For well over 100 years, Bor Sang Village has been associated with the production of umbrellas made from Saa-paper derived from the outer bark of the mulberry tree.
Local history has it that there was a monk travelling to neighboring Burma where he came across an umbrella constructed of bamboo with a saa paper covering that offered protection against both the sun and rain.
He returned to Thailand very excited having learnt the production technique, and introduced the umbrella to the elders of the village,who soon added their own artistic skills to create a distinctive colourful, but very practical umbrella.
At first making umbrellas was just a hobby for the villagers to do after the annual rice crop, which helped supplement the villagers’ earnings, but as time passed by the production of Saa-paper umbrellas slowly prospered, this then prompted villagers to establish a handicraft cooperative in 1941, which has continued the expansion of production & sales of the exquisitely hand-painted parasols right up today.
The dainty parasols are decorated with beautiful floral motifs painted in dazzling colours, and are instantly recognisable wherever they are being sold throughout the world.
In the third week of January each year, the residents of the village, which is a very small village ten kilometers east of Chiang Mai, holds its annual, three day Umbrella Festival to celebrate the products that have made the village so famous not only throughout Thailand, but also around the world.
The highlights every year are to walk down the streets that are completely illuminated by lanterns, looking into each wooden house,to see hundreds of umbrellas hung from the rafters and roof beams.
Pickup trucks are also covered with brightly colored parasols and fans, and the locals dress up in their finest traditional outfits to join in the parade.
The weather is always bright and sunny at this time of year, so its a great chance to take photos, as well as purchase souvenirs to take home with you.
Just remember – next time you take a sip of that “exotic” cocktail wherever you are in the world, the cocktail parasol that makes the drink look so appealing, is more than likely made in Bor Sang Umbrella Village, Chiang Mai, Thailand!!.
How to Get There: Bor Sang Umbrella Village is approximately 10kms east of Chiang Mai on route 1006, just follow the signs, its easy to find.