Golden Triangle: Following in the Footsteps of Opium Kings
The Golden Triangle is a geographical area located in a mountainous region where Northern Thailand, Northeastern Burma (Myanmar) and Northwestern/Central Laos come to meet at the joining of the Ruak and Mekong Rivers, which, in the middle of the last century became notorious as the world’s main center for the opium trade.
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Golden Triangle: Mekong Riverfront – Sop Ruak Village
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 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
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)
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 several people – about 400-500 baht for 1.5 hours
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.