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Chiang Rai

Nestled in the heart of the Golden Triangle region, which encompasses the mountains of Laos, Myanmar, and Thailand, Chiang Rai is a land of tropical hills and mountains. In the past, the Golden Triangle was synonymous with the drug trade, as poppies were grown in the area and transported by a number of ethnic and tribal militias.

Today, due to a series of major crackdowns, the Golden Triangle is considerably safer, and slowly gaining a name for itself through legal tourism rather than illicit smuggling. Standout attractions include the fun, fascinating Flight of the Gibbon, an intense, wildly fun zipline course; a journey up the Burma Road, which straddles the Myanmar-Thai border; and a series of high-mountain tea plantations.

Visitors should note that the demographics of the area are also much more ethnically diverse than elsewhere in Thailand - and, as such, are a fascinating contrast to the rest of the nation. A significant minority of the population is composed of hill tribes, among them the Karen, Lisu, and Akha, as well as ethnic Chinese settlers.

Nestled in the heart of the Golden Triangle region, which encompasses the mountains of Laos, Myanmar, and Thailand, Chiang Rai is a land of tropical hills and mountains. In the past, the Golden Triangle was synonymous with the drug trade, as poppies were grown in the area and transported by a number of ethnic and tribal militias.

Today, due to a series of major crackdowns, the Golden Triangle is considerably safer, and slowly gaining a name for itself through legal tourism rather than illicit smuggling. Standout attractions include the fun, fascinating Flight of the Gibbon, an intense, wildly fun zipline course; a journey up the Burma Road, which straddles the Myanmar-Thai border; and a series of high-mountain tea plantations.

Visitors should note that the demographics of the area are also much more ethnically diverse than elsewhere in Thailand - and, as such, are a fascinating contrast to the rest of the nation. A significant minority of the population is composed of hill tribes, among them the Karen, Lisu, and Akha, as well as ethnic Chinese settlers.

EXPERIENCES

EXPERIENCES

A Day in Kengtung, Myanmar

Complete your exploration of the Golden Triangle with a day trip into Myanmar. Your destination is a village not far from the border, on the way to Kengtung, capital of Myanmar’s Shan State. Your drive will take you through stunning mountain terrain to an undiscovered region refreshingly devoid of touts and souvenir shops. In this region dwell numerous tribes who have remained untouched by outside influence and live much as their ancestors have for centuries.

Boat to Laos

Cruise approximately 30 minutes by boat up the Khong River and into Laos. Disembark and visit Ban Had Tai village, where your guide will introduce you to its residents for a better understanding of life in this remote region.

Chiang Saen

Explore the fascinating architectural history and museum collections of Chiang Saen, the capital of Thailand’s 14th-century Lanna kingdom.

Doi Mae Salong

Drive 1.5 hours to the beautiful mountaintop village of Doi Mae Salong, home to indigenous hill-tribe peoples and Chinese settlers. Once opium country, Doi Mae Salong is now home to Thailand’s premier oolong tea production.

Hall of Opium

Visit the Hall of Opium, which chronicles the long history of opium production and trade in the Golden Triangle.

Mae Kampong

At 4,265 feet (1,300 meters) above sea level, Mae Kampong has a pleasant, year-round temperature of 50-65 °F (10-18°C). The town is also home to the Flight of the Gibbon, an elaborate, 18-platform zipline course that travels through various layers of the rainforest canopy; its namesake is the gibbon, an acrobatic ape that swings from tree to tree. During your time here, you will also learn more about the Gibbon Project’s efforts to protect the endangered gibbon, which is under threat from habitat loss.

Mahout Training

Train as an elephant mahout (a handler and caretaker) and go elephant trekking through the surrounding jungle. Learn how to bathe and feed an elephant, and afterwards, learn some of the traditional commands used to "drive" an elephant.

Tea Plantations

Go for a one-hour hike through the tea fields and hill-tribe vil­lages. Pending their availability, sip tea with the owner of one of the largest plantations in Thai­land, followed by lunch and tea with a prominent member of the Doi Mae Salong community to discuss the life today in this rural part of the country.

The Burma Road

Journey up the “Burma Road,” a hair-raising route that straddles the narrow, mountainous border between Thailand and Myanmar. Along the way, stop at strategic lookout points for expansive views of the surrounding countryside.

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TRAVELOGUES

TRAVELOGUES

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It’s Not Too Late for a Winter Getaway in Southeast Asia

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Traveling with the kids, whether they’re tiny tots or troublesome teens, can be fraught with hassle: there’s so much to consider, from getting the right vaccinations to packing all the essentials.
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Elephants in the Room: Conservation in Chiang Rai

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Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games

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