Long Neck Tribe Village

Huay Pu Keng is one of three Kayan villages situated in the province of Mae Hong Son in northern Thailand, is a small village populated primarily by the Kayan (long-neck) and Kayaw (big-ears) Karenni ethnic sub-groups. It is open all year round to visitors. The other villages being Huay Sua Thao and Kayan Tayar (Nai Soi) village. The village is situated in an isolated area down the Pai river and is surrounded by thick jungle.

The Kayan tradition of wearing a brass coil around their neck has attracted tourists, anthropologists and journalist alike. Because of this tradition the Shan people called this long-neck tribe ‘Yan Pa Doung’ meaning ‘Karen brass wound people’, this name was adopted by the Burmans and Thais who refer to the people as Padoung. This particular form of body modification has likely been a Kayan tradition for over a thousand years.

Northern Thailand is home to interesting and colourful ethnic minorities, known as the hill tribes. These add an important element to tourism here and you may visit, or go trekking to, numerous villages, where they are happy to receive you. Since most are rural and poor, any economically uplifting opportunities are welcomed.

Most of the hill tribes have migrated into the region during the past 100 years from the Asian interior and have largely preserved their traditional ways, making them a fascinating cultural study. They prefer living above 1,000m, and shy away from the outside world.

There are seven broad hill tribe groupings: Karen, Lahu, Hmong, Lisu, Akha and Mien. However, within these categories, there are sub-categories and clans that further divide the groups. Each hill tribe has its own customs, language, dress and spiritual beliefs and this is sometimes true even of the numerous sub-categories within one hill tribe. For example, the Green Hmong and White Hmong speak in different and distinct dialects and dress differently. The hill tribes are most distinctly recognised for their colourful and unique costume, which they continue to wear daily.

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