Thursday, March 19, 2015

Thailand's Golden Triangle

Historically the term 'the Golden Triangle' applies to the opium growing region covering northern Thailand, eastern Myanmar (Burma) and western Laos. However, since the production and use of opium has been illegal in Thailand since 1959, the term is now more widely used to mean the meeting point of the Thai, Burmese and Loas borders. On the Thai side, this meeting point is at the small town of Sop Ruak.

Some 18 miles from Chiang Rai, Sop Ruak is not only situated on the border of three countries, but it also sits on a junction between the Mekong and Ruak rivers. The town has a small museum dedicated to all things opium and here you can get a feel of what an opium den was like.

At the southern-most point of the ‘triangle’ lies the ancient city of Chiang Saen. Now, just a small village, it was once a major crossroads and trade route. Today remnants of the ancient city walls and moat are still visible in the ruins.

The Golden Triangle is now a popular tourist destination with visitors typically visiting Sop Ruak, Chiang Saen and (when the border crossing is open) a small town in Myanmar (Burma) for some shopping. The whole area is very picturesque – the vistas across the river to Laos and Myanmar are breathtaking and there are several pleasant open-air restaurants offering panoramic views.

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