So in Thailand

Main Language
Largest Religion
Progress Gauge

Introduction / History

The So live along both banks of the Mekong River in Thailand and Laos. This is a rugged mountain region with many dense tropical forests. The Lao-Thai name So ("elder brother") refers to the fact that the So were present in this area long before their "younger brothers," the Lao. The So are bilingual, speaking So (a Mon-Khmer language) in their homes and Thai in social settings.

The Mon Khmer-speaking tribes were the original settlers of this region. However, they were pushed out of the best lands in the early centuries A.D. by Thai-speaking peoples. About 400 years ago, the Thai-speakers forced the So to leave their homes and re-settle on the banks of the Mekong River. The So people adjusted to the lifestyles of the Thai and the Lao.

What Are Their Lives Like?

The So of Thailand are primarily farmers. They cultivate a wide variety of crops, such as rice, fruit, and vegetables, for both consumption and trade. They are poorer than most of the surrounding ethnic groups and therefore depend on the Thai for many goods and services. So villagers frequently meet with the Thai to trade meat and vegetables for necessary items such as clothing and salt.

Over the years, the So began adopting the practices of the surrounding peoples, especially the Thai and Lao. This brought on many significant changes within their culture. For example, they no longer use their traditional farming methods of burning and clearing plots. Instead, they grow wet-rice on terraced plots, which is the agricultural method of the Thai. They also raise their cattle and till their fields, much like the Lao. They prepare the fields with plows drawn by buffalo or oxen. In addition, fishing and hunting have become important activities.

Such things as traditional dress, language, educational methods, housing, and public administration have also changed over the years for the So people. Only a few distinctive, cultural characteristics have remained, such as the silk scarves worn by the So women around a bun of hair at their necks.

The So consider the village the most significant political unit of society. A headman leads each village, and a father leads each family. A young married couple may live with the bride's family until they can establish their own home. The So typically live in thatch roof bamboo houses built on stilts. Their neighbors view them as dirty and disorderly.

What Are Their Beliefs?

Buddhism was introduced into Thailand in 329 B.C.; and today, most of the So profess to be Buddhist. However, most of them have mixed elements of Buddhism with their traditional animistic beliefs (the belief that non-living objects have spirits). They often seek help through supernatural spirits and objects. Ancestor worship (praying to deceased ancestors for provision and guidance) is also common. If not appeased, ancestral spirits cause illnesses. Families usually have small altars near their homes where they make sacrifices and offerings to the spirits. The people also believe that each village has a guardian spirit, as well as various spirits that are linked to the elements of nature.

What Are Their Needs?

The So people are vulnerable to destructive floods. They need a water management project in their homeland.

Prayer Points

Pray for the So people to overcome fear of being punished by the spirit world so that they will be free to embrace the King of kings.

Pray for spiritual hunger that will give the So people the willingness to give up whatever it takes to enter the Kingdom of God.

Pray for an abundant rice harvest that will help the So people in Thailand that the Lord is both loving and all-powerful.

Pray for "persons of peace" among So leaders that will open their communities to those who want to take Christ to them.

Scripture Prayers for the So in Thailand.

Profile Source:   Joshua Project  

People Name General So
People Name in Country So
Alternate Names Fo; Kah So; Kha So; Leun; Luun; Makong; Mangkong; Muong Leung; Ruul; So Makon; So Phong; Sou; Sso; Thro; Tro
Population this Country 75,000
Population all Countries 165,000
Total Countries 2
Indigenous Yes
Progress Scale 1
Unreached Yes
Frontier People Group No
GSEC 4  (per
Pioneer Workers Needed 2
People ID 14966
ROP3 Code 109364
ROP25 Code 307599
ROP25 Name So
Country Thailand
Region Asia, Southeast
Continent Asia
10/40 Window Yes
National Bible Society Website
Persecution Rank Not ranked
Location in Country Kalasin, Nakhon Phanom, Nong Khai, Sakon Nakhon provinces: 53 villages.   Source:  Ethnologue 2016
Country Thailand
Region Asia, Southeast
Continent Asia
10/40 Window Yes
National Bible Society Website
Persecution Rank Not ranked
Location in Country Kalasin, Nakhon Phanom, Nong Khai, Sakon Nakhon provinces: 53 villages..   Source:  Ethnologue 2016
Primary Religion: Buddhism
Major Religion Percent
70.00 %
Christianity  (Evangelical 0.60 %)
1.00 %
Ethnic Religions
29.00 %
0.00 %
0.00 %
0.00 %
Other / Small
0.00 %
0.00 %
Primary Language So (Laos)
Language Code sss   Ethnologue Listing
Language Written Yes   ScriptSource Listing
Total Languages 1
Primary Language So (Laos)
Language Code sss   Ethnologue Listing
Total Languages 1
People Groups Speaking So (Laos)

Primary Language:  So (Laos)

Bible Translation Status  (Years)
Bible-Portions Yes  (1980-2014)
Bible-New Testament No
Bible-Complete No
Possible Print Bibles
World Bibles
Forum Bible Agencies
National Bible Societies
World Bible Finder
Virtual Storehouse
Resource Type Resource Name Source
Audio Recordings Audio Bible teaching Global Recordings Network
General Scripture Earth Gospel resources links Scripture Earth
Photo Source Ray Mason 
Map Source Bethany World Prayer Center  
Profile Source Joshua Project 
Data Sources Data is compiled from various sources. Learn more.

Joshua Project logo    Joshua Project    Copyright © 2024