Bo Sang (sometimes spelled Bor Sang) is a small village 20 minutes outside of Chiang Mai in Northern Thailand. What makes this village special is the creative talent of the locals who make the delicate art of paper umbrella-making look easy. This small craft village is filled with artists who master the skills of wood carving, weaving, and painting in the process of creating one-of-a-kind paper umbrellas.
They are unphased by tourists and work as diligently with or without curious eyes looking over their shoulders. And while you could easily find their works of art at Chiang Mai's night market, the magic of visiting is the opportunity to see these paper umbrellas come to life.
The shaft and handle are commonly crafted from bamboo and saa paper derived from mulberry bark is traditionally used for the canopy. Intricate designs either born from artists' imaginations or visitor requests are then painted onto the canopies which are coated with water-repellent oils so that it may be used as a sun or rain umbrella. Hundreds of umbrellas line the workshops in Bor Sang but because everything is handmade, no two are exactly alike.
If you happen to be there the third weekend in January, you'll be privy to a one-of-a-kind paper umbrella parade at Bo Sang's Umbrella and San Kamphaeng Handicrafts Fair where artists compete to see who can make and decorate the best products.
Inside tip: Artists are open to painting a variety of surfaces upon request. Cell phone cases, t-shirts, jewelry boxes, pillows -bring an object that needs a hand painted color boost and it will also leave with a story to tell.