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  1. #1
    Northern Hermit
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    Maesai Visa run (Myanmar and back in a day)

    Last Sunday I made my obiligatory trip to the border as Maesai/Tachilek, Myanmar for my visa stamp. Mae sai is the most popular destination for visa runs in the north. The immigration folks there are fast courteous and professional. Been goig there so long and often the folks stampin' me out recognize me and ask about the kids, sometimes engage me in light-hearted banter, or when will I bring the wife, etc.
    On any weekend you can head down othe Bus station and catch 20 - 30 western folk headin up for a stamp. The acars been acting up and the last couple times i've used the bus to go.
    Three buses in the morning head up to Maesai the normal fan bus @ 118 baht leaves at 6:00 AM. Now if you're a narrow assed, rail-thin early riser (or if you've drank up all your travelin' money) this may be the bus for you . The next bus to leave is the VIP bus @330 baht leaving at 8:00 AM. This is a nice bus, 24 seats three across with nice wide seat plenty of leg room my 6'2" 205lb frame has room to spare on this one and. This is the bus I took.


    The ride come complete with this balanced breakfast.


    As you can see, it was well balanced on my knee and the interesting combination of sweet-roll and pizza is; well, interesting..
    There is one more normal aircon bus leaving at 9:30 this doesnt really allow you time to go, cross the border and get back to chiangmai much before 9:30 or 10:00 PM.
    The ride's an interesting one, But I usually sleep until Chiangrai.
    On arrival at Maesai be sure say howdy to my pal:


    Just for reference those tiles are 30cm. He doesn;t like them pizza sweetrolls too much either. took him at least two chomps to get it down. He's ugly as sin, sweet as pie.
    Song teaw to the border is eight baht; it's abot 4 - 5 kilometers or so. We got dropped off a little before the border to stop at the bank and streatch our legs.

    Every soi is a market. The streets are cluttered but passable.

    Right across the border you can find a wider selection and slightly better prices. Wasn't somebody on this forum lamenting the absence of Plums?


    After a quick check though at the border we have nice walk through the no-mans land between Myanmar and Thailand.


    Go through these doors hand the dude your passport, 250 baht (save a few baht and buy a $5 bill) He ask if you want to go in or go back. If you're in a hurry he'll stamp it while you wait and send you back.


    Once in a while I like headin' in to the market for an hour or so:
    These guys used to be out side the last chack point. they've been chased back a bit. Still it's nice to have such hearty greetings on your arrival ain't it?

    you want lady?? you want lady?? yeah man first thin i'm gonna do get to burma find me a nice burmese girl... Them Thai wenches are so fuckin ugly, you know?

    I do enjoy strollin' through the market though. You can pick up a hig quality DVDs at a resonable price, packaged professionally, with al the extra stuff posters, or Bonus DVDs and fully operational menus.

    HEY! Benbaaa, they got the first five seasons of the Sopranos at one shop, asking 1400, I watched him work out my offer and looks liek hes after about 28 - 29 Baht pre DVD in any set. Sopranos seasons 1 - 5 had 35 disks. "Swear they were real" knida copies. good high quality fake watches, electronics, minicams, viagra, cigarettes, whiskey, jade, gemstones of all kinds.

    Gems, you know what your doin' you can do well here. you don't, Don't.
    Last edited by friscofrankie; 10-05-2006 at 02:43 PM.
    When the people fear their government, there is tyranny; when the government fears the people, there is liberty -- T. Jefferson


  2. #2
    Thailand Expat
    aging one's Avatar
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    Nice report buddy, I like Mai Sai very much as well. Dont those buses have bigger engines and better suspension for driving the mountain roads? I did the bus 13 years ago, and the last time 8 years ago I did it by motorcycle.

    I heard all the unique hill side guesthouses on the hill the left side of the road at the border have been pulled down for "better" development, did you notice this buddy. I used to love those sort of bungalow like rooms there. Spent a very cold windy night up there the beginning of January once. Twas romantic.

  3. #3
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    Didn't notice no bungalows but theres this on GH just over looking the Burm,.. er Myanmar Customes House. Think it has a certain Cachet, Not sure abot stayin there though. When you check intop the immigration there you have the option to pay $10.00 US or 500 Baht for a two week "travel pass" you are limited to the areas you can travel; appears to be just the Shan state. I asked specific questions and got vague answers, kind of a wave over the NE region, you can travel as far north as Kentung (sp?). keep threatening to do it. Should be fun/miserable/interesting.
    The market has any number of gemstone dealers;

    Ribies, Sapphires and spinels are available the cuts are improving but you must know quality, you must understand how to identify stones, They will sell you a nice pink sapphire as "Ruby" Now Rubies and Sapphires are the same material (aluminum oxide) but Rubies are ot pink, they are RED. Any thing red will be touted as "ruby" These folks use slight of hand, misdirection and trick they can. Be Aware if you buy stones there.

    We left after and hour or so, My kid got a boxed set of Indiana Jones, The Kingdom of Heaven, and some obscure crime/comedy I picked out for 500 baht. I picked up season 4 of the Sopranos for 250. But to be honest, I just wanted to get home, It was hot as fuck; and no matter how good the deal, Shopping ain't one of my hobbies.
    Nothin like comin' home:


    This street is directly across the Police station on the Thai side. They've got a big Gem/Jewelry store on the corner but take walk down this street if you're interested in Gems.

    lots of dealers set up shop on the street, same folks ever time. further down are small dealers where you can buy cut stones, one kilo bags of un cut stones and anythng in between. you can get some good quality stuff here.

    if you take the VIP at 8:00 AM you should have time for a bit to eat, an hour or two in Myanmar. just slow paced stroll then back to the Bus station for a return VIP at 3:30 PM. be sure to book ahead i coldn't get a VIP return so took the normal Aircon back at 4:00 The VIP takes an hour less and is well worth the extro hundred. Depending on your tastes teh cost can vary between 236 and 660 Round trip. The normal fan bus is miserable, Fuckin miserable for anyone over 5'4"
    There are visa run services starting about 700 - 900 baht they drive you up and drive you back but you get to share a nice little van with a dozen other folks. They advertise in the local Farang rags. Some are good and others fly-by night. I've never tried any of them I like the VIP, a tiny bit cheaper and more comfortable. The movie is dubbed Thai though.

  4. #4
    RIP
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    Cheers Frankie...always good to see how the 'country cousins' do it

    and good pics with lots of info...

    i'm planning on going to MaeSot this weekend...seeing it's a long weekend...again!...

    never been to MaeSot so should be interesting for a couple of days

  5. #5
    Northern Hermit
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    Mywaddy (sp?) is a trip. theve got an old wodden "movie house" coupla "coffee Houses" and not much else. made the trip there 'n bacl in one day once. Last i went was about 3 years ago though (fuck! time flys eh?). I left Mae Sot for side trip to Chinagmai. Coupla months later I was livin' here.
    Would like to hit Mae Sot once again... let us know how it goes!

  6. #6
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    Isnt is funny how photos never can convey the feeling of fucking hot!! Not SLR, Video, or Digital can do it. The only way is sweaty people.

  7. #7
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    thanks for all that FFrankie

    do you still have to go to the immigration house about 2 km before the border to get your "out" stamp first, or have they moved nearer the border?

  8. #8
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    hi frankie good pics, i used to hate that run,but now i'm back here,it was good to see.
    We brought back loads of music dvd's and flims cant fault one of them.
    It took us 7 hours to get thier one day on a norm bus,really grim v.i.p's are great though.

  9. #9
    Northern Hermit
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    Quote Originally Posted by DrAndy
    thanks for all that FFrankie

    do you still have to go to the immigration house about 2 km before the border to get your "out" stamp first, or have they moved nearer the border?
    They changed that 'bout two years (plus) ago. Immigration check point is now in the Customs House. Thais that need the Border Pass have to get it at that spot 2 Km before the border.

  10. #10
    Northern Hermit
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    Quote Originally Posted by changmai
    hi frankie good pics, i used to hate that run,but now i'm back here,it was good to see.
    We brought back loads of music dvd's and flims cant fault one of them.
    It took us 7 hours to get thier one day on a norm bus,really grim v.i.p's are great though.
    Coming over the Pass at Doi Saket in a Normal bus (air or fan) you alwasy get the distinct smell of smokin' brakes. Real confidence builder, that.
    WE usually drive the run, it's about 3 hours when I drive 4 when the ol' lady drives. My kid and I keep talking abut making a weekend of the run. I love the country up there. and would love to make the run to Tha Ton, sped the night on the river then cross over to Maesai the next day. If a visa Runner wanted an excuse to the the area the Visa run is it. dawdle n your way up on time take the route less used. Then dawdle on your way back the next trip. Lots of side trips along the way.
    When froedns from teh Staes come for a visit I'll include a visa run That takes a few days. Some time spent on the Maekok river is nice. in a buss a person could take a bus upto Thaton then boat down to Chiangrai bus up to Maesai.
    While the schedule of visa runs is not always convenient, it can be fun.

  11. #11
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    Thanks Frankie

    I agree that area is really interesting, and some parts are beautiful

    It is worth spending a few days exploring, not just rushing there and back

  12. #12
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    This is the pagoda on the Burmese side looked at from Mai Sai:


    Here a temple in Mawaddy, turn right at the roundabout, about 500meters on the left:


    You're advised to heed the warning:

  13. #13
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    One Tme I went to Mywaddy Wandered around a fro an hour or so. went to a temple ended up with a nice english speaking, military man for escort for the next 20 minutes or so. Decided it was time to head back to Thailand.

  14. #14
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    Mmm... Mae Sai. Nice photos.

    The place is not so bad the first time, but over three times and it starts to bug you.. I also have to say I far prefer Mae Sot.

  15. #15
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    I still like it, some good shopping there, Chinese pottery, stone carvings, and preserved fruits:


    Also, one of the best Ba-Mee Haing may be sampled at the clean, tiled eatery about 500meters along the shopping arcade on the left of the border crossing, on the right side just pass "Uncle John's":

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Skulldigger
    Mmm... Mae Sai. Nice photos.

    The place is not so bad the first time, but over three times and it starts to bug you.. I also have to say I far prefer Mae Sot.
    My next time out I would like top try Mae sot, any tips?

  17. #17
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    Forget Myawaddi, but the Thai side is interesting.
    But, unless you have friends to visit or business to do, it'll also become boring quickly.
    It's a trading center for Burmese gemstones, wood furniture and handicrafts.

    I should get some pics up soon.

  18. #18
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    Thanks Stroller, I live in BKK and in the main do my visa trips OS but occasionally need to do one here, I HATE the Aranprathet crossing and Mae Sai is a bit too far so thought next time I would try Mae Sot.

  19. #19
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    It's much more relaxed and makes a pleasant overnight trip out.
    But be prepared for several police/immigration controls on the road there. I was arrested for overstay a few kms before the border.

    I'll have to transfer pics from my camcorder to the com to... - may take a while yet.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by aging one
    I heard all the unique hill side guesthouses on the hill the left side of the road at the border have been pulled down for "better" development, did you notice this buddy. I used to love those sort of bungalow like rooms there. Spent a very cold windy night up there the beginning of January once. Twas romantic.
    "Unique" is an interesting word to apply to those places. Damn nasty and grotty I call them, and they look like they will pull themselves down pretty soon..

  21. #21
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    bloody hell, if you don't like them, don't go there

    simple

  22. #22
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    Just few question:how long it takes for go there from Khon Khaen?
    Are the Myanmar stamps little or take it a page,like Loas Stamps,for example?Thank you.

  23. #23
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    Maesai. The wife says the bridge is out and the place is under water! Though she could be making that up 'cos she don't want to go.

    Anyway, Anyone have any up to date info on the place? My buddy and I were going to go up there on Friday. He visa, me shop.
    Cheers

  24. #24
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    I heard all the unique hill side guesthouses on the hill the left side of the road at the border have been pulled down for "better" development, did you notice this buddy. I used to love those sort of bungalow like rooms there. Spent a very cold windy night up there the beginning of January once. Twas romantic.[/quote]


    yep they have all gone , and i did not see the ladies ,
    offering their servces ..

    a place tp miss is uncle johns , a thai bar pang
    on the same soi ,,,, him very slippery ....

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