Introducing Mae Sot
Despite its remote location and relatively small size, Mae Sot is among the most culturally diverse cities in Thailand. Walking down the streets of the town, you'll see a fascinating ethnic mixture of Burmese men in their longyi (sarongs), Hmong and Karen women in traditional hill-tribe dress, bearded Muslims, Thai army rangers and foreign NGO workers. Burmese and Karen are spoken as much as Thai, shop signs along the streets are in Thai, Burmese and Chinese, and most of the temple architecture is Burmese. Mae Sot has also become the most important jade and gem centre along the border, with much of the trade controlled by Chinese and Muslim immigrants from Myanmar.
Although there aren't many formal sights in Mae Sot, and many visitors come simply for a visa run, many end up staying longer than expected. A vibrant market, several good restaurants and a fun nightlife scene have become attractions in their own right.