The Cultural Diversity of Chiang Dao

Tourist weaving in a village
Learning to weave with the Dara-ang

This tour is on request because we will customize the itinerary to your specific interest. It is a sample program. This might be language, traditional dress, daily life, agriculture, music, religion, weaving and embroidery or cooking. You also might only be interested in hiking and taking pictures of the scenery and of the local people in their beautiful traditional dress. Some people in these communities still wear their traditional dress, but most of them don’t. They gladly show you their most beautiful traditional dress if we request this. All these communities still have their own strong cultural identity. Showing interest in this identity is very rewarding for visitors and hosts alike. That is what this trip is about.

We will bring you to communities of the Akha, Lisu, Lahu, Dara-ang (Palong), Karen and Hmong people. Five of these communities are located in the Chiang Dao district of Chiang Mai province. The Hmong people however live on the slopes of Doi Suthep aka Suthep Mountain. We will customize the program to your requirements, but meeting and spending time with people of the ethnic minorities is our priority. If you are into textiles, there is a lot to enjoy and explore. Not only will you see fantastic traditional dress, but you also have the opportunity to book private weaving and/or embroidery lessons. For those who are not so much into textiles there are a lot of other fields of interest such as learning about agriculture, musical instruments, language, preparing local food, religion and so on.

The Cultural Diversity of Chiang Dao

Our trip The cultural diversity of Chiang Dao is about meeting people and learning about their history, traditions and daily life. We have chosen the district of Chiang Dao in Chiang Mai province because it has many different ethnic groups. The area we visit is east of the town of Chiang Dao where Akha, Lisu, Dara-ang (Palong), Lahu and Karen people are living not far from each other. Besides visiting these villages, we also visit the Hmong village Ban Mae Sa Noi in the Mae Sa Valley in Mae Rim district, north of Chiang Mai. We organize a day tour to these same ethnic groups but that trip focuses on photography. Apart from that, we offer trekking trips to this interesting and scenic part of Chiang Mai province.

Day 1 – Chiang Mai – Chiang Dao

The Lisu people of Huay Ko

Your guide and driver will meet you at your hotel at 0800 for your trip named “The cultural diversity of Chiang Dao”. We will drive to Chiang Dao, about 70 km north of Chiang Mai. There we will first visit a village where Akha and Lisu people live next to each other. We will visit a house where we will meet people of the Lisu minority. We will spend some time here talking about their daily life and the community. You are free to ask them questions. They will show their traditional dress as well and you can take pictures together with them. Your guide will translate.

Meet the Akha Loimi of Huay Ko

After this, we will meet the Akha Loimi of Huay Ko. The Akha are well-known for their fantastic headdress of the women. In former times the Akha people wore traditional dress every day. You will see some wearing traditional dress nowadays but to see people in full traditional dress you have to come during a festival. In this village, an Akha woman will dress up in her most beautiful dress. You can take pictures of her. Besides we will chat about local life.  We will have a simple lunch in the village.

The Pakayor aka White Karen of Pha Lai

Our next stop is a Karen village where we will meet some of the villagers and learn about their dress and traditions. The Karen are the most numerous of Thailand’s indigenous groups. The Karen call themselves “Pakayor”. After this, we will go to the nearby Dara-ang village Mae Chon, where we will spend the night. We will introduce you to your owners of our homestay and start cooking the dinner. The Dara-ang people are known locally as the Palong people. They are the most recent arrivals in the north of Thailand of all ethnic groups, migrating from Myanmar in the 1980s. Besides that, they are one of the smaller groups, not numbering more than about 4,000 people. You can help your guide preparing dinner. In this village we installed a traditional rice pounder which we will use to pound the rice.

Overnight will be in a basic guesthouse in the village.

Day 2 – Chiang Dao – Chiang Mai

Meet Palong (Palaung) aka Dara-Ang

After breakfast the guide will explain the program for today. This morning we will spend a couple of hours in the village. There are many different activities in this village, from bamboo basket weaving to textile weaving, making ear rings and preparing a local delicacy.  In this village, most women still wear the beautiful traditional dress. Apart from having the opportunity to take photographs of traditional dress and pose together with local people, you will also learn about their culture. This morning you have the opportunity to practice the traditional craft of back strap weaving. We will spend time in the village for a couple of more hours. After this you can either hike for one hour to the next village or board our vehicle and drive there.

The Red Lahu of Ban Huay Pong

We will spend some time with a Red Lahu family in this village where Palong and Lahu people live together. The Lahu have beautiful, colorful dress, which they will show you. The Lahu were once known as the best hunters of all indigenous people in Northern Thailand. In this village there is a unique Lahu spirit temple which is a very simple but interesting structure. We will have a simple lunch in the village after which we will drive to the Mae Sa Valley in Mae Rim district, north of the City of Chiang Mai. It is believed that the 12 Hmong communities in this district moved here after World War Two.


Tribal bag with silver jewellery Lahu hill tribe
Lahu textile bag

The Hmong people of the Mae Sa Valley

We will visit the White Hmong village of Ban Mae Sa Noi, which has a beautiful location on the slopes of Suthep Mountain. The village is located within the boundaries of Doi Suthep-Pui National Park. We will visit the handicraft center of the village where they will demonstrate how they make shirts and other garments from hemp fiber (กัญชง). The cannabis sativa or hemp is a plant that is the source of fiber, seed oil, food, and medicine. The Hmong people have cultivated this plant to create cloth from its bark. They produce the most beautiful traditional dress from hemp. Around the village you will see the fields of the village where people grow a variety of vegetables and fruit.

After a day full of traditional dress we will drop you off at your hotel in Chiang Mai. We hope you have enjoyed our trip “The cultural diversity of Chiang Dao”.


What is included?

English speaking guide
Transportation by AC Minivan

Overnight in a village guesthouse

Two lunches, one breakfast and one dinner
Drinking water during meals
Limited medical insurance

What is not included?

Other drinks except for water during meals
Personal expenses