Pandaw.com - Pandaw River Cruise Stop - Golden Triangle
Pandaw River Cruises
  Sign up

Luxury small ship river cruises in Asia

GO

GOLDEN TRIANGLE

The Golden Triangle is in Chiang Rai Province, in the far north of Thailand. The English name comes from the meeting of Laos, Myanmar and Thailand here, but to the locals it's Sop Ruak, since this is where the Mekong meets the Ruak River.

Historically the Golden Triangle has been an area well-known for the growing of opium, and the name comes from a US State Department memo on the practice. These days, though, the place lives on the cultivation of tourists, and this is undoubtedly the largest tourist trap in northern Thai-land.

The landscape is hilly, divided by the Ruak River that flows into the Mekong (Mae Khong) River. These rivers form a natural boundary between the three countries Laos (to the east of the Me-kong), Myanmar (to the north of the Ruak), and Thailand (to the west of the Mae Khong).

The main area is the Thai riverside near the point where the rivers meet, which — in the dry sea-son, when the Mekong runs low — is even marked by a handy sandbar. This in itself is pretty anti-climactic, so a series of increasingly bizarre attractions have been erected by the riverside to make up for it: there's a giant golden Buddha on a ship, elephant statues where you can clamber to pose atop a palanquin (in exchange for a donation, of course), elaborate shrines to the royal family, half a dozen signs stating that yes, this really is the Golden Triangle and, inevitably, river cruise touts, souvenir shops and Western-style cafes.

Cruises which visit Golden Triangle