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June 25, 2014
Ethical hill tribe visit
How to Visit Hill tribe villages in Thailand ethically
March 26, 2016

Visiting Hill Tribe villages – What to Know Before you Go

If you’re planning on visiting a hill tribe village during your travels of Thailand, and want to be sure you’re visiting respectfully, then it’s a good idea to familiarise yourself with some basic “Do’s and Don’ts” in a village. This way you’ll avoid causing offense to anyone, and ensure your visiting in a responsible way

Village Etiquette

  • As with elsewhere in Thailand, take off your shoes before entering a house, temple or building
  • Do not touch spirit catchers or religious symbols, these are often found at the front of the house or village entrance. Hill tribe villagers believe these are sacred, and interfering with them will bring bad luck 
  • If you promise to send photos back to villagers, please follow through and remember to do so. It creates disappointment amongst villagers when they wait for pictures that never arrive
  • Instead of donations, a sustainable way to support the village economy, is to purchase handicrafts made by villagers, or paying for homestay accommodation and meals. If you would like to go that extra step, are there any organisations or local markets at home that would want to purchase village handicrafts? Connecting the villagers to a buyer is a fantastic way to create a sustainable channel for them to generate supplemental income
  • It’s best to dress modestly. Female attire should cover the knees, shoulders and chest
  • Avoid showing strong affection in public
  • This is a rule that holds true in Thai culture, and has crossed over into hill tribe villages. The head is considered the most sacred part of the body, and the feet are the lowest. So do not touch people’s heads and do not raise your legs and feet or point them at anybody. This would cause them great offense. The exception to this rule, is that it’s ok to touch a child’s head

If you inadvertently happen to break one of these rules, don’t worry too much. The villagers are fairly understanding that you are a visitor, and unfamiliar with cultural and village protocols.  If in doubt, a bit of courtesy and a smile will always go a long way 🙂

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