Exploring the Three Pagodas Pass
The Three Pagodas Pass is a melting pot of cultures offering much more than a border market stop.
The route running west from the mountainous town of Sangkhlaburi to Thai border combines the cultures of Thailand, Myanmar, and the Mon Minority groups.
The Three Pagodas Pass is also home to some beautiful natural attractions not to miss. Here’s just a glimpse of what you’ll experience:
- Showering in cascading waterfalls
- Tubing through the jungle
- Off-road motorcycle adventures
- Exploring a busy border market
- Getting in touch with Burmese culture
To properly explore the Three Pagodas pass you’ll need your own wheels and a place to stay in Sangkhlaburi.
A motorcycle in town costs about 200 Thai baht per day plus fuel.
Riverside Restaurants and Tubing on the Three Pagodas Pass
One of my favorite stops along the Three Pagodas Pass is a set of small bamboo huts thatched together on the riverside.
Veer off the main road just after the concrete bridge and head down the small dirt trail. Here you can enjoy a nice selection of classic Thai dishes such as muu da diaw fried sun-dried pork, nua yang grilled beef and yum kai daow spicy salad with fried egg.
After lunch is finished hit the river tubing through the jungle Vang Vieng style or just chill out in the bamboo hut.
Waterfalls on the Three Pagodas Pass
Here we explore the badly signposted Takhiantong Waterfall. After turning off from the main road continue down a winding overgrown route for the next few kilometers. When the road comes to an end at the National Park HQ its time to pay the entry fee (30thb for Thais and 200thb for foreigners) and start the jungle trekking.
The Takhianthong Waterfall is an adventurous trek through dense jungle, making river crossings by bamboo raft bridges. The falls themselves are not huge in comparison to the other top waterfalls in Thailand, but it does make for a great solo jungle trekking experience.
On a recent trip along the Three Pagodas Pass, I came across a new waterfall which seems to have been carved out of the forest. This waterfall is so newly discovered that it doesn’t appear to have earned a name yet, however, see the photos below and I guarantee you’ll be searching for it.
In my opinion, Sangkhlaburi competes with Chiang Rai for the most impressive waterfalls in Thailand.
Burmese Farming Communities and Off-Road Trails
The farming communities are not listed as official attractions nor will they be signposted anywhere. The makeshift villages are more discreetly hidden in the jungle, concealed behind dense rubber tree plantations.
Following any small dirt trail off the main road for even a few hundred meters will reveal a totally different picture than is apparent to the passerby traffic. Seemingly from nowhere families appear on motorbikes along the network of dirt tracks leading deep into the forest and over the border.
The Three Pagodas and Border Market
The end of the Three Pagodas Pass has the Three Pagodas themselves, the bustling border market and a glimpse of Myanmar on the other side.
Honestly, the Three Pagodas are nothing much more than the centerpiece of a busy market. Take a photo and move on.
The market is a little more interesting. Ther is a selection of Thai and Burmese goods to choose from such; as fresh samosas, jade carvings, wooden furniture, odd-looking jungle plants and Burmese-style Genuine Scottish Whiskey (totally fake).
Now with this information about the Three Pagodas Pass, I guarantee that you’ll want to be making more out of the trip than a photo of Myanmar’s flag.
What was your favorite attraction along the Three Pagodas Pass? I’ve heard there are also some pretty cool caves which I’d like to check out next time. If you’ve been please send me some photos!