The Hall of Opium at the Golden Triangle Park
The Golden Triangle region, a large area covering Southern Myanmar, Laos, and Northern Thailand, is notorious for the production and trafficking of opium and other illicit drugs. Millions of people visit this are on the banks of the Mekong River where these three countries meet and, in earlier times, would have seen little more than a sign with the name “Golden Triangle” and rows of shops.
In 1988, Her Royal Highness the Princess Mother visited the area and wished to initiate a program to educate people on the background of opium in the Golden Triangle and elsewhere in the world. While the Doi Tung Development Project has helped solve the problem of the supply of drugs, the Princess Mother recognized that the fight against drugs also needs to address the demand for drugs. The Hall of Opium was created to help reduce the demand for drugs through education.
In order to facilitate understanding of the underlying messages, extensive use of “edutainment” is made throughout the exhibition. Covering an area of 5,600 square meters, the exhibition is the result of almost 10 years of research. Here visitors learn about the 5,000-year history of opium: how it was used as a drug to treat illnesses, how its use spread throughout the world, how imperialist expansion used opium in the economic colonization and control of China, and how it eventually came to dominate life in the Golden Triangle as it now does in Afghanistan. Visitors learn about current issues of addiction has become a world-wide problem, and how drug abuse affects individuals, their families, communities, and even their countries.
The Hall of Opium is not only a center for learning, but also symbolic of the efforts of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej and other members of the Royal Family to solve the problems of illicit drug production and addiction. It is a testimony to their work that as of 2003, Thailand was no longer considered by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) to be a significant producer of opium.
The Hall of Opium was recognized as “an outstanding recreational attraction” in the 6th Thailand Tourism Awards of 2006 by the Tourism Authority of Thailand.
Our expectation and hope is that each visitor will leave the Hall of Opium with the realization that drugs constitutes a global issue that needs each of us to help solve. We hope that every visitor will reflect on how he or she can contribute to this effort in the war against drugs.