asian girl traveler tourist trying golden necklace long neck tribe village chiang mai agirlnamedclara
Life,  Travel

I Made Chiang Mai as My First Thailand Trip… Though It May Be Unethical

A lot of people rave about Thailand, especially Bangkok and its paradise islands. I had enough of people telling me that I should go to Thailand, so I did, in 2018.

However, instead of Bangkok or Hua Hin (the Thai’s Santorini-style destination), I chose Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai as my first Thailand trip.

I know, I know. I will visit Bangkok one day, don’t worry. But if you haven’t travelled to Chiang Mai, now I’m telling you that you should :p

I was browsing Thailand tour packages when I found the Chiang Mai trip. And the main reason that tickle my wanderlust soul was the Long Neck Tribe Village.

I saw some reviews and photos of this village many years ago, yet I didn’t know that it’s located in Thailand!

On top of that, the tour package included Chiang Rai, where you could marvel at Wat Rong Khun – the White Temple with a super-detailed design.

Without thinking much, I had paid the tour and return flight.

The Entertaining (Yet Sad) Elephant Show in Chiang Mai

asian girl tourist traveler in purple jumpsuit posing at elephant camp sign boards chiang mai agirlnamedclara

Before I visited the Long Neck Tribe Village in Chiang Mai, I went to see an elephant show.

There are a lot of animal shows in Thailand that involve elephant, monkey and snake. The show, in my opinion, is entertaining yet sad.

Some people believe that some elephant camps and ‘sanctuaries’ in Thailand are unethical as they force the elephants to perform unnatural behaviour, advertise the show and offer elephant rides to the tourists.

However, that would be the same case for other animal shows in theme parks, circus show and the zoo. Ethical means let the animals roam free but will it keep them safe from poachers?

Anyway, I won’t lie that although I feel sad for the elephants, I enjoyed the show.

If you believe that the elephants deserve better, you could skip the shows and elephant ride. And do some research about credible elephant conservations before you travel to Chiang Mai.

From Bangkok to Chiang Mai – Compare Price & Book Transportation

elephant takes hat off female tourist who poses for photo at elephant show chiang mai agirlnamedclara
This elephant feels playful~
asian girl traveler tourist sitting at the bench watching elephant show chiang mai thailand agirlnamedclara
Be there early to get the best spot and enjoy the show with coconut water
elephant show baby elephant greet tourist bows downchiang mai agirlnamedclara
The female baby elephant bows down to greet the audience, with its cute voice
elephant paints tree elephant show chiang mai thailand sunny day agirlnamedclara
Elephants are clever and they paint better than me!
paintings by elephant are auctioned at elephant camp show chiang mai agirlnamedclara
At the end of the show, these beautiful paintings are auctioned
My favourite is the second one. Which one is yours?

The Exotic Long Neck Tribe Village, Chiang Mai

asian girl tourist traveler pose with local long neck woman chiang mai with colorful textile background thailand agirlnamedclara

“I saw you on Google!” I told the woman enthusiastically the first time I met her.

She smiled and nodded.

“Did you know that your face is on the internet? I saw a lot of travel brochures with your photo on them,” I continued.

The woman beside me in the photo above is one of the members of the Karen or Kayar Tribe, which mostly known as the Long Neck Tribe.

The women start to wear the shiny, golden rings around their neck as young as 5 years old, which will be added one for each year until they reach 21 years old.

long neck village chiang mai local women dance performance agirlnamedclara
The villagers are performing a welcome dance
long neck village chiang mai local women dance performance agirlnamedclara
The second show is performed by the long neck women
local women wearing calves protection long neck tribe village chiang mai agirlnamedclara
It protects them from snakes

It is said the tradition will protect their neck from tigers attack. They also believe the longer the neck, the more beautiful a woman is.

But, who are these women, exactly? Why can they only be found in the northern Thai border?

They are, in fact, Burmese who flew to Thailand to escape violence in their country. Their exotic tradition is the reason why Thailand gives permission for the tribe to stay and land to reside.

With the booming of the Long Neck Tribe tourism, they are not allowed to resettle outside of the tourist village. For your information, the entrance fee to enter the village doesn’t go to them.

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The Long Neck Tribe women earn their living from selling crafts and posing photos with travellers. They receive support on food and toiletries as well. Some said that women who wear golden rings around their neck receive a higher allowance.

Some travellers call the village as “Human Zoo”, some call it exploitation and violation of human rights.

long neck woman sewing colourful textile long neck tribe village chiang mai agirlnamedclara
Your purchase means a lot to them
asian girl traveler tourist smiling sitting beside long neck little girl in long neck tribe village chiang mai agirlnamedclara
long neck woman drawing eyeliner makeup on her long neck little daughter textile background long neck tribe village chiang mai agirlnamedclara

I feel pity for these women… however, I can’t say or do much. Like the elephant camp or elephant show, I honestly enjoyed visiting the village. The villagers are kind and welcoming.

I hope this post will boost the village’s tourism, therefore, helping them financially.

From Bangkok to Chiang Mai – Compare Price & Book Transportation

If you wish to have mementos or trinkets from Chiang Mai, you can get it from the Long Neck Tribe Village. And remember, no free photos, please. Buy something from them or at least, give them a tip for posing with you.

Khob khun ka – thank you 🙂

asian girl traveler tourist wearing traditional thai chiang mai headpiece colourful agirlnamedclara

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