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Tribal Communities

The people of Imad Isai Karen Hill Tribe village, West of Ban Rai, still maintain their traditional lifestyle and beliefs. "Villagers" live scattered over a significant mountainous area, and their lives still depend very much on nature. They grow crops like rice and vegetables for own consumption on the mountain slopes in the vicinity. Their main protein source stems from squirrels in the forest or fish in a creek.


There are clearly divided gender roles, with certain activities specifically designated for men and others for women. What is shared, however, by all tribe members is the same belief; Animism. The village has a spiritual leader called ‘Jao Wat’, who presides over various ceremonies performed at their Holy Ritual Site. Nobody is allowed to enter that Site without the company of ‘Jao Wat’. Sometimes, visitors from outside will have to wait while ‘Jao Wat’ is called down from “his” farm, to lead the way. In order to learn more about the ceremonies from ‘Jao Wat’, a local interpreter is needed to translate between the Karen language and Thai language.

A fine example of their beliefs is the practice of placing bamboo sticks against the stems of a large tree. Each stick perched against the tree represents a member of the local village, and this practice is believed to prolong their lives. Members of the same family usually tie their sticks together in a bunch, so they will grow old together.


As long as advance notice is given, there are volunteer Hill Tribe villagers taking visitors to see nearby areas. An interesting event of this village is their New Year Festival which takes place on a fullmoon night during April each year. Join a trip to this remote area to learn more about the above and many other aspects of the Hill Tribe’s way of life. But do note that access is not easy, so if you plan to drive here yourself, please contact us for directions and advice.

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