1290, Tambon Wiang, Amphoe Chiang Saen, Chang Wat Chiang Rai 57150, Thailand
The Golden Triangle is where the borders of Thailand, Laos, and Myanmar meet. The rivers of Ruak and Mekong also intersect in this region known to locals as Sop Ruak. Although many consider the Golden Triangle to be a tourist trap, there is still much to explore in Thailand's northernmost region.
Guided bus and boat tours are popular ways to explore the Golden Triangle, but those who prefer independent travel can board Greenbus minivans which depart from both of Chiang Rai's bus terminals and stop at a restaurant behind the area's famous Big Buddha statue.
These minibuses operate once every 30 to 60 minutes, and take about two hours from Chiang Rai, which is also where the closest airport and rail station are located. Chiang Saen, the Golden Triangle's closest community, can be reached by motorcycle taxi, tuktuk, or boat. Mekong River boat tours are another popular way to explore both Chiang Saen and Chiang Khong. Visitors can even board a boat to the small Laotian island of Don Sao.
During the dry season, a sandbar marks the location where the Mekong and Ruak rivers meet. The surrounding area contains plenty of elaborate shrines, souvenir shops, and elephant statues. Tourism may have replaced opium as the region's most important industry, but the Hall of Opium and the smaller House of Opium both contain plenty of interesting information. The Anantara Golden Triangle Resort and Spa as well as the Four Seasons Tented Camp Golden Triangle both support elephant rescue charities.