Chiang Mai Elephants Tours Header

Hill Country of Thailand

Thailand's famous Hill County

Jasmine rice paddy - chiangmai thailand - chang thailand - elephant tours

Northern Thailand, "The Hill Country" is a diverse region with crisp mountain scenery, exotic hill tribes, forests which are still worked by elephants and friendly people who contribute to the North's hospitality and enduring charm.

The culture of northern Thailand is rich in history, flavoured by contact with the Burmese and the people of Laos. Lana Thai culture is unique to the north and its people are proud of their unique heritage.

Mae Hong Son - the lands below the wind, nestles in a valley surrounded by lush green, forested mountains. A short flight from Chiang Mai it is the most isolated northern provincial town in Thailand. Home to the refugees of the Padong (long-neck) Tribe which originate from Burma.

Chiang Rai - lies in the very heart of the fabled "Golden Triangle" - the mystical meeting point of three national borders (Thailand, Laos and Myanmar). Majestic mountain scenery abounds. The area has more than its share of natural attractions and antiquities. It is also home to many high altitude hill villages where the tribes follow a way of life from a time past.

Chiang Rai, the northernmost province of Thailand is about 785 kilometres north of Bancock. Situated on the Kok River basin, Chiang Rai covers an area of approximately 11,678 square meters with an average elevation of 580 meters above sea level. The province, which is located within the renowned Golden Triangle area where Myanmar, Laos and Thailand converge.

 Hill tribe ladies - hill country - chiangmai thailand - chang thailand - elephant trekking tours

Chiang Rai, which was founded in 1262 by King Meng Rai, was the first capital of the Lanna Thai Kingdom which was later conquered by Burma. It was not until 1786 that Chiang Rai became a Thai territory and was proclaimed a province during the reign of King Rama VI in 1910.

Trekking Story

The Hill Country

Chiangmai thailand - hill country - chang thailand
The main area of Hill Country in Thailand is the exotically-named Golden Triangle - along the borders with Burma and northwest Laos and the confluences of the Meknog and Mae Kok rivers -and this is where most of tribal groups are concentrated. In the settelment of the North, they are newcomers; the main migration started only at the beginning of this century. A census of studies put the hilltribe population at a little short of half a million in 1983, most of this since the end of the Second World War.

Northern Thailand is hill country, and laid-back Chiang Rai is the perfect base to explore the region. Located 700 miles (1,100 km) north of Bangkok, the city is reached by a one-hour flight from the capital. Burma, once a prosperous land that now struggles under the heavy hand of a military government that renamed the country Myanmar, lies just 35 minutes northwest of Chiang Rai. Laos, another land that has seen its share of war, is 30 minutes northeast. The three countries meet in a fertile area called the Golden Triangle a region that was once the opium-producing capital of the world.

Chiang Rai has a population of 1.2 million, yet it feels like a small town. After dropping my things at the Wiang Inn, which charges $35.00 USD for a lovely room and breakfast, I head out to the city's night bazaar. It's 8 pm, but the lanes are overflowing with vendors selling carvings, handcrafts and instruments all at amazingly low prices.

There are dozens of food stands, and the rich smell of Thai cooking makes me hungry. One stand, I notice, offers plates of well-cooked beetles, crickets and bamboo larvae worms. Although the dishes smell good, somehow I can't get over the thought of eating bug legs.

Beautiful waterfall - chiangmai thailand - chang thailand - elephant trekking tours - ban mae win

The weather is warm, and I feel safe walking around town. There are families strolling on the uncrowded sidewalks, and shops are open for business. Many vendors smile in greeting, and give encouragement each time I try a few Thai words. The Thai, I soon discover, are a kind and gracious people.

Elephant tours - elephant pictures - chiangmai thailand - chang thailand

Yet the Thai are not the area's only residents. The nearby hills are home to six distinct hill tribes. The Akha, Karen, Lisu, Yao, Hmong and Lahu each have their own language and culture. These 540,000 tribal people lead remote lives, and a visit to their villages is like stepping back in time.

Many of the villages have limited electricity and no indoor plumbing; homes are made of bamboo and thatched roofs. Most tribesmen depend on farming for their livelihood, and villages migrate between the steep hills of China, Thailand, Burma, Laos and Vietnam whenever the soil at their present location is depleted.

Tourism to the hill tribe country is growing each year, and I can't wait to experience this unique side of Thailand. To familiarize myself on the region, I stop at the Hill Tribe Museum and Education Center for information on the various tribes.

The Karen are known for using elephants in their farming, while the Lisu stay together as extended families. The Akha, who are spiritists, have a special gate at the village to prevent bad spirits, and the Lahu tribe prides themselves on their trapping and hunting skills. The Yau have a language and culture similar to the Chinese, and the Hmong have large families averaging eight children per family.

The Karen (known to the Thais as Karieng and Yang) arrived fro mthe west, across the lower Salween River in Burma. The Lisu (Lisaw in Thai), Lahu (Muser) and Akha (Eekaw) crossed into Thailand mainly from Burma's Shan State in the north, while the Hmong (Meo) and Mien (Yao) crossed over the Mekong River from Laos. These migrations are, however, just the final stages of a much longer history of movement, and the ultimate origins of most of the tribes is shrouded in uncertainty. And, as none except the Mien have written records, there is little chance of unveiling their early history.

Chiangmai Thailand - golden triangle - opium poppies - chang thailand

The tribes welcome visitors, and have come to depend on the economic boost tourism provides. Still, there are a few things to keep in mind when visiting the villages: Don't show physical affection (it's offensive). Don't enter a home without invitation or take photographs without asking first. Do be friendly and enjoy the visit.

Weather Conditions of the Hill Country

Buddhist temple - Chiang Rai Thailand - chang thailand - trekking tours - elephants
Northern Thailand is hill country, and laid-back Chiang Rai is the perfect base to explore the region. Located 700 miles (1,100 km) north of Bangkok, the city is reached by a one-hour flight from the capital. Burma, once a prosperous land that now struggles under the heavy hand of a military government that renamed the country Myanmar, lies just 35 minutes northwest of Chiang Rai. Laos, another land that has seen its share of war, is 30 minutes northeast. The three countries meet in a fertile area called the Golden Triangle, a region that was once the opium-producing capital of the world.

Northern Thailand has three main seasons: hot from March to May, wet from June to November, and cool from December to February. However, up in the mountains "cool" can be very cold. Winter is the best time to visit the area.

Temperatures from mid-November to January are the coldest and average between 13 C and 28 C (56 F and 83 F). Temperatures begin rising in February and in the hot season which is (March to May) range between 17 C and 36 C (63 F and 97 F). In the rainy season (June to mid-November), the high temps may drop but the lows usually stay the same.

A jacket and long pants are a good thing to have in the winter. In the mountains, it should be cold in the morning and then warm up in the afternoon. During other seasons, you'll probably just be wearing a t-shirt and shorts.

Thai Man harvesting vegetables in the hill country - Chiangmai Thailand - chang thailand  - trekking tours


Thailands Hill Tribes

Over 100 years ago, hill tribe people migrated south from China into what are now Burma, Laos, Vietnam, and Thailand. There are six major tribes in Northern Thailand that include the Karen (Kariang, Yang), the Hmong (Meo), the Yao (Mien), the Akha (Ekaw), the Lisu (Lisaw), and the Lahu (Mussur). Each tribe is district, with its own culture, religion, language, art, and dress. The main profession of all these tribes is farming. In the Thai language they are not referred to as tribes but as Chao Khao, meaning "owners of the mountains." For such a hard way of life, they are good humored and friendly people who welcome visitors.

Meo Hill Tribe Woman - Chiangmai Thailand - Chang Thailand - Elephant Trekking
The largest group is the Karen, which make up half of the hill tribe population in Thailand. They live in the mountainous northern and northwestern regions bordering Myanmar. They are the most settled of the hill tribes and live in permanent villiages in well constructed houses. The Hmong are a well-known hill tribe and the second largest group. They are spread over a wide area of Northern Thailand but most are concentrated in the Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Petchabun and Tak provinces. The two main sub-groups are the Blue Hmong and White Hmong, named after differences in dress.

One of the main attractions in Northern Thailand is meeting some of the hill tribe people that live in these remote mountain areas. It is recommended that you have a tour guide while hiking and visiting these places. Proper etiquette is to dress modestly and to ask permission before taking any pictures of hill tribe people. There are numerous tour companies that visit hill tribes during treks.

Thank you summitpost.org

Hill Country map - Thailand\

Chang Thailand - Elephant Camp - Bang Chang Hoi Pbung


breaker

Home | Tour Information | Travel Information | Elephant Info | Thai Elephants | Chiangmai
Hill Country | "Chang" Chang thailand | Chiangmai Thailand | Thailand Elephant |About Us

Elephant Ride & Bamboo Rafting | Mahout Training Coarses | Elephant Jungle Trekking Tours

ChiangMai Tours / Chiang Mai Elephants.com

65 Moo 9 A. Mae Wang T. Mae Win Chiang Mai, Thailand 50360
Phone: 970-799-2271 (USA Number) English

E-Mail

Elephant Trekking Tours in Chiang Mai Thailand Reviews - Testimonials Gallery of Pictures Learn about us