Meo, Lisu, Yao, Akha, Lawa and Karen hilltribes live throughout
northern Thailand's mountains. They share animist beliefs
and honour forest and guardian spirits. Each tribe has
distinctive ceremonial attire, courtship rituals, games, dances,
agricultural customs, puberty rites, languages or dialects,
aesthetic values and hygienic habits.
Journey Tour (Chiang Mai)
Popular 'Jungle Treks', lasting from 2 to 7 days, take
visitors through forested mountains and high valleys and
meadows, and include visits to remoter high-altitude
hilltribe settlements for overnight stays. The best
guides are hilltribe youths who customarily speak English,
Thai and at least three tribal dialects.
Treks commonly feature travel by foot, sometimes by boat, elephant-back,
horse-back or jeep, frequently a combination of two or three modes of
Prospective trekkers are advised to shop around companies
offering such tours for the best conditions. All treks
must be registered with the Tourist Police. This is done
for trekker's protection. Avoid companies that do not
abide by this law. Visitors are welcome to enquire from
the Tourist Police to confirm which tour companies have negative
or bad reputations, or vidit the TAT Chiang Mai office to obtain
a list of registered travel agents.
Also, avoid narcotics, essentially
everything from soft drugs such as marijuana to hard drugs such as opium
and heroin both during travel and at hilltribe villages. There are
severe penalties for such usage.
Wear sensible clothing to protect your limbs and sleep under a mosquito
net at night. Malaria is a real threat, and sensible precautions
should be taken to avoid it.
Visitors should remember to
a) Respect hilltribe beliefs and religious symbols and structures.
b) Dress modestly. Hilltribe people are generally modest.
Inappropriate attire may offend them.
c) Ask permission before photographing someone. Some
villages do not permit photography.
d) Avoid trading
western medicines and articles of clothing. Contributions to their
welfare, items such pens, paper, needles, thread, cloth and material
used for embroidery are perfectly acceptable.
prices are determined by the duration of the trip,
transportation modes, meals available and the size of the
trekking party. Check directly with the Chiang Mai TAT
Office for current information.