We went on the hill tribes and highlights tour, our guide Tree was excellent, really made the day a lot of fun and was incredibly knowledgable about the various places we went. One of our best days in Thailand.
There are about 5 tribes living very close to each other and all very friendly. We went by private tour and had an English speaking Thai lady who was able to give us an insight into what was there. She was able to speak to the villagers and take us inside one or two of the houses. We sat a while with some of the long neck tribe and also the Aka (I think) tribe. The ladies were happy to show us their brass leg bands and neck bands.
The highlight of my recent trip to SE Asia was the day trip to the Hill Tribe Tourist Village. The drive there was very bumpy in the local transports - a converted jeep. The scenery along the was breathe taking and gave one an understanding of how hard the life is for people living in this area. Upon arrival to the village, I immediately noticed that the men for the most part were no where to be found and avoided being filmed. The small village had members of local tribes dressed in their traditional clothing and they had small stalls to sell some of their handicrafts and lots of souvenirs. Great photo opportunities, but be sure to ask first before taking photos. It is wise to give some bhat to the kids you take photos of in the village. The most fascinating group were members of the Long Neck people. The bronze neck jewelry looked heavy and very uncomfortable. We were treated to a dance by the young girls of the village. The Big Ear people and members of the other migratory groups traditional clothing was also of great interest. The quick day trip was well worth the trek as it was a brief introduction to several unique cultures and traditions. Technology was creeping in as in the rear of the some of the shacks were solar panels.