Doi Nang Non
Doi Nang Non (literally ‘The Mountain of the Sleeping Lady’) is a 1276 m high mountain located roughly 15 km southwest of Mae Sai. Its shape resembles the silhouette of a reclining woman when observed from certain points. The legend tells that once upon a time there lived a stunning princess in love with a man that left her pregnant after a night of passion. The lady refused to believe that she had been abandoned and started roaming around the country searching for him. After weeks of walking and desperate crying she fell down exhausted on her back, staring at the sky and praying the Gods to bring her man back. She never recovered and died in that position. The nature felt sympathy for her and decide to embrace her and a thick forest grew all around the princess. Locals like to say that if she had died standing up we would now have had the highest peak on the planet.
The best observation point is 20 km south of Mae Sai, on the main road to Chiang Rai, but if you want to take a closer look at the mountain, there are several caves, waterfalls and ponds which can be visited.
Tham Luang runs inside the mountain range for 7 km and offers spectacular stalactites and stalagmites. A picturesque lake on the head of the lady, Khun Naam Naang Norn, is where clear water streams running down the mountain start from, and of course they are the tears of the never-ending crying lady.
The best way to get to Doi Nang Non is to rent a motorbike and drive south of Mae Sai until you see the signs; the observation point and the park entrance are well indicated.
Alternatively ask to your guesthouse and they will be able to organize a guided tour for you.
Wat Tham Pha Chom
Wat Tham Pha Chom is a religious complex situated on a hill right at the west edge of Mae Sai. To reach the top of the hill you can either walk your way up directly from the town or rent a motorbike. The buildings on the top are nothing really special but if you get that far you will be rewarded with the stunning view over the town and Burma.
We would suggest walking the way up because before you’ll reach the top you’ll encounter a couple of caves, one of which can be visited (the other one is a closed meditation cave accessible only to monks). You’ll find two separate chambers displaying a large underground chedi, Buddha’s images, shrines and statue of a famous monk. There is the second entrance in the back chamber but it is not reachable by motorbike. Yet try to get there as the view of the surrounding valley is outstanding from there; it is indeed a perfect spot for great pictures.
A day trip to Golden Triangle and Chiang Saen
The Golden Triangle (Sop Ruak for the locals) is where the Mekong River meets the Ruak River 25 km east of Mae Sai.
Chiang Saen is a historic town sitting on the Mekong River 15 km south of the Golden Triangle. To fond out more about these destinations, please read the respective articles here.
A public blue songthaew leaves from Mae Sai every half an hour from early morning until 2.00pm stopping at the Golden Triangle (45 minutes) on its way down to Chiang Saen (75 minutes). Tickets are THB50 regardless of your destination. If you have enough time we would highly recommend you to stop at the Golden Triangle, hire a boat and make your way down to Chiang Saen along the river. Views from the Mekong River are stunning and the boat trip is not much longer than travelling by road (it usually takes around 1 hour).