Photo: The Golden Triangle from above.

Wat Prathat Sam Mung & Wat Doi Phu Kao

Our rating:

The best viewpoint over the Golden Triangle is beautiful, if touristy, and easily reached -- it lets you take in two temples as well.

Photo of Wat Prathat Sam Mung & Wat Doi Phu Kao

Just aside the House of Opium, a sealed road and adjacent flight of naga-lined steps lead up to the summit of the small hill overlooking town. Up top the small carpark has souvenir stalls and the inevitable coffee shop on one side and stupendous views on the other. There’s a brand new (as of late 2015) viewing platform, a map explaining where you are and in case you hadn’t realised, a sign stating "The Golden Triangle". You can see the Mekong River with Laos to the right and a green triangle of Burma formed by the confluence of the Mekong and Ruak rivers to your left.

On the Lao side of the carpark steps take you up to an old chedi and the tiny but elegant Wat Prathat Sam Mung. Beyond this are the remains of an even older, eighth century ruined chedi or shrine, where you can just make out chunks of an ancient seated Buddha figure. Sob Ruak is a very old settlement and in pre-Thai times would have probably been inhabited by Lawa people. Thai (Tai) clans migrated south and west through what is today Laos in the 13th century from their land of origin in southern China, and this far northeastern region would have been their first landfall in what is now Thailand.

Continuing down the wooded hill takes you to a second, larger temple, Wat Doi Phu Kao, which is unusually constructed out of laterite. From here ornate steps take you back down to the street level and the House of Opium Museum.

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Location map for Wat Prathat Sam Mung & Wat Doi Phu Kao

What next?

 Browse our independent reviews of places to stay in and around Sob Ruak.
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