Chiang’s hill tribes were originally primarily animal lovers, although many have converted to Buddhism and Christianity. These tribes, who migrated from different parts of China and Southeast Asia, have settled in northern Thailand, each with its unique history and culture. , colorful clothes, and language. There are mainly eight hill tribes that are famous among tourists that you can spend some time with on your next visit to Chiang Mai.
The Hmong tribe, originally from Tibet, is widespread in northern Thailand and a significant minority in southern Thailand. They arrived in Thailand in the late 19th century with two sub-groups, the Blue Hmong and the White Hmong. These subgroups are distinguished by their traditional dress. Blue Hmong women wear dark blue and white knee-length skirts with intricate embroidery, and white Hmong women wear long, loose-fitting trousers and long-sleeved jackets with collar flaps. Men wear black or blue collarless jackets with fancy fronts.
Karen – The Long Neck Tribe
The Karen hill tribe is the most famous in Thailand. They began migrating from Myanmar in the late 17th century. Most live in western Chiang Mai and stretch as far north as Kanchanaburi. Their brass rings distinguish them in that they wear around their necks and elongate their necks. Single women wear loose V-neck white dresses, and married women wear traditional V-neck robes and turbans.
The women of the tribe are famous for their weaving and wood carving skills, and the men are renowned for their organic farming practices.
The Lahu hill tribe, originating from the Tibetan highlands, has a population of about 80,000 in the Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai provinces. The Lahu are made up of different groups, including the Red, Black, and Yellow. A third of the population converted to Christianity. The rest are animal lovers who believe in a city guardian spirit worshiped in a central temple. The people’s traditional clothing is very colorful, long jackets with bright wide trousers.
Despite their colorful clothing, they are known to be excellent hunters and one of the most gender-equal societies in the world.
The Akna is the poorest hill tribe in Chiang Mai. The people came from Myanmar in the 1900s and established their village in the Santikhiri area of Chiang Mai. The most distinctive feature of their clothing is the metal headdress, which they wear in various forms. The polar opposite of the Lahu tribe, Akha society, is highly gender segregated, with males and females occupying separate places on opposite sides of the village.
Traditionally they were engaged in agriculture, but lately, they have started to make and sell all kinds of handmade products like vests, handbags, etc.
The Palong tribe came to Thailand from Myanmar and is the smallest group of the Palong hill tribes. The main tribal village is the village of Nor-Lake. The Palong people are divided into three groups with different cultures and languages. Houses are mainly involved in producing tea, chilies, and sugar cane. Palong women wear long red dresses with blue or pink jackets, silver bracelets, and silver ornaments. Another distinctive feature of the Palong tribe is their gold-decorated teeth.