Getting your Legal Opium Fix

 | Wed 12 Feb 2014 10:12 ICT

The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) and the Mae Fah Luang Foundation proudly present an enticing tourist attraction in the glorious province of Chiang Rai – the Hall of Opium in the Golden Triangle Park.Thanks to the hard work of the Princess Mother over many years, to initiate royal projects in Chiang Rai, the trade in opium was gradually eliminated.Mr. Thawatchai Arunyik, Governor of the TAT said, “We think this will be of great interest to tourists from around the world. After all, it was only a few decades ago that the areas around the Golden Triangle were notorious for being at the heart of South East Asia’s opium trade, with poppy plantations hidden in the hills far from preying eyes.”
TAT Governor said, “The Princess Mother encouraged the local people to stop cultivating poppies and switch to cold-climate plantation. Orchards replaced the opium fields and poppy farming became a thing of the past.”
“Now that the opium industry has faded into the mists of time, people are interested in how people lived and worked and why things changed for the better,” he added.
The Hall of Opium at Golden Triangle Park offers a glimpse at this dark period in Chiang Rai’s history and is well worth seeing. There are modern interactive displays and multimedia presentations that bring the past to life as this fascinating story unfolds.
Located at Baan Sob Ruak, in the Chiang Saen district of Chiang Rai province – close to the very fields where millions of poppies once bloomed, the Hall of Opium gives a full picture of the opium trade, it’s history, some of the characters involved and how it blighted the lives of addicts.
This is a tale of a trade that stretches back some 5,000 years and gave rise to some of the biggest events in history – the Chinese Opium Wars, the colonisation of India and the rise of international drug cartels.
Despite being a dark tale, the history of opium is fascinating and The Hall of Opium’s exhibition has been designed to make a big impact on all visitors. Put together by historians and multimedia experts, the show treats visitors to sound and light displays, unique photos, video exhibits and interactive presentations. This means it is accessible and exciting to people of all ages and nationalities as well as being poignant and thought-provoking.
Because it has been designed to be educational and instructive, the Hall of Opium will be especially interesting to younger visitors, who may find it hard to imagine that just a few years ago things were so different in this bustling modern nation.
The drug trade of the Golden Triangle is not glorified in any way and there is a strong focus on the dangers of the poppy – that lovely bloom which ruins lives. Once the flower’s sap was extracted and boiled into addictive opium it became a magnet for crime.
The museum teaches all about drug trafficking, addiction, and smuggling, but most of all how the drug can affect the people who take it, destroying families and communities. But the final lesson the museum teaches is how there is hope and ultimately things can change for the better.
The museum is open every day (except Monday) from 8:30 – 17:00 hrs. A visit takes around 2-3 hours. The entry fee is 200 baht per person.