Join a Cultural Tourism at “Tai Dam Community”
Experience local ways of life and cultures of Tai Dam community through an active learning center and a walking street decorated with traditional lanterns. DASTA has applied the community-based tourism criteria to develop places of interest in the community in hope to sustain the local ways of life, cultures, and traditions.
If talking about Loei province, most people will think about “Chiang Khan” as it is one of the most renowned tourist attractions that draws in a countless number of Thai and foreign tourists to the province. Fascinating charms of Chiang Khan are its simple and peaceful ways of life of local people, old wooden houses, homestays, accommodations, restaurants, and various types of shops lining for more than 2 kilometers along Chai Khong Road.
The office 5 of the Designated Areas for Sustainable Tourism Administration (Public Organization) or DASTA has come up with a plan to expand the tourism by distributing the number of tourists from major attractions to minor ones in order to increase spending and length of stay. With this reason, DASTA has arranged a travel program to “Ban Na Pa Nad” where Tai Dam community is located. The Tai Dam ethnic group (also known as “Tai Chong Dam” or “Tai Song”) is one of the few ethnic groups in the country that can thoroughly preserve their traditional ways of life and cultures despite an expansion of a modern-world advancement.
Ancestors of Tai Dam ethnic group originally lived in a state of Sip Song Chu Tai, in a city called “Tan” close to Black River and Red River. Nowadays, it has become a city of Dien Bien Phu in Vietnam. During a war between France and Vietnam, Tai Dam ethnic group had emigrated from their hometown and settled in “Ban Na Pa Nad”. This place has been receiving a lot of attentions from the visitors as it is the only Tai Dam community in Loei province and the local people are still practicing their traditional rites amidst the modern-day lifestyles.
Mr. Thumanoon Phaktoop, manager of the designated area office 5, has said that DASTA has implemented the community-based tourism (CBT Thailand) criteria to develop the community and educate the local people so they can use these criteria as guidelines in increasing their community’s abilities to welcome the visitors while preserving the unique ways of life, cultures, and traditions.
Mr. Thumanoon Phaktoop
This community is a Tai Dam Cultural Center where the cultures and traditions of Tai Dam people are conserved, continued, and presented to the visitors. Moreover, it is also a place where the local people gather around to work on their traditional cloth weaving and handicraft products, namely shawls, sarongs, shirts, and traditional Tai Dam outfits. The visitors can enjoy these beautiful handmade products and do some shopping to support the locals. In this way, the local people will be able to earn more incomes on top of their main farming and agricultural jobs.
“The outfits and household appliances of Tai Dam people are very unique which make the visitors become really interested to purchase them as souvenirs. DASTA, therefore, has collaborated with the community to organize creative tourism activities for the visitors to participate; for example, the activities to make traditional bird and rat cages and traditional lanterns as well as an activity to try on the traditional Tai Dam outfits. Other than that, the visitors can also join other activities with the Tai dam people. I can say that these activities are well-received and very popular among the visitors,” Mr. Thumanoon added.
Regarding the traditional Tai Dam outfits, both men and women will wear black in their everyday lives. A shirt for a Tai Dam man has long sleeves and buttons closing to one another whereas a woman’s blouse is embellished with butterfly-shaped buttons. Besides, there is also a demonstration of the traditional cloth weaving with ancient handmade techniques passed down from generations and the visitors can also watch some of the folk dance performances such as Sepang and Sekan folk dances.
In addition, to sustain the local ways of life and cultures of Tai Dam community, DASTA and Tai Dam Cultural Center have joined hands to create a walking street decorated with Tai Dam traditional lanterns and make it become a role model cultural tourist attraction. The travel program and activities have been organized to exhibit the identities of Tai Dam ethnic group e.g. their ways of life, local dishes, traditional outfits, local products, souvenirs, and traditional performances. All of these are captivating charms of Tai Dam people which have been well-protected to these days for the visitors and younger generations to witness and learn about.
The traditional lanterns, which have been modified from the bird and rat cages, are the lucky charms believed to bring luck to the community. They are hung in front of every house and adorned along the walking street, making the whole community beautifully lit at night. Certainly, this has become another must-visit walking street of Chiang Khan.
“The conservation of the community’s uniqueness is making the local people happy, similarly the visitors are also enjoying their trips to experience the authentic and unfiltered local ways of life whether they be traditional outfits, local languages, local dishes, peaceful environments as well as friendly community members. These reasons have made “Ban Na Pa Nad” become a 100-year-old cultural tourist attraction with potentials to create new experiences for both Thai and foreign visitors and make them stay longer and spend more. As a role model tourist spot, DASTA will introduce the strategies and concepts used in the development of “Ban Na Pa Nad” or Tai Dam community to other interested communities so that they can adapt or implement these strategies to their communities as well,” said Mr. Thumanoon.