Chiang Mai, Thailand Part 13: Northern Thai Village (Updated 2016)
Any traveller would normally look for souvenirs or for pasalubong when going home. In Chiang Mai, Thailand, for example, there are so many beautiful handicrafts which buyers can go crazy. Before, tourists visiting Chiang Mai required a lot of time to buy the speciality items produced in separate villages. e.g. silk village, ceramic and earthenware, herbal medicine, and fragrances, hill tribe markets, silver village, woodworking, and lacquerware. Now, The Northern Village in Central Airport Plaza has brought all the best products in Chiang Mai to one convenient area. This part of Chiang Mai reminded me of the Negros Showroom in Bacolod City, the Philippines which also showcases the best products all over the province.
With my very first visit into The Northern Village, the shopping experience leads into a learning experience about the culture of the place. I went crazy as I browsed through an incredible range of extraordinary gift items. There were so much to see and so much to buy. I just bought a few from the Northern Village because prior to my visit, I already had several rounds of shopping from the Sunday and Night Market.
Thai Silk is abundant in Chiang Mai, in fact, I have visited one factory on my last visit. And at the Nothern Thai Village, you will find Silk fabrics in every hue, patterned silks combining contemporary colors and designs, and small gift items such as picture frames, scarves, cushion covers, and purses.
At the Northern Thai Village, it Is quite amazing to see a wide range of silverware available. The silver used is of high purity, sometimes 100 percent. The silversmiths are noted for the high-quality workmanship.
One of my regrets in my visit in Chiang Mai was my failure to visit any lacquerware factory. Thai’s Lacquerware is light to carry because they are using mango wood. Some designs display a Burmese influence which reflects the intermingling of these two cultures in Lanna history. The lacquerware making process if very time-consuming and requires great patience.
Another folk products which are nice to have are umbrellas and fans wherein mulberry bark paper, called saa, are used as the main material. Like most local crafts, only natural materials are used to produce the umbrellas. The bark is pounded, virtually dissolved in a tank, and collected on a fine mesh and left to dry into saa paper. After being applied to the umbrella frame, artists decorate the parasol with colorful birds and flowers.
Woodcarving is another ancient craft in Thailand which has enjoyed a resurgence of popularity. Teak, with its beautiful grain and durability, is the preferred wood. Mulberry and jackfruit wood are preferred items to be painted or lacquered.
The range of handicrafts are abundant in Chiang Mai, most visitors will come away with a special keepsake to remind them of their days in the kingdom of a million rice fields. Despite modern development, craftsmen are keeping the traditional wisdom alive in the hills of North Thailand.
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Chiang Mai, Thailand Part 13: Northern Thai Village