Learn more about the diversity of north Thai culture by visiting one of the hill tribe villages near Chiang Rai. As you’ll need transportation and a translator to get the most out of the experience, hill tribe villages are most commonly visited as part of a tour. Homestays can also be arranged.
The Karen people originate from Myanmar and are the largest hill tribe group in north Thailand. They traditionally live in stilted houses, cultivate rice, raise animals, and craft silver jewelry. The Karen villages near Chiang Rai are known as the “Long Neck Village” for the stacked gold bands the women wear around their necks.
The Ahka people originate from Tibet and migrated to north Thailand in the 1900s. The Akha traditionally live in bamboo huts divided into separate areas for men and women. The Akha are known for their colorful embroidery and the traditional costume is a black shirt with embroidered sleeves and an ornate headdress.
The Hmong people (also known around Chiang Rai as the Meo) migrated to Thailand from China via Laos. The Hmong live in mountainous areas and previously cultivated opium, though have now switched to rice and corn. The Hmong people are known for their batik fabric dying techniques and traditionally wear indigo clothing.