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Paduang: Population: marginal Origin: Thailand
The Paduang are a sub-group of the Shan, who aren't entirely considered minorities as they have always occupied the areas of Northwest Thailand and the Shan states of Myanmar. The Shan speak a dialect similar to Thai and are even known as Thai Yai, having been assimilated into Thai culture.
There are pockets of Paduang around Mae Hong Son. The Paduang attract many curious visitors on account of their long-necked women. A tradition of beautifying women by adding brass rings to their necks has been preserved largely for generating tourism. Although the neck appears cruelly elongated, it is the collarbone which has been displaced rather than the stretching and weakening of the neck.
The long-necked ladies of the Padaung tribe begin wearing brass rings around their neck at age 4, and add one ring each year until they are in their 40s

Northern Thailand is home to interesting and colourful ethnic minorities, known as the hill tribes. These add an important element to tourism here and you may visit, or go trekking to, numerous villages, where they are happy to receive you. Since most are rural and poor, any economically uplifting opportunities are welcomed.

Most of the hill tribes have migrated into the region during the past 100 years from the Asian interior and have largely preserved their traditional ways, making them a fascinating cultural study. They prefer living above 1,000m, and shy away from the outside world.

There are seven broad hill tribe groupings: Karen, Lahu, Hmong, Lisu, Akha and Mien. However, within these categories, there are sub-categories and clans that further divide the groups. Each hill tribe has its own customs, language, dress and spiritual beliefs and this is sometimes true even of the numerous sub-categories within one hill tribe. For example, the Green Hmong and White Hmong speak in different and distinct dialects and dress differently. The hill tribes are most distinctly recognised for their colourful and unique costume, which they continue to wear daily.

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