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Hill- tribe treks???

Travel Forums Asia Hill- tribe treks???

1. Posted by dvdedsky (Budding Member 9 posts) 11y

Can anyone give any advice on whether going on a hill-tribe trek is a good idea or not? If anyone that has gone on one of these and can give me some feedback on your experiences I would really appreciate it. thanks!

2. Posted by daveh (Travel Guru 1027 posts) 11y

I done a 2 day trek in sapa, vietnam recently. My guide was a 17 year old from the H'mong tribe. The pace was easy going, scenery was spectacular and a great experience. There were options for longer treks etc. I think i paid somewhhere in the region of $40US for return train fare from Hanoi, a guide, lunch on both days and 1 night in a farely decent hotel. We had a look around inside houses of the local tribes. All very interesting. The most bizarre part was going in a house with a generator only powerful enough to run a small electrical appliance. Instead of lighting, or a fridge or something practical, this family had a DVD with surround sound (all the 6 speakers were placed on top of the TV facing the mesmerised family watching).

3. Posted by JennyCook (Full Member 95 posts) 11y

I would say not to bother if you were going to do it from Chiang Mai. i went on a trip to a few hill-tribe villages and i can honestly say that i've never felt more uncomfortable before in my life. The villagers were simply begging, and crying if you didn't give them any money, and if you did they went away to smoke opium. (Beofre anyone comments, i hadn't chosen to do this trip - they'd lumped me in with another trip that were going to the hill-tribes) I'm not saying that all hill tribes are like this, but in my experience Chiang Mai is so commercial that it's not particularly pleasant.

I have heard that in Sapa in Vietnam and in Northern Laos that the treks are supposed to be much better as the scenery is more impressive and the tribes more traditional, and much less commercial. I know this is where i'm planning to do some treks from.

4. Posted by Wocca (Inactive 3745 posts) 11y

Quoting daveh

I done a 2 day trek in sapa, vietnam recently.

I think I did much the same tour in Sapa as daveh. I would 've liked to have stayed an extra night or so.

5. Posted by ukmassage (Inactive 1052 posts) 11y

Quoting JennyCook

The villagers were simply begging, and crying if you didn't give them any money, and if you did they went away to smoke opium.

I was on a 3 night trekking from Chang Mai - we had very good guide recommended to us by our guest house owner. Half of our group were Thais from Bkk - and we, farangs, followed their habit of giving small B10 to kids gathering around us (nobody was begging).

The village benefits from tourists by renting their elephants out, selling bananas to feed them; selling hand maid souvenirs and charging for an accomodation and meals.

The best is to meet your guide before departure and ask him some questions - how many trekkers in the group, what is provided, do they provide transport or just public buses etc.

6. Posted by Wocca (Inactive 3745 posts) 11y

[quotedvdedsky=]Can anyone give any advice on whether going on a hill-tribe trek is a good idea or not? If anyone that has gone on one of these and can give me some feedback on your experiences I would really appreciate it. thanks![/quote]

There's a new thread, "Best treckin in chiang mai" started by Darls80, which has some good ideas in it

7. Posted by HaadRinGuide (Travel Guru 542 posts) 11y

I did a hill-tribe trek from chiang Mai and totally enjoyed it. Not sure of the company name as it was part of a tour through Intrepid Travel.

We stopped at two villages and at the first they showed us a traditional dance round the fire and then we taught the kids how to count to thirteen (they knew one to ten already). At the second village we had a game of football with the locals and that was really good as well.

there was no begging, but at the first village all the women laid out stalls selling souvenirs. Most of us bought some, but there was no prssure.

One criticism I had though, was that we were told not to take chocolate with us as the tour company didn't want the villagers being negatively influenced by western culture (i.e. they wanted to protect the profits they made from hill-tribe tourism), but when we got there you could buy beer! Surely alcohol is a worse influence than chocolate!

the tour also included an elephant trek and a day of bamboo rafting and the local tour guides were totally sound and a good laugh. Overall, I would definitely recommend doing a tour from chiang Mai, although as others have already pointed out, not all tours are as good.

8. Posted by robertson (Full Member 53 posts) 11y

Honestly,
I think the treks from Chiang Mai are worth it if you're going with a good company. It's better to have one that doesn't include walking in a circle on elephants BEFORE you start your trek, but I did enjoy my trek in general. The company I went with was very bare-bones (we slept in a barn with very little blankets and it was FREEZING, among other things... and no mosquito nets) but it was a memorable event and I'm glad I did it.

Plus, I got some excellent souvenirs for half price what they were selling in the CM market. I never experienced any begging whatsoever - the children were "selling" little necklaces which we bought from them... the older women selling the most beautiful skirts. Some people in my group even bought instruments. Yeah, the tribes drive motorbikes and wear adidas shirts, but I don't think there is an "authentic" experience anymore in CM. They're still hill tribes, even if they don't smoke opium and wear loin cloths!

That my 2 cents... I say do it.

9. Posted by magykal1 (Travel Guru 2026 posts) 11y

Can anybody make any recommendations about trekking specifically from Laos? Will be there early April.

10. Posted by dvdedsky (Budding Member 9 posts) 11y

Thanks everyone for all your feedback. Has anyone heard of the company The Peak Adventure? They seem to have some pretty cool trips they offer and was wondering if anyone has ever gone on a trek with this company before. Thanks for your help!!!