. We had a nice big clean room with aircon, tv, fridge, two double beds (particularly nice after sharing two singles) and a good bathroom. The room was decorated with photos of navy boats and a nautical style clock (with an annoyingly loud tick.)

Navy Home Hotel room

Our room at Navy Home Hotel

I’ll be honest and say that Mae Sai is not really a town you need to spend two nights in. Or even one night. If you’re just going there for a visa run you could easily visit in a day from Chiang Rai. However, we decided to spend two nights so that we didn’t have a travel day on top of a travel day plus a border crossing. It let us do things at a more relaxed pace and gave the kids some down time.

We needed to cross the border into Myanmar and return into Thailand to gain an additional 15 days stay. We first entered Thailand in August on a 60 day tourist visa that we got in Penang. When that expired we extended it by 30 days at the immigration office in Bangkok but that still left us needing 12 days more to take us up to our flight to the UK. When you enter Thailand by land you are given 15 days so that suited us perfectly.

Thailand Myanmar border crossing at Mae Sai

Thailand Myanmar border crossing

The border crossing procedure was quite straightforward and there were no lines. We exited Thai immigration and then walked across the bridge to Myanmar immigration. Here we paid 500 baht each (they didn’t charge for the kids though they said they would at first) and surrendered our passports in exchange for an entry pass. They let us keep the kids’ passports. And then we were in Myanmar!

We decided to have a wander through the market with the mission of buying Lil some new crocs. Edward also declared that he would like some Gangnam Style undies or Despicable Me undies. The boy refuses to wear undies so I was willing to buy them if he wanted them. Alas, we did not find any. (We’re still looking. Please let me know if you come across any.) The shoe mission was a success and then we stopped for a fruit shake before heading back across the bridge to Thailand, collecting our passports on the way.

crossing back

Back to Thailand

We had lunch by the (really rather narrow) river that separates the two countries and noticed how the flags change halfway across the bridge.

Thai flags on one side Myanmar flags on the other

Bridge between Thailand and Myanmar

Food in Mae Sai was pretty good. We ate dinner at two Thai sign only places that managed to rummage up English menus for us. They were both cheap and cheerful.

We were considering spending some time by the Mekong at Chiang Saen after Mae Sai but in the end decided we were ready for a bigger place and that it was time to stay put for a while before we go back to Bangkok. So off to Chiang Rai we went!


5 Responses to “Mae Sai (And An Hour Or So In Myanmar)”

  1. 1 suzy November 5, 2013 at 6:21 pm

    That is funny about the Despicable Me undies! (although annoying that there weren’t any) The right ones can make all the difference as an incentive to get out of nappies… I had to track down Thomas ones for A and then Peppa Pig for M – although she has recently switched allegiance to Tinkerbel. I hope you can find some that Edward approves of.

  1. 1 List 47/52 – Family Accommodation in Thailand | The places we go Trackback on November 24, 2013 at 2:44 am

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