House of Opium - Atlas Obscura

House of Opium

Sop Ruak, Thailand

A small museum in the Golden Triangle tells the story of the opium drug trade that gripped Northern Thailand. 


The House of Opium, in the town of Sop Ruak in the Chiang Rai province of northern Thailand, is everything you ever wanted to know about opium but never dared ask.

This small museum is located right on the Golden Triangle in Southeast Asia, the area where Thai, Lao, and Myanmar borders converge. The region is known for being one of the world’s two largest producers of opium, along with Afghanistan in the Golden Crescent.

The museum was founded by Patcharee Srimatyakul in 1990. Born in the area, Patcharee had a passion for collecting opium paraphernalia and memorabilia. When she noticed that opium items were becoming extremely hard to find — with Thailand cracking down on the illegal drug trade — she turned the collection into a museum open to the public.

The exhibits display tools and objects used to plant, harvest, and trade opium, including pipes, scales, weights, knives, and scrapers. It also includes some lovely poppy flowers, the source of opium production.

The bulk of the opium cultivation was done by hill tribes in the Golden Triangle, as the drug trade offered a good source of income for farmers otherwise living in poverty. Alongside the objects in the collection, the museum provides interesting information and old photographs related to the production and consumption of opium, and the drug’s impact on the lives of the hill tribe people.

Know Before You Go

There are two museums located in the Golden Triangle area related to opium. The larger, up in the hills, is called Hall of Opium. The House of Opium is located in town, along the Mekong River. It's open daily from 7am-6pm. Admission fee is Baht 50.

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