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Things to do in the Golden Triangle in Thailand - Chiang Rai

Things to do in the Golden Triangle in Thailand - Chiang Rai

Table Contents
  • The history of Golden Triangle
  • Golden Triangle Park – Observation Deck & Boat-Shaped Sitting Buddha
  • Boat Excursion Along the Mekong River
  • Ban Sop Ruak
  • Wat Phra That Doi Pu Khao
  • Hall of Opium and House of Opium 
  • Three Nations at the Crossroads of History

The Golden Triangle in Thailand, Laos, and Myanmar (Burma), is characterized by the meeting point of the Ruak and Mekong rivers. Acting as the gateway to this distinctive region in Southeast Asia is the Thailand Chiang Rai province in northern Thailand.

The history of Golden Triangle

The region derives its name from its historical significance. Once renowned as the epicenter of opium production and the nucleus of the global opium trade, the Golden Triangle gained its moniker due to the immense value of opium, which was often traded at a rate equivalent to its weight in gold. The picturesque hills of the Golden Triangle were once adorned with vibrant opium poppy fields, cultivated by hill tribe villages deeply involved in the cultivation, extraction, and trade of the drug. However, Thailand has since imposed strict regulations, banning the sale of opium and implementing measures to combat production and trafficking. Efforts have also been made to rehabilitate affected communities by promoting the cultivation of alternative crops such as vegetables and tea.

The Golden Triangle in Thailand view
The Golden Triangle in Thailand view

Despite its somber past, the Golden Triangle has transformed into a serene and tranquil area, bustling with everyday activities. It serves as an ideal destination for day trips, offering a plethora of activities. Visitors can embark on a hike to reach panoramic viewpoints offering stunning vistas from elevated vantage points, or opt for a boat excursion along the Mekong River to experience the region from a different perspective. Relaxing on the boat while admiring the scenic beauty or disembarking at a Laos island to immerse oneself in Lao culture from the vantage point of Thailand are just a few of the options available to visitors.

Explore the South of Thailand
Explore the South of Thailand
5 days 4 nights
Exploring the South of Thailand is a must-see for any foreign visitor of the country. As head down from Bangkok, you will witness the local life of the Thai markets as well as local monasteries with Buddha statues and relics. An excursion to Pletchburi will let you discover not only the great compound of the Royal Palace, built on top of a verdant hill but also the playful monkeys hanging in the trees. As you will go more south to Phuket, you will have the chance to embark on a canoe trip and hike in the Khaosok National Park. Your guide will always be there for you if you have any questions.
From
$720

Golden Triangle Park – Observation Deck & Boat-Shaped Sitting Buddha

Begin your journey by ascending to the Golden Triangle Viewpoint, offering a breathtaking panorama where the Ruak and Mekong rivers converge, delineating the borders of Laos, Thailand, and Myanmar. This vantage point presents a unique opportunity to witness the confluence of three nations and two rivers, encapsulating a pivotal moment in history. Take a moment to absorb the rich tapestry of cultures flourishing within your sight.

Adjacent to the viewpoint stands the Phra Chiang Saen Sii Pandin, an imposing golden Buddha sculpture seated upon a boat-shaped platform. The boat itself, adorned with intricate designs and vibrant stained glass, rivals the splendor of the Buddha statue. Positioned right at the river's edge, the grand boat gleams under the radiant sun, a sight to behold.

Golden Triangle Viewpoint in Thailand Chiang Rai

Boat Excursion Along the Mekong River

After marveling at the river from the elevated viewpoint, embark on a boat journey to intimately connect with this significant waterway. Longtail boats can be chartered for a leisurely cruise along the Mekong River, offering passage between the shores of Thailand, Laos, and Myanmar. Opt for a brief excursion to capture picturesque snapshots or extend your voyage to reach Chiang Saen and beyond.

Exploration along River Kwai and Trek to Erawan Falls
Exploration along River Kwai and Trek to Erawan Falls
4 days 3 nights
Discover the war history in Kanchanaburi, Thailand before diving into the seven-level Erawan Falls. The Thailand-Burma Railways Centre is informative and interactive. Nearby, the Allied War Cemetery contains over 6,000 fallen prisoners of war. Of course, accommodation at the River Kwai Jungle Rafts with its unique floating rooms, are among the many highlights of your stay in this exceptional paradise.
From
$567

Relax and relish the scenic vistas from the comfort of the boat, or make a stop at Don Sao, a charming Lao island nestled in the heart of the river. No visa is required for a visit to Don Sao, offering an authentic glimpse into rural village life. Explore the local market and peruse a variety of exquisite Lao handicrafts, often available at more affordable prices than in Thailand.

Boat Trip in Mekong River
Boat Trip in Mekong River

Ban Sop Ruak

Sop Ruak, named for its location at the confluence of the Mekong and Ruak Rivers, holds significant historical importance as the heart of the Golden Triangle in Thailand. This bustling town serves as a central point for exploring the treasures of the region and facilitates boat crossings into Laos and Myanmar.

The town boasts a single main street that follows the curve of the Mekong River, adorned with stalls offering handicrafts crafted by local artisans and Laotians. Indulge in a delicious fish dinner along the waterfront while witnessing the mesmerizing sunset over the mountains. Throughout the day, visitors can enjoy panoramic views of Laos across the Mekong River, with the Chiang Saen hills forming a picturesque backdrop to the village.

Wat Phra That Doi Pu Khao

Located near the center of Sop Ruak, showcases the remains of an ancient temple believed to have been constructed by the ruler of Wiang Hirannakhon Ngoen Yang, the former capital of the Lanna kingdom. While only the chapel and dilapidated chedis stand today, the brick viharn has been restored, along with a shrine traditionally off-limits to women. Although archaeologists date the temple to the 14th century, local legend suggests its origins trace back as far as the 8th century.

Explore the temple ruins before taking in the breathtaking vistas from the hilltop, which overlooks Sop Ruak, the Mekong River, and vast stretches of the Golden Triangle.

Hall of Opium and House of Opium 

Within the Golden Triangle region, there are two notable museums dedicated to exploring the history of opium, providing invaluable insights into the area's intricate past.

The Hall of Opium Museum stands as the larger of the two establishments. Sponsored by a foundation affiliated with the Thai Royal Family, it delves into the comprehensive historical backdrop of opium and its wide-ranging ramifications on society. Offering an interactive journey, the museum features multimedia displays crafted to impart knowledge in an engaging manner.

The Hall of Opium Museum
The Hall of Opium Museum

In contrast, the House of Opium - Golden Triangle in Thailand, although smaller and privately owned, holds significant historical value. Founded by a local enthusiast with a fervent interest in opium paraphernalia, this museum was born from her extensive collection when the crackdown on the drug trade made such artifacts scarce. Visitors can explore numerous tools utilized in planting, harvesting, and consuming opium, including pipes, scales, and scrapers.

Three Nations at the Crossroads of History

While a brief day trip suffices for witnessing the infamous landmark and capturing photographs, the Golden Triangle region offers ample opportunities for more extensive exploration. Abounding with historical and cultural richness, as well as opportunities for adventure and immersion in nature, there is something to captivate travelers of all interests. Whether seeking educational enlightenment or breathtaking scenery, visitors can explore temples, museums, quaint villages, and the Mae Sai border, embark on mountain treks, or cruise down the Mekong River to Chiang Saen or Chiang Khong.

Cycling the Surroundings of Kanchanaburi
Cycling the Surroundings of Kanchanaburi
3 days 2 nights
Kanchanaburi has a rugged, beautiful landscape of mountains, waterfalls, caves, and tranquil riverside settings. The region is a true treat for nature-lovers as well as for cycling aficionados. In this cycling tour, you will ride off-the-beaten-track trails through Kanchanaburi’s beautiful scenery, while taking in sights like the Bridge Over the River Kwai and the Hellfire Pass. The cycling trails will take you through stunning countryside, past small local villages, teak plantations, and even jungle tracks. The scenery is awe-inspiring with limestone cliffs punctuating a mountainous skyline that rolls toward Burma in the west. The journey will end at the Hellfire Pass, a historical spot famous for those who lost their lives building the Death Railway during World War II. The adventure also includes a ride on this historic railway before returning to Kanchanaburi.
From
$562

Additionally, visitors have the unique opportunity to interact with elephants in the area, with luxurious sanctuaries such as the Four Seasons Golden Triangle Tented Camp or Anantara Golden Triangle and Elephant Camp offering life-changing experiences.

Most excursions in the region afford the chance to witness the convergence of three countries and two rivers at a singular point, an extraordinary spectacle that serves as a focal point of global history.

For those seeking an unforgettable adventure in the Golden Triangle in Thailand, Adventure Asia is your go-to choice!Things to do in the Golden Triangle in Thailand - Chiang Rai

Adventure Asia specializes in providing unique expedition options tailored for experienced adventure enthusiasts. Our focus is on delivering authentically styled adventures, distinct from the typical tourist-oriented itineraries commonly found elsewhere. Contact us today to embark on an extraordinary journey through the Golden Triangle.

Table of contents
  • The history of Golden Triangle
  • Golden Triangle Park – Observation Deck & Boat-Shaped Sitting Buddha
  • Boat Excursion Along the Mekong River
  • Ban Sop Ruak
  • Wat Phra That Doi Pu Khao
  • Hall of Opium and House of Opium 
  • Three Nations at the Crossroads of History
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