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Thailand - Northern Hill Tribes

The Hill Tribes of Northern Thailand

Padaung or Long Neck Tribeswoman - A princess.There are a number of hill tribes in Chiang Mai province in Northern Thailand- some are indigenous to Thailand, others are here as a result of migration - some fleeing persecution in their own countries of Myanmar, China, Laos or Cambodia.

The Thai Royal Family and Government has been accommodating with the needs of these displaced persons, giving them settlement land and integrating them into Thai society and assisting them to become self supporting within the nation.

Hill tribes presently settled in Thailand are: The Akha - The Hmong - The Karen - The Lahu or Muser - The Lisu - The Padaung (AKA - The long necked Karen) - The Lawa or Lua (The original inhabitants of northern Thailand) and The Yao or Mien.

Health and Wellbeing

Herbal Medicines Many of the older generation of hill tribe’s people, particularly the women have an extensive knowledge of herbal medicines. As they have become settled and integrated into mainstream Thai society this hereditary knowledge is disappearing. The younger generation particularly do not have the time or inclination to learn the old tribal ways and it is easier for them to visit a modern doctor when they fall ill.

Another factor is that the forests, which previously provided the plants, are now severely depleted.

It is testimony to the traditional medicines that many individuals today live well into their eighties and sometimes their nineties. Many 'western diseases' like Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, Parkinson’s disease and prostate cancer are almost unknown in the hill tribe’s populations.

Other minority Groups

Hill Tribe child in Chiang Mai ProvinceOther Minority groups who can be found residing in the north of Thailand but not necessarily in Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai provinces are:

The Htin. A settled minority living now in the lowlands of Nan province.

The Kareni. They are from the Karen minority group fleeing persecution in Myanmar (Burma).

The Kaya. Who are recent immigrants into the Mae Hong Son area. They are from the Karen minority group fleeing persecution in Myanmar (Burma).

The Khmu or Kamu are a Mon-Khmer speaking minority who live mostly in Laos but are also resident in the border provinces of Thailand near Laos.

The Mabri. A remnant indigenous population of a hunter-gatherer group found in Nan province, now being moved and settled into permanent mission villages.

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