The verdant hills surrounding cosmopolitan Chiang Mai have long been dotted with hill tribe villages of Thailand’s many ethnic minorities. Visiting one or more of these rural outposts has become a quintessential Northern Thailand experience.
The seven main ethnic groups that make up the hill tribes of Chiang Mai — Karen, Hmong, Lahu, Lisu, Mien, Akha and Padaung — have migrated to Northern Thailand from other parts of the Asian interior over the years, yet they all retain much of their traditional way of life. Many of these agricultural communities welcome visitors and the economic opportunities they bring with them. The two most populous tribes in the Chiang Mai area are the Karen, known for their woven turbans and tunics, and the Hmong, famous for their intricate embroidery work.
Typically a visit to one (or more) of these hill tribe villages is combined with various adventure activities — everything from jungle trekking to white water rafting.