13 TOP BEST THINGS TO BUY IN CHIANG MAI
Shopping, one thing that you shouldn’t leave out when visiting Chiang Mai, Thailand. Shopping in Chiang Mai, Thailand is always fun. It is said that Chiang Mai is the handicraft capital of Thailand, hence, it follows that most of these Thai products are really cheap in this place as compared to other regions in Thailand.
For first timers in Chiang Mai, there are things that are really worth spending for not only that they are cheap, but because these are the products are basically the specialty of the place.
13 TOP BEST THINGS TO BUY IN CHIANG MAI
- THAI SILK
Thai silk is said to be one of the best silk in the world and quite a number of factories of Thai silk are found in Chiang Mai.
Chiang Mai’s Night Bazaar, as well as the Sunday night Walking Street Market, are great spots to buy Thai silk . Still, I was privileged to visit the Shinawatra Thai Silk Factory during my visit in Chiang Mai and learn interesting facts about this industry. There are actually two types of Thai silk: smooth and rough. Smooth Thai silk has a sleek, lustrous finish and is perfect for clothing and interior decoration. Rough Thai silk has a coarser weave but is still very soft. Rough Thai silk is often used as materials for blankets, draperies, and other heavy duty purposes.
I was astonished when told that I can examine whether the silk is pure or just an imitation. That is by fire and illumination. When burned real Thai silk produces a fine ash and smells like hair burning. Also, it stops burning the moment the flame is withdrawn. Polyester gives off an acrid black smoke that keeps burning even after the fire is no longer being applied to it. Of course, most market vendors will not allow you to go around and would freely torch their wares, so the other method of testing silk is used -the light.
Thai silk is woven with two different colors of thread to produce an iridescent sheen.One must be very careful when doing this because a piece of real Thai silk , when held up high will change colors depending on the angle while polyester will always reflect white light. Finished Thai silk products, especially clothing, blankets, and tapestries, can be found all over the city but for the widest selection, the Night Bazaar once again is just the perfect place to go.
- WOOD CARVINGS
Chiang Mai, Thailand is famous for wood carvings. Wood carving factories abound in the area , so it would be best if you have the time to visit at least one.At the factory of these wood handicrafts, you will see the artisans doing the job which they and their forefathers has been doing for ages . If visiting any of these factories cannot fit in your schedule , you can still purchase some wood carvings at the Night Bazaar or at the Sunday Walking market as well as in many small shops throughout the region.
- RICE BOXES
Another interesting handicraft which could also be nice souvenir item are the bamboo rice boxes. The rice boxes are traditionally used to store rice, but in Chiang Mai these pieces became popular souvenir items for tourist because the rice boxes in Chiang Mai are colorful and intricately hand-painted. Authentic Thai rice boxes are made from bamboo by hand , and they are light so you need not worry about excess baggage.
- THAI HAND CARVED SOAPS
Lovely souvenir pieces which will delight any receiver when given as a gift are the Thai Hand Carve Soaps. Soap carving is an ancient art practiced for many years in Thailand. A scented bar soap is painstakingly hand carved into a delicate flower, which is then hand-painted in lovely shades of purples, blues, pink and more, each swett smelling bloom is then set in a decorative mango wood container.
While these lovely designs won’t make bubbles anymore, they do still carry the lovely aroma and their sweet fragrance fills the room of a crisp clean floral scent every time the box is opened.
- TRADITIONAL THAI CLOTHING
A lot of the traditional Thai clothing is made in Chiang Mai from linen, silk, cotton and hemp. I for one made sure to buy a fisherman’s pants during my visit in Chiang Mai.
Fisherman’s pants are cheap and come in lots of different colors. Thai fisherman pants are lightweight unisex trousers that are made very wide in the waist so that one size fits all. The pants are wrapped around the waist and ribbons are tied to form a belt.Isn’t this perfect for the beach?
- PAPER UMBRELLAS
Another famous and distinctive northern crafts are the Paper umbrella. Each one of these beautifully painted umbrellas is a unique work of art. The paper is made from the bark of a tree similar to the mulberry and is thin and light but waterproof. The designs are often floral or bird motifs and are brilliantly rendered. These umbrellas make wonderful home and party decorations and will surely make any setting alive and festive.
- THAI SNACKS
Chiang Mai is famous for many Thai snacks . On every market, you’ll see bags of dried sweetened cherries and plums, dried mango, papaya, and coconut. On my recent visit to Chiang Mai, I brought back bags of dried unsweetened cherries, tamarinds, and dried dates .
- TRIANGLE CUSHION
I may not be correct , but I guess It’s only in Thailand that I’ve seen this triangle pillows. These pillows are essentially a stack of triangular strips arranged in a pyramid shape and are usually combined with a traditional mat for sleeping or lounging. I basically enjoyed these pillows when we attended a Khantoke Dinner and we were seated on the floor. The pillows you will see at the market are actually authentic, as there are no mass producers of them in the region at present. They are instead produced by local farmers during the lean months when agricultural activity is low.
From elegant teak furniture to handmade wooden boxes to re-purposed accessories, Chiang Mai has everything you need to turn your house into a Lanna palace. The only concern that I had when I went there was my excess baggage.
10. SPICES AND HERBS
For those who loved to cook, it’s quite interesting to note that these special herbs and spices are available at the Sunday market or the walking street market. It is said that the special combination of herbs and spices used in preparing Thai dishes is what gives Thai food its very distinctive character, so bringing home some of these spices and herbs is just like bringing home with you a taste of Chiang Mai.
11. PURSES AND BAGS
Purses and bags are quite practical souvenirs to buy when in Chiang Mai. I heard some vendors call their bags “Ecobags”, because they are either vintage delights waiting for a new owner, or made from re-purposed charming Asian textiles and materials.
Silver Accessories are synonymous with Chiang Mai and bought quite a number of pieces when I visited the place. It is said that the early smiths are migrants from Myanmar (Burma) with the coming of Kublai Khan, and skills have been passed from generation to generation. While silver is not a native resource, early raw materials were acquired from coins brought by traders.
For art lovers, the oil painting artists are found at the entrance to the basement of the Night Bazaar. Some paintings are actually sold at a very cheap price and are easy to bring home.