So close to China and Myanmar, the North of Thaïland is a place where many minorities can be found. While the Karen “Long Neck” are probably the most famous of them all, you will find many others in the North of the country. From China, Tibet, Burma, many hilltribes decided to move to Thailand for a variety of reasons. Discover them in pictures in this post.

The Akha:

akha thailand

Akha smile thailand

Their origin is believed to be from Tibet. They are seen mainly around Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai. You will recognise them because of their traditional clothes that consist of a headdress of beads, feathers and dangling ornaments. Their main colours are usually red and black.

The Karen:

Karen long neck baby thailand

bigear karen thailand

It is hard to know where the Karen are from. People believed they are from Myanmar and most of them are refugee in Thailand. But their story doesn’t give you a proper answer, the Karen believe that the gods took away their ability to read and write, consequently, the details of their real origins and homeland are unknown, even to themselves. Karen are known mainly due to part of their tribe being “Long Neck” or “Big Ear” though you will find many difference between each Karen tribes.

The Lahu:

lahu thailand

Also believed to be from Tibet, the Lahu are anisimist and their name in Thai comes from the word “Hunter”. They tend to live at high altitude and, for you spice lovers, also have the spiciest food of all the hill-tribes. The woman usually wears a bright green and red clothes and men tend to wear black and red jackets.

The Mien:

Mien thailand

Believed to be from China, the Mien mainly moved in Thailand during the American War after colaborating ith the CIA agains Pathet Lao Forces. Very influenced by the Chinese culture, you will usually see their language written in Chinese characters. They are known for their crafts and you can easily recognize the woman since they wear black turbans and red furlike collars.


2 major tribes are not (yet) represented here since we did not meet them yet in Thailand. The Lisu and the Hmongs. Stay tuned for more infomation about them.


2 responses to “Thailand

  1. We met Karen people during our trip to Thailand and stayed with them for a few days in a remote place north of Chiang Mai. It was such a nice experience! We also met Lisu women selling goods by the side of the road near Mae Hong Son. I love their clothes!

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