Golden Triangle , Thailand
The Golden Triangle (สามเหลี่ยมทองคำ Saam Liam Thong Kham) is in Chiang Rai Province, in the far north of Thailand. The English name comes from the meeting of Laos, Myanmar and Thailand here, but to the locals it's Sop Ruak, since this is where the Mekong meets the Ruak River.
Historically the Golden Triangle has been an area well-known for the growing of opium, and the name comes from a US State Department memo on the practice. These days, though, the place lives on the cultivation of tourists, and this is undoubtedly the largest tourist trap in northern Thailand.
The landscape is hilly, divided by the Ruak River that flows into the Mekong (Mae Khong) River. These rivers form a natural boundary between the three countries Laos (to the east of the Mekong), Myanmar (to the north of the Ruak), and Thailand (to the west of the Mae Khong).
Most people seem to come here on guided bus tours. For independent travellers, blue songthaews run through the Golden Triangle from Mae Sai (45 min, 50 baht) to Chiang Saen (15 min, 20 baht) and back again every 20 minutes or so 08:00 - 12:00. Greenbus minivans run from Chiang Rai Bus Terminal (50B) to Mae Chan, Chiang Saen and Golden Triangle (early morning - 17:00). At The Golden Triangle the Greenbus minivan bus stop is in front of the restaurant which is next to the entry road of the parking lot behind the Big Buddha statue .
Boats can be hired to view scenery around the golden triangle from Sop Ruak along the Mekong River to Chiang Saen and Chiang Khong which takes around 40 minutes and one and a half hours respectively.
There's a giant golden Buddha on a ship, elephant statues where you can clamber to pose atop a palanquin and, inevitably, river cruise touts, souvenir shops and Western-style cafes.