Mae Chaem, a two and a half hour drive from the city of Chiang Mai has recently become a well known destination for tourists for its preservation of old culture and maintenance of local lifestyles. It is home to artists, artisans and traditional Lanna ways. Nestled in a valley surrounded by mountains including the highest in the land, Doi Inthanon, the drive to Mae Chaem itself is worth making the trip.
The people of Mae Chaem are a cultural mix of Khon Muang local people and hill tribes of Lua, Pakakayor, Hmong and Lisu ethnicity. Because of such cultural diversity, local arts and crafts such as weaving are of distinctive styles all of which are in high demand among collectors and lovers of textiles. In particular, the famous Pha Sin Teen Jok, a weaving technique for decorative pieces on the hem of women’s tube-skirts, from Mae Chaem is the first on visitors’ shopping lists. Locals say that creating their cloth is not only a job, or a means to generate income, but an integral part of their lifestyle.
You will also find other pieces of cultural heritage in the form of mural paintings inside Wat Padaed and Wat Kong Khag, the water church at Wat Putthaoen, Wat Gong Karn, and Prathat Wat Chang Khoeng. But don’t spend all of your time at the temples. There is something charming to see everywhere. Coffee shops and noodle stands often are the breeding place for many great and educational conversations. Spend the day or the weekend, wandering the town’s streets, admiring old wooden houses, chatting to locals and enjoy life at a slower and more charming pace.