Pai’s colourful Lisu adventure


Although the majority of the locals in the small valley of Pai are the Tai, an ethnic minority having slowly moved down from China to Thailand decades ago, there are a huge variety of hill tribes living in and around Pai. The Lisu is one of them. Like the Black La Hu, this tribe has their charm too.

The Lisu are known for their colourful dress. They make their clothing from bright cloth sawn into outfits trimmed with row upon row of varied coloured strips of cloth. The females wear dazzling clothes, consisting of a blue or green part-coloured tunic, knee length with the sides split up to the waist and a wide black belt, as well as blue or green pants. Sleeves, shoulders and cuffs are densely embroidered with narrow, horizontal bands in various colours. The people put on even flashier decoration in displays of their wealth such as the waistcoats and belts, intricately decorated with silver, as well as hats with multiple coloured pom-poms and streamers. The men’s outfits are plainer, with pink or yellow baggy pants and a blue jacket, opening vertically.

The tribe depends largely on agriculture and their farm produce like many other tribal people. They grow rice, corn and vegetables as subsistence crops and grow opium for sale. They draw additional income from the sale of farm animals such as pigs and cattle. They lead a very simple life, yet very well adapted to the fast changing world outside their community.

Now, to really get to know these locals and truly appreciate their different lifestyle, you do need to turn your back on your luxurious boutique hotel and delve into the lives of these people to really appreciate them and their culture. And of course, there are plenty of tour operators that offer you this up close and personal experience with the hill tribes. If you prefer to find out more about such opportunity ahead, email or just dive in and explore – you might find the experience even more rewarding and heartwarming than the services you get from your hotels.

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