A Bustling Border Town Tachileik
Shan State is Myanmar’s biggest state or region by area and the only one that shares borders with three sovereign nations: China, Thailand and Laos. Shan State is a land of diversity that is home to a huge range of different ethnic groups. But it is also a key trade route between Myanmar and both China and Thailand. The border town of Tachileik plays a pivotal role in the commerce between Myanmar and Thailand but Tachileik also has its own share of interesting things for tourists to see and do.
Tachileik is a thriving border town and bustles with trade during the day as commodity traders, visitors, and commuters working across the border in Thailand cross back and forth over the Friendship Bridge – the official border between the two countries. Tachileik also stands as an entry point for travel further into Shan State, especially to Keng Tung. When travelling in Tachileik it’s common to see three currencies in use: Myanmar kyat, Thai baht and American dollars and exchange counters are easy to locate.
How to Get There
You can travel to Tachileik by bus or car from the Shan State capital of Taunggyi but most visitors from within Myanmar will arrive by plane, a journey of about two hours from Yangon.
What to visit in Tachileik
Tachileik Shwedagon Pagoda
Tachileik Shwedagon Pagoda is a must-see for tourists when they arrive in this town. And while the gold-plated stupa is attractive on its own, the location at the top of a hill offers clear views over Tachileik and beyond.
Maha Myatmuni Monastery
Vist the Maha Myatmuni Monastery to enjoy peace and quiet, and they pay homage to the Buddha images while observing the architecture of the building.
St Jude Catholic Church
There are many Baptist and Catholic churches in Tachileik and this is one of the biggest in town, and has also established an orphanage across from the church. Why not pop in and leave a donation and make a difference in your travels?
You should visit Ahkhar market which is on main road to find and buy some ethnic products by Ahkhar.
Wan Kaung Market
If you would like to see and feel local wet market, why don't you go Wan Kaung Market which is located beside of Mahar Myat Muni Monastery. But don't forget to get there only in the morning.
Tar Lawt Market
Also known as Tachileik Market, Tar Lawt Market is a great place to shop, with many Thai and Chinese brands available. The market also has a bewildering array of counterfeit or faked goods that are good approximations of the real thing.
Loi Youn Kham Ancient Pagoda
This pagoda is unique in the Tachileik area and this is clear from the second you catch sight of the two guardian ogres at the entrance. In fact, it feels as if the two statues are facing Tachileik and guarding the town. According to local legend, two man-eating ogre brothers, Su Nanda (also known as Avattā) and Su Nandi (also known as Navattā), realised the law of deliverance after being taught by Gautama Buddha. The legend states that Lord Buddha gave them three hair relics and asked them to build a pagoda at the location.
The second unique point about the pagoda is that boulders block the cave entrance to the relic chamber. It has been said that a donor called U Long Lon made a request in his prayers to prove that the Buddha relics exist. At that moment the earth began to shake and the cave entrance was opened. Legend has it that there are booby traps inside the cave and the temple guardians made the decision to block the entrance to prevent worshippers from encountering danger.
The Mong Pong area is a popular destination for Myanmar and Thai visitors due to the power and renown of the local religious leader, the Mong Pong Sayadaw. However, on a recent visit it was impossible to meet the sayadaw, who has retreated from civilization to mediate and focus on religion.
However, it is also interesting to drive through the nearby villages on the way to Mong Pong, many of which are settled by ethnic Shans. Apparently the villages compete with each other to build the most special and memorable archways at the entrance to the settlements.
Most of the monasteries where the Mong Pong Sayadaw resides have also been built in a unique way, including many that have been built with funds that have been donated by international donors.
Teik Kha Ka Standing Buddha Statue
Located on the road to Mong Pong, the Teik Kha Ka Standing Buddha is a Buddha image that is located at the top of a hill. What is most interesting is that the Buddha image always has a resident beehive located somewhere on its body. During a recent visit the hive was
located on the image’s chin.
Boat ride on the Mekong River
Before entering the Mong Pong Monastery compound, it is both easy and enjoyable to take a short boat ride on the Mekong River and view the surroundings of the Mong Pong Monastery from the small jetty where Laos-Myanmar border guards are stationed. You can see the Golden Monastery from the river and also peer into Laos as well. A relatively short excursion on the boat of about 20 minutes in duration costs about K1500 per person.
Tachileik Night Market
The Tachileik Night Market is inside the Shan Yoma grounds on the Taunggyi-Tachileik highway. And it is a busy place to visit, with many stalls selling delicious local and Thai foods.
Two Dragons Monastery
Another monastery worth visiting is also along the Taunggyi-Tachileik highway and is known as the Two Dragons Monastery, so-called because two large dragons guard the front of the monastery. The monastery is made mostly from wood and contains a Buddha image inside that is made using bamboo threads.
Other Places to Visit
You can visit near towns such as Mai Koe, Mai Phyat, Mai Set to Kyengtung. And you can have a visit border country Thailand as well.
Where to stay
There are many hotels to choose from in Tachileik, catering to nearly any taste and budget, including some that also act as casinos.
However, for bungalow accommodation that also comes with a big swimming pool, it is worth taking a look at Hotel Tachileik. Perhaps a more fun option is the Shwe Bu Thee Hotel, which has its own nightclub.
The number of dining options in Tachileik is nearly daunting and the food is generally excellent, although Thai cuisine is naturally quite popular. But it is also easy to find restaurants serving Shan, Akha (another ethnic group), Chinese and some western too. Two local favourites both serve Akha food: the Akhar Zone Restaurant and Akhar Traditional Restaurant; both of which are quite excellent. But for good Chinese or Thai in a lively atmosphere, a visit to the Jazz Café, which is located on the Sports Stadium Street, is in order. Jazz Café is also famous for its ice cream. An excellent coffee option is DIY Café on the road beside the Maha Myatmuni Monastery. The café’s décor is a bit chintzy – there’s plenty of pink on show – but the coffee is great. If you want to eat a good bowl of khao fuen (rice tofu salad), the Khao Fuen and Khao FuenHto shop on San Sai (5) Street is highly recommended.
Enjoy some nightlife as well
Tachileik offers plenty of entertainment after the sun goes down, with a number of bars, clubs, beer stations and casinos lining its streets. Local youths favour a sweet tipple called Lauk Pan that is a mix of alcohol and juice that has a pleasant taste and a strong kick.
Bars including Kyal Tar Yar, Ray Bar, Playhaus, and 999 are all on the main road and easy to reach. More sophisticated clubs include the Red Light Relaxation House, SBT Club, and 88 Point Club.
Shan State is my favourite place to visit again and again whether east or south or north. You can see different culture between east, south and north as Shan State is big enough. I firmly believe travelling sites in eastern Shan State can give satisfaction to both local and foreign travellers.
May you all have a safe trip!
Thiha Lu Lin (Thiha, the Traveller)
Photo :: Thiha Lu Lin, Tena, Sai Hein Mhan
Camera :: SONY Alpha 7II with 16 - 35mm Lens
Photos are modified in Lightroom by Thiha Lu Lin.