Hilltribe Museum & Education Center
3rd Floor, PDA Building
620/25 Thananlai Road, A. Meuang
Chiang Rai 57000
Tel/Fax: 053 740088
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
The PDA building
Sat-Sun / Holidays: 10:00-18:00
A very interesting introduction to the minority ethnic groups known collectively as ‘hilltribes’ can be had through a visit to the Hilltribe Museum & Education Center, a project run by the Population and Community Development Association (PDA) of Thailand. The PDA in Thailand’s largest NGO and runs community-based, participatory programs to aid local development. The museum is an educational project that helps to foster understanding of the various minority groups in Northern Thailand, especially in Chiang Rai province. It also functions as an income-generating project to help fund education programs and scholarships for hilltribe peoples. The museum curator is Alberto de la Paz who has been with the PDA in Thailand for 18 years. The PDA building is also home to Cabbages and Condoms restaurant and PDA Tour, a community-based tourism initiative.
The museum itself is spread over the 3rd floor of the PDA building with 3 large rooms containing cultural artifacts and models of houses and villages displaying and explaining the lifestyles of the 6 largest minority tribal groups in Chiang Rai. These tribes, the Karen, Hmong, Lisu, Lahu, Akha, and Yao, have all migrated into the hills of Thailand within the past few hundred years bringing with them diverse histories and ways of life largely based on swidden agriculture. In the last century, opium production was encouraged in Southeast Asia and many of these groups became involved in lucrative production of opium poppies – a detailed history of the cultivation and use of opium is included as one of the displays.
The museum also hosts a small presentation room where a 20-minute video about hilltribes in Chiang Rai can be screened in English, French, German, Thai, and Japanese. Special displays include models of various hilltribe houses as well as rice planting and harvesting equipment. The museum gift shop sells a wide array of handicrafts made by hilltribe peoples through fair trade initiatives. As a special promotion between 2 projects of the PDA, a meal at Cabbages and Condoms restaurant gives the purchaser a free entry to the museum; conversely a museum ticket can be redeemed for a free hot drink at the restaurant.