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Tribal Museum Chiang Mai


Tribal Museum at Chiang Mai


  • Location:      Ratchamangkla Park, Chotana Road Muang, (or highway no 107) Chiang Mai 50300
  • The museum can also be accessed from Canal Road which is an easier way
  • Telephone:    053 – 210 - 872
  • Hours:          Open Monday to Friday 9:00 am to 4:00 pm 
  • Admission:    Free but donations appreciated



  • A visit to the Tribal Museum is strongly recommended as an introduction to the cultures and practices of the current hill tribes of northern Thailand. This museum serves as an extensive resource center for the tribal cultures, and the visitor will certainly leave with a better understanding of each hill tribe. It is unique and compact, and together with the nearby National Museum of Chiang Mai, can be viewed in half a day. It was established in 1965 by the Department of Public Welfare of the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare of Thailand, and moved to the present sight in 1997. The first floor is of most interest to the visitor.


  • The hill tribes are the minority people who inhabit the remote areas of Thailand where it is hard to auto transport to. Their ethnic origins, culture and languages differ from the majority, the Tai. The major tribes consist of the Akha , Karen , Lahu , Lisu , Yao (or Mien) and Hmong . These hill tribes have been migratory, and as only the Yao have ever had a written language, the history of the other tribes has developed through oral traditions. Each of these ethnic groups is described in detail in our North Thailand People links.
  • The tribes who number about 970,000, tend to live in different geographical zones, with the Hmong preferring the higher altitudes, the Akha, Lisu and Lahu lower down, and the Karen and Yao preferring the valleys. They all have their specific form of religion (based on animism), ceremonies, language and customs. However with economic and cultural changes that are occurring in the region, and with the gradual assimilation of these tribes into mainstream society, these cultural traditions are at risk of being eroded and even becoming extinct. This museum is an attempt to showcase and preserve the history of these differing cultures by conveying an atmosphere of traditional and modern tribal village life through crafts made by villagers, photographs and clear exhibit descriptions with a background of traditional tribal music and chanting. The collection is arranged according to themes of housing, fishing, agriculture, religious beliefs and musical instruments with a wide variety of exhibits including baskets, ceremonial stringed and wind instruments, drums, farming implements, hunting traps and weapons, intricate silver jewellry and very colour full costumes.