With its bustling border crossing into Burma and kilometres of tacky souvenir stalls, MAE SAI can be an interesting place to watch the world go by, though most foreigners only come here on a quick visa run. Thailand’s most northerly town lies 61km from Chiang Rai at the dead end of Highway 1, which forms the town’s single north–south street. Wide enough for an armoured battalion, this ugly boulevard still has the same name – Thanon Phaholyothin – as at the start of its journey north in the suburbs of Bangkok. The road ends at the Mae Sai River, which here serves as the Thailand–Burma border.

For a lofty perspective on the comings and goings, climb up through the market stalls to the chedi of Wat Phra That Doi Wao, five minutes’ walk from the bridge on the west side of Phaholyothin, behind the Top North Hotel. As well as Doi Tung to the south and the hills of Laos in the east, you get a good view up the steep-sided valley and across the river to Thachileik.

Book through Rough Guides’ trusted travel partners

Thailand features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

The best places to eat in Bangkok

The best places to eat in Bangkok

With Michelin launching its first ever guide to the city, the food scene in Bangkok is (literally) on everybody’s lips right now. But with an estimated ten th…

10 May 2018 • Keith Drew insert_drive_file Article
Off the tourist trail in Southeast Asia: 5 underrated cities

Off the tourist trail in Southeast Asia: 5 underrated cities

Modern Bangkok, historical Hanoi and tourism-boom town Siem Reap — home to the world-famous Angkor Wat temples — are some of Southeast Asia's best drawcards…

21 Nov 2017 • Marco Ferrarese insert_drive_file Article
Video: a 1 minute guide to Thailand

Video: a 1 minute guide to Thailand

Whether you're planning a two-week holiday or an epic backpacking trip, Thailand remains one of our readers' favourite destinations, and with good reason. Th…

01 Nov 2017 • Colt St. George videocam Video
View more featureschevron_right