Thai Handicrafts

Thai handicrafts

Thai handicrafts are a beloved part of Thai culture. Master artisans display their expert skill and pay meticulous attention to detail, resulting in breathtaking masterpieces.

Thai crafts draw inspiration from Chinese and Indian influences, as well as reflecting Thai traditions, customs, beliefs, and lifestyles.


Lacquerware is a type of decorative object coated in liquid paint. This art form originated in China, but has since spread throughout Asia including Thailand.

Lacquering is an intricate and laborious art form that involves applying lacquer to various objects. Depending on its size, this could take weeks or even months to finish.

Traditional materials used for this craft include teak wood and bamboo, both found in northern Thailand. These items are then covered with lacquer made from the resin of Rhus veniciflua tree trees.

These pieces then go through multiple steps and are painted with intricate designs, often in gold. The end results are robust and long-lasting.

Lai Thong is one of the premier lacquerware stores in Chiang Mai, offering both a large showroom and free factory tours. Situated on San Kamphaeng Road, this emporium has earned a reputation for high-quality pieces.

Another excellent destination is Tambol Hai Ya, a shop selling an extensive range of handcraft items such as lacquerware. Located at the end of a street filled with small cottage industries, this store offers something special for visitors.

There are a number of shops selling lacquerware in Bangkok and other cities throughout Thailand. These shops provide unique gifts for yourself or your family while supporting the local economy. Furthermore, these crafts are functional and can be used in everyday life; they add an aesthetic touch to any home or office space.


Wood carving is an intricate art that involves using various hand tools to shape wood into something with a design. It can range from simpler projects such as kitchenware or furniture, to more intricate ones requiring outside expertise and resources.

Carving can be done in a number of ways, from chip-carving to relief carving. With this technique, a small chip is removed from the surface of wood with a specialized knife.

In relief carving, wood is cut directly into the surface of the wood in order to create a pattern visible from a distance. This can be accomplished using various tools like gouges and chisels.

This technique can be employed to craft a wide variety of designs, from figurative to abstract. For instance, you could carve a lion’s head or flower using this technique.

There are various finishes that can be achieved depending on the quality of the surface. Some carvers prefer ‘tooled’ or’sanded’ finishes, which involve smoothening out any rough spots with tools like rasps.

One of the most essential factors in woodcarving is selecting the appropriate wood type. Some species are more difficult to work with than others and may require more precision when shaping them.

Another important consideration when starting a project is the amount of time and energy it will require. It’s wise to begin with an understanding of your technical abilities and research materials needed, as well as whether you already possess all necessary resources in your home or studio space.

Sa paper

Sa paper is an ancient Thai craft made from mulberry bark. It can be woven into mats for art projects or used as gift wrapping material. Sa paper can be found throughout Thailand and sold as souvenirs.

Fiberglass is a light, porous and lightweight material with the texture of fibers overlapping to form the pattern of spider’s web. It has many uses and can be decorated or dyed in many colors to match your decor.

Saa paper comes in various thicknesses and sizes. Thicker grades are made by rolling the pulp into balls and manually spreading it on a bamboo frame with cotton screen; an amazing process that creates sheets of paper that are strong, durable, and have an appealing rustic texture.

The process begins with dried and soaked mulberry tree stems (broussonetia papyrifera vent) which are ground into powder in a mill, then colored and poured into tubs for suspension in water. As the sediment coagulates into thin sheets of paper which are then sold or turned into souvenir items like cards or notebooks.

Sa paper was commonly employed for calligraphy, temple decorations, umbrellas and fans. Additionally, it served as a filter in the production of lacquerware.

Thailand now produces rice paper in various forms, many of which are family businesses run by local residents. Through natural dyeing techniques, this ancient art form has been further refined to create vibrant colored and decorative papers.

Visitors to Luang Prabang or Chiang Mai can witness the traditional process of making saa paper at Xangkhongposa Village or MaeSa Craft Village. These two villages should not be missed during any travel itinerary.


Khruang Thom (nielloware) is one of Thailand’s iconic handicrafts, believed to have arrived during the Ayutthaya period and which has become particularly popular in southern Thailand, especially Nakhon Si Thammarat where it remains practiced today.

Fine nielloware is typically made of pure silver or gold-plated. Artists carve thin metal sheets into desired shapes and engrave traditional designs such as intricate floral motif or Thai flames on them. After applying an oxidizing solution over these areas, it turns blue-black in colour.

Nielloware can be found in many forms, from jewelry to boxes, tea and coffee sets, snuff and tobacco cases and more. As a popular mid-century trend, American soldiers who visited Thailand during the 1950s and 1960s often brought back pieces of nielloware jewelry as souvenirs for their home countries.

Nielloware’s exact origins are still uncertain, though it is believed to have originated in either China or Persia. It has become a major craft staple in southern Thailand, especially Nakhon Si Thammarat, and it has become an admired form of cultural handicraft among Thais.

Nikom, who graduated from Poh-Chang Academy of Arts and studied at Nakhon Si Thammarat Art & Craft College, draws inspiration from the local flowers, leaves and plants to craft sharp-edged nielloware designs that stand apart from the acid-based varieties produced in central Thailand.

He has been an accomplished nielloware master since his days as a student at Nakhon Si Thammarat Arts and Crafts College. His expertise is highly sought-after; Queen Sirikit even chose him to teach at her Special Folk Arts and Crafts Centre – Chitralada Palace!

Tribal embroidery

Tribal embroidery is a Thai handicraft practiced by numerous hill tribes in Northern Thailand. This intricate technique requires several distinct types of stitches for completion.

Needlework has been practiced since ancient times, transforming plain fabric into stunning works of art with intricate patterns that tell a tale.

Tribal embroidery draws inspiration from nature, local culture and mythological stories. Popular designs include buffalo horns, snakes, suns, moons, stars and flowers – some of the world’s most beloved.

There are also applique patterns made by sewing together small pieces of fabric and then stitching it with a needle. These motifs can be used to adorn clothing, blankets, shawls or animal tepees.

Embroidery is a widely-used decoration technique for home textiles and linen. This versatile art form can be employed on an array of items, from simple home decorations to intricate bridal gowns and formal costumes.

Thailand is famous for its beautiful embroidery works made of cotton and hemp fabric that looks similar to linen. These threads are soft, irridescent, and highly breathable – perfect for creating delicate works!

Another type of embroidery is zari, a metallic thread. This costly and time-consuming technique necessitates expert knowledge.

Queen Sirikit established the SUPPORT program in 1976 to preserve this exquisite art form. Through it, farmers and young people in rural areas learned how to produce traditional Thai handicrafts such as silk weaving and basketry – giving generations of Thai artisans the ability to earn income from their labors.