The countries of Thailand, Laos, and Myanmar meet at an area known as the ‘Golden Triangle’, also the confluence of the Ruak and Mekong rivers. This area has been one of the largest opium producers in the world since the 1950’s, and was the world’s top producer before being taken over by Afganistan in the 21st century. On our recent trip to Thailand, we took a drive up to the Golden Triangle from our base in Chiang Rai.
To break up the long drive to the Golden Triangle from Chiang Rai, we stopped at an Akha hill tribe village on the way up. It was really nice to meet some of the local Akha women and learn about their lives.
After meeting the Akha women, we continued driving up to the Golden Triangle. We stopped and parked right at the immigration gate where people can cross over into Myanmar. There were hundreds of people crossing every hour, and our guide said that many of the Burmese people cross daily for work.
The Golden Triangle is mostly known for opium production, but travelers and shoppers will know that it is also known for crafts. The markets on the border have very affordable Burmese jade, bronze, tapestries, and more. We spent some time looking in the shops and Julia picked a few things out before we were ready to stop for a coffee break.
Our guide showed us a cafe that was actually located within the shopping market and had cabinets of crafts to sell as well. The beans and brew for the cafe came from Doi Chaang, which is a specialty coffee grown in Thailand. Just like the Mae Klang Luang Coffee that I covered yesterday, Doi Chaang can credit their origins to the royal decree of King Rama 9 that helped farmers swap opium production for coffee.
It was a pretty hot and humid day up at the Golden Triangle, but I still opted for a hot coffee. My son split a hot chocolate with my wife, and our guide picked out a nice looking iced coffee drink.
After enjoying our coffees, we left the shopping area behind and drove to a vantage point to take in the confluence of the Ruak and Mekong rivers. It was amazing to see three countries in one vista.
On our way back to Chiang Rai from the Golden Triangle, we made a stop at a giant golden Budda, and finally at Wat Chedi Luang.