Wander around and enjoy shopping at the northernmost of Siam at Mae Sai market, Chiang Rai
Further from the tourist attractions that can entertain the tourists – natural, art & cultural, and architectural sites. The shopping place in Chiang Rai is not less exciting to spend your time. And the most famous landmark for shopping in Chiang Rai definitely will be “Mae Sai,” the marketplace at the boundary of Thailand and Myanmar is in the top of the list to check-in.
Mae Sai is a district in Chiang Rai where the place is considered the northernmost region of Thailand that adjacent to Tachileik or Tha Khi Lek in the Shan State of Myanmar with Mae Sai River as the borderline and a bridge is the connecting path between two states. This area opens as the free-trade area with numerous various goods in low cost for the shopping lovers to enjoy. So, that is to say, shopping at Mae Sai is a must-to-do thing if you come to visit Chiang Rai.
Background of Mae Sai Market
The marketplace at Mae Sai is a borderline market with its fame for over the decades. In the past, the Bamar people and the minorities in the Shan state of Myanmar had passed Thai borderline to buy consumer products at the market in Thailand busily. While, the tourists from Thailand were able to cross the borderline to travel at Tachileik without any passport, too.
However, when the fight between Burmese’s government and the ethnic minority’s army and it turned to be the major conflict between both countries – Thailand and Myanmar frequently and they were eased up with the proper negotiations, though. Yet, the problems regarding ethnic minorities and drugs resulted in the transit between both countries was restricted. Therefore, Thai people need to present the passport as if preferring to take a tour at Tachileik in Myanmar at Mae Sai Boundary Post.
Mae Sai Boundary Post located at 117 Moo 10, Ban Pa Yang Pha Taek, Wiang Pang Kham sub-district, Mae Sai district in Chiang Rai. The location is the boundary connects to Tachileik Boundary Post in Tachileik, Shan State in Myanmar. Mae Sai Boundary Post was established on August 15, 1997, as the immigration checkpoint of the Chiang Rai province and also Mae Sai Customs House.
What to shop at Mae Sai Market
The market at Mae Sai is about 61 km distant from the city town of Chiang Rai which is another must-visit destination that any tourists who take the trip to Chiang Rai should not skip. The market here has been famous and attractive for the tourists for over the decades. Mae Sai Market recognized as the largest marketplace in the northern territory with the broad variety of products offer for the travelers to shop in every alley within the complex.
Especially, the electric appliances at a low price! Also, lots of local goods such as herbal soap, brass, basketry, odds, and ends, etc. and even the dried and preserved food are available in this market, too. Most of the products here are from China. Well, let’s see what is interesting to shop at Mae Sai Market.
Electric Appliances and Gadget
Of course, most of the visitors at Mae Sai Market would not miss grabbing some Electric Appliances and Gadget that are so cheap! For example, mobile phone, computer notebook, stereo, and others that offer with a lower cost than other places. However, please keep in mind that you should check and make sure of the product you purchase before the deal and take your package from the shop. (it’s rare to find the thing that is cheap and good).
Chips and Snacks
Chips and Snacks, another favorite item to buy for the tourists who come to this marketplace since the chips and snacks here are not expensive. And the recommended ones that we can try before purchase are sunflower seeds, chestnut, preserved Chinese bay cherry, and various nuts that might be the in-trend snack for the health concern recently. Also, the local product and fruits of the northern region, including lychee, plum, or apple which are so fresh and delicious. Thus, the food items at Mae Sai are recommended goods that are worthwhile for you to shop, indeed.
Items at Mae Sai Market is both retail and wholesale, and moreover, there are the products of outfits and souvenirs that the latter is good to buy for keepsake and present. The souvenirs selling at here, including gemstone, jewelry, accessories, keychain, and colorful rattan basket that is one of the most famous products for the tourist to shop. So, anyone seeks for something locally would not disappoint to find some at Mae Sai market, indeed.
Crossing the borderline to shop more at Tachileik in Myanmar
Additionally, another popular thing to do for the people visiting Mae Sai Market would be taking a day trip to Myanmar. It’s convenient for anyone who would like to attend and pay homage to the replica of the famous grand pagoda “Shwedagon Pagoda” that is just about 2 km from the borderline. The design of the chedi copied from the “Great Dagon Pagoda” that enshrined in Yangon the former capital of Myanmar. The trip is facilitated by the tricycle and motorcycle taxi services that can take the tourist to go to any interesting tourist spots pleasantly, included the gemstone market. Anyhow, the tourist should negotiate and agree with the fee whether one trip or the round trip before you take the service. To cross the boundary from Mae Sai, Thailand to Tachileik in Myanmar is convenient with the temporary border pass by the following step;
Temporary Border Pass Permit:
- Contact to apply for the Temporary Border Pass at Mae Sai District Office at Prommaharaj Meeting Hall every day between 6.30am – 9.00pm.
- Submit passport with the fee, regularly it’s US$ 5 for foreigners (anyhow, for international tourist, please study for specific information to apply for the temporary border pass which may vary by nation).
- The tourist will receive the Temporary Border Pass (Thai – Myanmar), then, take a journey to the Boundary Post of Myanmar and present the border pass to access to Myanmar.
- When the tourist arrives at Myanmar region at Tha Khi Lek, the surcharged fee at the borderline will be applied.
- Please keep the Temporary Border Pass with you all the time of the trip in Myanmar since the tourist need to present it again when you exit Myanmar region.
About the day trip to Myanmar via Mae Sai Boundary Post, it recommends going in the morning because the boundary is not busy and crowded. Also, you will have more time for your trip, as well.
Shopping at Tachileik:
Shopping in Myanmar after crossing the borderline from Mae Sai is at Tachileik that the price and type of product are not entirely different from Mae Sai Market. However, the most important thing to concern is “import” of the items you purchase from Myanmar. Some products are available in Myanmar, but it’s prohibited to bring in to Thailand. So, avoiding to make your trip to be the nightmare, please make sure that you study well the tourist guideline and customs regulation that present to the tourist at the boundary post. Typically, the goods such as liquor, imported cigarette, obscene media or any products from wildlife are categorized in the prohibited goods to bring in to Thailand. Nonetheless, as if purchase with the commercial purpose, so that present the reference documents and pay for the duty appropriately.
And the tips to shop either Mae Sai Market and Tachileik Market is the skill to bargain for the best offer. The shops in both markets are okay for the bargain and in case you are lucky you might get the half price deal! So, don’t worry if you might experience that you get a lower or more expensive price than your friend or other people with the same item.
Fulfill your journey with the delicious food at Mae Sai Market
One more stop before you finish the tour at Mae Sai Borderline is to wander around to find some yummy food to fill your tummy. This might be something very locally as the gourmet map is recommended by the local people. Yet, we already brought you some idea that you can follow to find the deliciousness of Mae Sai Borderline that we assure you will not upset.
The food spot we mentioned is the side street food stalls that line all along a little avenue to the gate of the borderline. Unbelievable, there are lots of mouth-watering dishes that you would be thrilled to taste, plus the price is not so high, too.
First to recommend is “Noodle shop” with the highlight menus are ‘Yen Ta Fo Noodle” and ‘Cantonese style Egg Noodle with Wanton.’ It’s not hard to find the shop since there is a long queue at the front of the shop. This noodle shop is a very famous one of this area and has opened for years. The noodle is served with fish ball, pickled squid, deep fried taro, and red BBQ pork in a big bowl and only THB40.
Next one is the dessert shop called “Racha Roti” (Fried Indian Flat Bread) that has served its deliciousness for over 30 years. The regularly fried roti sprinkled with sweet condensed milk and fine sugar is just only THB10 per piece. The fresh makes flatbread that is crispy outside, and soft inside is so delicious and not too sweet.
Pizza Mae Sai
And of course, visiting Mae Sai will not be accomplished without tasting the local food. The local food here is Myanmar, and Tai Yai menus with the popular one are “Khoa Soi Noi Song Krueng” or better known locally as “Pizza Mae Sai.” The food that made from rice flour mixed in water and then pours into the tray and steam to make the base. Once the dough cooked then adds ground roasted peanut, ground roasted sesame, seasoning powder, sugar, ground chili, minced pork, egg, cabbage, and lettuce and steam again until the topping cooked. The taste of Pizza Mae Sai is similar to Steam Fish with Curry Paste without coconut milk. On the other hand, it’s a kind of healthy food, and you can ask the cooker to skip the seasoning powder if you prefer, too.
Apart from that, there are many menus of Myanmar style spicy salad, fried bamboo sprout, grilled tree frog and deep fried with herbs. Also, Muslim food such as Beef Noodle, Fried lamp rib and other street food – Gyoza, Takoyaki, Hong Kong Waffle, Chinese Steamed Bun, Khanom Krok (Thai Coconut and Rice Pancake), and many more. So, you can taste this local food either before or after the trip to cross the borderline to Myanmar.
The food stalls regularly will operate in the afternoon until 10.00pm or the same time that the boundary closed. So, anyone who makes a trip to Mae Sai Borderline should not miss trying.
Traveling to Mae Sai Market
Drives on the highway number 1 until Mae Sai. The parking is available on both sides of the road. Alternatively, drives down under the crossing bridge, the parking area with about THB50 of charge is over there.
By Public Transport:
From Chiang Rai, gets the bus route Chiang Rai – Mae Sai. The destined stop is at the bus station before Mae Sai Market.