A number of Students working on the Royal Project Karen Village
Students working on one of the project sites

The Royal Project

The legacy of King Buhumibol Adulyadej

His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej initiated the Royal Project in 1969, financed by His Majesty’s personal fund. There are now many of these projects in the North of Thailand. What were the aims of the project?

Many of the hill tribe people in the North Thailand were involved in destructive slash-and-burn agriculture. Opium was an important cash crop for many villages. Cultivating opium had been illegal in Thailand since 1958. Most hill tribes were living in abject poverty. The aims of the Royal project were to improve the quality of life of hill tribe people and eradicate slash-and-burn practices.

Doi Suthep, the birth of the project

Another aim was to persuade the hill tribes to grow opium by offering more rewarding cash crops as substitute. The workforce of the project included volunteers from universities and related government agencies. They joined hands to conduct research and development projects in various areas.

The first project was on Doi Suthep, the mountain overlooking Chiang Mai. The Hmong people on the mountain were growing opium and destroying the forests that form the watershed of the lowland areas. Join our Opium Trail trek to from the Hmong villages Baan Doi Pui and Baan Mae Sa Mai. During this tour you will learn how this initiative of the King of Thailand has changed and improved the lives of the Hmong people on the mountain.

The Royal Project Foundation

In 1992, the King graciously raised the status of the project to become the Royal Project Foundation, serving as a permanent public entity to carry on its work. Its major activities consist of research, development, and marketing. The Royal Project Foundation is regarded as the first successful project to eliminate opium cultivation by offering the alternative development for highland people. When there is such a project nearby we will visit it on tours. They are very interesting and educational places to visit. In Chiang Mai there are several Royal Project shops that sell products from the projects such as vegetables, fruit, tea and coffee.

The legacy of a dearly beloved King

Doi Inthanon is the location of another project, that also involves the Hmong people. There are several sites of interest such as the project market, Khun Wang Royal Project Development Center and the Royal Agricultural Research Centre Chiang Mai. These projects will live on as the legacy of a dearly beloved and missed King Bhumibol Adulyadej.

Students working on a Royal Project
Working on the Royal Project