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Where to go for good hilltribe treks in Thailand

Posted by sfinn on 4/10/2009 at 13:50

Hi All,

I'm currently in Chiang Mai and interested in doing a 3 day trek but would prefer to get off the well-beaten paths around Chiang Mai.
I'm very interested in spending some quality time in a hill tribe village but not one that is an exploited tourist attraction (don't know if there are any left).
There are so many different towns that offer good hilltribe trekking: Nan, Soppong, Mae Hong Son, Chiang Rai, Chian Dao, Phayao... Having trouble picking one! Has anyone done a trek in northern Thailand in one of these towns? Thanks for your help!

#1 sfinn has been a member since 2/10/2009. Posts: 4

Posted by MADMAC on 5/10/2009 at 03:05

Exactly what does this mean "Hilltribe trekking"? Does this mean hiking in areas with minority groups? Or is something else implied in this?

#2 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957
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Posted by somtam2000 on 5/10/2009 at 08:25 admin

Have you seen this story: It gives a brief overview of some of the "alternative" trekking centres.

The main issue with getting off the beaten track is the more remote you go, the more difficult it becomes to rustle up the numbers for a minimum group size.

Realisticly, any village you overnight in will have been having foreigners stay with them week in week out for at years (if not decades)...

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Posted by wanderingcat on 5/10/2009 at 09:03

for Chiangrai, could look into this:

(disclaimer - i know the organisation & some of the people involved.)

finding out more about the ethnic groups you'll be visiting beforehand would make quite a difference to your experience. & do take a look at this before heading into the villages, it could make quite a difference to their experience of you ;)

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Posted by sfinn on 5/10/2009 at 11:21

somtam2000- I did read the travelfish article on alternative treks. It was very informative but made it difficult for me to choose one because they all sound interesting! Thats good point about more remote treks being harder to reach group minimum. I hadn't really thought about that. And I'm sure you're right that any village will be well accustomed to foreigners...

Yes Madmac, hilltribe trekking generally means stopping at tribal villages along the hike.

Thanks for all the information wanderingcat! If I make it up to Chiangrai I think I will definitely go to the akha house- I had checked out their website earlier but its so helpful to actually get a personal recommendation.

I think I'm just going to head north and see what I find. Thanks for all the help!

#5 sfinn has been a member since 2/10/2009. Posts: 4

Posted by MADMAC on 5/10/2009 at 13:58

So it sort of like a homestay at multiple locations?

I don't know, it always sounded a bit strange to me - the whole homestay thing. I mean, I would be reluctant to do a "homestay" with a German family, or another American family, and I speak their languages. I've done the homestay in a Thai village for a total of about... a long time (months and months) with my in-laws. It doesn't take long for it to get old eating bad food, sleeping on a mat on the floor, swatting mosquitos and chasing flies off your food to realize that village life pretty much sucks.

I guess for some it must be interesting - people do do it, so I hope it works out for you.

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Posted by sfinn on 26/10/2009 at 21:50

Just wanted to update the forum now that I have some info to share. I was wisely informed that the more remote I traveled, the harder it would be to find a group. Considering I was traveling in the low season, I decided to join a group out of Pai when I heard they were confirmed for a 2 day trek. Pai would not have been my first choice for a trek but I was running short on time left in northern Thailand so I went with it. The name of the tour company was Backtrax- which run all of your classic tourist operations (white water rafting and elephant riding). It actually was a great trek. We went through bamboo forests, waded through countless rivers, ran from a boar, snaked through rice fields, and came across many a water buffalo. We visited two tribes: Lihu and Karen. ...and yes, both villages brought out their handicraft items to sell to us. All in all, if you're in Pai and looking to do a trek, go for it. It was a great adventure.

#7 sfinn has been a member since 2/10/2009. Posts: 4

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