Historically the Golden Triangle has been an area well-known for the growing of opium, and the name comes from a US State Department memo on the practice. These days, though, the place lives on the cultivation of tourists, and this is undoubtedly the largest tourist trap in northern Thailand.
The landscape is hilly, divided by the Ruak River that flows into the Mekong (Mae Khong) River. These rivers form a natural boundary between the three countries Laos (to the east of the Mekong), Myanmar (to the north of the Ruak), and Thailand (to the west of the Mae Khong).
Thailand and China, particularly Yunnan province. These peoples are collectively known by the name "hilltribes" as they have all subsisted in the mountainous jungle for generations. However, beyond their characteristic montagnard lifestyle, it is difficult (and incorrect) to lump these people under a general heading. These peoples represent a myriad of languages, cultures, styles of dress and belief systems.
Travel approximately 9 kilometers north of old town Chiang Saen, along the road parallel to the Mekong River to the area where the borders of Thailand, Myammar and Laos converge. This area where the Mekong River meets the Ruak River is locally referred to as "Sop Ruak". Within this area are remains of many ancient places and structures attesting to the fact that the area had been settled by people in the past. It is also the area where various legends concerning the Lanna ancestors originate.
Its a LONG journey until you find the Golden Triangle, a border between Laos, Myanmar and Thailand. You will not see nothing in Laos if you cross by boat, except some litlle wooden stores that sells the same products in Thailand. The only thing I bought there were some coins for my collection.
You will find some statues and monuments, but in my opinion its not a worth it.
We were picked up at 7.30 am from Julie Guesthouse by our guide where we get to transfer to our mini van for our Golden Triangle, Chiang Rai and Long Neck Tour for the day.
Our first stop was to Pong Num Ron Hot Spring. Here you will see lots of tribal people with baskets of eggs. You could either purchase your our basket of eggs and cook it yourself or have those already cooked and just fish out from the hot spring well.
This is a natural hot spring and you could head down to the stream and touch the hot spring water. Some even went for a dip in the hot spring.
Well be careful becasue this is the opium capital of the world so I hear. It is interesting to stand and be in one country and be able to see the tips of two others. They also have boat rides around the area, we had no time but to get out of the van take a few pictures and get back in the van. Just remember this is why you take your malaria pills is for places like this.
It is a day trip drive but you will get no relaxation time we drove there did our things and drove back, still good to see other things like the golden triangle and we went to the border of Burma I only wish we could have walked across.
Golden Triangle - A whole day trip and a long one as it is several hours drive from Chiang Mai. But it is worth it once you get there. Amazing to see three countries meet plus you can go on a longtail boat along the
river and step into Laos or Mynamar. You also visit hot springs, the border with Mynamar (but they tell you not to go over as it is pretty lawless). You have lunch on the banks of the Meekhong River in Chaeng Saen and then visit a couple of hill tribes
where you can buy their crafts and so on. You can also do this tour and visit the longneck hill tribe which is worth it.
Mae Khone River, longest river in Southeast Asia.
Rising in Tsinghai province, China, it flows through the eastern part of the Tibet Autonomous Region and Yunnan province, after which it forms part of the international border between Myanmar (Burma) and Laos, as well as between Laos and Thailand, also flowing through Laos, Cambodia (Kampuchea), and Vietnam before draining into the South China Sea.
From Chiang Mai, you can take a day exursion to the Chiang Saen/ Golden Triangle area. It' s best to do this when you have a lot of time-since there are some nice things to see. We didn't have much time-so blitzed it and did it in a day trip. There are some beautiful temples in Chiang Saen. The highlight of the area is the golden triangle. The golden triangle is the area where the Mekong river touches three countries-Thailand, Laos and Burma. From Thailand you have a wonderful view of the other two. You can take a longtail boat ride on the Mekong. This is a lot of fun and quite refreshing after a hot day.
The boat ride makes a trip into Laos. To me, this wasn't real Laos. The area they call Laos-has no real local people. Just a few shops in the woods. You can mail postcards and say you were in Laos or get a Beer Lao.
The drive to the area from Chiang Mai takes around 4 to 5 hours each way. There is an interesting Opium museum in Chiang Rai
Warning-there is no malaria in chiang mai, but there is evidence of it in Chiang Rai and golden triangle.