The Tribal Museum highlights the history and culture of the mountain tribes of north Thailand, including the Akha, Karen, Khamu, Lahu, Lau, Lisu, Hmong, Mien, and Thin peoples. The museum has three components:
- Indoor exhibits of tribal clothes, jewellery and other artefacts
- A video presentation of tribal life in northern Thailand
- A large garden with exhibits of tribal huts, reconstructed in an attractive waterside setting.
In addition, the Tribal Museum hosts a monthly tribal market, selling handmade clothes, craft goods and food, from a different hill tribe each month.
The Rough Guide notes that the Tribal Museum "enjoys a superb location behind the artfully landscaped Ratchamangkla Park. Overlooking a tree-lined lake, the very pretty and peaceful setting makes a visit worthwhile, as does the opportunity to learn something about the various hill tribes before heading off on a trek." The "useful wall chart" explains life in a village around the year, "giving a month-by-month picture of the agricultural activities, ceremonies and festivals of the tribes featured", while the photographs and models of village houses give "a good idea of the different styles of architecture, and a display of hill-tribe instruments accompanied by taped music".
The New York Times quotes Frommer on the Tribal Museum: "Formerly part of Chiang Mai University's Tribal Research Institute, this small exhibit showcases the cultures and daily lives of the hill-tribe people of Thailand's north. It is recommended as a good introductory course for those who plan to visit many northern villages." 
Thailand's World recommends the Tribal Museum, writing "A visit to the Tribal Museum is strongly recommended as an introduction to the cultures and practices of the current hill tribes of northern Thailand. This museum serves as an extensive resource centre for the tribal cultures, and the visitor will certainly leave with a better understanding of each hill tribe. It is unique and compact, and together with the nearby National Museum of Chiang Mai, can be viewed in half a day." 
- "Tribal Museum". Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT). Retrieved 25 June 2015.
- Global Travel Mate: Chiang Mai Tribal Museum Retrieved 31 October 2011
- Rough Guides: Thailand Guide Retrieved 31 October 2011 Archived April 4, 2012, at the Wayback Machine.
- The New York Times - Travel Retrieved 31 October 2011 Archived September 15, 2011, at the Wayback Machine.
- Thailand's World Retrieved 31 October 2011
- Lenzi, Iola (2004). Museums of Southeast Asia. Singapore: Archipelago Press. pp. 200 pages. ISBN 981-4068-96-9.
- Barker, Jack (2009). Thailand with Your Family. London: John Wiley & Sons. pp. 256 pages. ISBN 978-0470519660.