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A Mix of Adventure and Knowledge; Get to know the Karen in Northern Thailand’s Verdant Scenery

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The North of Thailand presents a plethora of travel options. For those loving the cool air and mountain scenery should certainly pack their backs, trekking gear, adventure spirit and travel sense and make for a journey up there. One aspect about the north’s appeal is its people, some of whom have lived lives that have remained unchanged throughout the centuries and unaffected by today’s modernization. Perfectly blending soft adventure with cultural discovery this northern tour will surely expose you to some fascinating aspects of hill tribe living.

Let’s get to know our hosts, the Karen people for a little bit before embarking on this tour. Most of them live in Myanmar, in fact, they make up about 7 percent of the country’s population. Some 400,000 are in Thailand, mostly around the border areas. They are very recognizable with their distinctive clothing of bright colors, white and/or blue and/or red shirts and colorful patterns. One subgroup, the Padaung tribe, are best known for the neck rings worn by the women. Originally Animists, the majority are Buddhist with some Christian minorities, but both still keep their traditional spiritual beliefs.

So, now that we know a little bit about the Karen, let’s step out of the modern comforts of Chiang Mai and to the world of simple rural living, some 250 kilometers away from the big city. This is where you’ll spend the next three nights. Take the time browsing the local markets and temples, getting to know the local Karen hosts along the way. Share with them your Thai experience so far. Learn about their ways of life, and how they are able to cope without the comforts and ease of modern technology. Relax this evening at the Karen Hill Tribe Lodge.

Let’s embrace the northern delights on the back of the one and only gentle giant of the jungle – the elephant. To get there though, requires a short trek. Both sets of adventures consist of verdant green jungles, hidden natural gems like waterfalls and hilltribe villages. Head back to the lodge for some relaxation and downtime with some fishing or culinary adventures in the kitchen.

What other animals are out there in the northern jungles of Thailand? Head on out for some gibbon and bird watching. Our primate cousins, though elusive and cunning yet shy can be spotted when they are swinging from tree to tree. And the beautiful melodic songs must come from somewhere, right? Then, head on back to the lodge and observe hill tribe women weaving their renowned clothing and pounding rice. On the return journey to Chiang Mai we visit Thailand’s largest geyser and stop at Mok Fha waterfall.

For more on the country, take a look at our Thailand tours.

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