The White Thai
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The White Thai

River roamers

River roamers

Cultivate a new sense of freedom along the Red and Black Rivers of Vietnam. Explore the banks with the White Thai people (Tai Dón or Thái Trắng in Vietnamese), a warm and vibrant community. These incredibly polite and hospitable people will welcome you in.

The name White Thai comes from the traditional clothing worn by the women of the tribe.


  • Region is Southern Asia

  • Climate here is Tropical

  • The challenge here is Medium

  • This trip has been rated 5 by other travelers



Farming commands their core way of life. The cultivation of wet-rice makes for both an important source of food and an important source of income. They also breed cattle, and grow cotton and dye plants for creating clothes. Today, most White Thai farmers belong to agricultural cooperatives, allowing for minor industrialisation.


Spacious wooden stilt houses make up the rural White Thai villages. These rectangular houses have multiple rooms joined up by corridors and a panelled roof. Some have higher roofs with rooms at each end that can be used as halls.


Social Structure

The essence of White Thai society is family. Close relatives often live together. While the father is thought of as the head of the family, when it comes to labor there is little difference between genders. Both men and women will farm, fish, cook, care for the children, and look after the house. In White Thai culture, it is traditional that a married couple live with the wife’s family until they have a child.

There is an informal class structure too. For example, rural farmers are considered lower status than craftsmen and merchants.


A unique combination of animism and Buddhism form the White Thai’s spirituality. They believe in the spirits of objects and the souls of people while at the same time pursuing peace and nirvana, as in Bhudda’s teachings. It is also traditional for young men to join a Bhuddist monastery and study for three months.


Much of White Thai culture centres around their simple yet beautiful traditional clothing. Women wear a white or blue blouse, long black skirt, and a headscarf known as a khan pieu. Men on the other hand traditionally dress in blue or black shirts and long trousers.

And you’ll often see silver necklaces, bracelets and earrings accenting these vibrant outfits.


Tai Khao, also known as Tai Dón, is a tonal language spoken in Southeast Asia. It’s part of the Tai-Kadai language family.


As well as weaving brocade fabric to create unique patterned clothes, oral and musical arts feature heavily in White Thai culture. They have a large tradition of reciting legends, myths and poems. And singing and dancing are also popular. In particular, they love to sing khap tay and their traditional dances include Xoe, Sap and Quat.


The White Thai people celebrate various celebrations.

Funerals: These are particularly important in White Thai society. According to their beliefs, the soul lives on after the body dies.

Tet: This is a New Year celebration based on the Vietnamese calendar.
Further knowledge

Further knowledge

White Thai culture has changed a lot in recent generations as a result of the transition from a feudal to a socialist society. Agricultural cooperatives have helped turn them into Vietnamese working class and schools and hospitals have been built, improving education and gaining control over some of the most widespread diseases.

Photo credit: Bridge Pu Luong Mikkers

Photo credit: Tai Woman wijitpanya

Photo credit: Tai Man undefined

Photo credit: Pu Luong water Wheel Mikkers

Photo credit:Tai decor

Photo credit: Aerial view Pu Luong