Most Popular Sights of the Golden Triangle (Thailand) 2023

The Golden Triangle (thai: สามเหลี่ยมทองคำ, săam lìiam tong kam) is a geographical area in Southeast Asia located in the mountainous region where Northern Thailand, Northeast Myanmar, and Northwest Laos meet at the confluence of the Ruak and Mekong rivers, which became infamous as a leading global opium trade center in the middle of the last century.

Golden Triangle Viewpoint

Golden Triangle Thailand

To see the confluence of the Ruak and Mekong rivers and the borders of Thailand, Myanmar and Laos, head to the observation deck of the Golden Triangle. Don’t forget to take a commemorative photo. This is your once-in-a-lifetime chance to see the meeting place of three nations and two rivers, which have left a significant mark on modern history.

This tourist route can be combined with the Chiang Rai loop, in this case, the route can take from 2 to 5 days, depending on what attractions you want to see and how fast you will ride a motorcycle. Also, about 2-3 hours away from the Golden Triangle is the famous Phu Chi Fa Mountain, which offers stunning views of neighboring Laos.

Mekong Riverfront & Sop Ruak Village

Sop Ruak Golden Triangle

The village of Sop Ruak is located on the Thai side of the Mekong River. Here you can stroll along the waterfront admiring the wonderful views and admire the big Golden Buddha, sitting in the center of the composition, depicting a boat over the Mekong. Other attractions include; a statue of Ganesha, Happy Buddha, huge elephants, and other tourist attractions.

Wat Phra That Doi Pu Khao

Wat Phra That Phu Khao

This 1200-year-old temple on the hill above the village certainly deserves a visit. The temple itself is interesting for admirers of antiquities and people not alien to the aesthetic component. But, most importantly, from its observation platform, it offers a wonderful view of the three countries – Thailand, Burma, and Laos. Here it becomes clear why the Golden Triangle is a triangle and if you would like to understand why it is golden you should visit the Opium Museum or Opium Hall.

Opium Museum and Opium Hall

Opium Museum

The Opium Museum is small but gives a fairly complete picture of the history of the Golden Triangle. Here you can learn everything about growing and smoking opium. There is also information about the mountain people who grew the opium poppy and the heyday of the Golden Triangle (the 70s). There are some Interesting exhibits and a good souvenir shop. Entrance ticket – 50 baht.

The Opium Hall is essentially the same as the Museum, but much larger, more detailed and more interesting. Entrance ticket is a little more expensive – 300 baht.

Don Sao Island (Laos)

Don Sao Island Golden Triangle

Right on the waterfront village you can negotiate a river trip and visit the island of Don Sao, owned by Laos. There are no sights on this island, only a market with cheap fakes of fashion brands – but the very fact that you visited another country is quite the excitement in itself, plus its worth the ride across the river!

Entrance ticket onto the island – 30 baht

A boat for few people – about 400-500 baht for 1.5 hours

Chiang Saen

Chiang Saen Golden Triangle Thailand

Chiang Saen is the oldest city in Northern Thailand and for some time (not long) was its capital. Here you can admire the picturesque ruins of the fortress walls from XIII-XIV centuries, buildings and a couple of temples of the XIV century: Wat Pa Sak and Wat Jaro That Chedi Luang.

Simultaneously with the visit to the Golden Triangle, you can visit Mae Hong Son and Doi Ang Khang. If you are traveling to the Golden Triangle area for one day, then in this case you need to leave Chiang Mai at about 5 am, and in this case, at about 7-8 pm you will return back.

If you haven’t seen our travel guide with all the main attractions in Chiang Mai, you should check it out. You might find some new ideas for your trip to Northern Thailand.

Weather Forecast

YT Video Review

Review #1

Oscar and Dan do a review for you about a luxury vacation there, staying at Anantara Golden Triangle Elephant Camp & Resort. Honestly, it’s impressive.

Review #2

If you think there is only one luxury hotel in these remote locations, then you are underestimating the popularity of this place among tourists. The Four Seasons Tented Camp Golden Triangle is nestled in the jungle forest overlooking the Mekong, and has everything you need for a comfortable and luxurious vacation in nature, will surprise you.

Review #3

Explore the Golden Triangle with Chai Travel

Review #4

Another short but quite informative report from Travel Notes YT Channel

FAQ

The cheapest way to get to the Golden Triangle is Green Bus 1661, which departs daily from Chiang Mai at 11 am to noon. Tickets cost about 400 baht, travel time 7 hours.

You can book a private transfer for your trip to the Golden Triangle. If you prefer to travel in your own car, then we recommend that you use the EconomyBookings and RentalCars websites to find the best car rental rates among all major Chiang Mai rentals.

You can also rent a motorbike in Chiang Mai from our company, and explore the place and surroundings on your own.

The Golden Triangle region of Thailand is worth a visit. First, this place, which used to be a significant drug production center, is full of fascinating history, culture, and beautiful scenery. You can explore ancient ruins and local Buddhist temples, visit local markets, take a boat ride on the Mekong River, and visit Laos without applying for a visa. Secondly, there are many other activities, such as elephant riding, trekking in the mountains, and kayaking. We recommend combining a trip to the Golden Triangle with a visit to Chiang Rai.

It all started after the end of World War II. The opium poppy, the traditional crop of Southeast Asia, became an element of big politics and an interest of several political forces: the Chinese Kuomintang (the armed factions opposed to Mao Zedong), the nationalist Shan movement (Myanmar), and several others. Each of these forces had its own goals and objectives, but all wanted money.

The hard-to-reach mountainous areas of three neighboring countries, where opium poppy had become a significant crop, became known as the Golden Triangle because of the fabulous profits generated by the drug trade.

The Golden Triangle region has historically been known for opium production and smuggling. In the 20th century, the mountainous area at the intersection of Myanmar, Thailand, and Laos was the world’s largest opium-producing region. As a result, it was a major source of illicit drugs for the international market, enriching local drug lords with unprecedented profits.

The Golden Triangle is located in Southeast Asia at the intersection of Thailand, Laos, and Myanmar. While Laos and Myanmar are now covered with dense forests, Thailand has become a tourist magnet that attracts thousands daily.

The Golden Triangle is one of the most remote regions of Northern Thailand. So you have to rent a bike in Chiang Mai, or hire a car with a driver to visit the place. If you are traveling by private vehicle, read our tips for driving safely on public roads in Thailand.

Cat Motors Team

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