"Seriously Detained or Shop Stop?" Tachilek by thedouglas

Tachilek Travel Guide: 53 reviews and 144 photos

Myanmar - Thai Border town

Tachilek is the Myanmar border crossing into Mae sai in Thailand, accessed via a small bridge. Although we had been given authorisation to cross here into Thailand, we were not permitted past.

It is a market and gambling town. The large market centre is full of Chinese goods at Chinese prices. Therese filled a bag here with DVD's, sunglasses and magnified glasses, girls bags and clothing. Peter resisted the urge to try some of the cheap Viagra being peddled in the market.

Many Thai nationals come here to purchase goods to sell. A day pass can be purchased on the Thai side, and plenty of tourists avail themselves of these for shopping as well.

We spent a day here, before finding out that we were not going to be permitted to cross the border. We would never have flown to Tachilek for the touristic experience. It was merely on our route to Laos.

The Golden Triangle "Issues"

There were a number of health and community services in this town, and signs attesting to the goal of "cleaning up" the drug problems in the top end of Myanmar. Much of the remaining poppy produced in Myanmar comes from this Shan state, and this is a fairly politically/militarily unstable area as a result, with ongoing intermittent border skirmishes between the Myanma and the Thai. Its one of the reasons for the tight restrictions on the border movements.

In fact, we found that the area is so unstable, that the daily flights out and incoming landings can be cancelled at a moment's notice. When we were flying from Mandalay, we were told that we may not be able to land at Tachilek - which we stupidly assumed was due to weather conditions.

We should have been wiser! Tachilek was one of a "milk run" stops on this flight, and, as we exited the plane, the hostesses checked that we meant to get off there! When we arrived, there was a fair bit of armed harassment of some of the other passengers, checking of ID cards, and detentions. I was accosted by a really nice lady in the toilet, asking why we were there, who actually told me she did not know that "foreigners" could cross the border there. I trusted in what we had obtained from the Myanmar Embassy in Australia - fool me!

Eating one of the few attractions

Tachilek has a local appeal for the food apparently! There were a number of restaurants, all of which were very cheap, and the food was basic but good. We also saw a number of local gambling houses in the town, which is likely to be an other drawcard for the border crossing visitors. Thais can cross into here quite freely, but the traffic out is much more controlled.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Scratching for that
  • Cons:Plenty of hidden agendas
  • In a nutshell:For us, a huge waste of time and money.
  • Last visit to Tachilek: Mar 2007
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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Reviews (7)

Comments (6)

  • edachsund's Profile Photo
    Feb 22, 2010 at 7:00 AM

    hi, very helpful indeed. your journey throughly adventures! I am planing to accross the border to tachilek but from thailand this march plan. glad to read your page.. :D

  • BillNJ's Profile Photo
    Oct 12, 2008 at 3:18 AM

    Ah, the joys of international travel ...

  • mavl's Profile Photo
    Jun 10, 2008 at 12:23 PM

    they're your kids, of course they'll feel that way, haha. that's what kids are supposed to do, be disagreeable. i know i was!

  • calcaf38's Profile Photo
    Sep 3, 2007 at 1:05 PM

    Irritating, but fascinating story. You seem to have emerged in good spirits in the end.

  • tiabunna's Profile Photo
    May 6, 2007 at 2:47 AM

    A well-detailed page leaving little doubt that this is one visit to avoid. My sympathies, Therese, I'm glad it wasn't me!

  • gilabrand's Profile Photo
    Apr 25, 2007 at 12:54 PM

    Funny Tuktuk tip. LOL

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