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A Chiang Rai Story

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Strange, I've never had Thais or Burmese stare at me. Thais are just as likely to stare at Burmese and hill tribes or be curious about them, as farang, especially on a bus to Mae Sai, which is a semi-popular destination for farang and has been for at least 20 years. I therefore find your experience a bit weird.


Perhaps you were being "stared" at in your words because poor hill tribes were confused why a supposedly "rich" farang would choose to catch a bus rather than drive or catch a cab?


I stopped catching buses when I had enough money to rent a car, or later on, purchase a car. I find it strange to consider catching a bus so you can "meet the locals". Most bus passengers aren't interested in chit chat; if you want to meet locals you visit a local coffee shop or coffee plantation and strike up a conversation with the locals there. Plenty of interesting people watching and opportunities to interact with locals on both sides of the border once you get to Mae Sai. Also, you couldn't pay me enough to waste time on the bus, which is stopped at every checkpoint by the police and border patrol, while cars are waved on.

Edited by drbeach
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2 hours ago, Burma Bill said:

Over many years living near Phayao, I also did the "Maisai" run on a regular basis to cross into Burma (Tachilek) for visa and shopping purposes, but never by bus as I had my own pick-up. These runs I shall never forget as they were always a pleasure, especially in Burma, where I could have a flutter at the roulette table before shopping (quite often on winnings) and crossing back into Thailand after enjoying a chilled Myanmar beer at the Duty Free shopping complex. Regarding those many check-points southwards on route 1, it was at one south of Chiang Rai where I was stopped by the police and fined 1,000 baht for not having a UK International driving licence - only a UK(EU) one. I did not argue and within days I had a Thai driving licence courtesy of contacts within the British Consulate and DLT office in Chiang Mai. Those were the days when it was "who you knew" that mattered and not the present Thai bureaucratic lunacy!! 

Based on your name, sounds like you used to live in Burma.


I have been to Mae Sai many times myself, and as I said in my other reply to the OP, I stopped catching the bus once I bought my own car (before that I used to rent a car). I have also crossed into Tachilek several times, but since the 2013 opening of 4 Thai-Myanmar land checkpoints, I have mainly used Mae Sot, and increasingly Phu Nam Ron, to travel to Myanmar. Tachilek I have only ever visited on a day pass. However, it's possible to enter using a visa now but you have to fly if you want to travel further west such as to Mandalay as the Kengtung-Taunggyi road remains off-limits to foreigners.


Never had any trouble with checkpoints on the road between Chiang Rai and Mae Sai. Rarely pulled over either. There are many alternative roads, most of which don't have checkpoints or only the one, to get you to Mae Sai, such as the Golden Triangle (Sop Ruak) to Mae Sai road which mainly runs along the border. Any drug trafficker worth their salt would have figured out by now it's best to avoid the main highway. My first trip to Mae Sai was in 2000 and first time across to Tachilek was around Dec 2001.


Never have visited a casino in tachilek. Always thought the one on the Mekong, 17km away from Tachilek town but only accessible (for foreigners) by passing through the bridge first was the only one in town, but apparently there is another smaller one on top of a hill. Either way, most people avoid Tachilek and go to the King Romans casino for gambling now. The Burmese casino on the Mekong is basically abandoned these days; not sure who still visits (Thais and Burmese can travel there directly from Sob Ruak by boat). Myawaddy (opposite Mae Sot) is much more popular for gamblers than Tachilek these days.


I would love to be able to drive up to Kengtung at least, in my own car without going on a tour. Several years ago, it was possible and there was even an American expat based in Chiang Mai I think, who drove up there and beyond to Mongla on the Chinese border, all by himself, back around 2007. He documented his journey on his blog, and I think you can still find details of it online if you do a search.


Unfortunately, as of 2014 (if not earlier) it seems that angry taxi drivers put a stop to that and now the furthest you can go with a Thai or foreign registration without signing up for a tour is the outskirts of Tachilek, including that casino I mentioned. Understandably, unless you're a trader or own a business in Tachilek there's little point in driving across the border as you won't be permitted to drive very far. However, unlike in Myawaddy I believe you're allowed to keep the car on the Burmese side overnight and use it in Myanmar for up to 7 or 14 days. That means if you wanted to do a visa run whereby you spend a night or two in Tachilek, it would be worthwhile driving across the border and parking your car at the hotel.

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Not Thailand but Laos. Many years ago, I left  Vientiane on the bus going North. The bus was full, except the seat next to me. All Laotiennes , except 3 US guys in the back seat. Anyhow, after’15 mins, the bus stopped, a Lao stepped up, had a look around, me, very naive, put up my hand to indicate there was a free seat next to me. As he sat down next to me with his AK 47 , I sort of shut up and looked out the window a good while.

A while later we stopped for drinks and wc, I got out too, the three Americans absolutely hilarious outside. Apparently the look on my face as the guy with the gun sat down next to me was a picture. Anyhow, found it he was a guard for the bus as the countryside we were driving through was still dangerous back then. 

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While I do appreciate the story, I do not appreciate your perpetuation (even if not intended, but the way you phrased it, I suspect it was intended..) of the "White male priviledge" myth.


The opportunities to get educated, high paying jobs, to live in a nice house, etc. are there for the taking to anyone "lucky" enough to be either born in the Western World (not just America) & other highly developped/industrialized nations. Not just for "White males".

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these stories usually lead to the typical xenophobia....i remember when one (country)....


more evidence of farangs hating farangs in thailand, while others share a story that makes us wonder how lonely and boring the guy is....


this is why racism doesn't go away......we allow the sly negative comments as normal.


yea, i remember this one guy from (country)....oh, what a looooooooooooooooooser.....ramble for another 10 pages........

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I thought Thailand no longer allow border runs?


People have been abusing their tourist visas in the past to extend their short term into a year long stay.

Edited by EricTh
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On 6/16/2020 at 2:56 AM, SW Happy said:

Nice to see they wasn't to HARD ON him


But the BiB were all walking around with a limp........🥰

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