Where to Shop in Chiang Mai

Explore traditional handmade crafts and artisan goods in this northern Thai city.

Apr 11, 2014
  • Shopping in Chiang Mai, Thailand: Prempacha ceramics
  • Shopping in Chiang Mai, Thailand: Sop Moei Arts furniture items
  • Shopping in Chiang Mai, Thailand: Décor piece by by Don Designs
  • Shopping in Chiang Mai, Thailand: Sunday Market shoppers
  • Shopping in Chiang Mai, Thailand: Store display at Metal Studio
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Tap into Northern Thailand’s ceramics tradition at Prempracha, one of the country’s best stoneware producers.
Photography courtesy Prempracha
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Local villagers showcase their weaving and basket-making talents at Sop Moei Arts, a non-profit organization and artful shop near the Ping River.
Photography courtesy Sop Moei Arts
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A modern take on Northern Thailand’s woodworking tradition, Don Designs’ unique décor pieces are made using discarded materials.
Photography courtesy Don Designs
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Authentic souvenirs and handmade goods can be found at the Sunday Market on Ratchadamnoen Road.
Photography John Brown/Alamy
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The contemporary jewellery pieces at Metal Studio are crafted from gold, brass, silver, and precious and semi-precious stones.
Photography courtesy Metal Studio

In Chiang Mai, Thailand, handicrafts reign supreme. And it’s been that way since the northern city began its tenure more than 700 years ago as the capital of the kingdom of Lanna. Chiang Mai’s wealth and royal heritage attracted countless artisans specializing in fine arts pursuits such as ceramic artistry, paper-making, woodwork, silk weaving and silversmithing. Nowadays, you’ll find this crafts tradition alive in Chiang Mai proper, as well as in the small, artisan-driven villages outside the city limits. From stores proffering handmade textiles to a bustling night market, here are the area’s can’t-miss shopping stops.

Prempracha

224 Chiang Mai-San Kamphaeng Road, 66 5/333-8540
For a one-stop introduction to many of the motifs, materials and techniques of Northern Thailand’s ceramics tradition, head to this 20-year-old, family-run studio and factory that is one of the best stoneware producers in the country. The vast collection includes everything from vases inspired by traditional Lanna patterns to dishware and wall art that take on more contemporary forms. While in the area, ceramics enthusiasts should also visit Siam Celadon to learn about Chiang Mai’s famed celadon tradition.

Sop Moei Arts

150/10 Chareonrajd Road, 66 5/330-6123
Silk boutiques lining San Kamphaeng speak to Chiang Mai artisans’ proficiency with the fabric, but Northern Thailand’s hill tribes are also master textile artists. Located on the left bank of the Ping River in the centre of Chiang Mai, this shop offers cotton wall hangings, silk scarves, hemp clothing, table linens, baskets and the like, woven on traditional back-strap and wooden looms in several Pwo Karen villages in the Sop Moei District.

Baan Tawai

90 Moo 2 ban-Tawai Khun Khong, 66 0/71-882-4882
The wood-carving mastery seen in Northern Thailand’s elaborate temples has a present-day counterpart in Baan Tawai, a village south of Chiang Mai, where woodworkers have set up shop. Browse the studios offering teak furniture, bamboo wall hangings and other wood-based items in a network of winding covered arcades. If time presses, stick to the more curated furniture galleries and showrooms that line the road leading up to Baan Tawai—we love Srimudra Arts and Décor and Don Designs.

The Night Bazaar

Chan Khlan Road between Tha Phae Road and Loi Kroh Road
Bypass the outdoor vendors at Chiang Mai’s nightly market on Chan Khlan Road and head to the Night Bazaar’s purpose-built building (located near the Four Seasons shuttle drop-off point), where the better vendors are located. If you’re in town at week’s end, the Sunday Market on Ratchadamnoen Road is an even better option for quality handmade goods, including umbrellas made from sa paper (produced from the bark of the mulberry tree), lacquer boxes and hill tribe carvings.

Wualai Road

Though silver is not mined in Chiang Mai, the city’s silver artists have long produced elaborate pieces for religious and royal purposes. Today, Wualai Road is the heart of the city’s fine-metal industry. A host of silversmiths craft beautiful jewellery and decorative items in the teak shophouses along the street. Nearby, just off trendy Nimmanhaemin Road, Metal Studio features unique pieces crafted by hand; Kate Middleton is rumoured to be a fan of designer Sirilak Samanasak’s creations.


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