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Fabric Shopping: Chiang Mai, Thailand

Updated: Feb 16, 2020

I love fabric shopping in different cities and countries, and always wish that I have more time to soak in the beautiful and unique textile and crafts of different cultures when I am overseas. So, one of the first things I googled after booking the air tickets to Chiang Mai was “Fabric Shopping in Chiang Mai”! Information from Seamstress Erin and Wander-lush was particularly useful. After reading them, I knew that shopping at Warorot market was going to be somewhat chaotic, but I guess my husband and daughters weren’t 😀

Perhaps it’s bad planning on my part, I planned for the visit to the market in the morning of the day we were supposed to fly home. My husband thought it might be good to have breakfast at the market, and to skip the sumptuous breakfast at the hotel. Bad idea! It was really quite difficult to maneuver around the market.

After being dropped off by our GRAB driver – which was really a fantastic way to get around Chiang Mai city, we took a wrong turn and went into Ton Lamyai market which is right across from Warorot. Long story short, by the time we found fabric and food (ironically, at the same time! There is a stall near the first fabric stall we saw that sells dough fritters a ridiculously cheap price – 2 baht for one fritter!!), the girls were feeling impatient, and I felt bad to drag everyone around in search of (more) fabric.

Entrance of Waroros/Warorot Market. It’s strawberries season and many stores are selling them at really good price!

We had to walk through the market before reaching this point – beautiful Thai silk, lace, rayon, cotton eyelet and many more.

I only went to one shop, but I am glad that I managed to get some pretty (and value for money, in my opinion) cotton eyelet and crepe.I love the scalloped hems on the cotton eyelet. I think they will be great for dresses for the girls! The polka dot piece is crepe and I really like the baby blue.

The entire row facing the street on the other side (further away from Ton Lamyai market) is full of fabric shops. I wish I had spotted them right from the beginning. I saw one that seemed to be selling fabric with tribal patterns and thai indigo dye on my way back to the hotel on the car. I would have love to do some shopping there, but alas, we needed to rush back. You should definitely cater for more time for fabric shopping at Warorot market. If I do make my way back to Chiang Mai, I think I will leave my girls with the hubs at the hotel pool while I spend more time at the market by myself! 🙂

Besides Warorot Market, another place for some craft and textile-related experience is at the Sankampaeng Handicraft Village. We went there after our morning excursion at the beautiful, but very crowded Wat Phra That Doi Suthep. (For places further from Chiang Mai city, we didn’t take GRAB, but hire a driver instead.) We visited several handicraft factories/workshops at Sankampaeng, and our favourites were

It is fascinating to learn the whole cycle of making those beautiful bolts of silk fabric. From silkworm, to cocoons, to being boiled to extract the silk, to spanning the silk into thread, and finally weavig the silk threads into bolts of fabrics. Lots of hard work and man hours!

This was an unexpectedly well-received visit by the girls. The place had a muggy and stuffy feel, but the girls totally loved spending their time painting the umbrellas. Quite a nice break from all the temples and factories visiting. At 150 bahts for one umbrella painting session, it’s really quite a steal. It’s also interesting to walk around the umbrella-making area, though i must say, it’s really not the nicest environment to work in.

Little artist at work!

I brought my oldest girl to the Yayoi Kusama show at National Gallery Singapore earlier this year, and I supposed she was quite inspired by the exhibition – even though it didn’t seem the case when we were at the gallery because all she wanted was to visit the children play area.

This was not part of the Sankampaeng Handicraft Village tour, but a separate trip that we made the next day. I wanted the family to try some craft activities while we were in Chiang Mai and this was one of the workshops that got my attention. Participants get tour their workshop that make beautiful celadon pottery ( 青瓷  or wares glazed in jade green colour), try their hands at making celadon pottery and paint ceramic elephants.

I emailed them in advance to reserve a space for the workshop.  They generally have two timing a day, one in the morning and another in the afternoon. We were the only participants that day, and it was quite nice that way – the girls got lots of attention and were really pampered by the instructors. My husband and I had a go at making pot using the wheel, which I must say, is really not our forte 😀 Meanwhile, the girls got their hands dirty making clay models free hand and mold.

We were not able to bring back our products immediately as they would have to fire in the kiln, and then glaze. Instead, we got to choose the pieces that we wanted and they would send the finished products to us within a month. I can’t wait to see how they turn out! Hah, but since I’ve absolutely no confidence in our own creations, we decided to buy a piece made by the professional at the workshop. After our pathetic attempts at making the pots, I gained newfound respect for the potters! Certainly justified the prices of their creations.

A stock image of the pot we got.

Another place that might be worth a visit is Huanfai Dai Ngam, also in the Sankampaeng Handicraft Village. They sell hand-woven cotton by local weavers and conduct indigo dyeing and shibori workshops. Unfortunately, the workshop space is under renovation when I contacted them, so had to give it a miss.

I hope you found this useful. Do share with us your fabric shopping or crafting experience in Chiang Mai! 🙂 If you want to find our more about travelling in Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai (including the food places), do drop us an email. Will be happy to share too 🙂


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