The Mekong River at the small town of Sop Ruak which is just 7 km north of the city of Chiang Saen in the province of Chiang Rai. This is the center of the Golden Triangle where the Mekong and Ruak River intersect which demarcates Thailand, Laos and Myanmar (Burma). The Laos border entry is on the other side of the river and the special access Laos border town market of Donsao is half way between Sop Ruak and Chiang Saen on the other side of the Mekong river. It can be reached from Sop Ruak by long boat without the need of a visa for the day. There you can purchase bottles of whiskey with snakes and scorpions inside, womens handbags, clothes and much more.
The Golden Triangle Park Hall Of Opium is just 2 km north west of Sop Ruak on highway 1290. Not to be confused with the House Of Opium Museum in Sop Ruak. The Hall Of Opium is situated on a very large park and is a huge building on many levels with a theatre and many high quality and interesting exhibitions. It was built to educate people on the dangers of Opium and shows the devastating effect it had on people and countries throughout history. Unfortunately photography inside is strictly prohibited. It is well worth a visit and takes 2 hours or more to see everything. Opening times are 8.30am until 4:00pm daily except Monday.
To reach Chiang Saen and the Golden Triangle, take a Green Bus mini van from Chiang Rai Bus Terminal. It takes about 1.5 hours and the busses run from morning to 5pm. Busses also run from Chiang Mai.
If driving by car, take highway 1 going north from Chiang Rai for about 30 km. Watch out for road signs. Then take a right turn onto highway 1016 for another 30 km to reach Chiang Sean. There is a large round-about where you can continue straight into the city and follow the main road to the Mekong river, or turn left at the roundabout to continue to Sop Ruak on highway 1290 on outskirts of Chiang Saen. Turn left at the end to proceed north to Sop Ruak on highway 1290 when you reach the end of the road that skirts around Chiang Saen.
The entire round trip coming from Chiang Rai could be done in a single day. If staying overnight in the area then it would be best to book a room via a well known on-line booking agency to obtain a good price else you will be paying substantially more for a walk-in booking. Best places to stay are around Sop Ruak Golden Triangle area where there are nice resorts.
Click on the gallery photos below.