Jim Goodman Bio

I was born in Washington, D.C., raised mostly in Cincinnati and left my country for permanent residence in Asia in autumn, 1972. I lived in South Korea for four years, then Nepal for eleven years and since the beginning of 1988 my home base has been Chiang Mai. But I don’t stay there all year, for I still make regular research trips to Yunnan, China, Vietnam and other neighboring places.


While in Nepal I worked with ethnic minorities, specifically Mizos from Northeast India and Newars from Bhaktapur, in vegetable-dyed textile production. In Thailand I have worked with the Akha people in traditional handicrafts production in the northern hills. Besides acquiring new labor skills—I was the dyer and designer—the work gave me valuable insights into the different cultural norms and ways of thinking of traditional societies in this region. 


My writing and photography reflects my fascination with history, traditional cultures and ethnic minorities, not just in the ethnologies, cultural studies and histories I’ve published, but in my fiction and poetry as well. I have published books in Nepal, Singapore, Thailand, China and Vietnam. Recently I have ventured into publishing e-books and won’t have to wait for publishers to decide whether and when. Considering the great amount of material I have collected over the years, to me this means I can be sure there will be more books to come.


My commercial work, research, writing and photography have been mostly with ethnic minorities of the region, like the Newars of Bhaktapur, Nepal, Mizos of Northeast India, the Akha in Thailand and the Yi, Naxi, Hani, Mosuo, Lisu and Dai in Yunnan, China, with more recent concentration on Vietnamese history and culture. 


Published Books



Guide to Enjoying Nepalese Festivals, Kali Press, Kathmandu

Kathmandu, Times Travel Library, Singapore

Nepalese Georgics: the Book of Rice, Pilgrim’s Book House, Kathmandu

Tales of Old Bhaktapur, Pilgrim’s Book House, Kathmandu

Kathmandu Valley, Art Asia Press, Bangkok

Pokhara: in the Shadow of the Annapurnas, Art Asia Press, Bangkok



Meet the Akhas, White Lotus, Bangkok

Cultures of the World: Thailand, Times Editions, Singapore

Thailand: Land of Enchantment, Times Editions, Singapore

The Akha: Guardians of the Forest, Teak House, Chiang Mai



Children of the Jade Dragon: the Naxi of Lijiang and their Mountain Neighbours the Yi, Teak House, Chiang Mai

The Exploration of Yunnan, Yunnan People’s Publishing House, Kunming

Joseph F. Rock and his Shangrila, Caravan Press, Hong Kong

Yunnan: South of the Clouds, Odyssey Publications, Hong Kong

Grand Canyon of the East, Yunnan People’s Publishing House, Kunming



Uniquely Vietnamese, World Publishing House, Hanoi

A Dragon Still Ascending: 1000 Years of Hanoi, World Publishing House, Hanoi

Delta to Delta:  the Vietnamese Move South, World Publishing House, Hanoi


Online Articles


Please visit my travel site to enjoy my own stories and photographs from my research and journeys in Asia and around the world. Here is a list of my Online Articles that can be read at:





Crossing the Angry River, about riding rope-bridges across the Nu River

The Longest Dinner, about the annual Hani collective village feast

Stairways to the Sky, about the ancient rice terraces along the Red River

Up the Sword Ladder, about a strange Lisu festival

Dressing Up as Tigers, about a weird costume dance of the Yi people 

Where Salt Was King, about Heijing when it was Yunnan’s main salt source

The Alphabets of Yunnan, on the different writing systems of the minorities

Congratulations, Hani Farmers, on why rice terraces became a World Heritage Site

Calling on the Wa in China, about the three kinds of Wa people in Yunnan

The Terraces of Baishuitai, on the natural rock terraces in Shangrila County

The Dai Stilted House, on the traditional Xishuangbanna house and its future

The Jinuo People Honor the Blacksmith, on an ethnic festival in Xishuangbanna

Weishan, Birthplace of a Native Kingdom, on the city’s tradition and architecture
Imperialist Vestige in Yunnan: The French Railway, the story of the rail connection between Hekou and Kunming.

The Last Mongols in Yunnan, a Tonghai community that survived the Ming expulsion
Lugu Lake—Where Women Are in Charge, on the Mosuo matrilineal society
From Zhongdian to Shangrila, on the Tibetans of nw Yunnan
People of the Stone Forest, about the legend of Ashima and the Sani Yi
Turn-of-the-Century Kunming, when it still had an old town
The Dali Third Month Fair, goods and entertainment of the city’s biggest annual event
Marketing Dai Culture in Xishuangbanna, about policies on cultural tourism
Water-Splashing Time Again, about celebrating Dai New Year in Jinghong

Duoyi River Water-Wheels, on the Buyi of Luoping County

Dance of the Swords—the Jingpo Munao Festival, on the Jingpo of Dehong

Learning to Use a Crossbow, cultural adventures with the Lisu in Nujiang

Pride in Embroidery--the Beautiful Huayao Yi, on traditions in Shiping County

The White Yi Bull Fights—on an ethnic festival in Xundian County

At the Top of the Nujiang Canyon:  Life in Bingzhongluo, on the Tibetan and Nu residents and scenic wonders of the district

Buddhist Mountaineers, on the Bulang of Xishuangbanna

Pleasures of the Black Lisu Homeland—adventures exploring Fugong County

Why Lijiang Deserved its Heritage Site Award—and What Happened Next, on the transformation of Dayan old town

The Ethnic Mix of Little-Known Menglian, on the county’s Dai, Wa, Lahu and Aini

The Eastern Shore of Dali’s Erhai Lake, on Bai farming and fishing villages, islands and temples across the lake from Dali.

A Guest of the Cool Mountain Yi, on hospitality and other domestic rituals of the Ninglang County Yi

New Gods for Frontier Peoples: Missionaries in NW Yunnan, on the 19th century Lazarists in Diqing and Gongshan

Going Remote for New Year--Celebrating on the Nanding RIver, holidays with the De'ang and Wa in Junzhai, Lincang

When It's Market Day in Yunnan, on a colorful commercial tradition in the province

Discoveries in Dayao County, on ancient religious monuments and Yi culture

The Branch Peoples:  Minor Minorities in Xishuangbanna, on the Ake ,Kunge, Kemu and Kucong ethnic groups

Appreciating the Huayo Dai, on a festival showcasing an animist Dai sub-group

Flames on the Plains--the Torch Festival in Dali, on the origin and activities of the Bai version of the festival

Assembly at Lion Mountain--The Mosuo Honor Goddess Ganmo, on worshiping the Mosuo people's chief deity

Yunnan's Muslims: the Hui Minority in Southwest China, on the rise, repression and revival of Islam in the province

The Hidden Lakes of Medicine Mountain, on Yi yak herders and high-altitude lakes in Ninglang County

Dai Ways in Yunnan's Red RIver Counties, on the animist Dai sub-groups

Blending the Buddha and the Benzhu in Bai Religion, om the cult of the local village god

Jianshui Through the Ages, on the city's cultural and architectural legacy

By Tractor-Trailer to the River of Golden Sand, on a road journey from Guihua to Wanbi in Dayao County 

Buddhist Yi and Other Gengma County Surprises, on the ethnic minorities of the county

The French, Miao and Yi in Mengzi, on the historical and ethnic attractions of the city

At the End of the Burma Road:  The Da iof Dehong, on Mangshi's temples and people

Yao Varieties in Jinping County, on the Landian, Hongtou and Sha Yao sub-groups

Puzhehei--A Second Sani Homeland, on the Yi people in a scenic area in Qiubei County

Brine and Bridges--The Yunlong Legacy, on Nuodeng salt village, 'wind and rain bridges' and other sights

The Reclusive Alu of Laojizhai, on a Yi sub-group in the mountains of Jinping County

Dai Temple Art in JInggu County, on wood and stone carvings in Jinggu, Yongping and Qiannuo temples

Non-Buddhist Dai in Xishuangbanna, on the animist and Muslim sub-groups

Dali to Jianchuan:  Other Lakes, Other Bai, on the sights and people of Eryuan and Jianchuan Counties

Wandering Around Weixi County, on old Tibetan temples, the Naxi and the Lisu

The Beauty of Erosion, on the Stone Forest, Colored Sand Forest and Earth Forest

History All Around--The Monuments of Dali, on the ancient city's architectural legacy

Hidden Attractions in Mengla County, on the mountains and the minorities

Festival Time for Tibetans and Their Horses, on the Horse Racing Festival in Shangrila

Babao to Haizibian:  Through the Middle of Wenshan, on the landscapes and people

Xishuangbanna Craft Villages, Past and Present, on surviving handicraft traditions in Banna

Limi Yi Discoveries in Wumulong, on meeting a little known Yi branch in Lincang Prefecture

The Frontier Peoples of Western Dehong, on the Dai,, Achang, Jingpo, Lisu and De'ang

Ethnic Territory--the Honghe Borderlands, on the people and markets of the southern districts

From Qujing to Zhaotong: a Look at Northeast Yunnan, on its scenic, ethnic and historical sites

Tiger-Eaters of Lincang, on the Lahu of Nanmei District

Pu'er Tea in Xishuangbanna, on its cultivation, processing and the speculation mania in recent years

Naxi Religion--a Mixture of Creeds, on the blending of Buddhism, Daoism and the dongba tradition

The Yi Torch Festival--Urban Celebrations, on government-sponsored events in Chuxiong and Yangbi

Yaks in Yunnan, on the many uses of the animal in the northwest

The Other Side of the Azure Mountains--Shaxi to Xiaguan, on the people and places of an ancient caravan route

The Tropic of Cancer and the Hani in Mojiang, encounters with Hani in Mojiang and villages

The Last Wild River in China, portrait of the Nu River in Nujiang Prefecture

Trekking Through TIger Leaping Gorge, on Yunnan's most popular hiking route

Refuge in Yunnan:  the Tragic History of the Miao, from ancient times to today

Heqing Remake, on the transformation of a traditional Bai city

Colors and Clouds in Yuanyang County, on its scenic terraces and ethnic diversity

Classic Temples in Kunming, on the city's religious legacy of over a thousand years

Through the Hills of Honghe County, encounters with the Yiche and other Hani people 

South of Kunming:  Yuxi, Tonghai and the Lakes, the landscapes  and people of central Yunnan




Baskets on the Ocean, about the unique basket boats on the Vietnamese coast

Human Chess in Vietnam, about an unusual festival activity

To Dance as a Goddess, about the popular Holy Mothers cult

Vietnamese Citadels, about the ancient citadels, how and why they were made

The Island That Remembers, about honoring a famous Vietnamese naval victory

Silver Street’s New Temple, on celebrating the restoration of a Hanoi temple

The Best Beer in Hanoi, on the fresh beer social scene in the city

Living in a National Relic, about life in a preserved traditional village

Only the Ruins Remain, on the Chăm architectural legacy in South Central Vietnam

Hanoi: the Most Asian City in Southeast Asia, on what makes the city unique

The Communal House of a Vietnamese Village, its role in local culture

Châu Đốc—the Diamond of the Delta, river and rural life in An Giang province

Hà Tiên—the Last Seaport in Vietnam, how a Chinese refugee port rose to fame

Deifying National Heroes in Viet Nam, on patriotism mixed with religion

Magic on the Pond—Vietnamese Water-Puppets, on a unique national tradition

To Pray and To Play:  Attending Vietnamese Festivals, on the entertainment aspect
The Chăm Legacy of Quảng Nam, Vietnam, on Mỹ Sơn and other Chăm sites.

Friendship Village, Vietnam, about US and Vietnamese war veterans setting up facilities to help victims of Agent Orange

Female Protagonists in Traditional Vietnamese Theater, on women's roles in the indigenous chèo dramas

Lạng Sơn, Vietnam's Gateway to China, on the city's physical and ethnic attractions

The Three Incarnations of Hội An, on the history of a famous port

Some Surviving, Some Thriving--Craft Villages in Vietnam, on an ancient and continuing tradition 

The Transformationof Nha Trang, from a Chăm royal capital to a seaside tourist playground 

Refuge and Revolution in Cao Bằng, on the Tày, Nùng, Mạc and Việt Minh

Khmer at the Mouth of the Mekong, on Khmer culture in Trà Vinh province

The Art of a Tày Funeral in Northern Vietnam, on the separate rituals for the sou

And the Beat Goes On--the Variety of Vietnamese Percussion, on drums and other kinds of beating instruments ,new and old

Meetings with the Mường--Cousins of the Vietnamese, calling on a village war heroine, among others

Tales of Cát Bà Island--Old and New, on the biggest island in Hạ Long Bay 

Tuồng Theater:  the Vietnamese Version of Chinese Opera, on its origin, history and development

Time for Tết, the Vietnamese New Year, on its preparations, rirtes andcelebrations

The Enduring Attraction of Sapa, on the nountains and minorities of an historic tourist site

The Heart of the Mekong Delta, on Mỹ Tho, Vĩnh Long and Cần Thơ  

Splendor and Neglect:  The Tombs and Times of the Early Nguyễn Emperors, on the royal mausoleums around Huế 

Rainy Day Markets in NW Hà Giang, on the several ethnic minorities in the area

Before the Dragon Rose:  Vietnam's Ancient Capitals, on Văn Lang, Cổ Loa and Hoa Lư

​It's Always Spring in Đà Lạt, on a French-guilt Central Highlands resort town

Expanding and Adapting:  When the Vietnamese Moved South, on the how and why of migration

In Search of the Hà Nhì in Vietnam, encounters  in the northwest  mountains

Roaming Around Huế--the Last Imperial City, on discovering the city's urban and rural delights

New Year Part Two:  Early Festivals Around Hanoi, action at the Perfume Pagoda, Lim Hill and Và Temple

​Nature and Man In Ninh Bình, on the province's scenic and historical attractions

Religion in Old Saigon, on the city's first temples and churches

Crossing the Climate Boundary: from Huế to Đà Nẵng, on the route over the Hải Vân Pass

Beyond Sapa:  the Ethnic  Mélange, on the people over the mountains west and north

Making a New Hanoi--French-style, on colonial architecture's purpose, development and influence

Mai Châu to Lai Châu:  Through the Thái Lands of Vietnam, on the Black Thái and White Thái of the northwest

Thanh Hoá's Famous Families, on the landscapes, history and influence of the province

Getting to Know Bắc Hà, on the markets and minorities of the district

Hanoi's Shrinking Waters, on the history of water surface in the city

​Home-stay with the Dao in Quản Bạ, the lures and limits of overnights in ethnic villages

Hanoi's Roving Vendors, on their motives and lifestyle in the city

A Religion of Fusion--Vietnam's Cao Đào Faith, on its beliefs, practice and history

West of Hanoi:  a Journey through Time, on historical sites in former Hà Täy province

Making the Đồng Văn Circuit--the Northern Tip of Vietnam, on the natural and ethnic characteristics

Ninh Thuận, Vietnam: the Chăm Who Stayed, on contemporary Chăm in their last historic homeland

Motorcycling Around Bắc Hà, on the mountains, minorities and markets of the district

Khmer Temples in Southeast Vietnam, on sites in Sóc Trăng and Bạc Liêu provinces

Education in Imperial VIetnam, on the Confucian system and the Temple of Literature

Relics of Triumph in Điệnbiệnphủ, on the 1954 battle and its physical legacy

Huế's Citadel, on its construction, historical role and renovation

Hanoi's Old Quarter, on the  old town's thousand  years of  development

Red River Rituals in Vietnam, on gathering sacred river water at two northern festivals

Online Articles Continued


My Online Articles that can be read at:

My Blogspot



Chiang Mai’s Younger Brother, about Kengtung in northeast Shan State

Shan State Getaway, on the history of a Shan area close to Mandalay

Shifting Royal Capitals of Pre-colonial Burma, on Sagaing, Ava and Amarapura

Maymyo—Myanmar’s Historic Hill Station, vestiges of a British summer retreat

Return to Kengtung--Luxury Style, on the changes since 1998

More Than Just Entertainment:  Myanmar's Marionettes, on the revival of a classic tradition



Hill Tribes and Nasty Spirits, about the nature of animism in northern Thailand

Looking Pretty—Tribal Style, about the aesthetics of the hill people

A New Kind of Elephant Experience, about the elephant sanctuary in Mae Taeng

The Akha Swing Festival, a.k.a ‘Women’s New Year’, its celebration in Thailand and Xishuangbanna

Lamphun and the Mon Queen's Legacy, on the first state in northern Thailand

In the Shadows of History--a Visit to Chiang Saen, pre-earthquake look at an ancient Lanna city

Art and the Akha Woman, on the making of clothing and the styles of the three sub-groups

Tigers Out, People In--The Second Founding of Chiang Mai, on demographic changes since 1796

Houses in the Jungles, on homes of the northern hill tribes

Teak and Temples in Old Lampang, on the mixed heritage of the north's second oldest city

The Last Restorations of Classic Chiang Mai, on the reconstruction of temples from the Golden Age

Mon to Monkeys:  The Evolution of Lopburi, on the city's changing roles in its long history

Starting with Sukhothai, on the ancient kingdom's contributions to Thai culture

Lost and Found:  Chiang Mai's Predecessor, on the discovery and restoration of Wiamg Kum Kam

Illuminated Nights--the Loy Krathong Festival, on its program changes over the last thirty years

Strange Creatures in Thai Temples, on images of the mythical animals of  Himmapan Forest

The Chinese Community in Chiang Mai, on their history, economic role and New Year events

Why Chiang Mai?, on the attractions of living in the city

Wat Mae Kaet Noi--the Temple of Hell, on the horrific sculptures of the temple's Hell Garden

Keeping Their Identity:  the Shan in Chiang Mai, on recent Shan revivalism in the city

Rainy Day Excursions to Chiang Mai Museums, evoking and learning about the city's past and culture

Four Centuries of Ayutthaya, on its history, legacy and extant ruins

Chiang Mai's Forest Temples. on the classic retreats built in the Kingdom of Lanna days

The Cult of Chamadevi, Queen of Ancient Lamphun, on her life, legends and influence

Strawberry Season in Samoeng, on a scenic drive southwest of Chiang Mai

Decoration and Edification: Chiang Mai Temple Murals, on their art and meaning

Chiang Mai Craft Traditions, on the survival of classic traditional skills

Beyond Haripunchai--Excursions out of Lamphun, on the ruins, temples and  other sights 

Watgate:  Chiang Mai's International Suburb, on the foreign communities and their institutions

Between the Mountains and Plains:  the Karen of Northern Thailand, on their history and lifestyle


Farewell to the Four Thousand Islands, on the endangered scenic area on the Mekong River in southern Laos

Rockets Over the Plain of Jars, on a Buddhist festival in war-scarred Xieng Khouang

Ancient Khmer Mysteries in Southern Laos, on Wat Phu in Champassak province

Exploring the RIvers of Luang Phabang, on the Nam Khan, Nam Ou and Mekong Rivers

Ambassador to the Akha in Laos, on encounters in Luang Nam Tha province 

Mekong River Towns in Southern Laos, on Thakhek, Savannakhet, Pakse and Champassak

Change and Continuity in Luang Namtha, on developments over the past two decades

Vang Vieng Before the Flood, on the original attractions and changes afterwards



In Search of Ancient Funan, on a boat ride from Takeo to Angkor Borei

Salt and Pepper City--Kampot, Cambodia, on the city's charm, history and famous products

Phnom Penh--the Last Capital of Cambodia, on the city's history and attractions


Tales of Guilin and the Beautiful River, on the scenery and background stories of the route between Guilin and Yangshuo



The Living Inca Town of Ollantaytambo, on the Sacred Valley of the Incas

Trujillo:  the Culture Capital of Peru, on the Moche, Chimú and Spanish settlers.

The Floating Islands of Lake Titicaca, on the Native Americans of the Puno area

Desert Kingdoms of Ancient Peru, on pre-Inca coastal civilizations

Cusco's Double Legacy, on the Spanish transformation of the ancient Inca capital

Imagining Life in Pre-Conquest Peru, from the evidence in museums and surviving customs

Arequipa: the White City, on the special history and unique architecture of the city

Excursions in the Mountains of Peru, on the scenery, people and historical relics


Coming Attractions;



Lisu Culture in the Nujiang Markets, on learning from the goods on sale

Yuanjiang and Xinping, on sights and people in the counties

Joseph Rock in Yunnan, on the life and legacy of the famous botanist, scholar and explorer 

Luchun the Hani County, on the Hani and  their neighbors



The Chinese in southern Vietnam, on the community's history and contemporary life


The Three Krubas of Li, on the district's most famous monks and what they did


Jim also has e-books available from Amazon and Lulu.  



Jim Goodman's Amazon Store



Jim Goodman's Lulu store



Jim Goodman's Facebook Page



While doing research on indigenous music for his book Uniquely Vietnamese, Jim learned to play the đần bầu, the Vietnamese monochord. You can hear him play during his interview with VTC10 at: