Hill tribe stay in Northern Thailand

A visit to the Lisu Hill Tribes north of Chiang Mai, Thailand

A visit to the Lisu Hill Tribes north of Chiang Mai, Thailand

A hill tribe visit and stay in Northern Thailand

 

My driver picked me up from my Chiang  Mai hotel early afternoon for a short one hour trip to the Lisu hill tribe in Northern Thailand. This area has been settled with a variety of tribes that immigrated from various parts of China, Tibet and Laos, eventually seting up towns and agricultural farms in Northern Thailand with the help of the local Thai government.  The Lisu people came to various areas around Southern China and Tibet with a very unique culture heritage and language. Many of the immigrants are farmers and fishermen and settled into the rural hills and countryside in the  Northern regions of Chiang Mai province.

After a quick drive through the surface roads of Chiang Mai, we enter an agricultural area of rolling hills, rice paddies and many large leafed tropical forests. This area feels so far removed from the busy streets, markets and tourist zones in Chiang Mai, a heavily visited tourist destination known for it’s amazing temples and ancient  landmarks.  Driving further into this idyllic landscape, my driver finally turns left into a small road heading into the village and then to Lisu Lodge an eco resort that is integrated naturally into this agrarian environment. I am happy slow down my pace of travel and I will be staying here for the next few days.

 

Growing tobacco at Lisu Lodge in Northern Thailand

Growing tobacco at Lisu Lodge in Northern Thailand

Eco luxury stay in Northern Thailand

Lisu Lodge is at the forefront of luxury and eco stays in Thailand. They offer spacious villas built with indigenous and earth friendly materials in a relaxed and modern rustic abode. The lodge features eco and green practices and hires many of its staff from the village. A very smart and green economic model in keeping employment local for this tribe and hiring the young villagers who will still live in the village nearby. Along with using typical green materials and practises like solar energy, sourcing locally or growing their own ingredients the lodge takes eco lifestyles a step further by offering soft and green focused tours like hikes, village tours, bicycling, rafting and tea tour experiences.

 

Sunrise view from a villa at Lisu Lodge

Sunrise view from a villa at Lisu Lodge

 

 

Lisu village tour

After settling in my room, I meet my guide for my first tour of the Lisu village to get familiarized with the local lifestyle and customs of this tribe. Even though the tribe has many modern conveniences like autos, motor cycles and electricity, the elders keep up traditional and cultural practises that are handed down the families. This includes their belief systems, religious practices, language, food and various customs.  It’s an easy tour meeting some of the villagers including the older women who sew the various pillows and fashion items with colorful fabrics and one of the women shows the process of how the crafts are done, very meticulous and painstaking work for such little margins. In spite of this, they need this supplemental income for their own use. Unlike the busy markets and tourist districts of Chiang Mai, the locals here have small businesses creating home-made crafts that the women of the Lisu tribes make for a living. Primarily stitched fabrics that are made into colorful pillows, purses and other accessories that are relatively easy to make and do as a side business

 

 

Lisu Village tour in Northern Thailand

Lisu Village tour in Northern Thailand

 

 

 

 

 

Lisu village women create local crafts for supplemental income

women create local crafts for supplemental income

Trying a locally brewed rice liquor

 

Trying the locally brewed rice liquor in an Abslut bottle

Trying the locally brewed rice liquor in an Absolut bottle

Shamanism in the Lisu Tribes

Further down we visit the villages shaman who is more of a spiritual advisor and helps with any personal problems that each family may have. It’s a strange practise for westerners because there is no medicine or herbs used in the healing process and more-so chanting and voodoo style practises that are still being used in spite of modern medicine. The guide mentions to me that offering chickens and checking the chicken bones is part of the process for the shaman to understand the condition and treatment for each problem.  As part of the religious practises, the shaman relies on ancestors of each family to help conjure up the bag energy to drive out the demons and problems that have occurred to a suffering family member hence the voodoo like treatments. We meet other elders and talk more about the modern problem of their children leaving to the bigger cities to find work and a lifestyle away from this agricultural lifestyle that the younger generation is not interested in pursuing. So you typically just see elders in the village separated from their children who eventually support them financially.

 

Visiting the Lisu tribe shaman or medicine man

Visiting the Lisu tribe shaman or medicine man

 

 

Buddhist temple at Lisu village in Northern Thailand

Buddhist temple at Lisu village in Northern Thailand

Visiting the Lisu Buddhist temple

We head out to the local buddhist temple in the village which is next to the lodge and it is very worn looking but still operating. The local Abbott has created a nursery of various herbs and plants for medicinal purposes that are made into tinctures and products sold around the region. It’s closed today but we still wander around the temple grounds and walk down to the reservoir which is quite scenic and the water is used to irrigate the various farms in the area.

 

Temple details at Lisu Village in Northern Thailand

Temple details at Lisu Village in Northern Thailand

 

 

 

 

Playing dodge ball in the Buddhist temple at Lisu Village

Playing dodge ball in the Buddhist temple at Lisu Village

 

 

Fields of tobacco and rice at Lisu Village

Fields of tobacco and rice at Lisu Village

Lisu eco farming

We tour the lodge’s farm to see the produce grown for the lodge including rice and mostly tobacco for sale in markets. There are also vegetables and fruits grown for the kitchen to use for the meals for staff and guests.  It’s quite an effort and whatever the lodge does not grow, they source from markets and purveyors locally to complete offerings that follow eco focused principles.

 

 

Tobacco crops at Lisu Lodge

Tobacco crops at Lisu Lodge

 

We head back to the lodge and I get the afternoon to relax, enjoy the grounds and have a nice afternoon siesta before dinner is served on the grand lanai and apparently I’m the only guest in this home, even though there are 22 other guests visiting and staying in one of the other homes, so I get the entire complex to myself including a village dance performance later in the evening.

 

 

 

Lisu villas and lush tropical landscapes

Lisu villas and lush tropical fruit and landscape

 

 

 

 

 

Dinner service at Lisu Lodge in Northern Thailand

Dinner service at Lisu Lodge in Northern Thailand

 

Lisu Lodge cuisine and dining

Needless to say the food and dining service was exceptional with most of the food grown or sourced locally within the region. It seemed extravagant that I was dining by myself in the entire villa but right next door was a whole group of Germans also present. The service for one included a large choice of curry and vegetarian dishes to sample which easily could feed four people and I was really hungry that evening. Later in the evening, local villagers came to the villa to perform some traditional dances with an accordion type of instrument – it was unexpected and quite colorful. Unfortunately, the video images I took of the performance were blurred since the lighting was really dim and I only used my cell phone to capture these images below – but trust me, the food was really tasty and spicy!

 

 

Local Thai cuisine at Lisu Lodge

Local Thai cuisine at Lisu Lodge

 

After dinner dance performance of the Lisu tribe

 

 

An authentic Lisu eco accommodation

The villas at Lisu Lodge are wonderfully crafted with each villa accommodating up to 5 sets of guests per villa. The rooms and lounges are all made with indigenous materials and local furnishings, making this a very authentic stay but with modern amenities and special touches. I was also able to request a masseuse that comes to the villa and does a wonderful whole body Thai massage in the covered living areas of the villa.

Here are some images of the bedroom and living areas of each villa:

 

Extra large tiered living areas of the Eco Lisu lodge villas

Extra large tiered living areas of the Eco Lisu lodge villas

 

Looking out into the landscape from a Lisu villa

 

Scenic landscape at Lisu lodge, Thailand

Scenic landscape at Lisu lodge, Thailand

 

 

 

Thai massage on the covered living space at Lisu Lodge

Thai massage on the covered living space at Lisu Lodge

Bedroom suite at Lisu Lodge

 

Bedroom accommodation LIsu Lodge

Bedroom accommodation LIsu Lodge

 

 

Sunrise at Lisu Lodge

 

Sunrise at Lisu Lodge in Northern Chiang Mai province

Sunrise at Lisu Lodge in Northern Chiang Mai province

 

 

Morning is slow and luxurious, even the birds are taking their time in the morning to wait for the sunrise and start a busy day. Watching the sun rise through the bamboo groves is a magical experience while relaxing at the living rooms of the villa. Meals are arranged on the lanai with your choice of breakfast in a traditional cuisine or more western style service.

 

SAMSUNG CSC

 

Morning blooms around Lisu Lodge

 

Morning blooms at Lisu Lodge

Morning blooms at Lisu Lodge

 

I hope you enjoyed this Hill tribe stay in Northern Thailand . If you did, please do share it with any of the social media buttons that are located around the post, thank you. I was a guest of the Lisu lodge and participated in some of their eco tours, all opinions as always are my own. If you would like to find out more information about the Lisu Lodge and its eco tour programs, you can check out this website here. 

 

If you enjoyed this post, check out these other Northern Thailand destinations and attractions

15 top places to visit in Northern Thailand

Thailand travel – 10 tips and suggestions

Eco tours in Northern Thailand

Hill tribes of Northern Thailand

A Loatian village in Northern Thailand

 

 

I hope you enjoyed this post on the Hill tribe stay in Northern Thailand. I hope that it was helpful in showing you some Northern Thailand destinations – if so, would you please share this post with any of the social media buttons that are located around the post, thanks so much.

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9 Responses to Hill tribe stay in Northern Thailand

  1. Cindy May 15, 2015 at 3:52 am #

    What a beautiful place and your morning photos are absolutely gorgeous!

  2. Paul (@luxury__travel) May 14, 2015 at 12:54 pm #

    Thailand I think has to be one of the countries that is highest on my wishlist at the moment and visiting a hill tribe sounds like a great way to get an authentic experience of rural Thai life. It must have been so peaceful and relaxing there…

  3. irishjackie May 14, 2015 at 1:00 am #

    Oh Noel, it all looks wonderful. From your photos, it’s not hard to imagine why Lisu Lodge is at the forefront of luxury and eco stays in Thailand. I am curious to know if the shaman did any “work” with you, or not? This is an area of interest for me, and at some stage in the future I would like to spend some time, in an authentic setting with a shaman. I did meet one years ago, in Bali.

    The food also looks very tempting, and the shades of green are gorgeous – and that’s coming from a girl from the Emerald Isle. 🙂

    • Noel May 14, 2015 at 3:39 am #

      It wasn’t busy the day I visited the Shaman. He doesn’t get to eat many meats, drink and so many other food restrictions – I think that would easily put me in a cranky mood. Getting some interesting facts about how this ‘religion’ is so different from the other regional ones.

  4. Kerwin May 13, 2015 at 11:56 pm #

    Thanks for sharing this experience Noel.
    Children are children everywhere, it’s always time to play. Well captured there.

    My favorite photo is the third to last one.

  5. anna parker May 13, 2015 at 8:42 am #

    The garden areas to the resort are stunning – so luscious, I can almost imagine the smell! Aren’t tobacco plants pretty – it doesn’t seem right that they can be, I would never have guessed that was what they are!

    • Noel May 13, 2015 at 8:46 am #

      Yes tobacco flowers are very pretty and good commodity for them to grow in this area.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. eco tours in Northern Thailand - May 20, 2015

    […] I hope you enjoyed my post on eco tours in Northern Thailand. If you are in the area and would love to visit the tea plantation or do some of the eco touring activities, you can check out the Asian Oasis website here for more details. I was an invited guest of Lisu lodge to do the eco tours, all opinions and thoughts are my own.  I also did a tour and stay at their eco lodge that you can check out here. […]

  2. Hill tribes of Northern Thailand - May 17, 2015

    […] I also visited the Lisu tribe while staying at the Lisu Lodge which is a wonderful eco resort an hours drive from Chiang Mai. The village is located just outside the resort and again was empty of the men who were doing their farming during the day time. Most of the villagers that we met were older women who were also busy working on the sewing machines and creating pillows, purses and other textile crafts for sale at the tourist markets in Chiang Mai or just locally.  A few of the villagers where also recruited to work at the resort in different capacities including the Thai masseur lady below who gave an excellent body massage on the lanai (deck patio) of each villa at the resort.  It was fantastic that Lisu Lodge and their owners Asian Oasis really help to hire and train the younger villagers to work at the resort instead of the typical exodus to the larger city of Chiang Mai where most hope to get better employment. I just wrote about my eco stay at Lisu lodge, you can check out this wonderful stay and the eco practices Lisu Lodge promotes here. […]

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