Yao Hill Tribe

Have you ever known that Northern Thailand is truly a mecca for trekking? Here serves you Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai as the perfect base to not only discover picturesque sceneries but also colourful hill tribes, and Yao Hill Tribe is a prominent option you shouldn’t miss for an amazing trekking experience!


Hill tribes in Thailand are ethnic minority groups that migrated from other neighbourhood countries a long time ago. When arriving at Thailand, they choose to settle in the highlands and hilly areas to avoid facing civil wars and political issues. That’s the reason why they are called “hill tribes”. There is no exception for Yao hill tribe that they have maintained their ancestor’s tradition until today. Their settlements can be found in numerous provinces of northern Thailand, Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai, to name but two. Yao hill tribe stands out as a peaceful and friendly community that visitors can expect to interact with them in a comfortable way to learn about their rich culture and long-standing custom and tradition.

Mien PeopleThe hospitality and friendliness of the Yao is always highly valued by visitors


The Yao hill tribe community first originated from southern China. In China, they are also known for “Mien” as the second name. Research has shown that the Mien had lived in mountainous areas surrounding Tibet. Then, from the late 1800s to the early 19th century, the Mien started off their migration into Burma, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam since they dissatisfied with the controlling rules from the Han. Under the Yao lies 28 sub-names divided into 4 main groups, the Phan, the Bunu, the Cha Sun and Ping Ti. The Phan has the most man-power among 4 units. They had lived a big group together in a large area to maintain and develop the Mien language while others tend to focus on other different languages.


  • Get a deep insight into the rich culture of the Yao

When you come to a brand-new region, you are highly recommended to not only admire the stunning natural surroundings but also take a look at the culture and lifestyle of the locals which is real eye-openers to every traveller. Taking a trip around Yao village to discover more amazing hidden things related to the way people live and interact with each other and other stories behind is definitely a must you should miss. You may find it pretty intriguing to know that Yao villagers were primarily Buddhists. However, most of them now integrate crucial elements of Buddhism into traditional animistic beliefs which originated from Animism. In Animism, there is a strong connection that bridge the gaps between the spiritual and physical world. Animists believe souls or spirits exist in both human and other objects including animals, plants or geographic features, so they may seek help through these abnormal spirits when they are in trouble or to pray for blessing for their families and groups.

Making The Red ColarMaking a hand-made traditional red collar is a common daily habit of Yao villagers

Other fascinating knowledge that will keep you hooked during your stay at Yao hill tribe is their exquisitely beautiful traditional costume. Every member of the hill tribe sticks with a distinctive traditional textile that all of them make the picture of the groups in their traditional costume become more eye-catching than ever. On first New Year’s days, Women often wear long black jackets with scarlet woollen lapels combined with loose black pants and a matching black turban. To make their appearance more appealing, they will put in additional accessories like silver neck rings and intricate set of chains and ornaments. Men look a bit less complicated than women as they tend to wear loose jackets with embroidered pockets.

Yao Women In Traditional CustomeYao women’s costume looks more attractive in special events and ceremonies

  • Go trekking through the village to explore further

Since Yao hill tribe is located in northern Thailand, you can take advantage of its location and surrounding areas to perform memorable trekking when heading to the tribe. Here provides you with endless opportunities to challenge yourself while indulging in a myriad of scenic views along the way. You now stand a great chance to get close to the local residents in Yao hill tribe you may wish to encounter when trekking in northern Thailand. A range of trekking options available here will range from 2-day-1-night to 7-day adventures depending on your budget and preference. Trekkers can stay with their partners in the tours in small trekking huts or host families in their cosy homestays and enjoy traditional meals with them. The best time for Yao hill tribe trekking you should take into account is from November to March since these months are the cool season with an airy atmosphere in Thailand, but you still need to pack some warmer clothes in case of evenings get cooler and cooler.

Jungle TrekkingRemember not to skip the chance to take a wonderful trek to Yao hill tribe!

In short, it is worth paying Yao Hill Tribe a visit when you are planning to fly over to the North of Thailand. The tribe is truly a perfect place for interacting with the locals, admiring the spectacular natural beauty and most noticeably, trekking with your own pace whether you are a real explorer or a wannabe explorer. A stopover at Yao Hill Tribe makes sure to help all visitors bring gratifying experiences home!

Ngo Cuong

Image source: Internet



Yao Hill Tribe Map

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