An interesting community tourism scheme
Published/Last edited or updated: 8th March, 2019
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.
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 responsible way?
The tour itself includes stopping at the village gate, an Akha swing, the blacksmiths, weaving and a traditional house. You can either have one of the residents with a smattering of English as a guide or just wander on your own. The village trail is around a ... Travelfish members only (Full text is around 300 words.)
Based in Chiang Mai, Mark Ord has been travelling Southeast Asia for over two decades and first crossed paths with Travelfish on Ko Lipe in the early 1990s.
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