The Golden Triangle, where myanmar, Laos and Thailand intersect, is steeped in history and indigenous culture. Historically this region has been well-known as a hot hub of opium planting, but now it has become an captivating tourism area in Indochina.
How to reach the Golden Triangle
This region belongs to Shan state, which is located in eastern burma and has borders with countries of Laos, Thailand and China. There are some radiant towns in the Golden Triangle that should be paid attention, including Kyaing Tong (or Keng Tung), Tachileik and Mongla.
To arrive the Golden Triangle, travelers may carry a flight from Mandalay, Yangon or Heho to Tachileik or Kyaing Tong; then from Tachileik and Kyaing Tong, travelers could transfer to other areas.
What to do and get to in the Golden Triangle
Overall, there are two main activities in this region:
- go to Burmese pagodas, monasteries and churches.
- Trek to special hill tribe villages and uncover crafts.
1. Kyaing Tong (or often called Kyaing Tung or Keng Tung) town
This is the capital city of the Golden Triangle which is bordered by China, Laos and Thailand. The city is surrounded by attractive mountains and forests. Kyaing Tong was shut for tourists for many years due to opium trafficking. Nowadays, it rivals other regions of burma offering some of the most attractive landscape in the country.
Kyaing Tong is a historical area where you are able to find out antique Buddhist temples and other religion constructions. This is also an ideal place for trekking and exploring minorities' cultural diversity, lifestyle and custom.
These are some interesting places travelers may visit in Kyaing Tong.
- Lonely Tree Hill (or One Tree Hill): Travelers will experience a charming sunset on this hill where a lone, 245-year-old Kanyin - Byu (DipterocarpusSpp) tree stands.
- Kyaing Tong Central Market: This is a hasty and colorful site, where various hill tribes converge to purchase and sell their wares. On the market, travelers could soak up the local atmosphere and capture colorful photos.
- Traditional Water Buffalo Market: This featured market is for buying and selling healthy buffaloes used for farming, transportation, getting milk and meat.
- Loi Mwe: This hill station is 33km away from Kyaing Tung. Loimwe means "misty mountain". It is at an altitude of over 1,600 meters above see-level. It has the magnificent spectacle and the temperate climate. This area has remained British architectural constructions, with the Catholic Church built in 1929 and tremendous colonial buildings. Besides, in Loi Mwe, you can adventure Loi Mwe lake and Four-country Friendship pagoda. The way leading to Loi Mwe passes through forests, terraced rice fields. On the way, you may stop to discover villages of the Lahu, Wa and Akha.
- Ka Bar Aye Pagoda (WatPratartJomDoi): Historical "Ka Bar Aye" Pagoda is on top of a hill with eye-catching landscape. Reaching here, you will pass rubber plantation and seasonal cultivation fields.
- MaHa MyatMuNi Pagoda: The Pagoda festival is held annually in November. Its space is serene that is appropriate for praying and meditation.
Besides, you could visit other well known places in Kyaung Tung, including Wat Inn Monastery, Pha Lian Monastery, Jom Kham Monastery & Pagoda, Satuyatha Thumingala Pagoda, Standing Buddha Image (or Yat Taw Mu Buddha Image), Naung Tong Lake, Roman Catholic Mission (R.C.M) Church, Golden Triangle Golf Club and Mya Shwe hot spring.
Hill races in Kyaing Tong are truly primary. Travelers be able to encounter different ethnic minorities, such as the Ann (or Eng, who possess a love for black teeth and tobacco chewing), Akha, Akhu, Lahu, Shan, Loi, Wa, Palaung, Kala and Lisu. You could trek to these villages and experience the life of locals. Specially, yous may encounter craftsman and explore crafts of hill tribes like weaving, pottery, Shan blacksmith or Shan traditional lacquer ware.
These are some villages close to Kyaing Tong travelers could trek to.
- Pottery village Yan Gone, where you can observe the handcrafted earthen pots of Shan tribe and search for Shan pottery.
- Ho Kyin villages: It is a typical Akha race village with colorful dresses. They believe in different religions (Buddhist, Animist and Christian) and their traditional costume.
- Na Phi Phank village, where Lahu and Akha tribes live together
- MongZine (Khun Village), where you can realize traditional Lahu knives made by Lahu blacksmith.
- Gon Shan village: You be able to realize extraordinary long house in here.
- Pin Tauk: In this area, you will see silver headdress “Akha tribe”, which has rich culture and timeless tradition, “black teeth” Eng tribe and rice-distillery Shan villages.
- Kong Pack (Lahu Shee): Ascending hill to “LahuShee” village, you can admire stunning scenery and golden rice fields at over 1500 meters above sea level. Descending, you can travel Wan NoungSar “Silver Palaung” village.
- Wan Nyet - Wan Sheng: This destination is near China border with beautiful spectacle. You be able to walk round to visit wooden Monastery of the Loi over 385 years antique and Wan Seng Monastery, and witness Loi (Lwe) tribe living in typical long-houses with traditional life-style.
Other villages you may choose for your trekking tours: Phata (Akha), Pang Ma Phai (Akha), Joe Phyu (Wa), Wan Lun (Shan), Ho Lup (Akha), Nang Cho (Wa), Pan Wai (Lahu) and Nant Lin Taung (Eng).
2. Tachileik (Thailand Border)
Tachileik is the border town of burma with Thailand, one of the Asia highway passing through myanmar. Around this town, you be able to travel burma - Thailand Friendship Bridge, Shwedagon pagoda, Chinese Monastery, Ho Nam Monastery, Lang Taung Pagoda, Maha Myat Muni Monastery, Temple of the Enrobed Elephant, Wan Tong Two Dragon Monastery, Wan Pong Port, Ta-lot market, Morning market and Padaung tribe villages.
- Tachileik’s replica of the Shwedagon Pagoda – a well known gilded stupa in Yangon, grounds showcase sculptures of mythical creatures. It has statues of Buddha’s disciples flanking a large golden Buddha and brilliant views of the surrounding mountains.
- Karen hill tribe (or Padaung tribe) is well-known by their long-necks. Traditionally, the woman has lengthened their neck by the way of wearing heavy brass coils, which represent beauty and tribal identity. You should be respectful as walking their village and shoot limited photos. On villages, you be able to purchase handicrafts from local artisans.
- The local market has various goods, from modern clothing and DVDs to crafts and thanaka – a yellowish face powder commonly used as makeup by Burmese women and girls.
- Particularly, you be able to carry a boat on attractive Mekong river and realize the view point on the bank where the three countries actually encounter.
3. Mong La (China Border)
Mongla is a Chinese border town, where has Loi villages. The spectacle along the road to Mongla is wonderful with outstanding view and mountains. From this town, you can adventure the glamorous Wood Monastery built over 300 years ago and set your foot to Loi villages that is rarely visited by foreigners.
About some highlights of this area, you can explore typical houses of "Tai Lue" (Lueshan) villages, Two-country Friendship Pagoda, Drug Museum, the local market, Mong Ma village the wildlife market.