Chiang Mai, aside from offering all types of Western food, also offers a variety of treks and tours ranging from one day to ten. I knew if I stayed in Chiang Mai I would end up eating copious amounts of vegetarian food, and probably spending more money on gifts for friends and family back home. Above all, I needed to maximize my time in the North since I’m not exactly sure when my next long weekend would be.
I decided on a one-day tour to Chiang Rai and the Golden Triangle was worth a trip. Since the trip was so jam-packed we only had a short amount of time at each destination.
1st stop: Mae Kajan Hot Spring 20 minutes In 20 minutes I soaked my feet in piping hot water and boiled eggs in the hot springs.
2nd Stop: Wat Rong Khun Temple 30 minutes Wat Rong Khun was the highlight of my day. This temple is unlike any temple in Thailand. The ‘White Temple’ was created by the Thai artist Chalermchai Kositpipat, and the interior is still incomplete. The outside of the temple depicts hell with red demonic figures. There is a passageway leading into the temple which is surrounded by hands reaching up from the artists interpretation of the underworld. The interior of the temple is a beautiful mural of heaven and hell, with iconic figures such as Michael Jackson painted into hell. The project, according to our guide has already cost above 50 million baht, and there are many hoping the artist will finish his work soon. There is also the golden toilet. Well, the toilet isn’t exactly golden but the bathroom itself it painted in all gold. Next to the golden bathroom is a wishing well for people to drop coins in.
3rd stop: Golden Triangle, Chiang Saen 1 hour, 30 minutes The Golden Triangle is the point at which three countries, Thailand, Burma (Myanmar), and Laos meet. The triangle is formed by the three countries, and where two rivers (Mekong River and Ruak River) meet. This area was once known for the selling and trading of opium, but since each country had their own currency they used gold as a means of buying hence the name ‘Golden Triangle.’ There is an island in the middle of the Mekong River called ‘No-man’s land,’ the place in the middle of the three countries where the trading of opium took place. We took a boat ride on the river & stopped at the market in Laos.
4th Stop: Lunch Buffet
5th Stop: Mae Sai Border Market near Burma 15 minutes We didn’t have much time to walk around & I wasn’t interested in snapping more photos of a market. Unfortunately, I could not cross the border to Burma and see their market since my work permit and visa extension would be cancelled since they are currently being processed.
Last stop: Long Neck and Big Ear Karen Hill Tribe 30 minutes The North of Thailand is home to many hill tribe groups, including the most interesting one- the Long Neck and Big Eared women of the Karen Hill Tribe. These women wear very heavy rings around their necks even when they sleep. They make their money off of handmade items such as scarves or cups made of bamboo, while the men of the tribe work in the fields. It is said the reason why these women first began wearing the rings was to protect themselves from tigers. Today, it is more of a means for them to make money and attract tourists since they are not allowed to work or travel anywhere else in Thailand except the areas designated by the government.
Needless to say it was a long day, with a long drive back to Chiang Mai but it was a great day and I’m glad I decided to hit the road and sign up for a one-day tour. I spent roughly 24 hours in a mini-van this past weekend, and Thursday night I’ll be clocking even more hours on a bus when I head down south to enjoy some fun in the sun for New Years.
Happy & Healthy New Year everyone. With love.