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Rice Farmers of Thailand Through the Lens

September 14, 2010 by  
Filed under Features, Photography

Chiang Mai is the largest city in northern Thailand. A combination of natural beauty and countless cultural activities makes the area a popular tourist stop. Travelers have the opportunity to visit local hill tribes, sample delectable local cuisine, and raft along the Ping River. On this day, a local guide led our small group of travel writers on a tour of Lanna or the “land of a million rice fields.”

Follow this photographic journey featuring the Akha hill tribe transplanting rice:

khum-lanna rice-paddies-thailand Khum Lanna + Chiang Mai Rice Paddies © Gennaro Salamone

We were set for a sunrise biking tour along the rural country road from San Kwang village to Phrao to visit the local markets. Leaving the charming Khum Lanna, we were met by steady rains that prevented a view of the sunrise. Despite that, the early showers on the emerald-green rice paddies provided a tranquil atmosphere for the sojourn.

traditional-thai-people thai-women-working Akha Hill Tribe Transplanting Rice © Gennaro Salamone

We visited the local markets, stopping for tea and an interesting traditional drink that consisted mainly of raw eggs, before heading off to the area of the rice paddies where the Akha tribe was transplanting rice. Working in the rice paddies appeared to be labor intensive, but smiles were common among the inhabitants. This work is essential to the economic success of Thailand, which is the world’s biggest rice exporter according to the Bangkok Post.

thai-man gennaro-salamone-rice Local Farmer © Gennaro Salamone + Overzealous Travel Writer (Taken by Ted Beatie)

The highlight of the morning was an opportunity to join the Akha in the rice paddies for some hands-on learning. It’s one thing to observe the nature of the labor, but having your legs ankle deep in mud while bending to stick rice plants into the ground gives a new level of understanding. We were fortunate to have a guide who had relationships with the community. Sometimes, it’s worthwhile to forgo complete independence while traveling.

I was joined on the trip by travel writers: Angela Dollar, Ted Beatie, and Carlo Alcos. Visit and bookmark their websites. After that, view Lake Titicaca photos featuring the Uros people.

This trip to Thailand was courtesy of the Tourism Authority of Thailand. The content and opinions in the article are those of the author.
gennaro-salamone-photo.jpgGennaro Salamone is the founder and editor of Enduring Wanderlust. Feel free to contact him with questions, comments, or inquiries with reference to contributing an article or photograph for publication.


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10 Responses to “Rice Farmers of Thailand Through the Lens”
  1. Joseph says:

    Sounds like an amazing experience. Would love to get into that rice paddy. For a little while anyway. Love the colors of the rice paddies and flowers and the image of the woman looking left is powerful.

    Will think of this next time I have rice. Who knew Thailand was #1. Would have thought it was China.

  2. Alison D. says:

    I’ve been to Hong Kong and Singapore for business in terms of Asia. Chiang Mai would be high on my list of places to see next. It’s nice when a city is surrounded by such beautiful landscape. It’s like the best of both worlds: urban and rural.

    Beautiful photos.

  3. Elle says:

    Love Thailand. Great photos!

  4. Great photos, Gennaro! I can feel the cool mud of the paddy around my ankles.

  5. Chris says:

    I see that you found the Akha version (local farmer) of you in terms of the personality. Funny. Beautiful shots. The group shot is my favorite. Men and women working side-by-side in the fields. Gives a feeling of the way it was before mass urbanization.

  6. Andi says:

    It just oozes tranquility!

  7. Andrew Smith says:

    What a terrific experience. This is what I love about travel. Being able to immerse yourself in a new place and have exposure to a new culture even if it is only for a short time.

    As for the ankle deep in mud: you learn best from doing!

  8. Gennaro says:


    Thanks. I was also surprised by the rice data.


    Access to the urban and rural is a definite draw.



  9. Gennaro says:

    @Angela – Happy that I shared it with our group.

    @Chris – Ha, ha. Indeed, I did.

    @Andi – Absolutely.

    @Andrew Smith – It’s fun to get up close and personal.


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