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Introducing Chonnabot

This small town located 55km southwest of Khon Kaen is one of Thailand's most successful silk villages and is famous for producing top-quality mát·mèe. The Sala Mai Thai is a silk-weaving museum on the campus of Khon Kaen Industrial & Community Education College where you can learn about the entire silk-making process, and even take a turn at a loom. Out back is an exhibition hall showing the wooden contraptions devised to spin, tie, dye and weave silk by hand in the village and a large machine used in factories. A room upstairs catalogues traditional mát·mèe patterns and a pair of mock-Isan houses hold various traditional household items. It's on the highway 1km west of town.

The pavilion sells silk too, but most people buy from the myriad shops on Th Sriboonruang, aka Silk Road, some of which also stock attractive cotton fabrics made in the nearby village of Ban Lawaan. If you get away from the centre of town, particularly to the north near the temple and school, you'll often see women working looms under their houses and they rarely mind if you stop by to take a look.

Buses bound for Nakhon Sawan, departing from Khon Kaen's ordinary bus terminal, will drop you in Chonnabot (39B, one hour, six daily). Or take a bus (30B to 40B, one hour, every half-hour) or train (9B, 30 minutes) to Ban Phai, where you can get a bus to Chonnabot (15B, 20 minutes, every hour).