Mae Sot is a Thai border town almost always overlooked and missed out by travellers. The majority of those who do visit Mae Sot stay long enough to only enjoy a bowl of noodles and head straight for the border to make a quick hop to Myanmar. But if you decide to hang around, you will find the Mai Sot–Maywaddy border a nice place to recharge before continuing on your travels.
Flights from Bangkok to Mae Sot
If you are planning to travel to Mae Sot from Bangkok the most direct approach would be to fly. There are 4 flights each day leaving from Bangkok Don Mueang Airport (DMK). All the flights are operated by Nok Air. They depart at 9.40am, 11.00am, 2.30pm and 4.10pm. The flight time is 1 hour 10 minutes. If buying tickets in advance, expect to pay anywhere from THB1,175.
Bangkok DMK (Don Mueang Airport) is situated in the north of the city relatively close to the Morchit Bus Terminal – there is a direct airport bus link from the BTS Morchit station which is a 10-minute walk from the bus terminal. Buses depart from outside the large park opposite the BTS exit. A bus ticket costs THB20. The airport can be easily reached by meter taxi, too. If you are staying in Khao San Road area you will find many travel agencies offering a minivan transfer to the airport for about THB120.
In Mae Sot, the airport is located just 1km from town. At the airport you will find taxis to the border and the town centre at THB100. Mae Sot airport is very small and most probably you are going to experience a flight abroad one of the old style propeller aircrafts.
From Bangkok to Mae Sot by bus
Though taking longer that flying, travelling from Bangkok to Mae Sot by bus is similarly easy and straightforward. There are direct buses to Mae Sot departing from Morchit Bus Terminal in Bangkok.
Multiple buses depart in the morning between 6.00am and 10.00am. In the evening they depart between 6.00pm and 9.00pm.
The distance between Bangkok and Mae Sot is around 500 km and buses need approximately 8-9 hours to cover it. There are both cheaper express and plusher VIP buses serving this route. Tickets cost THB700 for VIP class and THB500 for ordinary class.
You will also find many travel agents offering services between Bangkok and Mae Sot in Khao San Road area of Bangkok.
From Bangkok to Mae Sot via Sukhothai
When traveling to Mae Sot directly from Bangkok many travellers miss some interesting parts of Thailand. One of the most popular detours you can consider on the way to Mai Sot is Sukhothai. Once the centre of the powerful kingdom, Sukhothai, or "The dawn of happiness", as the name translates, now is home to one of the most impressive historical parks in the country. Sukhothai historical park is home to the ruins of the ancient city which dates back over 800 years.
You can reach Sukhothai very easily. There are daily flights from Bangkok to Sukhothai. Bangkok Airlines have 3 daily flights departing at 7.00am, 1.15pm, and 5.00pm from Suvarnabhumi airport, and Nok Air and AirAsia operate from Don Mueang Airport. The journey time is 1 hour 15 minutes and tickets start from THB1,200.
You can also take a direct bus to Sukhothai from Bangkok Morchit Bus Terminal. The journey takes between 7 and 8 hours. You will find ordinary and VIP buses on this route. Buses depart hourly throughout the day between 7.00am and 2.00pm. There are also many night buses departing between 8.00pm and 10.40pm. Tickets cost between THB250 and THB550.
In Sukhothai, you will find a wide range of accommodation options, both in the old city and the new city, suiting all tastes a nd budgets –from luxury accommodation to low-cost budget rooms starting at just THB200. There are lots of places to eat and a busy Saturday market to explore. The historical park is best explored by bicycle – they are available for rent at many accommodations or at the entrance of the historical park.
From Sukhothai regular minivans make a beeline to Mae Sot. Vans leave between 6.00am and 6.00pm when full. The journey costs THB130 and takes about 3 hours.
Note There are two more historical parks in the vicinity of Sukhothai and if you are not short of time, try to include them into your itinerary. The fist one in Kamphaeng Phet Historical park with a similar set of ruins as Sukhothai though not preserved so well. It is located 100 km south of Sukhothai via Route 12 with numerous buses plying the route all day long. The other one is Si Satchanalai historical park, 60 km north of Sukhothai, with limited transport options available – it is better to rent a motorbike to get there. After visiting Kamphaeng Phet you can continue directly to Mae Sot via Tak, while from Si Satchanalai you will need to re-trace your way back to Sukhothai and only after that head to Mae Sot.
Crossing the border from Mae Sot, Thailand, to Myawaddy, Myanmar
A small town of Mae Sot is your gateway to Myanmar. As many other border towns Mae sot may lack world-scale attractions but an interesting mix of people of different nationalities, colourful traditions and cuisines do compensate. It is often hard to tell which side of the border you are at as you wander the streets of Mae Sot and its busy downtown market.
Mae Sot has nothing in common with the tourist focused economies of Bangkok or Phuket. Even if you have only a couple of hours to spend in Mae Sot before traveling over the border, you will still enjoy it for sure. The number one thing to do in Mae Sot is to taste the mouth-watering local dishes. Wherever you go you will see something delicious to eat.
Tip If you happen to arrive in Mae Sot late and need to decide where to spend the night – in Mae Sot or in Myawaddy – stay in Thailand. There is a wider choice of accommodation in Mae Sot and it offers a far better value for money.
When you are ready to cross the border into Myanmar, just walk to the immigration office at the border or take a tuk-tuk. A tuk-tuk ride should cost you about THB50.
Note To enter Myanmar, you will need a valid visa. There is no such thing at the visa on arrival – you have to arrange your visa in advance either through the Myanmar embassy in Bangkok or by using the Myanmar e-visa website. Visas cost USD50 and the process takes from 2 to 3 days.
Onward travel from Myawaddy
Once the border is crossed, you will find yourself in the border town of Maywaddy.
In Maywaddy the only options available for onward travel are buses and taxis.
There are direct buses from Myawaddy to Yangon and Hpa An. There is only one daily bus to Yangon departing at 9.30am and arriving at 10 pm. Tickets cost MMK22,000. For Hpa An, there are regular share taxis and minivans. The journey takes between 2.5 and 3.5 hours and tickets cost between MMK8,000 and MMK13,000.
If you cannot figure out (or just do not want) your onward travel by yourself, there is a good selection of travel agents in Myawaddy who will gladly do the job for you – they also offer a car and a driver option wish you travel by taxi. There is a decent selection of accommodation and food options in Myawaddy and with the road between Myawaddy and Yangon repaved, the onward journey is no longer as bad as it used it be before.