Photo: The Golden Triangle from above.

Hall of Opium

Our rating:

There’s a perfectly good opium museum down the road for 50 baht, so is this one worth 200? By the time we left, we were definitely won over.

Photo of Hall of Opium

There’s little overlap between the two museums content-wise -- they’re complimentary rather than repetitive, so if you have time, see both.

The Hall of Opium is more general, and its contents and aims broader. There’s an emphasis on the wider historical context of opium, including European trade and interaction with Southeast Asia and China, the East India Company, the Opium Wars, imperialism in Asia, the history and origins of opium and information on other drugs. The House is more specific to opium in this region, recent history, opium paraphernalia and the hilltribes who cultivated it. The Hall is a large, well-funded and -designed museum, while the House is a cramped, more amateurish affair though to be fair, it is much older and the Hall does receive ample funding through the Doi Tung Project.

The Hall starts out in spectacular fashion. As the entrance, foyer and ticket desk were constructed on one side of a hill and the museum proper on the far side, a 137-metre dimly lit tunnel was dug underneath linking the two halves. This very elaborate entrance is supposed to represent the descent into hell and darkness resulting from opium addiction. You emerge from the tunnel into a sprawling complex of exhibition rooms, video theatres, dioramas and text, map and photo displays. The level of written English is excellent and information abundant. Eager staff run around after you to turn on videos or light up displays. It’s fascinating stuff and if you were to examine all the displays and watch every film you’d be in there for at least two hours.

The route finishes at a good fresh coffee shop and bakery, and that rare bird: a tasteful souvenir shop plus excellent book store. Looking around for the exit we were met by a shuttle bus chauffeur since apparently by the time you reach the end it’s a two-kilometre walk back around the hill to the carpark.

The only thing we didn’t like was the unnecessary no photography policy, but you certainly get your money’s worth.

By .

Hall of Opium
1 km north of town, Route 1290
Tues-Sun, 08:30-17:30, last admission 16:00
T: (053) 717 433 
Admission: Foreigners: 200 baht. Thais: 150 baht

Location map for Hall of Opium

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