Do's & Don'ts when visiting hilltribe villages
As a tourist one of the key attractions in Northern Thailand are the hill tribes. Their old ways of life and culture inspire curiosity and wonderment in many.
With such demand to see the hill tribes, visits to hill tribe villages and hill tribe treks have become a money making business giving rise to many ethical questions over how this is being carried out. There are concerns about the impact of tourism to villages, erosion of local culture and the environment and whether the villagers are getting a fair deal from tourism.
Almost all tour agencies in Northern Thailand advertise tours to hill tribe villages, unfortunately most of these are to villages which have been modified for the tourist, so the experience is not in its natural setting. These villages typically charge an entrance fee and stands are set up inside where villagers sell souvenirs and handicrafts. Even the souvenirs and handicrafts are not handmade by themselves but sourced from town. Some also argue that the hill tribes are being exploited by the company that manages the entrance fees, and do not receive a fair pay.
With a little bit of research it is possible to find tour agencies that offer an authentic and ethical experience of the hill tribes.
So when inside a village what are the “do’s and don’ts” and how do you make sure you a responsible tourist? Here are some tips:
• Always ask for permission before taking photos. Communicate this through body language or ask your guide to help
• If you want to make a donation the proper channels should be used, so talk to your guide as they will know best how to do this.
• Avoid creating a culture of begging by not handing gifts or money out individually
• Show respect for religious symbols or spirit catchers which are often at the front of the village or house
• Support their livelihoods through buying handicrafts they make. This is a great way to help and a more sustainable option than donations
• Dress politely and modestly
• Common sense and courtesy should prevail. Remember a smile goes a long way!
• If you minimise your cultural and environmental impact you can’t go far wrong.
Mae Hong Son zoo, not the average zoo
The Mae Hong Son zoo is one of the most unique zoos in the world. It is a rehabilitation zoo, and the animals are eventually released back into the jungle, but thats not the unique part. The unique part is how close you can get to the animals. YOU CAN TOUCH THEM. There is no zoo security and no security gates eithor. I got to hold the hand of a Gibon (type of monkey), I'll never forget that. Holding the hand of this ancient relative of ours was unforgetable! They have finger prints just like us. You can get close to the bears, but not touch them, thats pretty self-explanitory. There are also a lot of birds and stuff there. The Mae Hong Son zoo is well worth a visit!
visit a hmong hilltribe
The hmong are a tribe originating mainly from southern china, and they belong to the Austro-Thai linguistic group. Clothes-wise and look-wise they are the least impressing of the hilltribes I visited (only a few wear their traditional indigo trousers), yet their are the most warm-hearted of all. I went to visit a local school and the kids were simply adorable: friendly and fun despite the language barrier. I really recommend visiting a hmong tribe.
Tor Pae temple,Khun Yuam
Tor Pae means making a raft. This name derived from the location of this temple which believes that it used to be a community of rafting makers.They made rafts to control logs which floated in river for selling to others area. They associated to built this temple on the bank of Yuam river. The prominent buildings of this temple are a group of Golden Chedi and Layered Roofs Vihara or hall in Tai Style. A big hall for housing Buddha images,monks activities and monks residence which also built in Tai style.In this building also have an old velvet curtain which decorated with pearl,ruby and semi-precious stones for 164 pieces.And also,housed wooden pulpit which built in 2464 B.E. Others 're some wooden buildings like monk bathroom,monk toilet and pond covered. All 're well decorated with wood carving.
Hua Wieng Temple
Wat Hua Wieng was founded in 1863 AD. and be as the second oldest temple in Mae Hong Son.The name Hua Wieng came from the location of temple which located on the North of city. It means head of city. So Hua means head and wieng means city. the The most important building is Viharn Prachao Phalalakhaeng where housed an important Buddha image named "Prachao Phalalakhaeng".This Buddha image 's a remodel of the real one in Mandalay,Burma.The Buddha image is in Subdueing Mara posture with full decoration. The viharn built in Tai architecture style with a multi tiered roofs decorated with carved aluminium, dated circa early Rattanakosin period (around 1873). As the important temple where located in toen,so every festivals always held in this temple.