Long Neck Village

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Thailand Fly & Drive – Part 25 (Mae Hong Son)

After lunch at Mae Hong Son, we decide to make a slight detour to check out the Long Neck Village, which is about a 30 minute drive from town. The Kayan tribe is immediately recognisable by the rings on the necks of the ladies, which serve as a symbol of beauty in their culture.

This village is “supposedly” where you can go take a look at the tribe in an authentic setting and to better appreciate their way of life. There is a lot of controversy about whether these experiences are authentic or if they are actually an exploitation of the hill tribe communities and merely staged to lure in foreign tourists. It’s hard to really tell which is the real truth.

I went to this village for my thesis project. I spent 12 days in this village and it was a great experience. This village is truly an authentic village, where you don’t get the ”human zoo” feelings. The people are living their natural life in this village and nothing is fake or done specially for the tourists. They are very passionate about their culture and traditions and want it to stay alive. They would like to share the stories about their culture in order to help the misconceptions out of the world.

Also, the women can choose if they want to put the rings on or not!!

Elsa J (tripadvisor Review)

It is interesting to hear both sides of the story, but probably the best way to find out is to go there to see for yourself!

Following the road signs near the village, we are led to drive down this uneven path>>

This causes some problems for my car, and I hear some scraping sounds coming from the undercarriage of my vehicle, which worries me a bit. We will share more about these sounds in a subsequent blog post where I will share about my vehicular woes. For now, we make it down safely to the parking area, which is across the river from the village. It is a very scenic and tranquil setting.

I bring the kids down to the river bank to take a look. Before long, a long boat from the opposite side starts to cross the river, heading in our direction.

With no real way to communicate regarding the pricing, we have a choice, to turn back, or to get on board the boat and to accept that we might be ripped off.

This place was a scam, and the people were nothing short of miserable.

We came here today thinking this would be a good experience for our children. Just like the other reviews say you have to pay 500 baht per person to enter. Which works out to $160 Canadian. Then there was just many Market stalls with the same stuff as the Night Market except the woven items they had which were authentic.

They also had ivory elephant tusks which is cool, but highly illegal in most of the world as hunting elephants for Ivory had almost made them extinct at one point.

Travis K (TRipAdvisor review)

Since we were already there, I had a feeling of just “whatever… let’s get on board and accept our fate.”

At least the kids enjoyed the little boat ride.

Over on the other side, we are told the damage to our wallets, THB80 for the boat ride and THB200 for entry into the village. For the kids it was free entry. I was certainly grateful and pleasantly surprised that the admission price was actually quite reasonable. I really wonder what happened to the Canadian tourist above that got charged THB500 per person.

Our kids are so deprived, or perhaps so easily satisfied, the first thing in the village that catches their attention is the chickens….

… and the friendly dogs. Yes many of them freely roam all over the place.

As we walk through the main street, many stalls have been set up by the villagers, selling items that they have made. Most of the stuff look very well crafted and of high quality. We also see tribal people playing stringed instruments and singing some ethnic songs.

There are village buildings and facilities that have been kindly donated to the tribal people from all over the world. For example, their water purification system, their school building and assembly hall. Many of these facilities are very practical and have had real benefit to the lives of these people.

It is a pity that our time at the village was short, because we had a whole day of driving left ahead of us. We will leave you with this video walk through of the main street of the village back to the long boats. Enjoy!

Yes, my kids are obsessed over the chickens…. 😛

Thankfully, no further fee for the long boat ride back to the car park. All in all, it was a pleasant visit. We would have definitely gained a better understanding if we could stay longer and actually talk to some of the people there.

  • Value for Money (7/10): THB200 for adults, free of charge for the kids, and THB20 each for the boat ride. Entrance prices should probably have been more transparent at the outset.
  • Quality of Experience (7/10): This village is probably as authentic an experience that we can hope for as a tourist. They are living their lives not for show, and are keen to preserve their culture and heritage.
  • The Kids Loved It (9.7/10): Little Lioness Cub (10/10) “I liked the boat ride and the doggies” ; Little Lion Cub (9/10) “I could learn how people in the village live and what they do in their daily lives” ; Little Baby Lion (10/10) “I liked the chickens” I guess only one of my three kids has their priorities right at this point. 😛
  • The Adults Loved It: (7/10): It was very fun for me to laugh at my kids getting scared by the dinosaurs. Yes sounds very cruel of this Daddy to say that, but there you go… 😛
  • Memories Created (7/10): For sure this is an interesting place to visit. Good to expose the children to a lifestyle that is different from their own.
  • Crowds (8/10): Not crowded
  • OVERALL RATING(7.5/10): Some pros, some cons. All in all, still a worthwhile visit.

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