If you are a foreigner living in Thailand, you’ll probably be familiar with the concept of a ‘visa run’. Depending on what visa you enter Thailand with, you may be required to leave Thailand after 30, 60 or 90 days before re-entering with a new visa. There are several places you can do this, but two of the most popular are at Mae Sot and Mae Sai. At both these crossings you walk over a bridge, enter Burma, pay, get your passport stamped and re-enter Thailand.
This month I decided to do my crossing at Mae Sai as it can be done in one (albeit long) day from Chiang Mai. 13 hours later I returned home. By clicking the play button above, you can listen to the podcast I made along the way.
Mae Sai is the Northern most point in Thailand, well known thanks to its location in the Golden Triangle region of Thailand – one of the main Opium producing areas in the world – made famous during the rein of Khun Sa, the ‘Opium King’, who died last year in Rangoon, Burma.
A year or two ago, I took a one day minibus round trip from Chiang Mai to Mae Sai. It was hell. This time, following a recommendation, I decided to take a public ‘VIP’ bus from Arcade bus station. I caught the Greenbus company’s V400 bus leaving Arcade bus station in Chiang Mai at 8.00 am, and arrived in Mae Sai at about 12.15pm. After about 3 hours in Mae Sai and Tachileik, I returned to Chiang Mai with the V403 bus (also the Greenbus company) leaving Mae Sai bus terminal at 15.30. The trip cost 335 THB each way (about US$10).
I suggest you buy your bus tickets the day before travel, and take some ear plugs due to the presence of Karaoke VCDs on the bus. Upon entering Burma you will need to pay $10 or 500THB for the Burmese entry visa – it is much better to quickly change 330THB to $10 before crossing as this saves you 170THB and gives the Burmese regime less.
Map of Northern Thailand showing Mae Sai