Shopping in Chiang Mai

Dear Diva Readers,

top: 5px; float: left; color: white; background: #781300; border: 1px solid darkkhaki; font-size: 60px; line-height: 50px; padding-top: 1px; padding-right: 5px; font-family: times;”>I’m delighted that my friend Carla of CF Michaels is Guest Blogging again today giving a few tips on shopping in Chiang Mai. I’m currently in Thailand on vacation and her travel shopping tips have been invaluable for me so it’s a pleasure to share her tips with you. Carla is an American who has lived around the world from Berlin to Bangkok and wherever she goes she seeks out chicness to sell in her online global boutique.

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When I told Carla I was traveling to Chiang Main in Northern Thailand she dipped into her little black book to share her tips! She writes: “If you travel all the way to Thailand you really shouldn’t miss the Northern city of Chiang Mai, an inexpensive hour flight from Bangkok. Traditional handicrafts and works from extraordinary local artisans encircle the city. Independent vintage and antique shops dot the landscape. Side-of-the-road vendors are overflowing in architectural remnants and furniture. Day and night bazaars sell it all alongside live music and endless food venues.

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You can hire a taxi/driver for the day at a very reasonable rate, right from the airport – they’re waiting for you and know just where to take you, but being specific about what you are interested in will help you make the best of your time.

new-car-1024x480 chiang mai


chiang mai

Perhaps the best place to go is the San Kampaeng District – Hwy 106 – also known as the Handicraft Highway. Famous for silk and umbrella factories there is literally shopping at every corner! Although you literally could fly from Bangkok in the morning, shop all day, and return on an evening flight, if you have the time, lodging choices are top-notch… My favorite place to stay is the Four Seasons Chiang Mai which is out of town a bit but worth the additional taxi ride!

four seasons in chiang mai


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Shopper’s Tips – Learning the local lingo!

Certain words are pronounced differently in Thailand based on your gender.

For example:

Sa-wat-dee-kah = Hello (Females)

Sa-wat-dee-kop = Hello (Males)

Kop khun kah = Thank You (Females)

Kop khun kop = Thank You (Males)

More importantly, and same for both:

Tao rai = How much is it?

Paeng = Expensive!


Buddhas … Reverence for Buddha is a defining aspect of Thai culture. In an effort to safeguard historical and spiritual treasures there are specific laws regulating their export out of Thailand. It is important to know that any Buddha image over 12cm (5 in) cannot be taken out of the country without approval from the Fine Arts Department / Ministry of Culture. Shop owners should have legitimate pieces tagged and can provide or assist with certificates.

chiang mai shopping

Discount… While many vendors do not speak English, they all know and use the word “DISCOUNT.” Be reasonable, but feel free to use it too indiscriminately – everything is negotiable.

Morning Price… Thai merchants believe a sale before noon will bring them good luck & good fortune for the day, so they almost always will offer you a “Morning Price.” If they don’t, be sure to ask for it.


Attitude … Thais are extremely friendly, gracious and hospitable and like for you to be happy. However they don’t respond well to loud, aggressive, impatient behavior – having an attitude will get you nowhere. There’s a reason it’s called The Land of Smiles. So smile, a lot!

On that note – Cheese!


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Author: Toma Clark Haines

Toma Clark Haines is a Global Tastemaker, Speaker, Writer & Entrepreneur; and founder and CEO The Antiques Diva® & Co, Europe, Asia and America's largest Antiques Sourcing & Touring Company.

  • Now if you happen to have a Thai wife as I do, and or you are wearing a nice piece of Thai gold with an attached Buddha figure, and one that is real gold like a thousand dollar piece or more, at the airport they will know you aren’t Buddha sellers or novelist. My wife smiles and explains we both practice Buddhist meditation in our home, and we do, and we have a virtual Wat ( or temple) of Buddhist and Teppanom and various other beautiful, usually very old Thai or Nepalese Buddhist figures. We haven’t gotten tagged up any of our lovely pieces pulled for tagging or review yet, however I have passed through customs with my pink skin and limited Thai and they actually let me call her and got through OK. But, Buddha is not a decoration, and it is unlawful in Thailand to disrespect the Buddha. If one is so foolish in these modern days to wear a visible Buddha tattoo you can and will be barred entry into the company, or escorted to the airport and you will be barred electronically via your passport for any future entry. Don’t believe that? fact check it. Yes, smile a lot and say Kup, kup, kup, if you are a male, or kah, kah, kah a lot if you are female. It will go a very long way as the above post mentioned. Act like an ass and you’re branded in that marketplace or village. Be nice, we are no better human beings than them.

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