Mae Sai is a popular small town on the Thai border. It is not only popular for its tremendous natural beauty, but this is the place from where you can enter Burma and visit the border town of Tachileik. Tourists also prefer to visit Mae Sai for its unique markets, where you can buy all sorts of merchandise for very cheap. Let’s start with some of the best tourist destinations in Mae Sai.
1. Mae Sai Market – An important place for shopaholics
If you are a shopaholic and an expert in negotiating for some bargains, then the Mae Sai Market is a perfect destination for when you are in the city. It is a big, open-air market, known for attracting a huge number of tourists from Thailand and other parts of the world.
You can purchase whatever you want from the market, starting from garments for all age groups, shoes, sweaters or winter clothes, adult and children’s jewelry, toys, drinks, condiments, and any type of food. Although it depends on you how well you can negotiate, there is a good chance you can purchase any type of products from the Mae Sai Market, at a very cheap rate.
Mae Sai Market
Address: Mae Sai Market, Mae Sai District, Chiang Rai, Thailand.
2. Wat Phra That Doi Wao is a popular scorpion temple
Wat Phra That Doi Wao is also popularly called the Scorpion Temple. The word “wao” comes from the Lanna language and means scorpion. The temple is ideal for panoramic views and here you can see the hill in Thailand that serves as a border of Myanmar. If you climb the hill, you can capture a wonderful view over Mae Sai and Myanmar. The temple is situated just 100 meters (328.1 feet) before reaching the Mae Sai border.
The story goes that King Wao built this place in 364 B.E., to give respect to Gautama, the Buddha, by preserving his hair. The temple deteriorated multiple times but it has been restored and undergoes proper maintenance. When major restoration took place earlier, the Buddha relics were kept in the pagoda. The trees on the property create shadows in some places and are very pleasant places to sit and meditate in the Buddhist way of meditation.
The full moon day on the 5th month of the Thai lunar calendar is considered the perfect time to visit this place. This is the holiday known as Songkran and on this day local people can be seen sprinkling water on the Buddha image. The market also flourishes at this time, with various products and beautiful handicrafts.
Wat Phra That Doi Wao
Address: 114 Changwat, Chiang Rai 57130, Thailand
Opening Hours: 8 am to 5 pm
Website: Wat Phra That Doi Wao
3. Doi Wao & Wat Thamphajoen mesmerizes everyone with natural scenery
Closer to the previous Wat Phra That Doi Wao, Doi Wao & Wat Thamphajoen are known for their famous monuments and statues. You will find a large scorpion here, black in color, on a decorated podium at the outer edges of the temple. The beauty of this sky-colored temple is best captured at night, when it gets a different look due to its lighting. At the backside of the temple, you will see hills filled with green trees. In simple words, this is a wonderful place to refresh your mind.
Doi Wao & Wat Thamphajoen
Address: Wat Doi Mae Sai, Chang Wat Chiang Rai 57130, Thailand
Opening Hours: 8 am to 5 pm
4. Rise early and set out for the Tham Luang Cave
Situated in Phetchaburi, the Tham Luang Cave is one of the largest caves in Thailand. At a height of 3.7 meters (12.1 feet), the vast cave is a highly revered destination for the Buddhists of Thailand and from across the globe. The cave has over 180 Buddha statues and relics and is a multi-chambered temple, used a long time ago by the kings of the royal Rattanakosin Dynasty.
Visitors visiting the main chamber of the Tham Luang Cave can easily go into the second chamber by crossing a stone gate. It is believed that King Rama IV built the stone gate for the sake of safeguarding its inhabitants. Once you move into the third chamber, you will get to see a big statue of a reclining Buddha, which is a major iconographic and statutory pattern of Buddhism. The size of this statue is 4.9 to 5 meters (16.1 to 16.4 feet) in length. It is always better to visit the Tham Luang Cave in the morning and it usually opens at 7 am and closes at 6 pm.
Tham Luang Cave
Address: Moo 4 Baan Mae Kham, Mae Ngoen, Chiang Saen, Thailand
5. Flora and fauna at Tham Luang – Khun Nam Nang Norn Forest Park
Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing
Tham Luang – Khun Nam Nang Norn is located in the sub-district of Poangpa, in Mae Sai district. On October 1, 1986, Tham Luang – Khun Nam Nang Norn was officially announced as a protected area of Thailand. It covers an approximate area of 8 square kilometers (3.1 miles) and is located at an altitude of 780 meters (2,559.1 feet).
The larger hills at Tham Luang – Khun Nam Nang Norn makes the tropical forest beautiful and the panoramic views here open a door for you to rejuvenate your talents as a wildlife photographer. Don’t forget to capture the shots of leopards, elephants, wild pigs, deer and other wild animals found here. There are strict protection laws in the park for the safeguarding and protection of the forest’s fauna.
Tham Luang – Khun Nam Nang Norn Forest Park
Address: 8 km (~5 miles) from Mai Sai
6. Mae Sai Border opens the door to Burma
Visitors to Mae Sai who plan on staying longer may grab an opportunity to visit eastern Myanmar by crossing the Mae Sai Border control post to visit the adjoining Burmese town of Tachileik. You can deposit your passport at immigration and pay the requisite fee and wander around Tachileik and explore its beauty.
Apart from this, you can visit the market at the border (inside the province of Thailand), experience the Thai culture and taste the various types of Thai cuisine or purchase handicrafts.
The Thai - Burmese Border Gate
Address: 1 Tambon Mae Sai, Amphoe Mae Sai, Chang Wat Chiang Rai 57130, Thailand
7. Doi Nang Non – the silhouette of a sleeping lady
You can visit Doi Nang Non Mountain when driving along the highway from Chiang Rai to Mae Sai. Doi Nang Non is also known as the ‘Mountain of the Sleeping Lady.’ Nature has created the shape of this mountain that looks like a reclining woman with long hair and it’s the perfect place to stop for some photos. The unusual features of this mountain, as well as the numerous caves and waterfalls, will surely mesmerize you.
A popular viewpoint named Amphoe Mae Chan, in Mae Chan district, is an important place to visit. This is the place from where you can observe the ‘sleeping lady’ perfectly. Local people or tour guides usually make jokes that if the ‘sleeping lady’ gets up and stands on her feet, Doi Nang Non will become the highest mountain in the world.
Don’t forget to visit the cave popularly called Tum Luang. It is an elongated cave in Doi Nang Non and its branches go on for kilometers. On the other hand, you should not miss Khun Naam Naang Non, a natural pond into which the water constantly flows from the rocks above. The local people usually call it the ‘tears of the lady’s ghost.’
Doi Nang Non
Address: Mae Chan, Chiang Rai 57110 Thailand
How to reach Mae Sai
Reaching Mae Sai is not a difficult task. You can hire a car from Chiang Rai and drive along Highway 110. It won’t take much time to cover the 60 to 61 kilometers (37.3 to 37.9 miles). Mae Sai is a one-street town and can be covered easily on foot. Or you can hire scooters to visit the numerous places we’ve suggested.
So, what are you waiting for? Now is the time for you to pack your luggage and set out for a wonderful voyage.
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