There many tribes in Thailand living in every region. Each tribe has their own unique culture and lifestyle. Let’s get to know the various tribes in Thailand!
Many people know the Karen tribe from their signature neck rings, which form a part of their beliefs. The Karen have a deep bond with nature. They live an uncomplicated life, growing vegetables and raising farm animals. Most men are blacksmiths while the women are textile weavers. Their spoken and written language is adapted from Burmese, although some groups of Karen in Thailand also use the Latin alphabet. Most Karen people believe in spirits, but some also believe in other religions.
Lahu traditional dress consists of a black, long-sleeved shirt with a round neck decorated with some colourful cloth. Lahu people believe in spirits and sacred beings. They hold a ceremony called “Sae Kor” to make amends for the sins that they have accidentally commited.
The Akha people wear a signature headdress made from silver. The headdress is given to them when they are born as a gift showing gratitude for their birth. Akha people learn how to embroider at a young age, so their colourful patterns are inspired by their boundless imagination.
Some people call the Mlabri people “Phi Tong Lueang” (important note: they don’t like being called this). In the past, the Mlabri didn’t live permanently in any place; they just built temporary houses. They made the roof from banana leaves that wither and turn yellow after days have passed. That’s why they are called “Phi Tong Lueang” (Phi means wandering spirit, Tong means banana leaf, and Lueang means yellow). Nowadays, they have settled down in one place instead of wandering about as in the past. The Mlabri people are skilled hunter-gatherers but now they make their living from farming and freelance jobs.
Tai Lue Tribe
The Tai Lue is widely known as a peaceful tribe that respect their ancestors deeply. Tai Lue people are kind and down-to-earth. Their beautiful textile products are very popular among tourists.
Widely known as sea gypsies, the Morgan Tribe live in coastal areas of Thailand and the Philippines, and they have a deep bond with the sea. Every aspect of their life is connected to the sea. They catch fish for a living and for their food. During the monsoon season, they harvest vegetables instead of catching fish.
The Hmong originate from China. They migrated to Thailand during the post-WWII era. People often mistake Hmong for Akha people but they are from different tribes. The Hmong Tribe has their own language. They make a living from crop and livestock farming. In the past, Hmong people grew opium. However, after it became illegal, they grew other plants such as tea and coffee instead.