Top 10 BEST Things to do in Mae Sai


Going to the northern part of Thailand soon? Plan your next trip to Mae Sai, Chiang Rai with the top 10 Best things to do in Mae Sai.

Backpackers who found themselves in the northern part of Thailand are always looking for the best things to do in Mae Sai.

While the town is most known for the country’s border crossing with Myanmar, Mae Sai proved to have its own traveler-favorite spots and must-do’s that trace back to its rich Thai culture.

Here are the best things to do in Mae Sai, in no particular order:

Top 10 BEST Things to do in Mae Sai

Mae Sai market
via Wikimedia Commons|gary4now

1. Get huge discounts when shopping at Mae Sai Market

One of the main reasons why tourists flock the streets of Mae Sai is to get great deals on jewelry, condiments and spices, clothes, and electronics at the Mae Sai Market.

The Mae Sai Market, popularly known as Tachileik Market, is the popular shopping destination of tourists that are bustling with native Thai goods as well as imported everyday items.

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Tachileik Myanmar MaeSai Thailand Border
via Wikimedia Commons|Photo by CEphoto, Uwe Aranas

2. Cross the Mai Sai border to Myanmar

Since the Mai Sai Market is on the border itself, backpackers take the Mae Sai border crossing to visit Myanmar.

What’s significant about the border is the existing barter system between Mae Sai County of Thailand and the Burmese town of Tachileik. It signifies friendship and camaraderie between the two countries, which have existed throughout the decades.

Travelers flock to Mae Sai for a quick visa run. When all the best things to do in Mae Sai are crossed out the bucket list, they cross the border to Myanmar and continue on with their journey.

Tourists simply present their identification documents to the authorities before crossing the border.

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Take a Trip to the White Temple a must thing to do in Chiang Rai

3. Mesmerize the white temples of Wat Rong Khun

Local and foreign tourists visit Wat Rong Khun for its intricate layout of Buddhist symbolism. Located just five kilometers below Chiang Rai City and a little outside Mae Sai, Wat Rong Khun depicts the orthodox Buddhist teachings about heaven, hell, and karma.

Chiang Rai-native visual artist Chalermchai Kositpipat brought into life his depiction of Buddhism using blinding white paint to symbolize purity and sacredness of the temple.

He also infused modern culture into the architecture to create a lasting impression on the visitors, proving that the teachings of Buddhism cut across generations.

There is only one entry point into the White Temple: the ubosot or the main chapel. Visitors pass through a narrow bridge over a pool upturned palms. Upon passing through the bridge, visitors can only move forward as if to ‘ascend heavenwards.’

READ ALSO:  Top 20 Beautiful Temples in Thailand
Things to do in Mae Sai: Sai Tham Khao Luang Cave
via Wikimedia Commons|Zinneke

4. Immerse in Buddhism in one of Thailand’s largest caves

Tham Luang Cave is 10 kilometers beneath a mountain range separating Thailand and Myanmar. It’s also the fourth biggest Thai cave system, named after Tham Luang Khun Nam Nang Non, which translates to “the great cave and water source of the sleeping lady mountain.”

The Cave is notorious for an incident involving 12 young football players from The Wild Boars with their coach trapped inside Tham Luang for two weeks due to heavy rain. The victims were successfully pulled out with the help of national and international aid.

To date, Tham Luang Cave is one of the most popular destinations for adventure-seekers in Mae Sai.

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5. Meditate with the monks at Wat Tham Pha Chom

A lot of foreigners who pay a visit to Thailand know that Wat Tham Pha Chom is the perfect place to retreat.

Known as the highest Buddhist temple in Thailand, Wat Tham Pha Chom earned its reputation as the Dhamma retreat center. Meditation workshops are also being offered in the temple because of its peaceful and tranquil vibe.

Located just 200m from the Ruak River, guests are greeted warmly by a Swiss monk who lives in the temple. Visitors can stay for a couple of days to meditate with the monks and find their inner peace.

Meditating might not be included in the best things to do in Mae Sai for foreigners who have time to beat, but it’s definitely worth a try.

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6. Dig into classic Thai food in Nai Bunyuen Food Market

A wide selection of Thai delicacies and sumptuous meals are being offered at Nai Bunyuen Food Market, located at Wiang Phang Kham, Mae Sai District.

Locals and foreigners visit the Food Market to buy fresh ingredients from fruits, vegetables, Thai spices, and authentic Thai street foods like Pad See Eiw, a stir-fried thick rice noodle made with dark soy sauce with chicken, pork or beef.

They also offer exotic foods like a fried silkworm, which is a popular choice by tourists.

7. Enjoy a panoramic view of Myanmar’s Tachileik town.

Walking up the hill towards the border to Wat Phra That Doi Wao takes visitors to panoramic views of Tachileik in Myanmar.

The Wát has ancient Buddha relics that have been restored through the years. The temple is bustling with trees and beautiful landscapes, overwhelming visitors with its captivating scenery.

Near Phra That, there are available local food and souvenir shops that visitors can indulge in. To visit the sacred area, guests can take the Mae Sai road and stop 100 meters before the border.

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8. Take a long stop at the famous Golden Triangle

The world-famous Golden Triangle is where Laos, Myanmar, and Thailand meet. Locals call it the Sop Ruak, where the Mekong River meets Ruak River.

Most tourists flock the Golden Triangle on a tour bus. Some solo travelers ride a green bus minivan, which runs from Chiang Rai Bus Terminal (50B) to Mae Chan, Chiang Saen, and Golden Triangle.

Visitors will traverse bizarre attractions upon entering the gate. In the middle, there’s a giant Buddha statue covered in gold on a ship, surrounded by elephant statues and shrines that pay respect to the royal family.

There are available river cruise touts and souvenir items for tourists at the Golden Triangle.

It is considered the largest tourist trap in northern Thailand with its rich, historical background and extravagant scenery.


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9. Enjoy breathtaking views at Phahee Mountainview Cafe and Camp.

Tucked away in the hill tribe village of Phu Phahee rests a hippie coffee joint that gives tourists a superb view of the mountains and vast agricultural crops.

Located in Amphoe Mae Sai, Chiang Rai, Phahee Coffee houses locally grown and roasted coffee that complements the breathtaking views of the valleys and mountains from the terrace.

On a good day, guests can see a sea of clouds from the terrace – assuming they visit very early in the morning. It’s a plus that visitors can bring home their own coffee bag and bring a piece of Phahee’s culture with them upon leaving.

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10. Camp out at Nang Non-Camping Ville

Included in the best things to do in Mae Sai is to camp out at Nang Non-Camping Ville, a hip accommodation provider that features glamping atop a river and surrounded by a lustrous garden.

The Nang Non-Camping Ville overlooks the historic Tham Luang Cave. The location of the glamping site is blessed with natural beauty, featuring waterfalls and caves. It offers free parking and Wi-Fi to guests who need a place to stay in Mae Sai.

It’s a unique nature retreat for tourists who want to have a one-of-a-kind stay in Mae Sai before departing for another travel destination.

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