Chiang Mai is a highly cultural city. Everywhere I went, there was a celebration of Lanna arts, crafts, and culture. I found shopping in Chiang Mai to be a delight. There were malls, sure, but what I found more amazing is how the city made it very easy for tourists to access local arts, crafts, and food that, as a true blue Pinoy, can bring home as pasalubong (souvenirs).
Here’s my list of must bring souvenirs from Chiang Mai.
Coffee. This would be my top souvenir item from Chiang Mai. Thailand is one of the top coffee producers in the world and Chiang Mai, because it has a colder climate and elevation, has the advantage of growing good Arabica beans. Akha Ama, which I mentioned in my post about where to eat in Chiang Mai, is my top coffee destination in the northern city. I brought home a bag of their dark coffee beans (180baht) and, if available, make sure to also take home a bottle of their coffee honey because the two were perfect together. We also bought several bags of coffee (150baht) at Doi Inthanon.
Dried fruits. I wanted to bring a lot of dried fruits (100-150baht) from the farmers at Doi Inthanon. They were not just colorful to look at, they were also healthy to snack on. I did not buy though because I was worried my baggage allowance could no longer accommodate even just a pack of dried fruits. My SIL asked us to bring makrut leaves (the leaf that gives that citrusy tang to Thai food) but we failed to find it in Chiang Mai’s local markets. We showed a photo to our house help, and, lo and behold, she’s growing it at her home and she gave us a bag to bring to the Philippines the next day. She also offered us red rice to bring to the Philippines but I had to decline because of baggage weight limitations.
Fast fashion clothes. While Joel and I were walking along Sri Poom Rd. (after having drank our coffees at Rich Guesthouse), we spotted “Gallery.” There were display of men’s clothes in front but I wanted to check it out. And, lo and behold! It was a gallery of clothes, fast fashion clothes (49-2,000baht). The clothes inside Gallery are similar to the clothes sold at the boutiques Meg and South Shores, but the prices in Chiang Mai were half or more than a half lower.
Fabrics but I’m partial to indigo tie dyed clothes and fabric. The Lanna kingdom has a rich and vibrant fabric industry. At the Lanna Folklike Museum, one floor is dedicated to the kingdom’s weaving culture (and there were actually many local visitors there taking notes). Among the many styles of Lanna fabric, I wanted to bring home the most the indigo tie dyed fabric called Mo Hom fabric, according to Haute Culture Fashion. It is a traditional dyeing process of a certain region in Northern Thailand. (200baht for one pillow case).
Ginger & Kafe products. The products in this art/design/fashion store are top-notch luxurious products — fusing Danish and Thai designs. Everything in the store is for sale and I would have wanted to bring back everything with me, especially the hand-embroidered cotton dresses, but the prices (10,000baht) were too steep for me.
Paper. I loved the paper industry in Chiang Mai. There were small, handcrafted paper (100-300baht). And then there were the mass produced passport-sized notebooks (30-50baht). I believe Thailand has a robust paper industry because the paper products were very affordable and they were of good quality. Even those sold at the Saturday night market were of good quality but I actually loved the notebooks sold at Baan Buri and The Booksmith along Nimman. And, oh, speaking of The Booksmith, they sell posters of covers of classic books for 500baht each. I also saw many notebooks sold at the Saturday Walking Market outside of the old city (south gate).
Ceramic wares. It was not everywhere in Chiang Mai, but, along Nimman Rd., we happened to chance upon a store selling souvenir items, mostly ceramic wares. One of the products that caught my eye was a hand painted tea set (1,500baht a set).
Teas. Speaking of tea sets, Vieng Joom On sells a wide selection of teas, beautifully packaged in boxes and cans. There were also tea sets and pastry servers for sale for you to recreate the VJO experience at home (100baht for a small can, 4,999baht for a tea set).
Beauty products. Thailand is probably the beauty capital of the world. Everywhere we went, there were just beauty clinics and beauty products shops. Many of the beauty products I saw were whitening products and “snail” products. At the malls, I stopped by their Beauty Buffet shops and fell in love with the Gino McCray cosmetics. I also took time browsing through the products displayed at Oriental Princess. I had to restrain myself though because I could no longer afford to buy beauty products and cosmetics. In Chiang Mai, I settled with soaps wrapped in beautiful paper and one box of Srichand powder because of its vintage-style packaging and because it is a well-known Thai brand, according to Daily Vanity (TIP: AirAsia offers Srichand products in their in-flight shopping catalog).