Evening entertainment by Hilltribes

Hilltribes Northern Thailand,Chiang Mai Hilltribes, Chiang Mai Trekking,Trekking Chiang Mai

Remote Hilltribe villages in Northern Thailand.

Remote hilltribe villages in northern Thailand are indeed an experience. Our second day trekking led us to this beautiful village on the outskirts of the jungle. It is not possible to reach this village by foot and we had to use different modes of transport to get there: elephants and bamboo river rafts.

These hill tribe minority groups are unique and have their own language, traditional clothing, art and religion. There are +- 6 major tribes in Chiang Mai and Northern Thailand. The six major hilltribes are the Karen (Kariang, Yang), the Hmong (Meo), the Yao (Mien), the Akha (Ekaw), the Lisu (Lisaw), and the Lahu (Mussur).I have seen 3 when I was there in 2006.

Hilltribes Northern Thailand,Chiang Mai Hilltribes, Chiang Mai Trekking,Trekking Chiang Mai
Two Hilltribe girls in traditional clothes.

Over 100 years ago the Hilltribes migrated south from China into what are now known as Laos, Burma, Vietnam and Thailand. Their main income is from farming. They also tend to migrate when the soil is getting depleted.

Evening entertainment by the Hilltribes.

Now to get back to my story. Language is a problem and don´t expect to have a lengthy conversation with the elders of the tribe. I found that a couple of younger ones could speak a little bit of English. But with this in mind please don´t think that they were skimping on hospitality. They were the best hosts that any traveller could ask for. After our meal they prepared a huge bonfire and we all gathered around it for an evening lined up with entertainment.

Hilltribe entertainment in Thailand

The whole family dressed up in traditional clothes and performed dances for us. Even a tiny little girl who could barely walk danced. That evening I sat there and I was in awe of this little family.

Hilltribes in Chiang Mai Thailand

My life as I know it felt so divorced from the way these people live. They were happy and money was not the most important thing in their lives. They enjoyed the silence and beauty of nature and the richness of the soil that gave them food on the table. For a moment I wished that I could live like that. Stripped from all the pressure of society and the troubles of life.

Hilltribes of Northern Thailand

It was pitch black around me and I didn´t have any place to go. I sat there for a very long time until the flames started to die. But a question kept bugging me: “How will these tribes be able to stay unique and keep their culture with the rapid modern development in Thailand?”

Jungle Camp fire Hilltribes in Northern Thailand

The specific tour that I have taken are focused to uplift these small communities and a large portion of the money that we have paid for the tour are used for this purpose. Will they eventually be absorbed into the Thai society or will they keep their uniqueness? It was a question I didn´t want to know the answer to. Or maybe I already did…

I have been fortunate to have done quite a bit of travelling over the last 10 years. By heart I am an adventurer and I love exploring new places, cultures and food. Travelling can become stressful and expensive. Over the years I have learnt to travel as cost effective as possible, simply by travelling more clever. Nelmitravel.com is a Adventure and Budget Travel site where I review Airlines, Accommodation, Transport, Restaurants and give helpful travel information.

31 Comments

  1. Hello Nelieta -I love people and culture. Hey, aren't those 2 little kids adorable; too precious! In the 90s I lived in Europe, Eastern Europe, and then Asia (Hong Kong). I never made it to Thailand although I certainly wanted to. You've rekindled one of my many many dreams. Thanks and good post. :)http://charlienitric.wordpress.com/

  2. Sounds like an amazing time-and a beautiful culture. I loved the pictures-the outfits are amazing and the kids were adorable! I love hearing about the hospitality found in other cultures…the sense of hospitality is something sorely lacking in our American culture over here. Hopefully stories of other cultures and how they extend themselves to travelors will inspire some of us Americans to be more open towards those that come and visit our country.A great post!

  3. I envy your life,,would Nelieta,love to explore these places..and this is completely new to me,I didn't have a clue.I am referring my daughter to your post,as its going to benefit her..God bless you always.

  4. Hi Charlie, aren´t they adorable? I found them at a temple in Chiang Mai. I have another photo where the eldest is trying to kiss her little sister on the cheek. She was not impressed. If you ever can make it to Thailand please do. It is a great country to travel!

  5. Hi Savira, thank you! Love the new look of your blog too! Yes that is the other thing I like about travelling..to learn about the cultures. People are so interesting!

  6. Hi Jessica, I did a jungle trek for 5 days and we slept in small villages. The hospitality was incredible. These people don´t have much but they have what a lot of us don´t have. Inner peace.Nowadays nobody trusts each other and how many of us would give a stranger in the night a bed to sleep or a meal? Personally I think we should be learning more from these people.I am sorry to hear that it is the same in the US.

  7. Hi Alpana, I am not travelling as much now and some days I wish I could just pack up and get on that next flight!I hope to be able to have my stories published by the middle of next year. I hope your daughter can find some articles useful :)God bless.

  8. Looking at those pictures I wish I could travel the way you do. Seeing these pictures reminded me so much of our villages here in North east of India. Thank you Nelieta for sharing this.

  9. This is an awesome adventure Nelieta, riding an elephant, river rafting, trekking in a jungle all in one and to top it all a chance to see one of Thailand's slowly disappearing tribes as most have succumb to the call of modernity. Do you have more pictures of your elephant ride?

  10. Hi Pamela, thank you! It looks like the new look works 🙂 It is wonderful to see people so happy and relatively stress free.

  11. Hi Rimly, travelling to Thailand in 2006 was an incredible experience. I have never had so much fun on a trip and to think I almost went to Vietnam but last minute changes left me in Thailand. Those small villages are such a humbling experience. I loved every minute of my trip. I am glad it brought back some memories for you about your little villages in India.

  12. Hi Claire, I still have so much to write about Thailand! I had an amazing experience there with soooo much fun!Watch the space I will be writing about the elephant ride and river rafting soon 🙂

  13. A beautiful post, Nelieta. I admire you for seeing so much of the world. You're right. English is not the only language of hospitality. It is intrinsically human; I think that's why we can connect with people from different cultures.And I share your musings with regard to the preservation of indigenous cultures in the face of globalization and imperialism. How indeed? I believe tourism is a two-headed hydra. It can hasten globalization by exposing these tribes to tourists, but it can also help in preserving their uniqueness. After all, you wouldn't be there if they wore jeans and stayed glued to FB all day. 🙂

  14. Great experience. I lived in Thailand for a couple of years and visiting the hill tribes was one of the highlights of my time there. I really worry about their future too.

  15. HI Laurel, that must have been great to live in Thailand! This was one trip I would never forget 🙂

  16. Hi Sugeng Prajitno, thank you for your first visit to my blog! It was a very interesting and humbling experience 🙂

  17. Hi Nelieta, Lovely post. we also visited Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai. One of the things we remarked on was that in the small villages we visited most of the huts had a big satellite dish and widescreen tellies. There didn't seem to be much else. The influence of television could make it very different for them to hold on to their uniqueness.

  18. Great experience. I lived in Thailand for a couple of years and visiting the hill tribes was one of the highlights of my time there. I really worry about their future too.

  19. This is an awesome adventure Nelieta, riding an elephant, river rafting, trekking in a jungle all in one and to top it all a chance to see one of Thailand's slowly disappearing tribes as most have succumb to the call of modernity. Do you have more pictures of your elephant ride?

  20. Hi Claire, I still have so much to write about Thailand! I had an amazing experience there with soooo much fun!Watch the space I will be writing about the elephant ride and river rafting soon 🙂

  21. Hi Pamela, thank you! It looks like the new look works 🙂 It is wonderful to see people so happy and relatively stress free.

  22. Hi Alpana, I am not travelling as much now and some days I wish I could just pack up and get on that next flight!I hope to be able to have my stories published by the middle of next year. I hope your daughter can find some articles useful :)God bless.

  23. Hi Jessica, I did a jungle trek for 5 days and we slept in small villages. The hospitality was incredible. These people don´t have much but they have what a lot of us don´t have. Inner peace.Nowadays nobody trusts each other and how many of us would give a stranger in the night a bed to sleep or a meal? Personally I think we should be learning more from these people.I am sorry to hear that it is the same in the US.

  24. Hi Savira, thank you! Love the new look of your blog too! Yes that is the other thing I like about travelling..to learn about the cultures. People are so interesting!

  25. Hi Charlie, aren´t they adorable? I found them at a temple in Chiang Mai. I have another photo where the eldest is trying to kiss her little sister on the cheek. She was not impressed. If you ever can make it to Thailand please do. It is a great country to travel!

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