Descending from China’s central highlands as one of the world’s longest waterways, the Mekong River unfurls in a tranquil sheen as it meets with the Ruak river- where Thailand converges with Laos and Myanmar. The river has brought a long and turbulent history to this compact region at the northern tip of Thailand, and was infamously given the name the Golden Triangle when it gained notoriety in the 1920s for having been intertwined with the large-scale production of illegal opium and heroin.

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Lush jungle, mist-rounded mountains, hill-tribe villages and tranquil views of rice paddies mark the Golden Triangle. Many tourists flock to the Golden Triangle region of Thailand expecting some sort of ‘wild west’ scene. They are certainly disappointed. A visit to our eco-friendly lodge, Lanjia Lodge, will bring you near this mysterious place where today, you can find a haven of peaceful temples and shrines, limestone waterfalls, and a mix of Thai and Laotian culture. While the region’s peaceful, untouched landscape has become a tourist spot, the Golden Triangle hasn’t always been this way.

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Until the end of the 20th century, the Golden Triangle was the world’s largest producer of opium and heroin. The practice of using opium recreationally was introduced to China and Southeast Asia by Dutch traders in the early 18th century. When Britain replaced the Netherlands as China’s primary European trading partner- China became the main target of Britain’s opium trading. However, when communist forces defeated the Chinese National Revolutionary Army, which was led by Chiang Kai-Shek, many Chinese migrated to the Thai-Burmese border in the hopes of finding new income. From then on, many turned to the drug trade

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Since then, the Thai government has worked effortlessly to stamp out the drug trade, making the cultivation of poppy illegal in 1959. The Royal Project’s Foundation, established by His Majesty King Bhumipol, introduced crop-substitution programs for farmers, which has been hugely successful in eliminating opium production in Thailand. Stop by the Hall of Opium Museum, in Chiang Saen to learn more about the history of the opium trade in Thailand.