Don’t you love those colorful hanging umbrellas that are trending around the world? Thailand has got them as well and with a local twist. Bo Sang Umbrella Village in Chiang Mai is getting ready for the 35th Bo Sang Umbrella Festival. This year (2018) the festival will run from January 19 to 21 and local-style paper umbrellas are obviously the star of this festival.
What are Bo Sang Umbrella Village and Bo Sang Umbrella Festival?
Most travelers have seen Thailand’s handmade paper umbrellas, but not all of them know that the artisans of Bo Sang Umbrella Village are their creators.
Located in San Kamphaeng, a district in the outskirts of Chiang Mai, Bo Sang Umbrella Village has been making umbrellas from traditional Saa paper (mulberry bark) for centuries. Every year Bo Sang Umbrella Festival is held to celebrate the craftsmanship of the village.
In addition to umbrella aesthetics, the locals of Bo Sang Umbrella Village handcraft many other things from Saa paper, such as fans and lanterns. They also branch out into silk and cotton umbrellas.
What makes these paper umbrellas special?
The paper material, the thin bamboo frame and the delicate designs (mostly with floral motifs) are kind of misleading, making you think these world-famous umbrellas are for decoration. Combining with their status as one of Chiang Mai’s must-buy souvenirs, the umbrellas will probably be kept inside your house and never used for practical purposes.
Actually, these umbrellas are sturdier than you think. Locals use them for sun protection. What’s more, these masterpieces of Bo Sang Umbrella Village have been used in the rain since the old days. The grain of Saa paper helps prevent the rain from soaking the paper and when coated with oils, these paper parasols become even more waterproof.
Artistic. Crafty. Innovative. The hands and the minds behind these paper umbrellas are truly something else.
Why shouldn’t you miss Bo Sang Umbrella Festival at Bo Sang Umbrella Village?
See the quaint lanes and local homes adorned with vibrant, lovely umbrellas. Watch the local artists in action, meticulously handcrafting the whole umbrellas and other Saa paper creations from scratch and handpainting them in beautiful patterns. But that’s not all.
Traditional dances and parades and Lanna food stalls (Northern Thai cuisine) make the village even more alive. The competition is on to find the year’s most beautiful umbrella. The umbrella festival goes on into the night and the scene of a thousand umbrellas all illuminated makes for a unique sight.
But the ultimate highlight of Bo Sang Umbrella Festival is none other than Bo Sang Beauty Pageant Bike Parade. Elegantly dressed up in traditional costume with local umbrellas in one hand, the local ladies ride bicycles around the village to showcase their pride and joy. It’s going to be an experience unlike anywhere in the world!
Remember that this is a three-day festival. Don’t miss a chance to visit one of Thailand’s most beautiful and colorful villages this January 19-21. To save you the hassle of traveling out of the city area, our Local Expert will be happy to take you to Bo Sang Umbrella Village and more (like San Kamphaeng hot spring and chic local eateries)! And while you’re at it, don’t forget to check out things to do in Chiang Mai.