Visit north Thailand hill tribe villages and experience genuine community-based tourism while trekking to enjoy nature, stay with a family, gain unique insights into fast-changing traditions, and meet some of the warmest-hearted people in the world!
What to experience ?
Near Chiang Rai, discover a genuine one or two night community-based tourism experience where you can enjoy nature and traditional culture with a family. Trek out further to less visited communities, and stay with hill tribe families far from your home comforts; squat toilets, bucket showers, early nights, thin mattresses, and noisy animals are all part of the fun. It’s real life !
Houses in the villages are a mix of traditional bamboo structures, from wooden plank houses to some concrete block buildings, some roofs made of grass and some tiled in the modern method.
Most food is purchased from the host family to provide an extra income for them, and most ingredients you eat are grown in the community. It will be typical local food but with your needs kept in mind. If you are a vegetarian, please say so when you book.
English- and Japanese-speaking local hill tribe guides will facilitate your encounter with these wonderful people, their lives and culture…You have the chance to get closer to the people, receive orientation about the cultures and traditions you are about to immerse yourself in. The foundation runs some of the best volunteer programmes in the country, and teaches basic Thai language lessons and hill tribe words to volunteers going on homestay.
How does it help ?
“We are here to present the facts, not tell people how to live their lives. Providing local people with information empowers them to be responsible, to take control of their own lives.”
The villages are typically poor and the majority of their income is from agriculture. Many villagers do not have Thai citizenship, and therefore the land they live on is not their own. It also means they have no legal rights, healthcare or education benefits, freedom of travel, or right to land ownership, unlike those with citizenship. Often villages have insufficient land to meet all their needs and so extra income is needed. Trekking is one of the ways to help.
The Mirror Foundation works with ethnic minorities across Thailand. Income generated from tourism and hosting volunteers helps to support this work. The team uses their knowledge of Thai law to help eligible stateless people to understand the law, gain citizenship, and stand up for their rights. They support local children’s education, and Thais teach Thai language to the ethnic minorities. Volunteers help to teach English and Japanese.
The Foundation contributes to the preservation of their unique heritage by collecting, and disseminating their stories and songs. By celebrating and conserving their unwritten histories, these people often regarded as second-class citizens regain confidence and pride.
Guides and homestays are rotated to ensure a fair distribution of wealth, and they are paid more than by most other tour agents. They also run a waste recycling system – selling recycled products.