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Northern Thailand Travel Guide

Chiang Rai and The Golden Triangle

This fabled area is a beautiful stretch of rolling uplands that conceal remote hill tribe villages and drop down to the broad Mekong, which is backed on its far side by the mountains of Laos. Although some 60 km (37 miles) to the south, Chiang Rai is its natural capital and a city equipped with the infrastructure for touring the entire region.

The region's involvement in the lucrative

opium trade began in the late 19th century, when migrating hill tribes introduced poppy cultivation. For more than 100 years the opium produced from poppy fields was the region's main source of income. Even today, despite vigorous official suppression and a royal project to wean farmers away from the opium trade, the mountains of the Golden Triangle conceal isolated poppy plantations.

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