|Chiang Rai, Thailand|
A visit to the Akha and Yao tribes allows visitors to sample the lives of 2 of the most colourful minorities in the Kingdom. The Akha people are rightly famous for their very exotic and beautiful costumes, and can be seen in many towns in Thailand selling their unique handicrafts. Akha people are usually of small stature, with dark skin and fine, delicate features. Despite their typical poverty, they have a resolute spirit and a great sense of humor. Quick to laugh and joke, they are delightful people to stay with or visit, and are vary generous with whatever they many have. The Yao hail from southern China, and at one time had considerable prestige within the Chinese Empire, to the extent that at one time a Yao princess was married to an emperor of China. The Yao in Thailand are a sub-group called "Mien" of the greater Yao family, while most Yao inhabit southern China, Laos, and northern Vietnam. They are the only minority group in Thailand to have used a written language – Chinese - and practice a written religion based on medieval Chinese Taoism. In recent years, however, there have been many converts to Christianity and Buddhism. Their villages are widely scattered throughout the northeastern part of northern Thailand, with concentrations around Nan, Phayao, and Chiang Rai. Carry on to Chiang Sean, a small crossroads town on the bank of the Mae Kong River: explore the city ruins and witness the panoramic view of the Golden Triangle. Last stop is Mae Sai, the Northernmost town of Thailand, where visitors are given the opportunity to explore the many local flea markets.