Updated May 2018
Maybe I shouldn’t be doing a drug blast on my blog, but it’s true, if you go to the mountain town of Doi Pui, about a 45-minute drive from downtown Chiang Mai, you will find opium growing. It’s all in the name of tourism. Welcome to week 216 (02/26/2015) of Travel Photo Thursday.
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A small fee of 10 Baht (about .30) will take you to the opium poppies.
There’s 3 or 4 poppy “beds” growing here, and as you can see they come in a variety of colours.
Where does the opium come from? Well, if you look at the green “pod” you’ll see that milky yellow/brownish secretion. From my research, I’ve learned that stuff is scrapped off and air dried, and that’s the opium. You can read more here. Although the Thai government maintains that opium production has been eradicated from Thailand, I’ve read differing opinions on the Internet. It seems that if you know where to go that you can probably score some in Chiang Rai. However, that’s just what I’ve read. I have no first-hand experience.
During the Vietnam War, the biggest producer was the Golden Triangle (Thailand, Laos, and Burma). Both Thailand and Laos have eliminated opium production (or so they say). However, Burma (Myanmar) is among the top 3 producers of illegal opium (Afghanistan and Columbia are the other two).
Here’s another view of the pods growing in the Doi Pui gardens.
I think it’s strange that the Thai government is okay with growing the (supposedly illegal) opium poppies at Doi Pui, for visitors/tourists to see. However, it was interesting to get to view first hand, and joke about whether anyone would notice if we helped ourselves to a pod or two (which we didn’t!).
In case you’re wondering where you might find legal opium production you can go to India, Turkey, and Australia. About 2000 tons are produced annually and used to produce medicinal products.
Opening Hours: Tuesday – Sunday. 08.30 – 17.30 (Last admission:16.00)
Hall of Opium
Golden Triangle Park
Chiang Saen, Chiang Rai, Thailand.
Tel. 053 784 444-6 Fax. 053 652 133
Best to call ahead to confirm opening hours and admission fees.
Have you ever seen opium poppies, or visited the Hall of Opium?
This is the 216th edition of Travel Photo Thursday. You can browse the archives here.
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