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Baan Tawai, Chiang Mai

Ban Tawai in the Hang Dong area of Chiang Mai is one of my favourites and should be on most people’s must do list when visiting. The centrepiece is the handicraft village, but for me the highlights are all the surrounding shops and factories manufacturing or selling just the best Chiang Mai has to offer in timber products, furniture, pottery and more. You will need your Gold Card or higher however, but there are some outstanding items for sale.

There’a a place just up the road from here that manufactures these amazing sculptures made from old motorbike parts.

Spark plugs for teeth and chain for lips!

What creativity to see the end result from these raw materials.

My favourite pot outlet. The first place I will return to when I win the lottery.

The two blue pots are to be shipped to New Zealand. I spotted one other that had been chosen by these buyers. I wish! How about those red ones?

Peng is in semi-uniform because we had a session at her university that morning. For some reason she can only be photographed in uniform for social media if she displays this large name tag.

Another place with statues and more.

Inside. Angels in Thai bikinis making an appearance again, which is odd in a Buddhist country. Maybe for the American market 72% of whom believe in them.

I would prefer this Ganesh, which originated in India, so strictly speaking out of place too!

That Buddha head would fit in the garden. Leave the lion.

This would make a stunning centrepiece.

That’s a nice head too. Ok, discount for two?

My ladies and Buddha.

An old timber house hidden away. Very nice. The termites probably think so too 🙂

Timber elephants. Warning – we went on a Sunday because I had my Australian hat on and most crafty places are open then to catch the weekend trade. Not in Thailand. 80% of the shops were closed like this one. I could have fitted a small elephant in our pick-up too. I am sure they wouldn’t have missed it! Funny our pick-up is called Chang, which means elephant in Thai. It’s not named after the beer!

Ban Tawai handicraft village. A lot more touristy in its products but you will find plenty of things to add to the suitcase. The place is a mix of old houses and small shops like this scene.

A stairway to heaven or maybe nowhere at all!

A modern use of timber.

There are things that are made in and around the village but some like the ones on the right look like they were mass produced elsewhere.

Not exactly Thai but I am sure they sell.

For donation to a temple.

Drinks time. A nice air conditioned cafe.

For new readers Peng, my stepdaughter, has recently moved to Chiang Mai to attend university. We were visiting her on this trip. Peng’s name tag is almost in sight so I think I can get away with this because I like the photo so much. These two were pleased to be together again for a couple of days.

She’s a sweetheart. My photos give no justice to this area because most were closed. You could easily spend a full day just going from shop to shop. Forget visiting Central Plaza with its branded Chinese made rubbish. Get to see real Thai craftsmanship and come here. It will be a highlight of your trip.

GPS coords.

The GPS coords above are where you need to the turn to the left off highway 108 and onto the main road that takes you through the furniture, craft, pottery and other shops. Baan Tawai, the handicraft village itself is a little way down – turn right. It is signposted.

Thanks for reading. Please leave a comment because it gives me something to read in exchange.


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  1. Jim Busby

    If I put that statue of the Alien in my front yard, it might keep those pesky kids away. True craftsmanship in many of these pieces. Yes, you could melt your credit card many times over here. The pottery is very beautiful, and that’s one big Name Tag for Peng. Sort of like lifting your personalized license plate with your name on it off of your vehicle and hanging it around your neck. Is that her name in Thai? Tons of beautiful statues and carvings. I especially like the playful elephant relief sculpture, except for those two frisky ones doing it! Those tables are more to my liking in a very natural sort of way. Price, please? Question, with all the dogs in Thailand, do you see many cats, or are they not good pets there? I like this shop atmosphere over the downtown drab concrete dullness that prevails in Thai cities. That mother daughter picture is adorable, and you and Peng aren’t too bad either.

    Great post here, and don’t spend too much…Peng’s education comes first!


    • Tony in Thailand

      Having written to you saying I would answer the blog comments we had a big thunderstorm, the first for weeks, that took out the power for hours! I will have a video of it on the blog shortly – if the power stays on 🙂

      The alien lit up at night too would add to your reputation as a guy to be avoided! I liked the pottery but in reality the more subtle things I have in the garden may suit it better. Still I am sure I could adapt to some brighter pieces if I had to! I have no idea what the whole number plate name tag thing was about. She ended up posting a few photos on her Facebook page that didn’t have the tag so who knows. I just do what I am told and my life is a walk in the park as a result.

      I didn’t price the tables but based on similar sets I have seen I wouldn’t think more than US$1,000. You want one?????

      We actually have a ginger cat in our garden. He/she enjoys the rice hut but during the day we sometimes see it in the garden. There are cats around but given the dominance of dogs I don’t see too many of them. I just don’t know what the point of pets are with Thais. The village dogs are mostly semi-abandoned and roam in packs. You don’t walk around at night because at every house there will be a dog or three to bark at you. The alternative is the tiny rat type dogs that I have seen being transported in baby carriages! One extreme to the other. Before the coup trucks would come through the villages exchanging plastic buckets for dogs. They were taken to southern provinces or to Vietnam in appalling conditions to be killed and eaten. The military put a stop to that but didn’t then come up with a solution to the excess dog numbers.

      That mother/daughter photo is one of my favourites. They are best of friends, which doesn’t necessarily follow the titles. Peng and Gaun are chatting as I type to you and it’s a conversation that is always full of laughter. Very pleasing. Makes me smile even though I have no idea what they are talking about.

      Thanks Jim.



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