This is actually the first time I am in Chiang Rai. Prior to the trip, our plan was to cross over to the Burmese border to have a look around so we looked for hotels around the area of Mae Sai which is where the border gateway stands between Thailand and Burma. There are a few motels in Mae Sai and the bigger more prestigious ones are near the route to the Golden Triangle. As we wanted to be near as possible without having to drive across the immigration check-point, we found this motel just a five minute walk away. At this point we were more anxious about proximity rather than high-end comfort and some place that afforded ample parking for the car that was safe and convenient. The name of the motel was Kongkam House. This motel is situated in a back alley just behind border control on the Thai side. It is just a short walk to the canal bridge to cross over to Burma.
Coming from the Mae Fah Luang Chiang Rai International Airport along the highway and reaching Mae Sai town, you keep to the left as you approach the border gates and turn left into a small lane between two rows of shops at the end of the road. It is a slight up and down ride under the pedestrian bridge and the hotel is at a T-junction on your right. Occupying the corner lot, it may not seem much but on closer look you can see it is quite a nice and pleasant little place that is more than well worth their price. We were greeted by a nice gentleman who was very accommodating and polite but not sure if he was the owner of the motel. We were there for 2 nights and it rained on several occasions and this nice man took the trouble to bring us umbrellas all the way to the car park to see us out of the car. You seldom get this service even from bellboys at big hotels unless you are right up their drive way, so this is a great plus point for service from this little motel.
The reception area was nicely decorated in a rustic Lanna flavour with teak chairs, rice stalk lamps and colourful cushions to make you feel at home. Next to the reception is the little dinning room with open wooden shuttered windows that affords you a view of daily life on the streets. They even have a small bar area and music podium for a band. I was amused with the fact that the owner of this place really took the trouble to make the motel outstanding even when it comes under the classification of a 2 star accommodation.
A beautiful wooden sculptured panel adorns the reception area with nice colonial French styled occasional chairs, not minding that the consistency of style is a little off but it tied in nicely all the same and looked welcoming nonetheless. Cleanliness of the place also seems to be a priority as lockers are provided for shoes downstairs to keep them in and house slippers are provided for you to walk around in while on the premises. That makes me wonder if that is why the residential cat is so well kept and groomed!
The cost of accommodation includes breakfast for two and what I really like about this place is they offer you as much toast as you like and you get a good view in the mornings as you watch people going about their simple daily lives from Burmese kids going to school, monks on their way to collect alms from the nearby temple and traders going about their work day. Sometimes it is good to bring yourself back down to reality when you watch these scenes play itself out which is why travelling is a great way to appreciate the wonders around you.
Our room was on the first floor, this is a walk-up motel as it is only four floors but the rooms are remarkably clean, spacious and well designed. Each room comes complete with basic amenities including a small fridge, hot showers, towels, air conditioning and off course the necessary WiFi (which you do not have to pay extra for).
I have to admit that I was quite pleased with this choice of budget accomodation in Mae Sai which was very reasonably priced, very clean and comfortable and had very good service. The only thing is there is no daily turn down service but that was fine by me as we were only here for two nights. The room decor reflected the overall ambience of wooden finishes with touches of colour here and there in the decor, all very Northern Thai in design. One thing about small motels like these is that you do get good personal service and they are always very obliging. So one travel hack is that when you look for motels, sometimes it is good to choose a family-run establishment.
Even the bathroom, though a little small was well equipped with a relatively good water heater and other complimentary shower items including bathroom slippers! (I think the owner just practically thought of everything to make it feel like home for his guests)
Our room came with two single beds but there are also double beds and some rooms for three persons are also available on request. Beds are standard hotel quality which means you get a good night sleep and if you are bored, there is always the TV but mostly Thai channels.
If you intend to cross over to Burma, it is a short walk under the pedestrian bridge and up some stairs which will bring you right behind the immigration building. Keep in mind that if you are planning to cross the border that you have either a multiple entry visa or if I am not mistaken the new regulation is if it is a first time re-entry you can obtain an additional 30 days but it is best to check this before you cross over as immigration regulations may differ from time to time and the visa entry is USD10 per person.
Kongkam House is ideally located for you to explore the Mae Sai area and into Burma. It can be fairly quiet at nights and not exactly the party city but the purpose to come all this way north is to enjoy the serenity and great outdoors of the northern territories. It is also a short walk from the motel to the main road where there is plenty of street food at night and small cafes to enjoy your evenings. There is no lack of variety in this small sleepy hollow of a town if you care to explore it, even by foot as things are not that far apart in the city centre with only one main road. It is a great place to spend a few nights exploring the Northern most city in Thailand.