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Chiang Rai – One of the top destinations to learn about drugs

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Drug is always a serious problem to the world. Crime and violence related to the supply of drugs are without a doubt causing extreme grief to citizens and governments. For many producer nations, drugs are one of a number of complex factors contributing to adverse conditions within their countries.

Drug route map (from wikipedia)

Drug route map (from Wikipedia)

According to U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the mountainous region lies border of Thailand, Laos, and Myanmar which makes up the Golden Triangle was once provided at least half of the world’s opium supply. Opium has been used as a recreational drug in South East Asia since the 1800′s when the Opium Wars occurred.

For many years, the governments of the three countries have been fighting against drug. The production decrease dramatically past two decades, but Golden Triangle still didn’t die. Drug dealers and drug traffickers still find new sources and new routes to supply the demand.

In the 1990′s the governments successfully cracked down on producers and traffickers of opium in Golden Triangle area which resulted in a significant reduction in the cultivation in the area. But the reductions that were made in this region for opium resulted in the explosion of opium growing in Afghanistan. Today, Myanmar is the second largest producer of opium in the world after Afghanistan, according to the Economist (2011).

Today, though knowledge that the drug is very dangerous to health is common, and almost everybody knows how drug can destroy their lives, millions of people still fall to it and the damage is too great to measure. Fighting against drugs is not a  reserved for authority. Everybody should take part of responsibility to control drugs. Ignore them may not them may not be a great way to do. We should know the negative side of them, learn how it can harm our lives, teach our children not to associate with them.

There are few destinations that tourist can be visit and learn more about drug.  Chiang Rai is among the top destination that are worth to visit. We show you the detail below.


1. The Museo de los Enervantes, Mexico

The Museo de los Enervantes

Samples of various drugs that are trafficked through Mexico

Mexico City’s El Museo de Enervantes (The Museum of Narcotics) has chronicled Mexico’s tumultuous war against drug cartels since 1985. This is perhaps one of the most fascinating museums in the world – but you can’t go there easily. The museum is also known as “secret museum”. Operated by the Ministry of Defence, it is not open to the public, but intended for military use – primarily in the training of new soldiers.

Besides the military officers, only few selected visitors, diplomats, and journalists  are sometimes allowed to enter the museum under extreme supervision  The curious tourists who want to visit the museum have to get a permission from Mexican Narcotics Agency directly.

A drung ganster's siezed gun in Mexico City’s non-public El Museo de Enervantes, The Museum of Narcotics. (Jennifer Schmidt/PRI's The World).

A drung ganster’s siezed gun in Mexico City’s non-public El Museo de Enervantes, The Museum of Narcotics. (Jennifer Schmidt/PRI’s The World).

Inside the museum, visitors will be shown the processes of manufacturing of several kinds of drugs such as marijuana and cocaine. The exhibits also show how drugs have been used since ancient times, how poppy is grown today in narco camps, how heroin is produced in drug labs, and how narcotics are smuggled inside everything from donuts and encyclopedias to propane tanks, canned food and stuffed animals.

Displayed inside El Museo de Enervantes, weapons that once belonged to drug traffickers. Most are plated in gold and jewels (Image: PRI’s The World)

Displayed inside El Museo de Enervantes, weapons that once belonged to drug traffickers. Most are plated in gold and jewels (Image: PRI’s The World)

Several items are weapons seized from drug traffickers.  Visitors will also learn about smuggling routes of drug from Mexico in several neighboring countries. Near the exit, a plaque commemorates more than 600 Mexican soldiers who have died fighting the cartels over the last 30 years.


2. Doi Tung and Hall of Opium, Chiang Rai, Thailand

There is no particular drug museum in Doi Tung area. Doi Tung is rather a good place to remember once was the most active place for opium production and drug trade in South East Asian. The area supplied opium to trade in Golden Triangle areas.

Doi Tung is the mountainous areas lie with border of Thailand and Myanmar, not too far from Golden Triangle.  Some twenty years ago, Doi Tung has traditionally been an area at the center of Thailand’s opium production, and with a ready supply of the drug the Golden Triangle area.


Doi Tung once was most active place of opium production, now rich with coffee and macademia nuts

Golden Triangle didn’t get famous for drugs by itself. The explosion of drug trade in the area was a result of the Opium Wars (1839–42 and 1856–60) which took place between the Chinese and British traders after the traders began to smuggle opium into India and China with the goal of generating cash and as payment for tea purchases. The result was high addictions and unsettled situations in China who began to enforce serious drug penalties and sparked the Opium Wars.

At that time, the production of opium continued to be a profitable business. The demand for the product in Asia did not decrease after the Opium Wars. The production of opium continued to increased dramatically during the 1950′s, specially in the region of Thailand, Laos and Myanmar. That made huge amounts of money flooded into the region, hence the term, the Golden Triangle – probably named after the gold once traded for opium.

Today, Doi Tung is a place where drug, diseases, and prostitution have fully disappeared. Coffee and macademia nuts plantation have blossomed instead, thanks to the Doi Tung Development Project that had been initiated by The Princess Mother.

Doi Tung Coffe in one of  (Photo by Richard Palumbo, )

Doi Tung Coffe available in Le Meridien Hotel, Chiang Mai  (Photo by Richard Palumbo)

The aim of the project was to establish means of overcoming the area’s social problems through education, training, and through “Sustainable Alternative Development” such as changes in agriculture to help people change from opium production to growing crops such as coffee, strawberries and macadamia nuts and the introduction of trade in such items as local handicrafts.

Who would believe that the land that was once used as opium fields, are now transformed into coffee and macadamia nut plantations. Tourists who visit the area can see immediately the plantations of coffee and makademia but they will  have no idea this area was once the biggest place for opium production.

Hall of Opium (หอฝิ่น)
Further up to the north direction, you will be heading to Golden Triangle, the place where drug trade heavily took place in the past. There is the Thailand’s most informative drug  museum to visit. It is called “Hall of Opium”.

The Hall of Opium is about 10 kilometers north of Chiang Saen town. The museum is incorporated within the 160 rai or 40-hectare landscape of the Golden Triangle Park. The total size of the exhibition area is about 5,600 square meters.


Wax model of a man being addicted to opium

The development of the Hall of Opium is the result of the initiative of the Mae Fah Luang Foundation. The museum presents the history of opium and the impacts of illegal drugs, with an information center for research and extension education on opium, opiates and other narcotics in the near future.

The exhibition begins with a walk through a 140 meter entrance tunnel, to help create an atmosphere of the contradictory moods associated with opium and narcotics: mystery, danger, fear, sleep and dreams, ease of pain, or suppressed suffering . Introductory displays are presented in the lobby, featuring two issues that attract people to the museum. The opium poppy and its products, and drug production in the Golden Triangle. This section provides a general introduction to the opium poppy, its products, and the history of its use from earliest evidence of at least 5,000 years ago to the late 18th century

There is short dark and bright hallway, in which the contrasting characteristics of opium are presented. On the side a plant with products of great benefit to humans, On the other side a plant that can cause considerable suffering.

DRUG HELL: Stark bas-reliefs at the Golden Triangle's Hall of Opium museum on the Mekong dramatize the diabolical effects of substance abuse (BARBARA WALTON / EPA)

DRUG HELL: Stark bas-reliefs at the Hall of Opium museum on the Mekong dramatize the diabolical effects of substance abuse (Time/BARBARA WALTON / EPA)

A few sections inside the museum show the development of large-scale production, trade, and use of opium in the 18th and early 19th centuries, culminating with the Opium Wars.  Also the visitors are presented with the history of legal opium in Siam (old name of Thailand). Siam was once the country with the extensive legal opium production, trade, and use in 19th and early 20th century East and Southeast Asia.


3. The Hash Marihuana & Hemp Museum, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Marijuana and Hemp Museum new

The Hash Marihuana and Hemp Museum in Amsterdam (

Today it is possible to educate and initiate oneself about drugs in one of the city’s most well known cultures without inhaling. This museum is the place to go for all the information you never knew existed on the subject of cannabis. 

The museum is the Hash Marihuana and Hemp Museum of Amsterdam, Netherlands. The museum describes its content in a nutshell: “From cultivation to consumption, from ancient ritual to modern medicine, every aspect of cannabis in human culture is represented in some way” (

Inside the museum, the visitors are able to explore all facets of cannabis use – cultural, industrial, nutritional and medicinal – for an eminently informative experience. The cultural uses of cannabis are traced from early human history to the present, from spiritual uses to recreational ones.Visitors are also shown how cannabis and hemp, which are simply different strains of the same plant, have been part of everyday life for thousands of years.


Medical cannabis displayed inside the museum (

The museum is rather small and sometimes received complaints that the admission fee is overprice, but it contains most of Marijuana and Hemp you want to know.  In 2011, the museum had started renovation and take almost a year to complete. Now the completely redesigned venue deserves to be seen by every visitor to Amsterdam and resident of the Netherlands. The Museum’s unparalleled collection of cannabis artefacts is presented in a more stylish and fascinating way than ever before. This is the place worth to visit.

According to the museum, more than two million visitors have visited the exhibition since it opened in 1985.  The museum is located at 148 Oudezijds Achterburgwal is open every day from 10:00 to 23:00 local time. Every tourist who comes will be charged 9 Euros. Special visitors under 13 years old, must be accompanied by an adult.


Information Source & Images:
U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC)
The Economist
Time Magazine (Creative Commons)
Richard Palumbo,


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