Formerly known as Siam, Thailand has the distinction of being the world’s 51st largest country with Bangkok as its capital. Located in the South Asian Indochina peninsula, this country is headed by King Rama IX who is also Thailand’s longest reigning monarch. King Rama IX has been the Thai head of state since 1946 and will celebrate his 68th year in power in 2014. Thailand is a melting pot of cultures and ethnicities with ethnically Thai, Thai Chinese, ethnically Malay, Mons, Khmers and hill tribes making up its population.
The hill tribes constitute a term used for the population that used to inhabit the Northern region of Burma, but at present such tribes can be found in border areas known for its thick and lush forests and rocky terrain. There are believed to be six hill tribes in the state of Thailand, namely the Karen, Hmong / Miao, Lisu, Akha, Lahu and Mien / Yao who are traditionally migratory as, in olden times, the tribes used to migrate from place to place.
For the adventurous tourist travelling to Thailand, an excursion to visit some of these hill tribes would prove to be a worthwhile trip. However, such an excursion is best made with a guide for the significance, both cultural and environmental, would perhaps be lost without proper guidance.
An excursion to the KMT villages involves a trek to areas in between the Thai and Burmese border and tourists will have the opportunity to visit the villages of some of the hill tribes, namely the tribes of Akha and Mien / Yao. During this trip, ensure that your guide takes you to the area where the Yunnanese live for these are the descendents of the KMT that settled down in the area subsequent to the Chinese Revolution in the mid twentieth century. This area is replete with old temples and homes built in a distinctive style which offers tourists a valuable glimpse into one of the identities of the Thai people.
If you wish to visit these villages, inquire from your hotel Chiang Rai and perhaps they can assist you in arranging tours. Most Chiang Rai hotels will be happy to provide you with a guide to explore these remote areas. As the KMT Villages are located within the golden triangle of Thailand, what better place to reside in than the Anantara Golden Triangle Thailand after your excursions?
Jayani Senanayake is a writer who dabbles in travel and all things exotic. Under the pseudonym of Caliope Sage, she writes of the allures that must simply be discovered.