This article summarizes our border run, but we also have posts and more pictures for the following 4 stops we made on the trip.
- White Temple of Chiang Rai
- Border Crossing – Mae Sai, Thailand to Tachileik, Myanmar
- Visiting the Golden Triangle (Border of Thailand, Laos, and Myanmar)
- Longtail Boats on the Mekong + Snake Whiskey = Fun in Don Sao Island, Laos
We came to Thailand with a Triple Entry visa which we got from Thailand’s Portland Embassy in the USA. If we waited til we arrived in Thailand, we would’ve been allowed 30 days in Thailand and then would’ve had to leave the country every 30 days. With a visa, we were granted 60 days per visit.
Our first 60 days was up on August 11, so we knew we needed to leave Thailand on or before that date. All you have to do to leave Thailand is cross into a neighboring country and you can immediately return and go through Thailand immigration.
The border run to Tachileik, Myanmar is a common one used by expats in Chiang Mai so we decided to do our first border run there. Many expats do it as a day trip using one of the bus services but we opted to do it ourselves over 3 days. First, we had a car, and Chuck is king of the road trip, so why not? Two, the kids were going to be a disaster sitting in a bus for 10 hours (5 hours there and 5 hours back) careening over mountain roads. And three, it let us craft our own trip stopping at lots of places along the way. So Project Border Run to Myanmar was launched and on Saturday, August 10, off we went!
We started by driving from Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai which is about a 2.5-3 hours journey. We stopped for lunch at a mall in Chiang Rai then headed to The White Temple (Wat Rong Khun). After a few hours exploring the temple, we checked into our hotel, the Le Meridien Chiang Rai which we all loved. The room was huge, had 2 large queen beds (that were blissfully comfortable) and meant all 4 of us could stay in 1 room which is not easy to find in Asia. It was also free thanks to our Starwood points!
The room had robes and slippers and the best balcony so the kids spent the visit wrapped in robes and happy as clams.
Saturday night, we headed into downtown Chiang Rai to their Saturday Night Market. We LOVED this market. THIS is how a night market should be. There were tons of food stands and treats we’d never seen before. And there was live music happening in a town square with dancing. Of course Mara and I joined in the circle dance and got lots of smiles from the locals as we joined them.
Sunday was a big day, so after loading up at the breakfast buffet at the Le Meridian, it was off for our border run.
We began by driving the 1:30 from Chiang Rai to Mae Sai, Thailand. Then we left Thailand, walked across a bridge to Myanmar, did a bit of window shopping and headed back to Thailand.
From there, it was a short 30 minute drive to the Golden Triangle area. After checking into our hotel, we headed to the river and took our boat trip over to Don Sao island, Laos. 2 new countries in 1 day. SCORE!!
After the Laos trip, we wandered around the Golden Triangle area for a bit, ate dinner then off to bed after a long, long day.
The next morning we ate breakfast, then drove the 5 hours back to Chiang Mai. We stopped a few times for some pictures, lunch and took a brief spin thru the White Temple again.
Then after 3 days of traveling around, we were safely back home and were good for another 59 days in Thailand before we needed to do border run #2.