The Golden Triangle is a natural and charming area where Thailand, Laos, and Burma meet. Mae Sai is the heart of this magical enclave and compact region. When you travel here, you will find a diverse mix of terrains and cultures. The lush jungle and misty mountain backdrop transform into landscapes of rice paddies and tranquil fields. Both the Ruak and Mekong rivers meet in this surreal and magical place.
How the Area Got its Name
The Golden Triangle, albeit a pleasant-sounding reference to a pristine and peaceful area, is a term that was coined by the CIA. During the 1920s, the area was one of the world’s largest producers of opium. To stamp out the industry, the Thai government banned poppy growing in 1959 and set up crop substation programmes for farmers. In turn, the production of opium was considerably reduced.
With that said, you can find plenty of natural sites on the Thai side of the Golden Triangle. For example, the northern section, historically, was a stronghold of the Lanna culture that prevailed for several hundred years. During this time, the region was known as the “land of a million rice fields.”
Natural Attractions and Parks
The gateway in this area is Chiang Rai, which is a relaxed city sitting on the banks of the Kok River. Thailand tours of the region lead to such landmarks as the Wat Rong Khun or natural preserves such as the Doi Luang National Park or the Namtok Khun Kon Forest Park, which is near the Burmese Border. The spectacular 70m Tat Mok waterfall is one of the memorable natural wonders.
To experience the sparsely populated area, visitors often cross the Mekong downstream from Chiang Khong to Huay Xai, located in Laos. Regardless of where you go, though, you will find the Golden Triangle to be a once-in-a-lifetime travel experience. Whilst independent travel can have its rewards, it can also take a good deal of time to plan. Instead of choosing this method of travel, take a tour instead. That way, you can travel more safely during your holiday. It also streamlines trip planning.
Because the Mekong River runs through the Golden Triangle, visitors often travel by teak river barge from the area to various destinations. Regardless of your mode of transport, though, you will enjoy the lushly wooded countryside and hillside tribal villages.
Cycling Through the Golden Triangle
The gently rolling terrain can also be explored by bicycle. Many tours begin and end at Chiang Mai. One of the highlights of such a journey is travelling along a stretch of road towards Pai, a travel experience that features 762 bends and views of the gleaming rice paddies and Mae Sai. Cycling is probably one of the best ways to see the area as you can view everything up-close.
Whilst Thailand features many magical areas, none are more charming or inviting as the Golden Triangle. Travellers immerse themselves in the great outdoors as well as the beauty of the landscape. If you are not sure about where to go on holiday, then you might want to think about cycling through the Golden Triangle, especially if you enjoy biking or wish to see the scenery outside the confines of a car.