Hang Dong, Ban Thawai, and Sanpatong are three villages located southwest of Chiang Mai.
Hang Dong, 15 km southwest of Chiang Mai on Highway 108 (Chiang Mai Hot Road), has many furniture, design, and antiquities shops, while Ban Thawai village, 3 km east of Hang Dong, is the wood carving capital of Thailand.
Hang Dong is decidedly a mix.
While there are some very good shops, the area is peppered with places that are somewhat less compelling for those seeking top quality items.
It's still worth a quick visit, in our opinion.
In Ban Tawai, you can buy elaborate San Phra Phoom (spirit houses), and just about anything carved in Thailand from wood.
In our view, though, Ban Tawai is chock-a-block with shops selling the same reproductions and kitschy items ad nauseum, to the extent that we can’t recommend taking a day out of your busy life to go there.
There are hundreds of shops selling essentially the same items, and you’ll put a lot of mileage on your shoes discovering it.
If you’re already there, the colorful Viking Wood shop at GPS Coordinates: N18°41.261’ E098°56.824' does sell interesting carved wood flowers, though not as finely crafted as those that can be found in Indonesia.
Sanpatong boasts a doll-making center, but the best part of the voyage is the stop on the left side of the highway (between km markers 19 and 20) to visit Charouay Na Sunthon’s unforgettable Ban Roi An Phan Yang woodcarving museum, which could be your highlight in Chiang Mai proper.
To get to these three villages, begin by driving or tuk-tuk’ing south along Chiang Mai Hot.
Hang Dong and Ban Tawai are reached by exiting 15 km along the highway, and turning left onto Bantawai Road.
This road is also called by other names, including Banwern, Hangdong-Saraphi, Hangdong-Takilek, and Hangdong-Tawai roads.
If you pass the CalTex gas station on your right you’ve gone too far.
Most of the shops are in Hang Dong proper. Ban Thawai village is a further 3 km east along this road.
Sanpatong is roughly 10 more kilometers, straight on Chiang Mai Hot, without making the Hang Dong left hand turn.
Hang Dong shops on Chiang Mai Hot Road
Ban Changcome, 141 Chiang Mai Hot Road, Chiang Mai. Tel: 053-441-628. Formerly called Amaravadee, this shop has wonderful Buddhas and other interesting antiquities. Well worth a stop, and run by the same owners as Arts & Crafts Chiang Mai, on San Kamphaeng road. This shop is on the west side of Chiang Mai Hot prior to the Hang Dong turnoff.
GPS Coordinates: N18°41.195’ E098°55.688'
Hang Dong shops on Bantawai Road
Ancient Crafts, 204/6-7 Bantawai Road. Tel: (053) 434-021. This shop’s strength is its selection of tribal basketry, although carved statuary is here as well.
GPS Coordinates: N18°41.290’ E098°55.441'
Chiengroong, 142/1 M00 4, Bantawai Road. Tel: (053) 433-317. Visit the room on the far right for interesting Burmese carved figures. The rooms on the left, filled with uninteresting derivative work, are best avoided.
GPS Coordinates: N18°41.287’ E098°55.492'
Chilli Antiques & Arts, 125 Moo 4, Bantawai Road. Tel: (053) 433-281. While Chilli operates also in the Night Bazaar, its best offerings by far are here. Their exceptional pieces, including antique Buddhas and sculptures, are laid out in several separate buildings surrounding an attractive garden, and the entire place seems more like a museum.
GPS Coordinates: N18°41.293’ E098°55.574'
Crossroads Asia, 214/7 Bantawai Road. Tel: (053) 434-650. Located in the Chaiyo Plaza complex, this shop features a strong collection of beautiful Yao ceremonial paintings from Viet Nam, said by friendly owner Josh Kahan to be the most extensive in Thailand.
GPS Coordinates: N18°41.311’ E098°55.759'
DNK International (formerly Nakee Shop), 106 Moo 4, Bantawai Road. Tel: (053) 441-357. DNK is more of an interior design house than an antiques emporium, but the layout is extraordinary, and the contemporary pieces show well when juxtaposed with the antiquities. They are located just a few meters to the right of Chilli.
GPS Coordinates: N18°41.294’ E098°55.599'
Kalae, 115 Moo 8, Bantawai Road. Tel: (053) 433-316. This shop features a nice selection of Chinese furniture, mostly from the Qing era.
GPS Coordinates: N18°41.287’ E098°55.441'
Nantiya Furniture Export, 16 Moo 8, Bantawai Road. Tel: (053) 434-232 Nantiya specializes mostly in Xing-era Chinese furniture, with lots of nice old standing chests and beds.
GPS Coordinates: 18°41.283’ E098°55.507'
Thai Origin (a shop or so to the right of Chiengroong, above). Tel: (01) 595-1212. Owner Kit Leelawatana has compiled a shop of interesting wood carvings, including animals from Isaan temples that were beautiful.
GPS Coordinates: N18°41.293’ E098°55.527'
Shops in (or on the way to) Sanpatong
Creative Handcrafts Ban Roi An Phan Yang, 255/4 Chiangmai-Sanpatong Road (between Km 19-20). Tel: (053) 355-819.
There is nothing in Thailand to compare with Charoui Na Soonton’s incredible wood carving museum and shop, which takes up three floors of his beautiful house.
The shop, on the ground floor, sells some of the best examples of the woodcarvers' art in Thailand.
The museum, which takes up the upper storeys, is a magnificent collection of interior and exterior living spaces, shrines, and delights for the eye at every turn.
The 200 baht entry fee for the museum is a pittance, considering the reward.
This remarkable home and museum is a can’t miss, for both Chiang Mai and Thailand.
Open daily from 8:30 am – 4:30 pm.
GPS Coordinates: N18°39.057 E098°54.269'