In a nutshell
Tachileik is a town on the Burmese side of the border between Mae Sai in Thailand and Myanmar and is mostly used as an entry and exit point for both countries.
Why go to Tachileik
You won’t find much in terms of attractions in Tachleik and the majority of people that come here do so as part of a visa run or simply to move on to other parts of Myanmar.
The town does see some regional visitors from Thailand who want to buy cheap items made in China, and there is a golf course and a casino, both of which are used by Thai visitors looking for some rest and relaxation.
When to go to Tachileik
Tachileik is prone to flooding which means that the rainy season from May to October is best avoided if you want to see the town at its best. It is not uncommon for the surrounding areas to flood several times over during the rainy season and some parts of Tachileik such as the bridge at the border crossing can be flooded during exceptionally heavy rainstorms. The town also sits on the Mai Sai River which tends to burst its banks when the rains are fierce and the centre of Tachileik can be underwater at this time.
Where to stay in Tachileik
As with many border towns, Tachileik has a range of hotels, although many of these cater to domestic or international tourists who are just coming over for a night. One thing to note in Tachileik is that Thai Baht are commonly used and as such you may see prices quoted in Baht as opposed to Burmese Kyat.
Most of the hotels in Tachileik are of the budget variety and have simple rooms that are more suited as a place to lay your head for the night than anything else. Some of the best known include San Dar Lin Hotel which has clean rooms for THB 300 per night, or Dream Flower Hotel which is in the same price range and is newly renovated with clean rooms.
If you want to splurge – you can do it in Tachileik, too! – then the Allure Resort and Casino on Baydar Street is a luxury choice in Tachileik that caters to those who want to use the casino. Rooms start at around THB 3,000.
Where to eat in Tachileik
Tachileik is not a culinary destination in Myanmar but you can still find a range of restaurants serving decent food here and there is a heavy influence of Thai flavours as well as Chinese style meals.
As well as the actual restaurants and cafes you will also find a range of street stalls selling fried snacks and simple noodle dishes for around USD 1.
One of the most popular restaurants in town is Cook Thao Restaurant on Mekhong Street which has open style traditional seating and serves Thai food with Burmese and Chinese influences. It is known for being clean and has English-speaking staff and you can expect to pay USD 1-2 for a plate of noodles or a stir fry with rice.
Another solid choice in town is Relax Restaurant which is also open-air in style and has a karaoke section attached. Meals are around USD 1-2 and you can also get draught beer here if you fancy a drink along with your rice or noodles. They also have an English menu which is helpful if you don’t speak Thai or Burmese.
How to get around Tachileik
Tachileik is not very big and if you are just popping over the border for a visa run then you won’t need to travel very far. Should you want to get around town however then you can hire a trishaw or a motorcycle taxi. There are also regular taxis available but unless you are travelling a great distance, such as to the bus station or airport which are both located on the way to neighbouring Kengtung, then there is no real need to hire one instead of a motodop.
How to get to and from Tachileik
Most visitors will arrive in Tachileik from the neighbouring town of Mae Sai in Thailand. If you want to continue to travel onwards in Myanmar from Tachileik then the only real option is to go to neighbouring Kengtung if you have a tourist visa which allows over ground travel in that direction.
Other areas around Tachileik are off limits to foreigners even with a tourist visa, although if you make your way to Kengtung then you can continue to move to other areas of Myanmar from there or cross into China at Mong La.
Buses take four hours to travel between Tachileik and Kengtung and cost around MMK 10,000-12,000. Another option is to hire a taxi which will take around 3 hours to Kengtung at a cost of anything from MMK 50,000-100,000.
You can fly to and from Tachileik domestically although schedules change often and many airlines do not fly every day. Some airlines flying to Tachileik include Air Bagan, Asia Wings and KBZ, and you can fly to neighbouring Kengtung for around USD 50 which should take about half an hour.
Other destinations that link to Tachileik include Mandalay as well as Heho and Yangon although many flights make stops en-route before reaching their final destination.
Is Tachileik a safe place to visit?
Tachileik is a relatively safe place and violent crime is rare particularly against foreigners. As with many border towns however it is prone to scams and some of these include the Ministry of Tourism insisting on visitors traveling with a guide to Kengtung although technically if you have a tourists visa this should not be necessary. Often however it is best to agree and have a guide to help to ease your journey onwards.
Myanmar has both malaria and dengue fever so you may want to check with a health care professional if there is a need to take anti-malarial tablets. Even if you choose not to take medication you should be careful not to get bitten and use plenty of insect repellent.
Health care is basic in Tachileik and if you get seriously ill it is best to cross over the border back into Thailand and seek treatment there.