Thai Private Eye


The Akha

This well known hill tribe is located in the Mae Chan region of Chiang Rai, near the Burmese border. The approximately 30,000-40,000 member population of this tribe has roots traced from the Yunan region in Southern China. They have their own religious beliefs and practises, based somewhat on animism and superstition. The Akha are arguably the most colourful and everyone’s idea of what a hill tribe should look like.

The Karen

The Karens, known in Thai as the Kariengs, occupy settlements along the north-western border of Thailand. They are probably the best-known among the all the Hill Tribes, due to their previous entanglements and dispute with the Burmese border patrols. Their population numbers between 250,000-300,000 members. They are regarded to be less pre-occupied with rites and religion than their tribal peers.

The Lahu

The Lahu are still strongly committed to principles of unity and working together for survival. They are primarily subsistence farmers growing rice and corn for their own consumption and are they are hill tribe is located in a region of Chiang Rai, slightly east of Mae Chan close to the border of Burma. The 60,000 or members of this hill tribe wear unique attire ranging from embroidered tunics and turbans to silver belts and buckles. Similar to the other Hill Tribes, they are more spiritually inclined and possess their own set of rites and rituals.

The Lisu

The Lisu people are more of travelers than their hill tribe peers, dwelling in more than half a dozen provinces in north Thailand. It is hard to track the number of their population as their settlements are dispersed throughout the mountains of the north, while many have assimilated into the urban centers.

The Meo

The people of the Meo hill tribe, also called the Hmongs, are spread around the mountains in the northern most provinces of Thailand, Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai and Mae Hong Son. The term “Meo” has become a sort of collective name Thai people use for describing the hill tribe people in general. Like other hill tribe people, they have their own set of beliefs in spirituality and nature.

The Yao

The Yao people are settled along the north-eastern region of Thailand, mainly in the provinces of Phayao, Nan and Chiang Rai. The Yaos distinguish themselves from the rest of the “hill tribes” people with opulent attire and jewelry, often gold gilded.