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Home Thailand The Golden Triangle ⇒ Gambling & Opium

Thailand’s Golden Triangle

4Gambling & Opium

The Golden Triangle Casino.
The Golden Triangle Casino.

The chance to lose lots of money very quickly brings in a steady stream of wealthy Thais and Chinese, who love to gamble but can’t do it legally in Thailand. The typically Thai answer is to build a casino just over the border in another country and this is just one of many scattered around the region. (If you are collecting casinos there is another a few miles away in the Myanese town of Tachilek.) A ferry will take you across the Nam Ruak to the casino’s entrance. In keeping with ancient tradition, all visitors to the casino are expected to leave their money behind on departure so don’t be surprised if the five-star hotels in the area ask you to settle your bill in advance.


A Legacy of Opium

The Golden Triangle Monument
The Golden Triangle Monument

If your vices don’t include gambling and you are feeling in the mood for a belly-full of facts then there are two places worth visiting. One is the older Opium Museum on the left just before the new giant golden Buddha, showing the history of opium in the region. This private collection has large displays of opium pipes and weights. Amaze your friends by being able to distinguish between Chinese and Akha opium pipes. Astound them at your knowing the how many titals of opium there are in a viss (the answer is a hundred). Entrance costs 20 baht and is well worth it.

A much larger and swankier museum has recently been completed about a kilometre past the Golden Buddha. Called The Hall of Opium it is a complex of specially designed rooms, known as “spaces”, housing one of the world’s largest collections of opium-related materials. More than just a museum, the hall of Opium is supposed to be an "experience" and charges accordingly. You can't help feeling it's a bit out of place here and I felt as if I was trespassing when I went round. It's a well-planned, modern style museum designed to engage. Rather than glass cases of musty items, The Hall of Opium has “themes”, photo montages of famous heroin addicts, mock ups of trading ships and so forth. It’s almost too contrived and is a bit heavy on the moralistic side. The entrance fee is rather steep so unless you one of those who simply love “spaces”, then you could comfortably give it a miss.

 
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