In the province of Chiang Rai, a quiet gem of a city called Mae Sai lies on the border between Thailand and Myanmar. A steady stream of locals on both sides commute over the river and across the border every day. Stalls and shops run west and south of the bustling frontier.
Many visitors pass through Mae Sai on the way to Burma without a second glance at the authenticity of this special city. Shops are filled with trinkets brought in from bordering countries. Cheap jewels and antiques are imported from China and Burma.
Taking a photo next to the Northern Most of Thailand arch at the border is a great way to remember your visit there.
Mae Sai Market
Mae Sai Market is a sprawling bazaar stretching out from under the Sailomjoy Road bridge, through a maze of covered alleys, and up the hill. From early morning until late at night, permanent shops and temporary stalls sell every imaginable item to locals and tourists passing through.
Once known for a halfway-legal import trade, Thai and Burmese merchants still cross back and forth to buy products that can’t be purchased in their countries and sell them back for a markup. You can find precious gemstones, silverware, jewelry, and wood and stone carvings here, alongside knockoff brand names and household goods. Shop for sneakers and souvenirs, cigarettes and snacks, cultural artifacts, hoodies, and handcrafts. Many stalls sell identical wares, so if you don’t like the price in one place, carry on and bargain at the next.
Shopping and People Watching
Mae Sai Market is a truly unique destination in Thailand for its multinational products and influence. The energy here feels timeless and the cultural fusion is palpable. This is a good place to get a sense for the cultural exchange between Burma and Thailand, where money, people, and products endlessly make their way back and forth between nations. Come here for the great shopping, or just the people watching and immersive travel experience.
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Read more about Things To Do in Chiang Rai