While visiting our friend Jacques in Chiang Rai, we had the opportunity to visit and stay overnight at a Lahu village. It was a great and authentic experience, in a place that sees very few tourists. This is a small report and photos from our Lahu Homestay.
The Lahu people is one of the six main hill tribes of Thailand. Their population is around 100000, mostly in the northern hills. Their name directly translates to “Tiger Hunters”, and they might have been successful in the past, as no tigers are seen in this area for ages. Nowadays they still hunt boars and small mammals, but mostly live from agriculture. Lahu live in small villages and are communal. There is a village chief but most decisions are taken by the villagers.
On our Lahu homestay we visited the village of Ja Bu Si. It has 35 households, totalling 144 people. Houses are mostly made of wood and bamboo. The “rich”ones have a tin roof. There is a school and a playground but no permanent teacher. The village has electricity (since 1 year) and a cement road, so it can be considered developed.
Our Lahu homestay was simple but comfortable. One family prepared mattresses and blankets under a mosquito net. They cooked delicious dinner and breakfast. We visited the village, but only kids seemed to care about us. It is rice collecting time thus only old people and young children were present, adults were working in the fields. This was not a tourist homestay, there were no traditional dances, souvenirs or other stuff to please tourists. Because of that it felt authentic. This is a village that only few foreigners visit, most of them come as volunteers to help build roads and dams. As our friend Jacques organised the homestay directly with the village chief, all the money went to the community.