Venturing off the usual path is always exciting, particularly in northern Thailand where sightseeing by foot, elephant, mountain bike, four-wheel drive vehicle, or river raft brings tourists close to the local inhabitants―farmers and hill tribe people who occupy high altitude settlements―and their traditional, rural ways.
The treks take tourists through forested mountains, high valleys and meadows, and remote settlements, where an overnight stay is available. Predominate hill tribes include the Hmong, Lisu, Lahu, Karen, and Lawa.
Most tribes practice animist beliefs and honor numerous forest and guardian spirits; however, each tribe typically has distinctive puberty rites, hygienic habits, courtship rituals, languages or dialects, games, dances, aesthetic values, ceremonial costumes, and agricultural customs.
It is requested that visitors respect hill tribe beliefs, religious structures, and symbols. Tourists should ask permission before taking photographs. Also, modest dress is important since inappropriate attire may cause genuine offense.