Golden Triangle Driving Tour



Golden Triangle Driving Tour

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The Golden Triangle is a 75,000 sq-mile (195,000 sq-km) area spanning parts of Thailand, Laos, and Myanmar (Burma). The area is historically connected to the opium and heroin trades (thus “golden”), but it has much more to interest visitors. This tour takes in its best features: superb views of the “apex” of the Golden Triangle, where the three countries meet; hill-tribe villages nestling amid stunning mountain scenery; and the historical towns of Chiang Saen and Chiang Khong. Illicit opium trading is thought to continue in the region, however, and visitors should use a qualified guide and take extra care near the Myanmar border, which can be dangerous.

Tha Ton

Located near the Myanmar border, Tha Thon is a staging post between the lowlands and the mountains. A huge white Buddha image, visible from miles around, faces eastward over the town and surrounding countryside.

Doi Mae Salong

This mountain, the site of the mainly Chinese settlement of Mae Salong, is set amid beautiful rolling scenery.

Saam Yekh Akha

As in every Akha village, small sculptures of people, representing human life, decorate the village gates. These are meant to warn spirits that only humans may enter.

Pha Dua

This Mien village sells textiles and handicrafts. Visitors may also see elaborate rituals and ceremonies based on the local hill tribe’s religion, a mixture of animism and Chinese Taoism.

Mae Sai

Wat Phra That Doi Wao, on a hilltop outside Mae Sai, is the town’s best temple. The bot features carvings of the Buddha.

Doi Tung

This impressive mountain is the site of the Doi Tung Royal Villa, which has a colorful, English style flower garden.

Sop Ruak

This village, with its daily market, thrives on its location at the meeting point of Thailand, Myanmar, and Laos.

Chiang Khong

Though most people pass non-stop through Chiang Khong en route to Laos, the town’s Wat Luang is well worth seeing.

Wat Phra That Pha Ngao

This 10th-century temple is superbly sited on a hilltop south of Chiang Saen, and offers exhilarating views of the surrounding countryside. It is distinctive for its bas relief work on the wihan and its chedi of shiny white marble.

Chiang Saen

Visitors should not miss this town of ruined temples and teak trees, once the capital of a small kingdom. Today it boasts an excellent branch of the National Museum and a daily market specializing in Thai Lue fabrics and souvenirs.

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