Long Neck Hill Tribes
When you visit Chiang Mai an interesting and unique tour is to see the long neck hill tribes. It’s a unique experience and probably one that you haven’t seen before.
So for a new experience, this should definitely be on your list of things to see in northern Thailand.
Why the long necks?
As you wander around the village you will see women wearing gold coloured brass rings around their necks and legs. It is said that from a very young age (as early as 5). It is said these women are presented with one more ring for their birthday.
The reason for these rings is because many years ago, it was said that, Tigers would enter the village and attack people. Apparently, Tigers favour the neck and legs when they attack. So, to protect the women brass rings would be placed around their necks and legs. Although these days, the women wear them as an accessory and they believe the more rings they have, the more beautiful they are.
It has also become a tradition for the women of these hill tribes to where these rings. They have become famous around the world for the unusual practice of elongating their necks. The coils are very heavy and Weigh around 5 kilos, thus pushing the rib cage down and making the neck longer, the women seem generally happy as they have become used to them.
The correct thing to do
You will see many stalls selling traditional handicrafts, some of the scarves and carvings are quite beautiful. If you decide to buy some of these you will be helping the village, and also help to support their way of life as these people are refugees from Burma and are not allowed by law to leave the village and seek alternative employment. It is a double-edged sword, because on the one hand, if they went back to Burma, they would probably not be accepted and live in poverty, but staying in their village area means they can continue their culture in peace.
Always remember to be respectful, ask them questions and interact and always ask before having your photograph taken with them.