Gold, precious stones, Northern food and the Golden Triangle in Chiang Rai


Golden Triangle Chiang RaiLocated in the northern most tip of Thailand lies the province of Chiang Rai. The proximity to Laos and Myanmar made Chiang Rai a part of the infamous Golden Triangle that had a history as one of the biggest opium producers in the world in the not too distant past. The province of Chiang Rai is also one of the least developed and most rural of all the provinces in Thailand. The northern half of the Chiang Rai province border is the Mekong River which separates Thailand from Laos whereas the other half of the province is separated by mountainous ranges and the Ruak River which keeps Myanmar’s borders from Thailand.
The agricultural aspects of the country thrive from the floodplains of the Mekong BUT the mountainous landscape was also a perfect planting spot for poppy which produces opium! Therefore until the 90’s Chiang Rai was still very much the center for opium production in Thailand and notably notorious for the amount of opium coming out of the province. However, almost if not all of the opium producing activities are now curbed with a replanting scheme for crop substitution and strict law enforcement to clean up the image of the province. So if you are thinking that you could get a stash of the stuff, better think again..it is no longer like the heydays of hippinism, oriental faddism and being high or stoned on opium! The infamous opium days for Chiang Rai are now only memories of a past in the museums and history books.
The Chiang Rai of today makes for a fascinating adventure for historical, ethnic, curiosity and gem stone discoveries. There are no tall buildings to admire or great shopping centers but what you can expect on a tour to Chiang Rai is the exciting open markets, visits to mountain and hill tribe villages, browsing for cheap gem and semi-precious stones as well as historical visits and border crossings to the infamous Triangle Partners such as Laos. Some of the tours to Chiang Rai may even start from Chiang Mai which is a little further south. However, most tours to Chiang Rai include a Chiang Rai city tour, a hill tribe village tour in Chiang Raitemple tours of Chiang Rai as well as tours to Laos from Chiang Rai and tours to Myanmar from Chiang Rai.
The province of Chiang Rai is very popular among local Thai tourists during the cold season which starts from late November till March and one of the popular places they would all head to is the mountain destination of Pai, which is fairly close to the city of Chiang Rai. So if you miss the cold climate while traveling in a tropical country, make your way to this province in the late and early months of the year! You can also visit the hill tribes which are indigenous to the region and learn what it is like to live a simple life with no trimmings and perks. This is a good place to learn a humbling lesson!

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