Bo-Sang Handicraft Village: The Artsy Side of Chiang Mai

Colorful Umbrellas at Bo-Sang Handicraft Village

Chiang Mai has so many diverse activities for you to do while visiting. What do you choose? I go back and forth between wanting to explore on my own or go on an organized tour. While I was in Chiang Mai, I wanted to explore the Bo-Sang Handicraft Village but didn’t have access to a car to get out to the San Kampaeng area. So, I did the next best thing. I signed up to go on a tour. This village is where the famous colorful Sa Paper umbrellas are made among other beautiful crafts made by Thai locals.

Colorful Umbrellas at Bo-Sang Handicraft Village

San Kampaeng and Bo-Sang Handicraft Village TourBo-Sang Handicraft Village

The San Kampaeng and Bo-Sang Handicraft Village Tour takes you to multiple different craft factories and workshops. The tour can be flexible to what you want to see. I happened to schedule my visit on a Thai working holiday so, we had to make do with what factories had people show up for work that day. Make sure you mention your preferences when you sign up. At each stop, you will see product-making demonstrations, their factory, and finish off in their showroom, where you can find souvenirs and gifts for all your loved ones back home. Price for the tour I took was approximately 17 USD for the half-day, and they pick you up where you are staying in Chiang Mai.

Bo-Sang Umbrella VillageRomborsang Umbrella Factory - Bo-Sang Handicraft Village

Visiting the umbrella factory where the famous Sa Paper Umbrellas are made is the highlight of the tour. You will be guided through the entire process of making a paper umbrella. From the dying of the mulberry paper to cutting the bamboo sticks for the umbrella structure, to gluing on the paper, and then hand-painting the designs. Every process is hand-made and all done by local Thai women. Although you will notice there aren’t many young people working here. The making of these umbrellas is a dying art form where the younger generation no longer wants to make them by hand. Which leaves only the older generation to showcase the skill in making these hand-made pieces of art.Umbrellas hanging on the ceiling at the Romborsang Umbrella Factory

Hand Painted Phone CasesHand Painting on Phone Case

As I was finishing walking through the factory, I came upon a group of artists hand-painting phone cases with the most intricate designs. You can get any object you have brought with you painted on (phone case, purse, backpack, t-shirt, etc.) I was fascinated with how quickly they were able to design and paint it freehand. After a quick dry with a hairdryer, the case is good to go. It didn’t cost very much to get one made and don’t forget to give a little extra for a tip. My design has lasted four months and is still there, although a little worse for wear.

Hand Painted Umbrellas & SouvenirsUmbrella Factory Gift Shop

There is a very large gift shop right next to the Umbrella Factory where you can shop to your heart’s content. They have every design imaginable for umbrellas, fans, and parasols. If you happen to buy too much, they can also ship overseas. Let’s just say I purchased my share of gifts from here.

Gems GalleryGems Gallery Entrance - Bo-Sang Handicraft Village

The Gems Gallery was a bit of a surprise that I wasn’t expecting. My tour guide dropped me off at the door and I was immediately escorted by a lady in a Thai skirt inside. Then I was handed over to another person who became my personal guide within the gallery. The first part of the tour took me through the gem/jewelry making area. Unfortunately, no photos were allowed in that portion of the building. Then I was escorted into the Gallery. My jaw dropped open on how big it was and the unbelievable selection of every gem imaginable on display. Gems Gallery is the largest jewelry store in Chiang Mai. Many of the gems are mined from Laos and surrounding areas. You can find jewelry for every price point in your budget. And yes, I did find a couple of things that I liked!

Ban-Khern Lacquer-ware
Making of the Lacquer-ware

Ban-Khern Lacquere-ware is a very interesting shop to visit. When you walk in you get a quick tutorial on how they make the products that they sell. All the wood and bamboo items are painted with black lacquer and then painted again with intricate golden designs. I could have spent hours looking at all the beautiful artwork in this shop.

Sabila KashmirSabila Kashmir

This tiny shop was right next to Ban-Khern Lacquer-ware. I was escorted over here to see the cashmere and silk scarfs. The owner was so nice offering me water, taking me around the shop, letting me try on the scarves and showing me the proper way to wear them. I was in awe of the detail of the larger blankets that reminded me of my mom’s crazy quilts. close-up of a kashmir blanket at Sabila KashmirKashmir blanket

Siam Celadon PotterySiam Celadon Pottery - Bo-Sang Handicraft Village

The Siam Celadon factory was one of the places that I wasn’t able to tour this day as it was closed for the holiday. But, I was able to browse their large showroom. Celadon is a name for the Chinese process for glazing used for over 2000 years. The jade green glazed pottery is made here and sold around the world to tourists and restaurants. Siam Celadon produces over 400,000 pieces a year and has won many awards over the years. This is definitely a place I want to come back to tour the factory.Siam Celadon PotterySiam Celadon Animals

Thai Silk VillageHeather at the Thai Silk Village

The last stop of the day is to the Thai Silk Village. This is the place to get the best deals on real natural silk scarfs. I was given a specialized personal tour of the factory and the showroom. The process for how they make silk material is fascinating. You learn all about the silkworm life cycle. How they take the threads from the cocoons, dye them, then weave them into beautiful patterns. Unfortunately, you cannot take photos in the showroom only on the factory floor. Thai silk is one of the most famous and exceptional quality you will find in the world. They can even custom-make clothing for you. Lobby in the Thai Silk Village

SummaryHeather at Romborsang Umbrella Factory

I thoroughly enjoyed my day out exploring the Bo-Sang Handicraft Village. This day, I happened to be the only person on the tour, so I was given very special treatment in each facility. And my driver took me to an authentic Thai restaurant for khao soi. I can only imagine that this is how they treat all their guests on these tours. Advice for you would be to be open to change. If one factory isn’t open, let your tour guide take you to another that is probably just as good or even better. Bring a backpack for the souvenirs and gifts you will buy. Be able to say No when you don’t want to buy and bring lots of cash/cards for all the things you will say Yes to. I saved this tour toward the end of my stay in Chiang Mai and I’m glad that I did. I was able to purchase all my souvenirs for my family in one day. Can’t beat that!

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Further Reading

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