For this post, I would like to return to my previous trip to Chiang Rai. It turns out that there are still a couple more postings on that trip to this northern-most province of Thailand, before I proceed to write about the neighbouring Chiang Mai. If you happen to visit Chiang Rai, you might want to spare some time to visit the northern borders of Thailand. The most famous spot to do so is the Golden Triangle. This area is also known as Sop Ruak by the locals and it is the meeting point of Ruak River and Mekong River. From this spot, visitors will be able to see the neighbouring Myanmar to the North as well as Laos to the East.
Before the large scale royal projects were carried out to improve the welfare of the people in northern Thailand, the Golden Triangle is notoriously known as the main opium production region in Asia. Traces of this dark past can be found in the nearby House of Opium, a small museum dedicated to the history of opium making in the region, and a larger scaled Hall of Opium further down the road. Hall of Opium is considered as one of the best museums in the country with comprehensive displays and information. Unfortunately, I didn’t get the chance to visit this place at it was closed on Mondays. Too bad!
As in other places in Thailand, there is a temple by the river in the area with large golden Buddha statue and several big elephant statues as well. But for better view of the area, you should visit another temple nearby called Wat Prathat Pukhao, on the hill overlooking the river. Here visitors can climb the staircase up to the observation platform of the temple to have better view of the surrounding area. But I must warn you that it took me more effort than I thought to reach the observation deck. Once you reach the top you can also find a standing Buddha statue on a view point high up the hill. Here you will be spoilt with the scenery of the river and the area below, as well as the opportunity to catch some breaths.
And if you have even more time, you could a boat trip along the river to get better view of Myanmar and Laos. The highlight of the boat trip would be a short visit to Don Sao, a small island by the Mekong river which belongs to Laos. While it might not need a visa to visit the island, you will need to pay some fee upon entering the island. While it probably not too many things to see in the island, you can definitely boast that you have been to Laos, even if it was only to a very small part of this nation.
Some people might argue that there are not a lot to see in this area, but the trip to Golden Triangle is one of the main attractions in northern Thailand. And this is made evident by the fact that most of tour providers in this part of the kingdom included Golden Triangle in their itinerary. In mu opinion, this place is somewhat interesting especially in regard the history of the region. In my next post, I will write about the Doi Tung Royal Villa which will be my last post on my trip to Chiang Rai. Until then!