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Umbrella Festival in Bo Sang near Chiang Mai

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Chiang Mai

Joanna Horanin

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Last updated at 16/06/2024, 11:15

Hi, I'm Joanna, the author of The Blond Travels. In the worlds of Thailand and Portugal, I feel like a fish in water - and it's no coincidence! I've been exploring Thailand for over a decade, and I've settled in Portugal for 6 years now. My mission is to support Dreamers - just like you - in discovering these fascinating countries and helping those in love with them find their own place on Earth, preferably for good! Let's uncover these unique corners of the world together.

Have you ever heard of the Thai umbrellas? These colourful, lovely, handcrafted items can be seen all around the country and the most prominent are in the north. It’s right here, in a little village called Bo Sang, they are produced and then sent to shops in Chiang Mai. Once a year Bo Sang organises a festival, where you can experience first hand the lovely tradition of making Thai umbrellas.

When I lived in Chiang Mai a friend of mine always talked about the umbrella festival in Bo Sang. After a few years, she finally went there and told me that it had been an amazing experience. I decided to go, but every time I planned it, I missed it. This year I finally made it to Bo Sang and was lucky to experience the festival. If you have never gone there or never experienced it, I highly recommend it as it’s a lovely little event, which will teach you more about Thailand and Thai culture.

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The ancient tradition of umbrella making in Thailand

Before we get to the festival, let’s have a look at the colourful umbrellas in Thailand and their history and tradition.

When you see them, you will know straight away that they are unique and special. A lot of them, except being painted in a certain colour, also have patterns and pictures of flowers or scenes from daily life.

A man painting a big umbrella in yellow, Bo Sang, Thailand.
Bo Sang has a lot of places, where you can admire the artisans at work.

These umbrellas were brought to Thailand by a monk called Phra Inta, who saw them in Burma. He thought they would be great to protect oneself from the sun and rain.

The monk took some samples and brought them with him to Bo Sang, his home village. There he taught the local artisans how to make them and since then, Bo Sang remains the main place in Thailand where these umbrellas are produced.

A couple of tourists buying ice-cream from a cart o the street of Bo Sang near Chiang Mai.
Umbrellas are everywhere in Bo Sang.

The handle of the umbrella is made out of bamboo. The top is oiled, so it protects you from the sun and rain.

When you come to the village, you will notice that there are no factories here. That’s because the items are made by small workshops and private businesses. You can walk around the streets and observe how they are made. During the umbrella festival there are even more opportunities to witness that.

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    The Umbrella Festival in Bo Sang

    Every year this lovely village organises a festival, which focuses on the umbrella making craft. It lasts 3 days and takes place around 15th of January. The dates change as the festival is celebrated on the weekend. Everyone can come here and witness the craft, eat something and have a lot of fun.

    A group of men sit in a motorbike cart. The driver is smiling to the camera. During Bo Sang Festival, Chiang Mai.
    Everyone decorates their motorbikes in Bo Sang.

    The main street is open to traffic during the day, but in the evening there are no cars and there is a night market with performances and other attractions.

    The opening ceremony is on Friday in the evening. After that, for two days, beautiful, smiling ladies ride bicycles while holding the umbrella. This parade is usually on Saturday and Sunday at 10am and then at around 2pm. The most beautiful lady is announced the Miss Bo Sang Beauty at the end of the festival.

    A group of ladies dressed in tradtional dresses ride bicycles while holding colourful umbrellas in Bo Sang, Thailand.
    This parade takes place twice a day on Saturday and Sunday during the festival.

    During the day, there are stalls along the main road and some small workshops, where you can watch umbrellas being made and paint them as well. A kids corner is set up, too and the kids have lots of fun choosing the patterns and making their own umbrellas.

    A group of children paint little umbrellas during the umbrella festival in Bo Sang near Chiang Mai.
    Kids have a lot of fun here during the umbrella festival.

    At around 3pm the main street is closed and the sellers set up their stalls with arts and crafts as well as food and drinks.

    Where is Bo Sang?

    The village of Bo Sang is only 30 mins drive from the centre of Chiang Mai.

    You can get here by your own scooter. Just remember that the road here is busy, so you need some experience in driving.

    If you don’t want to hire your own wheels, you can take a songthaew. This is the cheapest option. You will find one that goes to San Kamphaeng at Warorot Market. Expect to pay between 30 and 50 Baht.

    Umbrellas hanging in a shop in Bo Sang, near Chiang Mai.
    If you want to take some photos for Instagram, this is the place to be!

    Another option is to order a private driver. This will be more expensive, but convenient as the driver will wait for you.

    The umbrella festival in Bo Sang is a very nice event, which will be a lot of fun for adults and children. Try to come here during the day and stay for the night market. Don’t miss the bicycle parade, try some food and coffee and buy an umbrella or two. And if you feel artsy, paint one of the umbrellas yourself.

    If you’re going to Chiang Mai for the first time, check out my ebook guide, which is perfect for those that have never been to the city.

    If you have any comments or questions, leave them below.