The Karen Hill Tribe Village in Doi Inthanon, Chiangmai- Thailand

The Karen Hill Tribe VillageThe first stop of our tour to Doi Inthanon National Park was at one of the minority hill tribe villages. When we entered the village, I was a little relieved as there were no tourist buses or souvenir stands that I could see. In fact, when we were almost ready to leave a other mini van was there with a small group of tourists like us. The origin of the Karen Tribe remains a mystery but they say the original roots of the Karen hill tribes  in Thailand go back to Tibet and the Gobi desert. Although, many families living in Northern Thailand nowadays migrated from Myanmar(Burma) while escaping the communist regime a few decades ago.
The Karen Hill Tribe Village House

 The first thing that you will notice is the simple and minimalist lifestyle of Karen people. The houses were mostly made primarily out of bamboo lattice with thatched roofing. Teak or bamboo and usually constructed on stilts to provide space and shelter for livestock. Talking about traditions, Karen people were primarily animists.

The Church at Karen Village

Nowadays, some of those families who live in the lowlands and are in contact with Thai people, started practicing Buddhism. Others converted to Christianity thanks to missionaries in the area. There’s also a Church among bamboo huts as you can see in the picture.

Weaving Center at The Karen Hill Tribe Village

 Weaving Center at The Karen Hill Tribe VillageKaren cloth is hand-woven on back-strap looms and is predominantly red with white, blue or brown vertical stripes. The men may wear simple forms of this material in a sleeveless tunic while the women wear more elaborate styles on their sarongs.

Traditional White DressThe Karen women must wear all white dresses until they get married. After marriage, they get to wear some of the most beautiful and colorful garments and they are all handmade in the village. I was so excited to be able to go into their work shop and watch them in action as they made these garments the old fashioned way. You can see different scarfs, clothes and blankets are hung up around the work shop.

 The Karen Ladies Making garments in Karen VillageFun fact: Do you know how much time it takes to make a scarf?
And the answer is around a week, a month to make one of their shoulder garments, and it takes a whole year to make a blanket. Yet, you can buy these beautiful items from them for next to nothing.

Source of Income of The Karen Hill Tribe Village:

Almost all of their needs are found in the village. All of their food is grown in their farms, and they have chickens for eggs and meat, and cows for their milk. They make their own clothes from cotton grown in their farms. 
Talking about source of income long back The Karen Tribe used to farm opium but with direct influence from the Thai King, they stopped doing that. There are various Royal Projects set up by The King and now their the principle products are rice, flowers and coffee etc. Now they can work on organic farms supported by the government that help local communities exclusively with marketing. 

Karen people are very well known for rice cultivation and crop rotation. They grow garlic, onion and rice in the same fields during different seasons; this is the best way to keep the soil fertile and avoid soil erosion.

Tourism is of course a contributing factor to the ongoing success of the village, but as a part of the whole rather than the sole income.

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Last thing which caught my attention was this cute little cafe where I had the locally produced and freshly brewed coffee which was amazin’. You can also buy the coffee beans and other traditional home made snacks from the cafe.

It indeed was a great short trip and we are so glad we made it to Doi Inthanon Natinal Park. Stay tuned for upcoming posts as we visited 5 places around Doi Inthanon Natinal Park.

Have you visited a Karen village or any of the other hill tribes in Northern Thailand?
How was your experience?
Share in the comment section below.