In the mid-19th century Myanmar and Shan merchants, crossing the Moei River from Myanmar (Burma) in the west, helped to establish Mae Sot as a prosperous market town. Trade in Myanmar hardwoods and gemstones, both legal and smuggled, has brought considerable wealth to this small town. Today Mae Sot retains the feel of a frontier town and makes a relaxing stopover for travelers. Gem traders, usually ethnic Chinese, can often be seen huddled on Mae Sot’s pavements, negotiating with buyers from Bangkok and other parts of Thailand. Because of its location and trading history, Mae Sot has a distinct Myanmar flavor, evident in architecture and market goods
Trilingual shop signs can be seen on the streets, Myanmarlanguage publications are sold in shops, and Myanmar people wearing traditional sarongs (lungis) can be seen walking along the streets. During the morning food market – one of Thailand’s most picturesque and colorful – Karen and Myanmar traders haggle with Thais and Indians
North of the market is Wat Chumphon Khiri, which has a magnificent Myanmar chedi decorated with golden mosaic tiles. On the southeast side of town is the Muslim quarter; at its center is the small Nurul Islam Mosque.
Dotted around the town are a number of other temples that have both Karen and Shan characteristics.
Some 2 miles (3 km) west of Mae Sot is Wat Thai Watthanaram. In the rear courtyard is a huge, Myanmar style, reclining Buddha image built in 1993 and a gallery of 28 seated Buddha images. A further 1,100 yards (1,000 m) beyond Wat Thai Watthanaram, a bridge over the Moei River links Mae Sot to the Myanmar border town of Myawadi. Clustered around the foot of the bridge is a market selling an odd mix of Thai, Myanmar, Indonesian, and Chinese goods
Southeast of Mae Sot are the Pha Charoen falls, a very popular spot for picnicking and swimming