Three women and one men in traditional dress
Tai Lue women and man before going into the temple

The Tai People

With the Tai people we refer to the population of descendants of the speakers of a common Tai language. Apart from the Thai people there are minority groups in North Thailand who speak languages from the Tai-Kadai language group. Such groups are the Tai Yai (Shan), Tai Lue, Tai Ya and Tai Yong, amongst others. Many of these people speak the Thai language and share the same culture and religion with the Thai people.

The Tai Yong from Lamphun

The Tai Yong who live in Lamphun province migrated more than 200 years ago from Northern Shan State to North Thailand. They are in fact Tai Lue who came from a town called Muang Yong which is now called Mong Yawng. The Tai Lue are much more spread out over North Thailand. The town Chiang Kham is known for Tai Lue culture but you can also find their villages in Nan, Chiang Rai and Chiang Mai provinces.

Tai people: Tai Yai or Shan

The most populous group that speaks a language from the Tai language group are the Tai Yai or the Shan. Mae Hong Son is the “Shan capital” of Thailand and boasts many magnificent Shan temples. Chiang Mai also has a large number of Shan people and Shan temples such as Wat Ku Tao and Wat Pa Pao. The Poy Sang Long ceremony is a typical Shan festival.

By far the smallest group of Tai people are the Tai Ya, who live in a village in Chiang Rai province. They migrated from China. Their traditional dress is spectacular. We can arrange a meeting with the Tai Ya on request.

Two women with bamboo hats People of North Thailand
Tai Ya women, Chiang Rai province