Getting intimate with the hill tribes of Chiang Rai
There are many different hill tribes in the province of Chiang Rai and the best place to learn about them all is at the Hill Tribe Museum and Education Center which is established by the Population and Community Development Association(PDA). This is the best place to start your eco-tourism tour package for the hill tribes of Chiang Rai. Some travel and tour establishments in Thailand such as thaitourismguide.com do make arrangements for tours to the hill tribe villages of Chiang Rai such as the Long Neck Karen hill tribes and the Akha hill tribes.
The tours by the Population and Community Development Association includes a museum tour for the hill tribes which explain the intricacies of the eco-system which these tribes rely on as well as the do and don’t while visiting their villages. It will do well that you adhere to these instructions prior to your visit as much is done to preserve the hill tribe’s natural existence without too much modernization so as to lose their traditional and cultural way of life which is already fast diminishing as more of them are being modernized and losing their roots to tradition. There are six predominant tribes in the Chiang Rai province which are the Karen, Akha, Hmong, Yao, Lisu and Lahu. You should also bear in mind to respect the taboos, traditions and values while visiting their villages or else they might think that you are the one that requires a cultural lesson!
The tours to the hill tribes of Chiang Rai are not just eco-tourism packages but also a community-based tourism of the hill tribes of Chiang Rai. If you place close attention to the tour narrations, you will understand why the traditional costumes for these tribes are fast disappearing, why they are losing their traditional weaving culture and why their traditional and cultural dances are also not taken over by the new generation. During the tour to the villages you also get to watch the traditional hill tribe dance demonstrations, taste their food, and see how they live and what they do on a daily basis. If you want to feel like one of these hill tribe people and live a humble existence, you can ask for a session where maybe you can spend a day or two among them but check with your Thai travel agent if you have an inclination to play a hill tribe role-play! Maybe you might find it more rewarding than a modernized lifestyle and change your perception of things in a humble way, so you will have to do away with that iPad, iPod or whatever if you want to try and be as close to their way of life! Think you can do that?