Tak to Mae Sariang

Route 12 from Tak to Mae Sot is an exhilarating drive through the Tenasserim Hills. This road is the ‘Gateway to South Asia’ – or the more bureaucratic ‘East West Economic Corridor‘. Basically, it is a 793 kilometre route through Thailand that links Laos at Suvakhannet/Mukdahan (2nd Thai Laos Friendship Bridge) to Myanmar at Myawaddy/Mae Sot (1st Thai Myanmar Friendship Bridge). The ‘Corridor’ was completed in 2023.

Doi Muser Markets

The popular Doi Muser (Musoe) Markets at the top of the mountains are a welcome break along the 60 kilometre journey, offering a short respite from the more than 200 bends in the journey, some of which are extremely tight.

Mae Sot – Thailand/Myanmar Border Town

Mae Sot, 31 kilometres to the west, is an important border town. It is Thailand’s ‘Gateway to South Asia’.

A few kilometres north of Maae Sot is the turnoff to the 2nd Thai-Myanmar Friendship Bridge. This bridge is only four kilometres north-west of the First Thai-Myanmar Friendship Bridge. It was built to relieve congestion on the 1st Friendship Bridge. So even though the East West Economic Corridor was finished only in 2023 the increase in economic activity (congestion on the 1st Bridge) was seen well before 2015 (when work on the 2nd Bridge commenced). The need for the construction of bridge No.2 is the definition of success.

Route 105

We drove north out of Mae Sot on Route 105 – one of the great drives of Thailand. This Route – and the great driving – extends to Mae Hong Son as Route 108 after Mae Sariang, the major town midway.

Baan Mae La Refugee  Camp

Baan Mae La Refugee Camp is 57 kilometres north of Mae Sot and eight kilometres east of the Thai/Myanmar border.

Between Mae Sot and Mae Hong Son we passed 13 Police/Immigration Checkpoints. At some of these checkpoints people were openly taking tracks through the forest around the checkpoint. Random travellers (us) being easily aware of this evasion of scrutiny is a poor reflection on the efficacy, oversight and leadership of the relevant authorities.

The region traversed by Route 105 is populated by Hill Tribes. For much of its length, the Moei River forms the border between Thailand and Myanmar. Route 105 broadly follows the Moei from Mae Sot to Baan Tha Song Yang at which point it is routed further east until it finds its way to the course of Yuam River.

In the 230 kilometres of Route 105 between Mae Sot and Mae Sariang there are 947 bends.

At the time of our journey there was not much tourist traffic – in fact not much traffic, at all. The very poor living conditions and older vehicles here are clearly noticeable. However, lots of big touring motorcycles, many with ‘farang’ riders, were in evidence – confirming Route 105’s international status as a great ride, an iconic route, and well worth the effort to be able to say BTDT.

Five hours from Mae Sot we pulled into our overnight homestay along the Yuam River. Mae Sariang is a surprisingly large, important regional centre.

Our day’s drive covered 332 kilometres through two Provinces (Tak, Mae Hong Son).

Go to Mae Sariang to Pai

Go back to Hat Kruat to Tak

Go Northern Thailand Overview


© Kim Epton 2024
672 words, 11 photographs, two images.

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