The Lisu people originated from the region near the meeting of the Salawan waters and Mekong river, in northern Tibet and the north-west of Yunnan Province, China. In the early 20th Century, a number of Lisu immigrated south into Thailand and Burma. Now, the Lisu living in Thailand are quite different from their relatives in neighbouring countries developing unique and distinct traditions over many generations.
In Thailand, the Lisu population is spread across the northern regions, predominantly in Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai and Mae Hong Son Provinces.
The Lisu are divided into two sub-groups: the striped Lisu and the Black Lisu, with almost all of the Lisu residing in Thailand being of the striped Lisu sub-group.