There are many hill tribe village tours in Chiang Mai, and it can be difficult for travelers to find a way to visit hill tribe villages in an ethical way. There are many villages inundated with groups of tourists that have disrupted village life, socially, economically and environmentally. This has mostly occurred with group package tours and treks, and as a tourist, your experience of hill tribe culture will be quite different on one of these, compared to visiting in a small group that is culturally sensitive. Here are some ways to visit a hill tribe village ethically
As Some travellers try to find villages and visit them independently, but we don’t recommend this. We always recommend travelling with a local hill tribe guide, not only will you receive a much warmer welcome from the visitors, but you’ll learn something about the culture and way of life in the village. A good local guide will also open up opportunities for cultural interaction between you and the villagers.
we have established good relationships with the villagers, they are happy for us to visit. We also travel with a hill tribe guide, who acts as a bridge into hill tribe culture and way of life for you. Some travellers are disappointed when they don’t see more people or activity in the village, but as we specialise in authentic experiences, we follow the natural rhythm of village life, and do not expect them to modify their daily life for us.
Staying overnight in a village at a hill tribe homestay, is a great way for travellers to gain an authentic insight into hill tribe culture in a culturally constructive way. A homestay offers the chance to learn first-hand about what hill tribe life is like, and interact with hill tribe villagers. It can be a very rewarding and culturally enriching experience. And for your host family your stay is important supplemental income.
You might be tempted to donate items or money to the village, but this is not an ethical or sustainable way in which to help them. A donation is a once-off, and can breed a mindset of easy charity. The villagers need life-long takeaways, such as improving their English language skills. These are skills which will improve their future job prospects and will stay with them forever. If you give money in exchange for a service or product from them, this is also an ethical way in which to help. For example paying for their guiding services, or for a handicraft they have made…which leads us onto the next point…..
Paying the villagers for a product or a service, is a great way in which to visit ethically. For example through buying handicrafts from them, or staying at a homestay. Rather than being only a consumer of the village, you are a giver too. These activities provide a source of supplemental income which is very important to them.
We hope these tips will help you visit hill tribe villages in an ethical way. If you have any comments about this, we’d love to hear them