Visit the Hill tribe museum in Chiang Rai for insights into local life in Mekong’s tribal communities. Get informed before heading off on a hill tribe trek.
What to experience ?
The Hill tribe Museum is an essential first stop before visiting any tribal village in Northern Thailand, Laos, Myanmar or even China, as these ethnic groups are living across the Mekong countries. If the Mekong River is the geographical link between the Mekong countries, the ethnic groups are definitely their main common human link.
The museum shares a wealth of fascinating information about tribal cultures and histories. You can learn about the unique arts, crafts, dress, local wisdom and livelihoods of each ethnic group, as well as how tribal peoples have adapted to their natural environments in ingenious ways.
The museum also helps you to know what to expect and how to visit a Hill tribe village sensitively.
Excellent advice is provided about taboos which travellers should not break when visiting a hill tribe village, such as touching the sacred village gate or village swing in Akha communities.
There is also information about the techniques used to produce local crafts, encouraging travellers to appreciate the hard work which goes into local handicrafts, and pay a fair price !
VDO and slide shows are available, including an introduction to the six major tribal groups (in 5 languages), a video about the potential negative impacts of tourism, a 15-minute video about the aquatic resources of the Mekong River, and a video about the dilemma of a traditional weaver.
The museum area has a lift, ramps for persons using wheelchairs and a toilet for disabled persons.
How does it help ?
“Exposure to ‘modern’ culture is inevitable. What is more important is to strengthen villagers pride in their tribal origins. That is what will protect their culture.”
– Mr. Aberto C. de la Paz, PDA.
The Hill tribe museum strives to breakdown incorrect stereotypes about tribal peoples, which are often perpetuated by poorly informed tour guides. The museum ensures that travellers get correct information, and a balanced view of the achievements and challenges of tribal peoples.
As a social enterprise, all profits raised by the museum support the community development activities of the Population and Community Development Association (PDA) Chiang Rai office.
This includes community strengthening and empowerment activities, such as the creation of village development banks which allow villagers more control over their finances and relieve strain caused by borrowing money from money lenders who charge exorbitant interest fees.
The Hill tribe Museum also tries to preserve local culture and handicrafts by raising tourists’ awareness that there are things that they should avoid buying – e.g. antique artefacts which are an irreplaceable part of the local heritage and would better remain in the hands of tribal peoples.
The Hill tribe Museum has also helped to create new community based tourism (CBT) products such as Ban Lorcha and Ban Kiew Karn (Lanjia Lodge in cooperation with the Asian Oasis).
Hill tribe Museum and Education Centre
3rd. Floor, PDA Building, 620/25 Thanalai Rd.
A. Muang, Chiang Rai 57000
Tel/Fax: 053 – 740088
Email: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org