: Trekking in Chiang Mai & Northern Thailand
|Thailand is a home of the following
six major hilltribes: Meo or Hmong, Yao or Mien, Karen
or Kariang, Akha or Iko, Lahu or Musoe and Lisu or Liso.
These hilltribes live mainly on the mountains in Chiang
Mai, Chiang Rai and Mae Hong Son provinces in northern
Thailand. For details about the history, culture and lifestyles
of the hilltribes, tourists are recommended to visit the
Tribal Research Institute in Chiang Mai University. Tourists
are strongly advised against exploring the hilltribe areas
by themselves, as the rugged terrain and the vast size
of the mountainous regions prevent the government authorities
from closely controlling the areas for security purposes.
Generally, jungle treks last from two to seven days
and consist of two or three modes of transportation,
they are travel on foot or by jeep, rafting, elephant
riding and horse riding. The best time for trekking
is November to February when the weather is refreshing
with little or no rain. Since these hilltribe settlements
are a major tourist attraction of the North, guidelines
on trekking in these areas are given below for the safety
and convenience of all visitors:
|| In Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai, there
are many private companies specializing in trekking
tours. Use the services of only those tour operators
or guides licensed and registered legally. Make
sure that they have properly filed their names and
registered with the Tourism Authority of Thailand
and the Tourist Police to prevent any possible problems
which might arise. See advertisement in this website
or Thaiways publications or ask for a list
of licensed agencies from the TAT office.
The best recommendations about
trekking companies can be obtained from those
who have made such a trek before. They are more
than willing to express their satisfaction or
dissatisfaction according to the services they
have received. You may also inquire of the Tourist
Police about reports of any problems certain companies
may have encountered.
||Each company has its own itineraries
and destinations. The major areas visited by trekking
groups are Chiang Dao, Wiang Papao, Phrao, Ngao,
Mae Chan, Fang, Chiang Rai and Mae Hong Son.
|| Unlawful drugs are strictly prohibited.
Do not at any cost get involved with demonstration
on an invitation to sample narcotics or any other
types of drugs while on a trek. You can find out
from the Tourist Police which areas have security
problems. With this information in hand, you will
know what areas you should avoid.
||Tourists should have a thorough understanding
of the services the trekking company will provide,
such as the number of days of trek, area to visit,
meals to be provided, etc. Should the trekking company
or guesthouse offer to keep your valuables, traveller's
checks, passport, etc., you should prepare a complete
listing of the valuables and ask for a receipt for
||Make a survey of companies that do
include the area you want to visit in their itineraries.
Since rates are varied due to several conditions,
e.g. destination, duration and transportation modes,
it is worthwhile to shop around.
||Under no circumstances should tourists
go trekking by themselves without a registered guide,
since you are not familiar with the terrain of the
mountainous areas of northern Thailand. Besides,
some groups of hilltribes do not reside in a specific
area but move from place to place frequently, you
do not know which tribal villages welcome strangers
and provide sleeping accommodations.
||Show respect for religious symbols
and rituals. And always ask permission before taking
photos of tribespeople or their houses.
||Use your common sense; don't take
any unnecessary risk thereby spoiling your holiday.
|| Help preserve the jungle's natural
state by not harming wildlife or causing unintentionally
sparks which might lead to forest fire.