Who doesn’t love something colorful and handcrafted? Well, just about 9 km outside of Chiang Mai, on San Kamphaeng Road is “the handicraft highway”. Here you can find many handicrafts. We were seeking out the umbrellas, but you can also find silk, weaving, silverware & gem factories and showrooms. Thanks to our fellow traveling friends, the Ullan Family’s recommendation, we set out to see how Saa Paper Umbrellas were made.
We took advantage of having a rental car handy to explore a bit more outside of Chiang Mai. We headed directly from the airport east to Bo Sang Village. It was about a 20 minute drive with traffic and road work, to get us in the land of Saa paper umbrellas. We weren’t quite sure where to go to see the “factory” in progress. Directly off of highway 1006, we found our village. Hand Made Umbrella Making Center
The streets were lined with colorful souvenir shops and the small side roads were absolutely adorable. Here we were in our big rental car taking up the entire side road, which was meant for 2 way traffic, but we meandered around seeking out the umbrella making factory.
We accidentally happened upon a Saa Paper Craft shop and stopped by for a quick look. They usually have paper-making and craft classes, but their standard instructor was out sick. We just looked around and played with all of their dogs for a bit and continued on our quest to find the umbrella factory. We weren’t having much luck and there was no way we were ever going to decipher the Thai signs posted. We kept following signs that had a big arrow and appeared to be advertising something cool.
Well, eventually we did what no man likes to do. We stopped and asked for directions. We didn’t really know what we were looking for or the name of it, as I didn’t do my usual thorough research. The big souvenir shop pointed the way and it was just near the stop light, when we first turned into the village.
The “factory” turned out to be a factory of humans doing their handicrafts
So back we went, about 5 blocks down the road, and ta da! Bo Sang Handicraft Village! I guess we were missing the term handicraft, when we were searching for it. Anyway, we pulled into the parking lot and parked right next to a display of many colorful paper umbrellas.
We noticed people making umbrellas and walked directly over to them. Later we realized they have this organized and we weren’t.
Tip – Start at the store’s main entrance and when you exit the back of the shop, work your way to the left, and then around.
You see, they have several stations set up, so you can view the full process of the Saa paper umbrella making. From hand carving the wood shaft and handle, to the individual umbrella bamboo spines and the stringing.
Did you know that Saa means Mulberry? Yep! Saa paper is paper made from Mulberry bark and you get to help out making the paper pulp from the bark too!
You also see them not only make the paper, but use the dried paper to cover the umbrella. You then walk around and see them hand paint each and every one. They also have a fan making and painting area too.
We were all fascinated and loved every minute of it. It was a great homeshcool education for us all. To watch them use their hands and feet and very few tools to make these pieces of art. This is one of the largest producers of the Saa paper umbrellas and it was amazing to see a “factory” all done by hand. Here is a little more information on the history of the saa paper umbrellas.
Video of Bo Sang Village – Saa Paper Umbrella Making Chiang Mai
The Factory and shop open daily 8:30am-5pm
- If you have transportation, just go east from Tha Pae Gate on highway 1006, about 8 – 9 km southeast, to San Kamphaeng Road.
- Public transport, The White Songthaew, at the flower market on the west bank of the Ping River, make the 15 – 20 minute trip regularly during the day (as do those at the Chuang Phuak bus station).
- Taxi – หมู่บ้านทำร่มบ่อสร้าง สันกำแพง
Feel free to also check out our Family Friendly Guide to Chiang Mai