Tak: 138km (86 miles) W of Phitsanulok. Mae Sot: 80km (50 miles) W of Tak
Tak Province doesn't get a lot of tourists, possibly because there are no major attractions in the provincial capital, In fact many come here simply to use Mae Sot for an easy “visa run”—entering Myanmar for the day to get an exit stamp and renew their Thai visa. But the region is certainly not lacking in natural beauty, situated as it is at the beginning of the mountainous north. It is home to the Bhumibol Dam, the country's largest, and the area is covered in lush forests that offer a quiet retreat at Taksin Maharat and Lan Sang national parks, both about 25km (16 miles) west of Tak. Just a few kilometers from the border with Myanmar (Burma), Mae Sot displays all the hallmarks of a small border town. For decades it has played host to camps that take in an endless stream of refugees fleeing from Myanmar, many of whom are from the persecuted Karen tribe. There is a palpable Burmese influence in the way people dress and what they eat. The area is known for trading teak wood and gemstones (buyer beware) along with a black-market border crossing of drugs and sex workers. Because of these border tensions, the province is likely to stay relatively undeveloped in terms of tourism for the foreseeable future. Most visitors in Mae Sot are on their way to Umphang, some 150km (93 miles) south along one of the country's most hair-raising roads. Umphang boasts Ti Lor Sui, Thailand's most spectacular waterfall, and some of the best trekking and whitewater rafting in the kingdom, making the arduous journey there worthwhile.