Sponsored by the late Princess Mother as part of a larger effort to educate and find alternatives to opium cultivation for hill-tribe peoples of the north, this museum complex covers some 16 hectares (40 acres) of garden overlooking the Mekong. You enter the museum and follow a long corridor through a mountain. In the dark, all you can see are a few murals that portray the pain and anguish of addiction, and then emerge in a grand atrium with a large glowing golden triangle (the irony is a bit much). From there a multimedia romp of films and light-up displays tell of the growth of the poppy, its vital importance in British and international trade with China, the many conflicts over opium, the drug's influx into Thailand, and recent efforts to suppress international smuggling and address rampant addiction throughout the region.

Media-savvy exhibits are in both Thai and English. The "Hall of Excuses" at the end highlights (or lowlights?) many of the world's most well-known addicts, and the museum ends in the "Hall of Reflections," where guests are invited to ruminate on their experience. And it is an experience (taking about 1 1/2 hr. to go through). There's nothing like it anywhere else in Thailand.