Photo: The PDA at work.

Ban Lorcha

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Ban Lorcha is a small Akha village beside Highway 1089 between Tha Ton and Mae Chan and close to the turn off for Mae Salong and is the site of a community-based tourism scheme run by the Population & Community Development Association (PDA) that aims to create a “sustainable tourism strategy and alternative model of tourism development” for hill-tribe villages.

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To quote the PDA, tourism to hill-tribe villages in Thailand has tended to focus on “short stops to a group of houses and stalls selling souvenirs that are not even made in that village. This kind of tourism activity is so contrived that tourists feel they are not learning anything about the people they are visiting. Often there is no contact between tourists and villagers. In this type of activity, villagers selling trinkets and souvenirs often harass tourists; taking photos of hill-tribe women is often followed by upturned open palms asking for compensation for the pictures taken...” It is of course a bit generalised, but fair enough.

Please shop here. Photo taken in or around Ban Lorcha , Mae Salong, Thailand by Mark Ord.

Please shop here. Photo: Mark Ord

There’s a nominal entry fee of 50 baht which goes towards the community scheme as well as a fund to set up further schemes in other villages. And yes, there is a souvenir shop at the entrance to the village, however all items sold come from Ban Lorcha itself and you are able to browse hassle-free. There’s usually traditional dancing on show and weaving displays that might seem slightly contrived (because they are), but as the PDA points out, you’d be unlikely to see these under normal circumstances without spending days in a village or fortuitously turning up during some ceremony or another.

Hill-tribe village visits can be problematic: some agents and guides are still very exploitative; easily accessible villages can verge on the tacky and when in remoter, less-visited villages, unless you have a good guide or can speak the lingo; what exactly do you do?

There does need to be some form of exchange as the days of remote village inhabitants turning up to greet their “exotic” visitors out of pure interest are long gone. Even the furthest-flung villages usually have some knick-knacks for sale, so perhaps doing it within a more “controlled” framework is the most ... Travelfish members only (Around 400 more words) ... please log in to read the rest of this story.

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How to get there
Ban Lorcha’s small carpark, shop and ticket desk lie on the south side of Highway 1089 slightly to the west of Kiew Sathai—the junction with the 1234 up to Mae Salong.

Ban Lorcha
Highway 1089, Mae Salong
Mo–Su: 08:00–17:00
T: (053) 740 088
Admission: 50 baht

Location map for Ban Lorcha

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