Along Highway 105, 20km (12 miles) west of Tak, a left turn leads to Lan Sang National Park (tel. 05557-7207), where there are hiking trails and waterfalls, and on weekdays usually no visitors. About 5km (3 miles) farther along H105, a right turn leads to Taksin Maharat National Park (tel. 05551-1429), known as the home of Krabak Yai, Thailand's largest tree. A hike brings you to this colossal tree beside a stream -- it takes 16 people's stretched arms to wrap around the conifer. Accommodations are available at both parks and admission to each is 200B for adults and 100B for children. For more information, check out the Thai national parks website, www.dnp.go.th.
Mae Sot is perched on the Myanmar border, and the area is always buzzing with trade. The town has a surplus of Burmese woven cotton blankets, lacquerware, jewelry, bronze statues, cotton sarongs, and wicker ware. Business is conducted in Thai baht, U.S. dollars, or Myanmar kyat.
There is a dark side to the border, though: Trade means the movement of not just produce and crafts, but also drugs, precious stones, and women (or children) for prostitution. There's something disquieting about the many European luxury cars parked in front of two-story brick homes lining this village's main street -- they hint at the substantial illegal profiteering. Be careful about buying gems unless you know what you're doing; you can find yourself walking away with a handful of plastic and a dent in your wallet. The border also sees a heavy flow of refugees, and there are a number of camps in the surrounding hills. Speak with your hotel or guesthouse about how to donate financially to these camps, some of which accept volunteers for the day.
The border between Mae Sot (at the town of Rim Moei) and Myawaddy, Myanmar, is open daily from 8am to 4:30pm, and -- when relations are good -- you can cross the bridge on foot or by car for a day for 500B. You'll need to leave your passport at the Myanmar immigration booth, and pick it up by 4:30pm. Many visitors cross just for a walk around Myawaddy and a glimpse of Burmese culture. Remember that any official fees you pay to the Myanmar government only add to the coffers of the junta, though.
Trekking and rafting in the area around Umphang is very popular, especially to visit the fabulous Ti Lor Su waterfall, which cascades down a cliff in several plumes, and is at its best around October and November. Umphang Hill Resort (tel. 05556-1063; www.umphanghill.com) provides basic lodging (rooms 500B-2,000B) in the tiny town of Umphang, and organizes a variety of trekking and rafting tours in the region, lasting between a day and a week. Prices work out to around 1,500B per person per day, depending on the size of the group.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.