Three women in tribal dress dara-ang
Three Palong women in traditional dress

The Palong People

The Palong people who live in Thailand came from Myanmar (Burma) in the 1980s. The name originated in Burma. You often see the name Palaung. We will use the spelling Palong on this website as this is the name these people are known under in Thailand. They are a group of Mon-Khmer speaking peoples living in the mountains of Shan State and Southern Kachin State in Myanmar.

Culturally and Linguistically they can be divided into three main groups: the Shwe, the Rumai and the Pale. The Shwe are also known as golden Palong or Ta-ang. The Pale are known as Silver Palong or Di-ang. These two groups identify themselves as Dara Ang. We are not sure about the Rumai. The homeland of the Palong people is in Southern China.

There are approximately 600,000 of them living in Myanmar and about 12,000 in China. In Thailand there are about 2,000 living in Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai provinces. Their villages are still very traditional. The Palong migrated to Thailand in the 1980s becuse they ended up in the crossfire between rebel groups in Shan State and government forces.

They left their villages and walked through the forest to the Thai-Myanmar border. At first they settled in the Doi Angkhang area. Most of them moved to the Chiang Dao area at the advice of military authorities. Near Chiang Dao they started cutting trees to make way for a village. Because this is against the law Thai police arrested the men who spent considerably time in prison.

Five Palong children
Palong children in the village Mae Chon