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During and following the Symposium there will be planned excursions for participants if they are interested. These excursion are available to participants and we prefer to have interested persons preregister for proper planning of vehicles, etc. Please indicate your choices for participation on your registration form. Excursion #1 is included in the registration. Excursions 4 and 6 must be prepaid with registration. All other excursions are paid by participants but please indicate your interest so that we can aid in your arrangements.

The links directly below will take you directy to each excursion or you may scroll down the page.

1. Kok River in Chiang Rai. November 12. 1 day.

2. Other Kok River activities in Chiang Rai. Arranged by participants separately. Half or full day.

3. Package Excursion of Golden Triangle, Doi Tung Royal Development Project, and Chiang Rai Area. Arranged by participants separately. 2 days.

4. Kwan Payao lake area. November 14. 1 day.

5. Mekong River at Chiang kong

6. Pai River near Maehongson. 15-20 November.

Kok River in Chiang Rai (1 day excursion). Sampling of fishes.
Date: 12 November
Cost: Included in Registration Fee.

A tributary of the Mekong, which it joins northwest of Chiang Rai, capital of Thailand's northernmost province, the Kok enters Thai territory from Burma through a steep-sided valley in the heart of the mysterious 'Golden Triangle", that part of Burma, Thailand and Laos which produces the bulk of the world's opium supply and where the rule of opium war lords still largely holds sway. In the early decades of the 20th century, French logging companies used the river to float timber down to the Mekong on what was the beginning of a long journey to the sawmills of Vietnam. Today, however, the Kok has reverted to being a backwater -- and luckily retains a near pristine character.

The same is essentially true of the landscape through which the river runs. Typified by mountain ranges peaking a 2,000 metres, the whole of the region is one of exceptional scenic beauty, the grander of nature complemented by the fascination of villages representing all six of northern Thailand's major hilltribe groups -- Yao, Akha, Lahu, Hmong, Lisu and Karen. These are tribal people who retain independent lifestyles, most readily witnessed in the elaborate and colourful dress peculiar to each group. With the addition of such varied attractions as temples, river rafting, elephant riding and trekking, the whole area is arguably Thailand's most undervalued region. And travelling the Kok river affords the perfect introduction.

Mae Kok Boats, Hill Tribe & Elephants (Half-day trek arranged on your own)
One may also arrange for other cultural activities on the Kok River. You can arrange to t
ransfer from a hotel to the pier to take a long - tail boat up the Mae Kok river for about 50 minutes to a Karen hill tribe village. Explore the village and make a short visit to the hill tribes handicraft shop. Then, ride an elephant for about 30 minutes around the village before returning by long - tail boat to Chiang Rai. This is referred to as a half-day "mini-trek" from Chiang Rai. For more information on these types of activities while in Chiang Rai visit the following website to make your arrangments:

Doi Tung & Hill Tribes (Half-day trek arranged on your own)
You can arrange to depart by eight o'clock for a drive up Doi Tung (The Flag Mountain) (see more informaiton about Doi Tung below) where new villages have been created under the auspices of the Princess Mother's Foundation. Visit the museum (currently closed on Monday and Tuesday) and surrounding area and then move on to an Akha village. After the visit, return to Chiang Rai. This is referred to as a half-day "mini-trek" from Chiang Rai. Again, you can make arrangments for this "mini-trek" for one day by visiting the following website to make arrangements:

Hill Tribes & Golden Triangle (Full-day trek arranged on your own)
Leave Chiang Rai hotel by air-conditioned car to Mae Chan and explore Akha, Yao and Lisu villages. Then on to Mae Sai, the northernmost point of Thailand, visiting monkeys and a fish cave on the way. At Mae Sai on the Burma border, see intricate jade carving and, after lunch, explore shops for Burmese and Asian handicrafts. Then to the Golden Triangle, where the Mekong River separates Thailand, Burma and Laos, before visiting the medieval capital of the former Lanna kingdom at Chiang Saen and returning to the hotel.

For more information on this activity while in Chiang Rai visit the following website to make your arrangments:

Hill Tribes, Long-Tail Boats & Elephants (Full-day trek arranged on your own)
Early start for a long-tailed boat journey to Karen village of Ruam Mitr. Then ride elephants through hilly terrain on a two hour trip with spectacular views of the mountains surrounding Chiang Rai. After crossing the ridge descend to a Yao hill tribe village and then by vehicle for a picnic lunch by a mountain stream. Visit other hill villages in the area and return to Chiang Rai in late afternoon.

For more information on this activity while in Chiang Rai visit the following website to make your arrangments:

Package Excursion of Golden Triangle, Doi Tung Royal Development Project, and Chiang Rai Area
(2 day trip)

Date: To be arranged by participants
Cost: 2000 THB/person

1. Golden triangle, Chiangsaen historic site, Opium Museum

This is the world-famous point where Burma, Laos and Thailand meet. The modern city of Chiang Saen, with its ruins, and its branch of the National Museum, is well worth a visit. Though sadly the ancient city walls are largely ruined, the old city plan remains the same now as in days gone by. With the Maekhong River as a natural defence at its back, and its strong wall at the front and sides, Chiang Saen, this yawning backwater, once dominated the surrounding lands, commanding the confluence of the Maekhong with some of its major tributaries including the Mae Kok and Mae Chan Rivers.

Apart from its ruins and its proximity to the famous and infamous "Golden Triangle" where Myanmar, Laos and Thailand meet, Chiang Saen is a perfect starting point for expeditions into the surrounding lands. Chiang Saen Lake not far from the city, is a good place to observe immigrating wildfowl, especially in November and December. Legend has it that the Lake was once a village beside a swamp. Domestic wildfowl used to swim on the Lake but were eaten by a gigantic white eel. Seeking to rid themselves of this menace, the people made a great fishing line, with an enormous hook, which was tied to the back of a goose. Catching the monster eel, but not realising it was divine the villagers ate it with relish. Discovering this, an angel visited the village. Finding a widow who had eaten none of the eel, the angel told her not to leave her house it she heard a loud noise in the night. At midnight, a great wind and ceric sounds were heard all around her house, but heeding the angels words, the widow waited until dawn before peering from her window. Where once had been a swamp and a village was now a great Lake.

The Hall of Opium draws visitors into the mysterious world of opium, taking them on a ‘journey’ that sheds light on the more than 5,000 years of use and abuse of opiates dating back to pre-historic times, its continued use in pharmaceutical preparations and medicine for the treatment of ailments and international efforts to control illegal drug abuse. Case studies help visitors to understand the problems of addiction and choices available to fight the temptation of drugs.

Every step of the way through the 5,600 sq-metre world-class exhibition area within the Hall of Opium, the information is presented through the dramatic use of state-of-the-art multimedia innovation and is vivid and poignant. The use of engaging audio-visual presentations and interactive displays, coupled with dynamic spatial design, work together to enlighten and provoke thought.

The Hall of Opium at the Golden Triangle Park also incorporates an information centre for research and extension education on opium, opiates and other narcotics.

See also

2. Doi Tung Royal Development Project

Doi Tung Development Project under Royal Initiative works to eradicate opium supply, drug use, rural poverty through Sustainable Alternative Development, education, training, humanitarian activities, environment conservation, agriculture, handicrafts, culture preservation, tourism, in Thailand, Golden Triangle area.

To address rural poverty and alleviate some of the hardship experienced by the inhabitants of the harsh mountainous terrain of the north, Her Royal Highness Princess Srinagrindara, the Princess Mother, one of the most beloved persons in Thai history, known to the Thai people as "Somdej Ya", the people's Royal Grandmother, inaugurated the Doi Tung Development Project under Royal Initiative in 1988.

Since its inauguration, the project has played a vital role in the positive transformation of the cultural and social fabric of Chiang Rai, paving the way for a brighter future. Hence to the local population, the Princess Mother is also affectionately known as Mae Fah Luang - the "Royal Mother from the sky". Through the years, the name has come to symbolise the Royal Mother's kind benevolence and tireless efforts to improve the lives and well-being of her subjects.


Kwan Payao lake area (1 day excursion, 150 km from Chiangrai). Minimum of 5 persons
Date: 14 November
Cost: 1000 THB/person

An extensively fresh-water lake, Kwan Phayao is the largest fresh-water fish habitat in the upper North which provides the livelihood of many of the local people. The surrounding scenery, particularly at dusk, is stunning. Along the banks are located food-shops and recreation sites.

Mekong River at Chiang kong (2 day excursion,
150-200 km from Chiangrai). Minimum of 5 persons
Date: 14-15 November
Cost: 2000 THB/person

Located 55 km east of Chiang Saen, (and 114 kilometres northeast of Chaing Rai provincial capital), this settlement faces Laos across the Mekong River.

See also

Pai River near Maehongson (or Mae Hong Son)
Date: 15-20 November
Cost: 7500 THB/person (includes accomodations)

Mae Pai itself is the longest river of Mae Hong Son originating from mountain ranges in Laos which flows through Pai district of the province and eventually joins the Salawin river in Myanmar, a total distance of 180 kilometres. With an average depth of some 7 metres, the river bed is mainly pebbled. There are several sectors eminently suitable for rafting past rapids and natural scenery including beautiful waterfalls. Tour operators in Mae Hong Son town or in Pai district can provide the necessary service, some are also able to provide elephant rides. The best time for rafting is from October to March.

See also

Chavalit Vidthayanon, World Wildlife Fund Thailand.
Richard L. Mayden, Saint Louis University