When talking about Chiang Rai, a beautiful land with its intricate mountains, most people will think of hill tribes since Chiang Rai is a northern province where lots of hill tribe groups are inhabited. In addition to the traditional Thai people, including Tai Yuan, Tai Lue, Tai Khin and Tai Yai, Chiang Rai is also a home to nearly 30 hill tribes. However, the main hill tribes that you will be able to see in Chiang Rai today are as follows:
Karen Hill Tribe
The Karen are still commonly found in Chiang Rai. The Karen people are unique in their language, traditions, and religion. The Karen hill tribe has many subgroups, such as the well-known Karen Long Neck. What make these people interesting are that the Karen people practice a crop rotation in order to preserve soil and they have distinctive outfits. In particular, a long dress with tassels or "a caftan dress" has become a hot item for girls.
Akha Hill Tribe
The Akha have sub tribes as well. Even without a written language, Akha people also have many traditions that emphasize the link with nature, the establishment of community and family systems, therapeutic treatments, as well as art and culture, etc. The highlight of Akha costumes are the silver medallion and black long sleeved shirt. Nowadays, Akha people are less seen because a modern world affects their ways of life.
Hmong Hill Tribe
The Hmong like a peaceful lifestyle in nature, so they often settle on the mountain. They have many cultures of their own. The interesting things are their costumes and traditional games. Also, the long tradition of the Hmong New Year has been celebrated in many districts in Chiang Rai, such as Phaya Meng Rai District, Thoeng District, and Wiang Kaen District. The highlight of the Hmong girls is the front bun hair style, which is different in each subgroup.
Muser Hill Tribe
Muser or Lahu people in Chiang Rai are found in Mae Sai. The Muser people have many subgroups. Even they like to settle on the high mountains, they like to live near Thais. The distinctive feature of the Muser is the concept of living their lives with an environmentally friendly agriculture. The Muser have quite eye-catching outfits. They mainly use black fabrics decorated with other colors, indicating their tribe.
Lisu Hill Tribe
Lisu people in Chiang Rai are mostly found in Mae Chan District. The Lisu have a traditional system. Besides agriculture, they also have the skills to make silver jewelry in their own style. The Lisu costume is unique, using candy colors and bright geometric pattern fabrics decorated with pom-poms. The trend of Lisu costumes has been modified by the modern era. Lisu is a tribe that has their own fashion.