Ban Jalae is a traditional Laba Lahu village located in the capital district of Chiang Rai province, twenty-two kilometers from the city of Chiang Rai. Ban Jalae is adjacent to Huay Mae Sai Waterfall and is surrounded by Akha, Lahu, and Mien tribal villages. The villagers of Ban Jalae still practice their traditional beliefs and have a lifestyle rooted in the wisdom accumulated over hundreds of years of surviving in the mountain jungles.

Similar to most tribal communities in Thailand, however, Ban Jalae is experiencing a rural exodus as restrictions on farming land force families to send their children and young adults to work in the city make ends meet. Losing this generation to the city produces not only a strain on the social fabric of the village, but also an abrupt discontinuity in the Lahu culture and lifestyle that have been passed down for centuries. Most concerning, Lahu youth working in the city often simply reject all aspects of their culture as "old fashioned."

To address the dual problems of cultural erosion and lack of sustainable sources of income near the village, the Mirror Art Group and Ban Jalae chose to create the Ban Jalae Hilltribe Life and Culture Center. This multi-media center powered by solar energy combines displays about traditional Lahu culture, handicrafts and know-how with video presentations that show that the deep and intricate cultures of the tribal peoples in and around Ban Jalae are anything but "old fashioned."
The Ban Jalae Hilltribe Life and Culture Center is very much a community endeavor. All artifacts in the Center come from Ban Jalae and surrounding Akha and Lahu communities, with each home in Ban Jalae donating at least one item. The community also invested six months of labor to construct the four adobe buildings that comprise the Center. The villagers of Ban Jalae have made this investment so that they may not only share their culture with guests to the village, but in hopes that the Center will rekindle among hilltribe youth throughout Thailand an interest in tribal culture that has waned over the past generation.

The Center would like to thank the Mae Yao Sub-District Administrative Organization, the Chiang Rai Tourism Authority and the generous financial and logistical support of the following:

Most importantly, we would like to recognize the village of Ban Jalae for its strength and vision.

If you are interested in visiting Ban Jalae, you can travel by motorcycle or rent a mini-bus.

We have a maps of the route from Chiang Rai city to Ban Jalae, or from the surrounding area of Ban Jalae, Huay Mae Sai.

- When leaving Chiang Rai city head out on the highway to Mae Sai.
- Take a left turn immediately after crossing the Kok River.
- Follow the signs for Huay Mae Sai waterfall.

If you would prefer the Mirror Art Group to organize a trip for you, please contact:

Ms. Parisudha Sudhamongkhala ("Moo")
Tel. 053 737412-3 or 07 175 8668 (outside of Thailand replace the initial 0 with the 66 country code)