Chiang Mai is a town of artists: no traveler can doubt this after having entered into one of the many handicraft centers located throughout the provinces, where there are flowing abundances of paintings, exquisite fabrics, umbrellas, furniture and silverware. It is no surprise, therefore, that in January 2011 the governing body of ป่าสนวัดจันทร์ initiated a procedure to try to get a Creative City Status with UNESCO for the province as being a joint effort between the municipal authorities, the communities of Chiang Mai, and also the Chiang Mai University. Toward this, efforts have already been made to coordinate different sectors of the city’s economy, from cottage industrialists to hospitality to independent artists to develop human resources, increase jobs, and encourage the growth of the arts.
While many travelers may well be more readily knowledgeable about the evening Market and the Walking Streets, both of which are within the city center and for that reason more conveniently accessible, you might like to consider going just a little off the beaten track and seeking the Baan Tawai, an OTOP (One Tambon One Product, a program to encourage and sponsor Thai artisans) village. Located on Route 108 in Amphur Hang Dong, about fifteen kilometers south of the city center, it offers recently streamlined into convenient “zones” of shops, eateries and cafes while the main street itself is home to furniture shops that sell many of the most creative furniture and home décor items found anywhere in the world: there you will find chairs and couches in flowing abstract wood, delicate forest nymphs, and beautiful bamboo lanterns. Costs are also ridiculously cheap for such workmanship, material and artistry; the only real possible concern you could have will be shipping logistics, but you can be assured that in case you’re buying furniture or decorating a whole new house then you can certainly do worse-and do more expensively-than looking at several Baan Tawai shops.
The next stop ought to be a number of the inner zones. Zones 2 and 4 are particularly popular, flourishing with little art galleries filled with oils and acrylics in styles both modernistic and traditional Thai, unique pieces that may be had for as low as $20. Zone 4 also features a corner with upscale shops selling fantastic glassware, celadon ceramics, along with a little café which offers free WiFi, decent bakery, and killer frappe coffee made to order as well as a small menu of traditional Northern Thai fare. The design and style of goods generally speaking are very particular to Chiang Mai, quite distinct from that found in other areas of Thailand (or some other parts of Asia) and the quality is consistently high: are you aware that some ceramics from Whittard of Chelsea are, actually, made in Thailand and indeed right in Baan Tawai itself?
While the area is sort of remote from city conveniences, there is a smattering of eateries through the village that will a lot more than serve the need for light lunches and breakfasts. Pharmacies and convenience stores, like 7-11 yet others, will also be scattered about the zones in case you want for any quick drink or have to top up Chiang Mai Homestay. The shopkeepers price their goods fairly, and frequently the salesperson coriyo the artist (or sculptor, or weaver) are certainly one as well as the same. Incenses, novelty candles, papier-mache dolls, Thai silks and much more can likewise be located in the village. It’s the ideal substitute for shopping therapy in air-conditioned malls, and guaranteed to offer everyone something to like.