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Golden Triangle a tourist trap?

cape cod
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Golden Triangle a tourist trap?

Is the Golden Triangle a tourist trap? I can't decide to spend 5 days between Chiang Mai and Pai or Chiang Rai and Golden Triangle. Must say, the orphanage makes me want to go to Chiang Rai area!! Help!!

Hell, Norway
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1. Re: Golden Triangle a tourist trap?

IMO it is a tourist trap full of souvenir shops and hotels. The 'attraction' lies in the ancient reputation of being a drug smugglers and lawless haven with views of three countries.. The only evidence of that now is the Opium Museum. The view is OK but there are similar and some much better views in other area of the Mekong which few tourist seem to bother to go and see.

I'd rate Mae Hong Son or Doi Tung as much more worth visiting.

cape cod
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2. Re: Golden Triangle a tourist trap?

Thanks! I am looking at staying at Belle Vista in Mae Hong Son, it looks amazing!

Colorado
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for Chiang Rai, Chiang Rai Province
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3. Re: Golden Triangle a tourist trap?

Jwalker:

If you are talking about driving to the point where there is a sign that says it is the "Golden Triangle", yes, that is a tourist trap, although the view is beautiful. There are a lot of souvenir shops etc. at that particular spot.

But, if you are talking about visiting Chiang Rai and the area that surrounds it, including Mae Sai, crossing over into Burma and Laos, visiting rural hilltribes outside of Chiang Rai, visiting the Queen Mother's project in the Golden Triangle area, going to Mae Salong/tea/coffee plantaions, going to the orphanage, seeing the White Temple, going down the Me Kok River to Ruammit or other villages...no it is not a tourist trap. It is absolutely beautiful unspoiled country that is enchanting. The town of Chiang Rai is much smaller than Chiang Mai but has a nice night market, a lot of fun restaurants, and good people watching.

Broder

Hell, Norway
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4. Re: Golden Triangle a tourist trap?

I agree entirely. What I described as a tourist trap is the so called Golden Triangle. Areas like Doi Tung (Queen Mothers project) as I mentioned, and other parts of Chiang Rai don't form part o the Golden Triangle and are well worth visiting.

Brisbane, Australia
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5. Re: Golden Triangle a tourist trap?

I also back up Broders comments. Spot on.

cape cod
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6. Re: Golden Triangle a tourist trap?

since you all seem to know so much, I have more questions. ok, now i am thinking of seeing Chiang Rai and a lot of the suggestions you made, as well as Mae hong Son and this time skipping Chiang Mai. We'd fly Bangkok-Chiang Rai and then at the end of our stay fly from Chiang Rai to the beaches. What is the road like from Chiang Rai to mae Hong Son, and could we get a driver/guide? Also should we base ourselves in Chiang Rai to see these areas (except for Mae Hong Son). Or would it be better to stay in Chiang Rai and also somewhere like the Anatara? I am thinking of doing all this in about 6 days. Advice? THANKS!!!!

PS we are going Dec.2010

Colorado
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7. Re: Golden Triangle a tourist trap?

Hi Jwalker:

The decision to stay in Chiang Rai as your ground base or to divide some of your time between Chiang Rai and Sop Ruck (where Anantara is located), is a difficult one. I have done both and enjoyed both. Here is some information to help you make your decisions:

Anantara is beautiful, the service is great and the views spectacular. But, if you have looked into it, you know the rooms are expensive. When we stay here we usually make sure we eat elsewhere, as the restaurant and bar prices are really outrageous for the area and the food is not that good. I generally like the food in town better. However, Anantara's breakfast is usually included in the roomrate and it is one of the best two breakfast buffets I have ever had in a hotel and the view on the balcony having breakfast over the jungles of the three countries is breathtaking.

If you stay at Anantara there are a lot of reviews in the hotel section of TA that give you the impression that there are not retaurants close by or that there is no taxi service and thus you have to eat/drink at Anantara. Anantara is on a hill that is a good 10 minute walk from the actual hotel to town(it takes 5 minutes to walk from the entrance of the hotel to the road). The walk isn't a problem but at night, there are no lights on the road, it is extremely curvey and you could easily be hit by a car walking back to the hotel, so you do need a ride rather than walking in the dark. There is a taxi sercie in town, owned by a young man named Aree, which is probably about 20 per cent of what Anantara charges. There are also great little restaurants in town, right on the river, with lovely views.

Anantara has a spectacular pool. I could (and have) spent an entire day lounging around the pool, looking at the view, enjoying the water etc. In fact, if I spend the money to stay at Anantara, then I like to plan a day to just enjoy the grounds, including its elephant camp, where you can visit and feed the elephants without charge, whenever you want to wander over.

So if you have two days to stay in the very north and go to Burma, over on the long tail boat to Loas and pick up on Dragonc idea of going to Doi Tung (the Queen Mother's project, which is beautiful and has some great little "huts" with some local art along the road...really nice stuff) etc, then spending time in Anantara or some place else in Sop Ruck would be very worthwhile.

I'd spend at least two of the nights in Chiang Rai so you can go to the night market without having to drive the 50 minute ride back to Anantara at the end of a long evening. You can also see the White Temple (very worthwhile), go to the orphangae, maybe take the boat down the Me Kok etc. from this ground base.

You can definitely get a guide in Chiang Rai and you will see many of us on this forum are fans of Jermsak. Put his name in the search engine in this forum and read the comments about him and you wills see why. He can take you to Golden Triangle area, Burma, Laos, orphanage, Ruammit, Me Kok river, orphanage, Mae Salong etc.

But if you want a guide to take you to Mae Hong Son then you should look for a guide over in that direction. There is a woman who is on this forum who is a guide in Mae Hong Son so I assume she may send you a p.m. when she sees your post.

I haven't driven the road from Chiang Rai to Mae Hong Son but believe it is about 6 hours. I have driven from Chiang Mai to Mae Salong...it is very windey and a lot of people get car sick. Me...I love the view but I live in the base of the Rocky Mountains in Colorado so I am used to the windey, mountain roads.

Good luck with your planning and let us know if you need further advice.

Broder

cape cod
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8. Re: Golden Triangle a tourist trap?

You are so helpful! Can you also recommend a hotel in Chiang Rai? Not expensive since we'll probably go for Anatara, but nice enough and charming if possible. Also, did I overlook the info on the boat trip in Laos? And, can I contact Jermsak now for next December?

Thanks!

Hell, Norway
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9. Re: Golden Triangle a tourist trap?

Driving direct from Chiangrai to Mae Hong Son is not a viable option, with some small and dangerous roads. The safest and fastest is to go via Chiangmai, and even that route takes longer than you might think due to steep and very winding roads, but the surface is good and there are some spectacular views. Don't be mislead by how it looks on a map.

Adelaide, Australia
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10. Re: Golden Triangle a tourist trap?

Have fun up North there is so much to see it takes 1 to 1/2 days to see a lot includeing going over the border that is an experince in its self.

Ed

Edited: 4:58 am, January 10, 2010