Aug 13 2011
Or ‘welcome to the house of fin’, (fin being the Thai translation)! The House of Opium is the original of the two museums in tiny Sob Ruak (in Chiang Rai province) dedicated to the sticky resin of this one particular flower. There is also the new, flashy — and expensive — Hall of Opium, which might very well be excellent but is such a case of flagrant band-wagon jumping that we can’t bring ourselves to visit it, though … go on, you can have a link.
The little museum is well laid out and English explanations are both comprehensive and comprehensible — there is even some information in French. The curators have managed to fit a lot of stuff in a small space and cover the general history of the drug, its history in Southeast Asia, the region’s hill-tribes, and major opium players such as Khun Sa and the KMT. There are maps, dioramas and particularly good are their extensive collections of opium weights.
The array of pipes, lamps and opium containers is also very good, so even though it’s a tiny museum you could allow the best part of an hour for a visit.
The house is located in the centre of Sob Ruak at the foot of the hill. It’s open 07:00 to 20:00 and the entrance fee of 50 baht also gets you a postcard. Well worth a visit.
Travelfish.org always pays its way. No exceptions.