Sunday, 4 May 2014

Baan Tong Luang

Baan Tong Luang is a hill tribes village located a few kilometres outside of Chiang Mai. It offers guests the chance to see several of the tribes that have settled in the north of Thailand over the last hundred and fifty years. They have kept their traditional clothes and customs. To supplement the proceeds from their agricultural activity they have opened this village area to visitors. It is the easiest place to see hill tribes if you opt not to do a trek while you visit Chiang Mai.

The park is described as an ‘eco-agricultral hill tribes village’. They are growing various crops using the traditional methods of their tribes. Naturally these methods don’t include using expensive pesticides and fertilizers. For those interested in seeing how food is grown without modern farming methods Baan Tong Luang is the best place to head.

The hill tribes represented in the village are:

1.    Karen – originally from Tibet
2.    Lahu Shi Bala – also from Tibet
3.    Palong – minority from Burma who migrated in the 1980s
4.    Hmong – originally from Tibet, fought against communists in Laos
5.    Kayaw  -from the Kayah state in Burma and a subgroup of the Karen tribe
6.    Akha / Ekhaw – from Yunnan in China
7.    Yao / Mien – trace their history back to the Song Dynasty of China; originally from the Chang Jiao River basin in China

You get to see the tribes in a real life setting. They are also wearing their traditional costumes. It is a chance to see some of the many minorities that inhabit China and South East Asia whose ways of life have become threatened by development and modernisation.

The only downside to the place is the focus on the Karen women who famously wear lots of golden hoops on their neck to make it look longer. This tradition has become famous and is the main crowd attraction it seems. Tourists gawping at these women put me off a bit.

There are often tribal people doing textile making. Naturally these items are available for sale.

Baan Tong Luang is on the Maerim-Samuang Road. The entrance is on the left, between Maesa Waterfall and Maesa Elephant Camp.

You can combine a trip to the Hill Tribes Village with a visit to Queen Sirikit Botanical Garden, Maesa Elephant Camp and Maesa Waterfall.