Friday, 15 August 2008


Light-and-Sound Presentation
At the Chiang Rai Social Development Center
Ban Pasang, Mae Chan district, Chiang Rai

The Akha are a mountain people. Their original home is on the Tibetan Plateau. However, over the centuries, they migrated to China’s southern Yunnan province. From there, they gradually moved into present-day Myanmar (Burma), Laos and Thailand.

They are a peace-loving people whose simple way of life co-exists in harmony with nature. The Akha show deep respect for the elder members of the tribe. The most senior member, called the yeua mah, is traditionally a metalsmith. Before a new village can be built, the yeua mah and another group of seniors called the ah baw cher maw must first grant their approval.

Once a new site has been selected, the village elder performs a ceremony in which he asks the spirit of the land for permission to settle there. The ceremony involves throwing a chicken’s egg on to the ground. If the egg smashes on the ground, the Akha interpret this to mean that the resident spirit has granted approval for their new home. The first house that is built is the house of the tribal elder. It is a house on stilts without any windows. To keep out the wind and the rain, the roof is so steeply pitched that it almost touches the ground. There are also a number of holy places around the village. For example, the community shrine, the sacred well, the village gate, and the cemetery, which is located some distance from the village. Akha tradition forbids anyone from chopping down trees in any of these holy places. Offenders must sacrifice a pig and a bottle of liquor — items used in a ceremony of atonement. Should this ceremony not be performed, the villagers believe that misfortune will befall them.

In the evening, when the day’s work is done, the young men and women, the elderly and the children all head for the daekwong, the Akha equivalent of the village square. This is a place for fun and relaxation. It is where the young learn about Akha customs from their elders. For generations, it has been the traditional heart of any Akha village. The Akha believe that if ever this meeting place is abandoned, it heralds the extinction of the tribe. To most outsiders, the daekwong is known as the ‘hugging place’.

The life of the Akha people is closely tied to nature. Their worship of nature, in fact, explains their deep belief in animism and the supernatural. Evidence of this can be seen in the yae khoo ja or swing ceremony held in the Akha month of Nong Lah which corresponds with the end of August and the beginning of September. At this time of the year, the hills are a beautiful green and the new grains of rice are beginning to appear on the stalks. The swing ceremony is a celebration of the abundance of nature.

On the first day of the festival, the Akha make offerings to the spirits of their ancestors. On the second and third days, the villagers build a giant swing called a la cher ma. In a special rite, the village elder makes a bundle of grass, vines and stone, ties it up with a rope and loops it around a sturdy branch three times.

The yeua mah is the first to sit in the swing. The younger members of the community take their turns in the swing afterwards. There is also a circular swing called a ka lah la cher that accommodates four people at a time.

Some of the tribespeople sing traditional Akha songs. Others arrange festive meals for the entire village.

In the afternoon of the final day, the village elder sits in the swing one last time. Then in a traditional rite, he disassembles it and ties the rope around a nearby tree.



Welcome to the venue where the light-and-sound show about the fabled
Akha tribesman will be presented


Experience the way of life and charm of the Akha, Lahu, Hmong, Yao, Lisu and Pakoeyo tribes at the Demonstration Building.


Taste delicious hill-tribe dishes amidst the cool of the forest.


The Akha People of the Hills light-and-sound performance depicting their interesting and charming way of life


Depart for the hotel/resort.

Ticket price:
150/300 baht (meal included)

Chiang Rai Social Development Center
Ban Pasang, Mae Chan district,
Chiang Rai
Tel: 0 5391 4471, 086 9138937, 089 2665790

Performance Information:
TAT Chiang Rai Office
Tel: +66 (0) 5371 7433, (0) 5374 4674-5
Fax: +66 (0) 5371 7434