Further downstream from the coveted vantage point are the hill tribe communities that help the city hold true to its historical charisma. These hill tribes rely on the river for so much more than a good view, however, and they have recently been welcoming visitors to get a glimpse of what their life is like along the river.
One of these groups of indigenous people welcoming tourists reside in the Ban Saeo Village found in the Chiang Saen District of Chiang Rai. The community sits right along the murky banks of the Mekong and consists of riverside homes, temples and other historic structures.
The village is a blend of different cultures as it is made up of five different hill tribes. They have settled on the banks of the river for more than 60 years. Otherwise known as ‘Isaan Lanna,’ the people of the village originated from the northeastern region of Thailand (Isaan) and merged in the north of the country where the Lanna Kingdom was founded.
The community is celebrated for its delicious recipes that have been passed down from generation to generation, otherwise known as Khantoke cuisine. Favourite dishes consist of nam-prik, or chilli dip, kow-neaw, or sticky rice, bok choy, a type of vegetable, tom yum kai, a hot and sour chicken soup and more.
The Ban Saeo Village seemingly loves dancing as much as it does eating, and the young and old will gather and jump energetically with feet pattering the floors on which they move to a variety of instruments, including a khaen, a bamboo free-reed mouth organ originating from Thailand and Laos.
Exploring this community in-depth is now possible with the help of the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT). As of Thursday, November 2, the TAT will unveil these new tours: Village Tourism 4.0. They will be offered in ten different local communities across the Kingdom and showcased at the 45th Thailand Tourist Festival, one of them being the Chiang Saen community in Chiang Rai.