Chiang Rai: The Golden Triangle for Travel Photo Thursday

Posted by on Jan 15, 2015 in Chiang Rai, Destinations, Featured, Thailand, Travel Photo Thursday | 25 comments

This past weekend I went on a meditation retreat in the very north of Thailand, close to the Thai city of Chiang Rai (The retreat deserves a post of its own.). Between the chanting and the meditation we did have time to do a bit of sightseeing, and we were treated to some awesome views of the South East Asia’s Golden Triangle. For this Travel Photo Thursday (#210/January, 15, 2015) here are some of the shots that I took that day from one of the viewpoints overlooking the Golden Triangle from the Thailand side.

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The Golden Triangle

The Golden Triangle is where the borders of Laos, Myanmar, and Thailand meet, and the Mekong River meets the Ruak. The official Thai name is  Saam Liam Thong Kham. However, to the locals it is simply known as Sop Ruak. Historically the area is known as being on of the largest producers of opium in the world. However, these days, about the only thing that is being cultivated (at least officially) is the tourist trade, and the casinos. Although gambling is illegal in Thailand, the Thais flock to the casinos; one in Myanmar and one in Laos. Small boats ferry the passengers to the casino of their choice.

Looking at the Myanmar border. The red roof marks the casino complex.


The Golden Triangle

You’re looking at Laos. You can probably guess what the building is with the golden dome. Apparently, this casino is owned by a rich Chinese business man. Many years ago I took a tour from Chiang Mai, and part of the tour included taking a boat to Laos where you could shop in a  tourist village, and mail a postcard with a Laos postmark. Tacky, yes, but, being my first time to the area, it was a little novel.


Thailand's Golden Triangle


One final shot of this picturesque area…


Golden Triangle

 Travelers Tip

If you are in Chiang Mai and want to visit the Golden Triangle, there are many tours available. Just go to one of the many tour operators dotting the streets in the old city. A day tour will cost you about $30.00US, and will include other local attractions such as the Opium Museum and the White Temple. The person who sells you your ticket will know the exact itinerary. Lunch is generally included.

Have you been to the Golden Triangle? What did you think?


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  1. I have yet to visit this area but our friends have several times. One of these days…. Looking forward to another year of Travel Photo Thursday. Wishing you happy travels in 2015.

    • Hi Jill. Thanks! I’m not sure how much epic travel is going to happen in 2015, but we’ll see. The North of Thailand is a great area to explore. Much less populated than the South, and just very different.

  2. I’ve been to Thailand but haven’t been Triangle Area. It all sound so interesting but I I so look forward to hear about your meditation retreat!

    • Hi Marisol… It is an interesting area. For me at least, one of the nice things about the area is that it is less populated than the rest of Thailand, so a much slower pace of life.

  3. I have been to Thailand and Vietnam but not to this area. I’m planning to do so within the next year or so. Myanmar was recently listed as one of the top 10 travel destinations for 2015 so it must be special.

    • Hi Kathy. I spent a month in Myanmar a few years ago, and it definitely is special.

  4. A meditation retreat? Sounds interesting, please tell us more about it (^_^)

    • Hi Lili…I promise to do that 🙂

  5. Oh I am back! Felt like something missing the last few weeks, not having enough internet to link up and never being near a cafe on the right day to do so in a timely manner. I have to say these casinos are much more beautiful than those that line “The Strip” in Vegas, Nancie!!!

    • Hi Jackie…Welcome back. Sorry I am slow in responding. I was sick all weekend, and then I decided to have a fight with the pavement, so I am bit bruised and battered (silly me). Yep, they like their casinos pretty here 🙂

  6. Well that is quite scenic. I never made it that far north and regret it, but one of these days I’ll be up in that triangle to explore the stunning landscape

    • Hi Noel. If your in the North it is worth a visit!

  7. It certainly is a picturesque area. So they stopped growing opium and grew casinos instead!

    • Hi Jan. Haha…that’s about it. Sometimes I wonder if the opium production is 100% gone, but that’s just me thinking out loud. 🙂

  8. I’m all about visiting multiple countries in one trip. I would love to visit the Golden Triangle and I would have done the whole postcard thing too. What an interesting and beautiful area. Looking forward to your meditation post.

    • Hi Mary. It is quirky and fun to visit more than one country in not only a day, but in probably less than an hour! 🙂

  9. That last photo is triangular indeed, although I know that’s not specifically what the nickname is referring to. I visited Chiang Mai but we didn’t have a chance to get up to Chiang Rai and the Golden Triangle. I wonder if they’ve really eliminated opium production or if that’s just the story they’re telling. I’m interested in hearing more about the meditation retreat. I am such a chatterbox that I think they’d kick me out after a few minutes for disrupting the calm that imagine accompanies such events.

    • Hi Michele. I sometimes wonder about the opium production, too. There’s lots of hills where things can be hidden from view. Hard to know if it’s been completely wiped out or not.

  10. I have been to the Golden Triangle but so many years ago that there certainly weren’t any casinos or tourist villages. Back in the day both Loas and Burma were off limits to foreigners and it really was an opium area. there was no question of popping over to another country, you just had to look. Looking forward to sharing travel inspiration for another year with you Nancie.

    • Hi Phoebe. Interesting that you were there in the opium days. Must have been a lot different than it is now.

  11. I am loving your in depth recommendations from this part of the world. We have yet to visit, but I will be consulting your work when we do. This is a great example of an off-the-beaten path destination for newcomers.

  12. Hi Phoebe. My travels have not brought me to this area. You make it sound intriguing!
    BonVoyageurs recently posted “Halong Bay: A Nature Lover’s Paradise” :

  13. Although I’d heard of the Golden Triangle as it related to the opium trade I appreciated your geography and history lesson of this fascinating area. Gorgeous photos and I can’t wait to visit this intriguing and beautiful area.

  14. Don’t know if we’ll ever get to Chiang Rai but it looks very beautiful.

  15. Great post. this is next on my traveling list. It’s amazing


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