We took a short day trip to the Chiang Rai area, approximately 3 hours further north of Chiang Mai to see the Golden Triangle and the hill tribes.
Wat Rong Khun Temple or "The White Temple" was designed by a very famous fine art painter in Thailand. He volunteered his services in 1977 for the construction of the temple, all at his own expense. Construction of the temple complex did not begin until 1997. For 20 years prior to this, he collected funds for the project through the sale of his paintings. He had managed to accumulate 30 million baht (US$890k) for the construction of the temple main complex. It is still under construction.
The Golden Triangle is tri-country border where Myanmar- Burma, Thailand and Laos meet at the Mekong River. It's called the Golden Triangle because it is where traders would pay in gold for opium.
In order to get a real hill tribe experience, one must do hours of trekking into the mountains. I was a little dissapointed, but none the less it was interesting to see and learn about how local tribes are adapting into the modern world. The particular place we visited wasn't far from town where tribes live on government funded land. Most of the men have jobs in town and the women weave scarves, etc. for money. The kids there melted my heart!