Myanmar, Golden Triangle, and the Mekong River
Day 1 – Chiang Rai to Chiang Saen
Bustling border towns of Thailand and Myanmar
Your guide and driver will meet you at your Chiang Rai hotel at 0800 for your two-day/one-night tour of Myanmar, the Golden Triangle, and the Mekong River tour. We leave Chiang Rai and drive to the Thai-Myanmar border. Our destination is Mae Sai, the lively border town. We will visit Tachilek, the town across the border in Myanmar, on a day pass. A bridge connects Thailand and Myanmar. Many people cross this border every day.
On both sides of the border, there are interesting markets that sell a wide variety of products. There is a typical “border town atmosphere.” With a local three-wheel taxi, we visit the Shwedagon Pagoda of Tachilek. It is a smaller replica of the world-famous temple in Yangon, the capital of Myanmar. Next is the Thai Yai temple, a magnificent example of Burmese temple architecture. We wander around on the local border market before we have lunch. After lunch, we continue to the Golden Triangle and the Mekong River.
The Golden Triangle and the Mekong River
The Golden Triangle is the area where the borders of Thailand, Myanmar, and Laos converge. In former times this was a lawless, remote area that was notorious for its booming drug trade in the 1970s and 80s. It was also where the British and French colonial empires faced off in the past, with Thailand in the middle. The Mekong River here forms the border between Thailand and Laos. We stop at the marker of the Golden Triangle before we have a look in the small House of Opium Museum.
Then we will board a local boat for a trip on the Mekong River to Chiang Saen, where we will spend the night. Our boat trip ends at Chiang Saen, where we will spend the night. If we still have time, we can explore some of the ruins of ancient Chiang Saen, but we will have time for that tomorrow. You can also enjoy the view of the river and take a dip in the pool. After taking a shower, you can go for dinner in a restaurant on the Mekong River.
Overnight at the Gin’s Maekhongview Villa or similar
Day 2 – Chiang Saen to Chiang Rai
Amazing views of the Mekong River
After breakfast, we start our exploration of old Chiang Saen. We hope you have slept well on the Mekong River. Today’s first destination is the Wat Phrathat Pha Ngao, a fascinating and lively temple just outside of Chiang Saen. We enter the temple compound and drive straight up to the Phra Borommathat Putta Nimit Chedi, which offers fantastic views of the Mekong River and Laos. We spend some time here to enjoy the views.
After that, we descend and look at some of the lovely structures in this interesting temple complex. There is a magnificent wooden Ho Phra, a small building to house a Buddha image, and a small textile museum and weaving center. Many local people visit this temple that has an interesting story. We will pay our respects to the highly revered Luang Por Pha Ngao Buddha image. We return to Chiang Saen and have a closer look at some of the ruins of this ancient city.
Ancient Chiang Saen
Chiang Saen is one of the oldest settlements in North Thailand. Its city walls are well preserved and have been restored partially by the Fine Arts Department. Within and outside these walls, there are some temple ruins. The most well-known are Wat Chedi Luang (“the temple with the big chedi”) and Wat Pasak (“the temple in the teak forest”). The latter is one of our favorite ruins in North Thailand. Another ruin worth visiting is Wat Mung Muang. More ruins of ancient temples are scattered between houses and buildings.
Tham Luang, “The Cave”
We will enjoy lunch at a local restaurant before we head for Tham Luang (“Big Cave”) and the Wat Tham Pla, at the foot of the Doi Nang Non, a mountain range on the border of Myanmar. This mountain range became famous in 2018 when a local football team got lost in the Tham Luang Cave. The bold rescue made headlines all over the world and is now the subject of several movies. Tham Luang, “The Cave,” has become a tourist attraction. The cave is not open for visitors at the moment. We will have a look at the small museum that has been established to commemorate the rescue.
Wat Tham Pla, the bizarre temple of monkeys
Wat Tham Pla is a fascinating Buddhist cave temple not far from Tham Luang. It is our next destination. This complex is home to a crowd of monkeys of the macaque variety. Visitors come here, though, to feed the fish (“plaa”) and walk up the Naga staircase to the small cave (“tham”) that houses two Buddha statues. The monks will give you a bamboo stick to ward off the monkeys that become too curious. Wat Tham Pla has more to offer, though. The impressive Nophachulamanee chedi is of unknown origin. Not far are a couple of bizarre statues and cages with dolls that come to life if you throw in a coin. We will not tell you more…..
Finally, we drive back to Chiang Rai and drop you off at your hotel.
We also offer a one-day tour to Myanmar and the Golden Triangle