By Christina Valhouli
In many ways I found shopping in Chiang Mai to be far more enjoyable than Bangkok. The city’s small scale and rich history of craftsmanship — minus the choking pollution and crowds — all chalk up to one stellar shopping experience. Chiang Mai may not have the glossy mega malls with aquariums and Ferrari showrooms that you’ll find in Bangkok, but what it does have is plenty of independent boutiques where it feels as if you’re shopping in someone’s home. We found ourselves buying way more items here than in the capital. Some of the best buys include ceramics, silks, lacquer ware and silver. Read on to find where to shop and what to buy in Chiang Mai.
Wit’s Collection is located on Nimmanhemin Street, a great one-stop shopping location for good design (the street also hosts an annual Arts & Design Promenade). Out of all the stores on the street, Wit’s is our favorite. The shop showcases the work of Parisian artist Fabienne Jouvin, who has a whimsical and modern approach to ceramics. This is one of those stores where you want to buy absolutely everything in sight — if only your luggage could handle it.
1F Niemanhaemin Road, Soi 1
Phone: 66 (53) 217544
Opened in 1995, Living Space is housed in a two-story teak house, so shopping here makes you feel as if you’re browsing through a stylish home. Anglo-French owner Jennifer Dyson has stocked Living Space with a gorgeous selection of lacquer products (the best we saw in Chiang Mai). Her lacquer comes from Thailand and Vietnam and the colors are a vibrant orange, turquoise and lime. Upstairs, Living Space also houses a small outpost of the trendy Ginger boutique, which sells stylish women’s clothing.
276-278 Thaphae Road
Phone: 66 (53) 874299
I’m a sucker for a good silk product (after all I have purchased about 30 silk cushions in my travels even though I only have one sofa). One of the loveliest silk stores we came across in Chiang Mai is Vaniche. If you love the silk cushions at stores like ABC Carpet in New York or Liberty in London, you’ll love the stock here. Designs are geometric and sleek with lots of stripes and not a kitschy elephant design in sight. In addition to the cushion covers, Vaniche also sells silk accessories such as notebooks and travel bags.
Nimmanahaeminda Road, Soi 4
Phone: 66 (53) 213 910
This stylish boutique would look equally at home in Soho or tucked away on L.A.’s Roberston Boulevard. Ginger stocks well-cut tunics and jewelry in eye-popping colors, without a hint of craftsy cuteness — perfect for those who like a boho-chic look with the emphasis on chic. Danish owner Hans Christensen owns another chic place in town — the House Restaurant at 99 Moonmuang Road.
6/21 Th Nimmanheimin
Phone: 66 (53)21 5635
If you are on the hunt for silk, head to Vila Cini. This boutique sells a gorgeous selection of contemporary silk accessories, ranging from ties and cushions to bags. Upstairs silk can be bought by the meter. There’s also a Vila Cini in The Mandarin Oriental Shopping Arcade. Top tip: just next door to Vila Cini is Oriental Silk, which is definitely worth a look for its cotton fabrics and teak furniture.
30 Charoenrat Road
Phone: 66 (53) 246246
MANDARIN ORIENTAL DHARA DHEVI SHOPPING ARCADE
If you’re lucky enough to be staying at the Mandarin Oriental Dhara Dhevi in Chiang Mai or simply want a very easy, very luxurious one-stop shopping experience, you can’t go wrong here. This tasteful, small-scale shopping arcade is home to a handful of the city’s best boutiques, including Pasaya, our favourite for stylish bedding; Shinawatra for textiles (much better than the Bangkok store); and Xanadu for gorgeous silks. And if you need to refuel, stop at the Oriental Shop for a variety of tea and cakes.
51/4 Chiang Mai
Sankampaeng Road Moo 1
T. Tasala A. Muang
Phone: 66 (53) 888 888
Every third shop in Chiang Mai seems to sell celadon pottery but one of our favorite stores is Siam Celadon. The boutique sells a small but lovely selection of celadon plates, tea sets and vases as well as gigantic floor cushions and bedspreads. There’s also an in-house cafe, perfect for a cooling drink. Top tip: Baan Celadon on Chiang Mai-San Kampaeng Road near the Mandarin Oriental is also worth a look, and sells seconds at up to 80 percent off.
38 Moo 10
Phone: 66 (53) 331526
LA LUNA GALLERY
This rambling, two-story space showcases contemporary art from Thai, Malaysian, Vietnamese and Burmese artists. Everything from paintings to furniture and ceramics is on sale, and those on a budget will find the art extremely well priced. Before you go, browse through the Web site to help you narrow your choices. The owner is also quite chatty and informative.
La Luna Gallery
190 Charoenrajd Road
T. Watgate, A. Muang,
Phone: 66 (53) 306678
This article originally appeared on itravelishop.com.