Doi Pui Meo Hilltribe Village
Doi Pui Meo Hilltribe Village is located in the area of Doi Suthep – Pui national park, about 45 minutes from Chiang Mai town.
The Meo Hilltribe or Hmong people are former inhabitants of the Yellow River Valley in China who fled their home due to Chinese expansionism. Now approximately 120,000 Meo people live in northern Thailand. They are known for their intricate embroidery and colourful costumes. The villagers farm vegetables and fruit, most having given up opium cultivation, once their main employment.
Meo Hilltribe Village is set amongst the peaks of Doi Suthep. It has a lovely setting with a panoramic view of Chiang Mai and the Mae Ping River valley. Although Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep is the most recently built of the temples dating from the Lanna Thai period, it is the symbol of Chiangmai. The site was selected by sending an elephant to roam at will up the mountainside. When it reached this spot, it trumpeted, circled three times, and kneeled down and thus interpreted as a sign indicating and auspicious site.
The Meo Hilltribe live in houses that sit right on the ground, not on stilts as do most on the other tribes. However, the main floor of their houses is not at ground level, but rests upon a kind of above-ground basement or root cellar that they use for food storage. Moreover, their house-fronts slope outward and downward, an architectural feature that is the trademark of their villages. The Meo , even more than the other tribes, practice a strict male-female division of labor. One custom that especially illustrates this is that of giving a newborn boy a gift of metal from which he will one they forge a weapon, whereas newborn girls receive no special gift.
When you enter the Meo village you are meet by souvenir shops. There are also shops selling fruit and vegetable grown in the area around the village. For most the hill tribes in Thailand, farming is the main source of income.
When get into the more private part of the village you will see a typical hill tribe village as you will find them all over the north of Thailand, a student tourist guide is available to take you a good tour through their village.
A very nice attraction in the village is the garden. Because of the higher altitude it have a wide range of flowering plants you normally do not find in Thai gardens. The garden is laid out in terraces and there is a nice view of the mountains and the village. See opium poppies, flowers and Thai Sakura. Enjoy a scenic view of the village surrounded by forests in hilly area. And visit a small waterfall garden in the village containing flowers, ornamental trees, and opium poppy. Guests can observe local way of Meo livelihoods around the village. There are many girls in traditional Meo hill tribe clothing. A lot of the visitors took advantage of the opportunity to have their pictures taken together with the girls.
Doi Pui Hmong Hill Tribe Village also have a museum. It is not big. In fact, it is only two rooms in a bamboo hut. You will only find some household remedies, some crossbows, hill tribe cloths, plantation tools, kitcheners and opium producing equipmentsand some tools for rice growing.
This is evidence of a very simple life, where people live in harmony with the nature and only have needed very few material things. Nowadays the Meo Hill Tribe people has some modern necessities but far from as many as people from the cities have.
When you visit the remote hill tribe villages, people still live, more or less as they as they have done for hundreds of years. Doi Pui Meo hill tribe village is a great place to get insight into how life in the mountain end has been, and in many places still are.
How to get to Doi Pui Meo village : To drive to the summit first head to the northwest corner of the Old City, easily located due to the moat enclosing the area. Turn left to head west from here on Huai Kaeo Road (Route 1004), and follow it a total of 14.4 km to Doi Suthep Temple. Continue along the road another 5.9 km beyond the temple past Phuping Palace (Winter Palace) and take a sharp right to head deeper into the park (after this sharp right the road becomes one lane, so drive slowly and beware of oncoming traffic). After a total of 24 km from the Old City you will reach the summit pullout for Doi Pui Meo Village.That’s it.
Highlights along the way to Wat Phra That Doi Suthep include the Chiangmai Zoo at 3.6 km from the old city, Wang Bua Baan viewpoint and falls at 5.5 km, Monthatarn waterfall at 7.0 km, a viewpoint worth a quick stop at 9.8 km.