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Timings : Craft Stores and Mini Factories: 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM

Time Required : 1-2 hrs

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San Kamphaeng Road, Chiang Mai Overview

Also known as the Handicrafts Highway, San Kamphaeng is an 18-kilometre stretch of highway just outside Chiang Mai that is known for its arts and crafts. The villages and factories here produce a variety of items like silk, pottery, lacquerware, jewellery, and honey. For anyone keen to buy these kinds of products or simply to see craftsmen at work, San Kamphaeng is the ideal day trip.

The area dates back to 1902 and continues to be hugely popular today. During peak tourist seasons, the highway is congested with cars coming to and from the crafts villages as it’s the only highway passing through. The road is lined with dozens of shops and factories on both sides of the road, allowing a glimpse into Chiang Mai’s centuries-old traditions. 

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Things to Buy

San Kamphaeng is the go-to destination for crafts. It’s an authentic retail experience to walk down the road, bargain with the shopkeepers, watch as they create products in front of your eyes, and take back a unique product to call your own. 

Silk: The Thai silk available here is considered to be the best in the world. Their products are of high quality that can withstand heavier dyeing. There are many silk centres here like Shinawattra Thai Silk which is believed to have served Princess Diana back in the day; Jolie Femme which was awarded the 2007 International Seal of Excellence; and Thai Silk Village. Many silk items are available here like scarves, blouses, tableware, bedding, and accessories. Much of this silk weaving process has now been automated but there are some stores that do it by hand – these are distinguishable by their higher prices.

Pottery: San Kamphaeng has many pottery stores that specialize in using a material called Celadon. It’s an extremely fine ceramic that has a green glaze look. The technique of using Celadon dates back over 2,000 years to China. Baan Celadon and Prempacha are popular pottery stores that use Celadon on this road.

Lacquerware: Thai lacquerware is very popular here which is characterised by its black coat and gold detailing that date back to the Lana dynasty. It is available at stores like Ban-Khern Lacquerware and Lai Thong emporium. 

Siver Items: There are many silversmiths and silver stores on this road like Lanna Thai, Chiang Mai Silverware, and Louis Silverware, which produce beautiful items ranging from small jewellery to larger house items. The antique stores like Pon Art Gallery and Borisuthi Asian Arts & Antiques sell unique sculptures, wood carvings, and vintage items. 

Honey: Lesser known is San Kamphaeng Road’s bee farm, Threppasit Honey Farm, which is the largest bee farm in Thailand. Their stores offer different varieties of delicious, high-quality honey.

Bo Sang Village

Located along San Kamphaeng Road is Bo Sang village, the home of traditional umbrella makers. It is 8 kilometres from Chiang Mai and home to a rich paper crafts tradition. Paper items of different shades are lined along the streets made with bamboo and covered in ‘saa’ paper that is made from mulberry. They’re usually painted with colourful motifs like flowers and birds, making each piece unique. The entire process is completed by hand and these items are not only lightweight, but waterproof. 

At Bo Sang Handicraft Centre, one can visit the open area where the craftspeople work like in an assembly line with each person responsible for a different part of the products. They make all kinds of paper-based items like fans, umbrellas, greeting cards, lanterns, and other stationery. They’re willing to customise these products based onrequests too.

If visiting in the third weekend of January, one will get to witness the Bo Sang Umbrella and San Kamphaeng Handicrafts fair. Each year, all the local artisans put up their products in a competition to see who makes them best. 

How To Reach San Kamphaeng Road

San Kamphaeng is located on Highway 1006 starting from the 5 kilometre mark. It is located around half an hour outside Chiang Mai. One can hire a taxi for the day to visit San Kamphaeng. Prices start at around THB 1,100 and can go up to THB 1,800 for a round trip. Most drivers are willing to wait for a few hours till you complete your sightseeing and shopping and will drop you back to your hotel. 

One can also rent a motorcycle for the day. These are typically priced at THB 200 per day. The problem with a motorcycle is that it is difficult to carry any items back – for this, make arrangements with the shops as some of them deliver items to the hotel for a small delivery charge. 

Although one may be able to hire a tuk tuk, the road is bumpy and the ride is dusty. This is only ideal for a group of 3 people or less. 

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