A Trip To The Golden Triangle In Northern Thailand
Mae Sai is in Chiang Rai province of Northern Thailand. Mae Sai is the northern most point of Thailand and it shares an open border with Myanmar. Many foreign people who live in Chiang Mai come to Mae Sai briefly to do their border-runs. Many foreigners cross in Myanmar every three months, as they are required to leave Thailand to renew their visa. These foreigners are able to cross the border into Myanmar and then return the same day with a new passport stamp allowing them to stay in Thailand for another three months. For many expats living in Thailand this border run trip is seen as a real burden and people consider the quarterly Mae Sai trip as an annoyance.
Mae Sai actually does have a lot to offer visitors. There are many beautiful places to visit and areas to explore. Sadly attractions in the area are often overlooked by foreigners who just wish to get out of the area as soon as possible. Here are some interesting things to see and do in and around Mae Sai.
Doi Tung is a very high mountain between Chiang Rai and Mae Sai. In Thai “Doi” means mountain and “Tung” is a kind of traditional flag banner from Thailand. This mountain is technically part of the Himalayan tectonic mountain range, although few people know that. The mountain is spectacular. On one side of the mountain you can see Thailand and on the other side you can see Myanmar. At one point on the road up to the mountain you are only about 30 Yards from Myanmar. There have been a number of hijacking by Burmese rebels in the area, so visitors are required to leave their passport details and sign in and out at one of the military controlled road blocks in the area. Visitors may also be subjected to inspection for drugs at these roadblocks since there are a lot of Methamphetamine smuggling operations in the area. Do not let this deter you from going, the border police and military are always very respectful and try not to inconvenience tourists. The best thing about this trip to Doi Tung is the botanical flower gardens. These gardens are part of a Royal project and are connected to The Palace. The flower gardens feature immaculate fields of many types of flowers and rockeries, shrubberies and even a cultivation centre for Thai orchids and other flowers of Thailand.
Chiang Kong is also part of the “Golden Triangle” part of that famous international smuggling route for Opium. These days there is very little Opium smuggling as that industry has moved to Afghanistan. Chiang Kong has a very nice Opium Museum where you can learn about the opium industry, poppy cultivation and the various methods of processing and purifying opium. Chiang Kong is the Thai border with Laos and from a spot in Chiang Kong you can see the countries for Thailand, Laos and Myanmar – hence the name “The Golden Triangle”.
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