Pai’s close-up on the Black Lahu


Besides the panoramic view and a boutique escape from the bustling world behind the strong hold of Pai’s mountain ranges, the town offers an exciting and up-close personal experience with one of the northern hill tribes, the Black Lahu. This group of ethnic minorities lives at a high altitude, in a village called Baan Look Khao Lam in Pangmapha district, 45 minutes’ drive from Pai on the scenic route to Mae Hong Son. Many may as well recognize this tranquil village from a Thai film called “Rak Jang” (or Love you so… in English), as some of the scenes were shot there.

The Black Lahu are known for their sweet, timid charm and reserved down-to-earth lifestyle. The people are very kind and generous. Apart from their heart-warming nature, these people also wear the most distinctive costumes, especially the women. They wear black cloaks with diagonal cream stripes. The top of the sleeves is adorned in bright colours of red and yellow. The Black Lahu women are highly skilled in weaving, both on back-strap and foot-treadle looms. They are experts in producing delicate patchwork trips and unique embroidery work while their men are good at producing excellent crossbows, musical instruments and other items made from wood, bamboo and rattan.

The Black Lahu build their houses on high stilts with walls made from bamboo or wooden planks and with a grass thatched roof. They rely on their hunting and agricultural skills for food and income. Their cash-generating crops are melons, peppers, beans, yams, millet and other seasonal vegetables.

To truly appreciate all this you might want to leave the comfort of your luxurious hotel in Pai for a rough ride and crude stay with these hill tribe people and really get to know them. You, of course, have a choice of just travelling there yourself either by your private vehicle or public transportation or you can opt for tour package. These package tours can be fished out locally or booked online and from other major tourist destinations such as Chiang Mai and Mae Hong Son.

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