If you’re a Thai handicrafts or Asian antiques lover and have already shopped at all the must-shop places in Chiang Mai, then your next stop should be Baan Tawai. A handicrafts and antiques village about 20 kilometers south of Chiang Mai, Baan Tawai has become one of the most popular ‘handicrafts trips’ from the city. And for good reason.
What’s absolutely wonderful about Baan Tawai, apart from the many handicrafts and cheap prices, is the atmosphere. It’s full of old wooden traditional Thai houses, cute coffeehouses and tons of places to buy handicrafts and antiques. It’s also a great place to watch the craftsmen and women actually creating the crafts, as you realize how much work and detail goes into just about everything they make.
Prices too are exceptional at Baan Tawai with many items being 20-40 percent cheaper here than in Chiang Mai at the markets.
As far as antiques go at Baan Tawai, be aware some are the real thing and some are fakes. While some shop keepers will be upfront about copies, others may try to sell you something as an ‘antique’ when it actual fact it was made just weeks ago. That’s why you should do some shopping around before committing to buy anything as, when you see lots of the same type of thing at several shops, it’s much easier to spot the copies from the real deal.
Spend the day at Baan Tawai though, if you’re going to be in Chiang Mai. It’s less frenetic than the night markets and less cheesy than many of the factories on the typical Chiang Mai ‘factory tour’.
The folks who work at Baan Tawai are lovely too, so it really is a pleasant day out. Plus, you’ll arrive back with bags full of the most inexpensive and gorgeous Thai handicrafts you’ve ever seen.
Check out their website for an idea of the types of handicrafts you can buy there.