The Golden Triangle, Thailand

Overview

The Golden Triangle, known locally as Sop Ruak, is a hilly and forested area in northern Thailand where it meets Laos and Myanmar (Burma). It has a peaceful landscape with coffee farms, traditional villages, slow rivers, and an elephant sanctuary.

History

This area has a turbulent past, with years of conflict among Thai, Lao, Khmer, and Burmese people. In the mid-20th century, it became a major opium-producing region. In the 1970s, King Rama IX of Thailand helped farmers switch to growing crops like coffee and tea, improving the villages.

Chiang Saen

Chiang Saen is a quiet town by the river and was once the capital of the Lanna kingdom. You’ll find old structures like chedi (stupas) and the large Golden Buddha statue from the 13th century.

Anantara Golden Triangle Resort

This luxury resort offers views of Thailand, Laos, and Myanmar. You can also see the meeting point of the Mekong and Ruak rivers. The resort has an elephant conservation park where you can walk with caretakers and watch elephants bathe.

Activities

The resort offers activities like biking to Sop Ruak village, taking boat trips on the Mekong River, visiting rice farms, and exploring ancient temples.

Hall of Opium

Visit the Hall of Opium museum to learn about the history of opium in Asia. It has interactive exhibits in English about opium’s role in trade and its impact on people.

Crossing to Myanmar

We can arrange a trip to Mae Sai where you can cross into Myanmar to visit Tachileik. It’s a busy town where you can see a Shan-style temple.

Mountain Villages

We can also organize tours to visit markets and villages of the Akha and Mien (Yao) tribes near the border. These areas are less visited by tourists, so you get a unique experience.

Fish Cave (Tham Pla)

Just 30 minutes from Mae Sai, Fish Cave is a temple with steep stairs and great views. You can explore two caves and see many monkeys around the temple.

Mae Salong

Mae Salong is an hour southwest and has a Chinese influence. Settled by Chinese soldiers in 1949, it has a distinct Yunnanese dialect, TV, and food.

Best Time to Visit

The Golden Triangle is cooler than the rest of Thailand. The best time to visit is from November to March, with warm days and cool nights. February and March can be hazy, and April can be hot and rainy.

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MAP VIEW
LIST VIEW

Thailand ⟩ Koh Samui

Thailand ⟩ Koh Tao

Thailand ⟩ Chiang Mai

Thailand ⟩ Golden Triangle

Thailand ⟩ Phuket Island

Thailand ⟩ Phi Phi Islands

Thailand ⟩ Phang Nga

Thailand ⟩ Krabi Island

Thailand ⟩ Khao Lak

Thailand ⟩ Khao Yai

Photos of Golden Triangle

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    • James
    • Asia Specialist
    • Linh
    • Thailand and Asia Specialist
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