Mae Sot in Tak province is a border city in Western Thailand neighbouring Myanmar. The city has been upgraded by the government to become a Special Economic Zone. The new status helped Mae Sot to have a brand new passengers’ terminal, which will be open by the end of the year.
The information regarding the opening of the new passenger terminal at Mae Sot Airport was recently confirmed by Department of Airports (DOA) of Thailand.
“Its construction is virtually complete. From now until December, the terminal will undergo systems testing and we will auction the commercial space inside,” said Daroon Saengchai, director-general of DOA.
Costing about 440 million THB to build, the new terminal will have a total space of 12,000 sq meters compared to the current 1,800 sq meters. It will boost the airport’s capacity to accommodate up to 1.7 million passengers per year.
This will be ten times more than total passengers traffic in 2017 which topped 170,000. The current terminal can only accommodate up to 400,000 passengers. Mae Sot is linked by three to five daily flights operated by Nok Air to Bangkok Don Mueang International Airport.
With the airport’s expansion, local authorities hope to attract again international flights. Until 2014, Mae Sot regularly accommodated flights by Nok Air to Yangon and Mawlamyine in Myanmar but service was discontinued due to the lack of passengers.
The DOA expects to see again flights to Myanmar as well as scheduled or charter flights to China, once the new facility will be opened to the public. The DOA has already contacted AirAsia for the setting of new international routes. However, the airline will not be able to fly to Mae Sot before the extension of the runway. Planned to be completed by 2020, the new runway will then measure 2,100 meters instead of its current 1,500 meters.
Thai authorities believe that the total number of passengers could grow to 800,000 by 2021, especially as Mae Sot is one of the most important passages to Myanmar through the Mae Sot – Myawaddy Friendship Bridge.
Things to do in Mae Sot
Crossing the border to Myanmar is not the only point of interest for travellers. Mae Sot offers an opportunity to experience the multi-cultural life of a small border town.
Mae Sot is famed for its markets such as the Rim Moei market (Border Market) and Mae Sot Central Market, both selling Burmese, Shan and Thai handicraft as well as food delicacies. Mae Sot has also many traditional Burmese tea shops.
Temples in the area are also a blend of local cultures. The most famous temple is Wat Thai Wattanaram, built in 1857. The Shan temple houses a 45-meter-long reclining Buddha image, 28 additional sitting Buddhas on its grounds and the characteristic golden stupas.
Jungles, high hills, and waterfalls describe the best natural environment around Mae Sot. Located 25 km north of Mae Sot are the Mae Ka Sa Hot Springs and Cave nestled between majestic mountains offering beautiful vistas over Thailand and Myanmar.
200 km from Mae Sot is Umphang Wildlife Sanctuary, a remote jungle area fully preserved from modern development and populated by Karen ethnics. The area can only be reached by one road: the twisting and turning Sky Highway or Death Road.
Close to the Burmese border, Umphang is a nature and adventure paradise with small villages, incredible views and many waterfalls including one of the most beautiful and the biggest in Thailand, the impressive Tee Lor Su Waterfall.