Top choice in Northeastern Thailand

You may find the village of Ban Tha Sawang, 8km west of Surin along Rte 4026, a fascinating stop, even if you're not particularly turned on by weaving. Chansoma, a family-run business in a cooling garden, has made it one of the most renowned silk villages in Thailand. Its exquisite brocade fabrics (pâh yók torng) incorporate threads made of real gold and silver, but the weaving process is just as impressive as the finished cloth.

Four women, including one sitting a floor below the others, work the loom simultaneously and collectively manage over 1000 heddles. Not surprisingly, they produce at most just a few centimetres per day. Many of the finished products are destined for the royal court, but you can custom order your own at an average price of 30,000B per metre. One piece was valued at 300,000B and was expected to take a year and a half to finish. Other shops around Chansoma sell typical silks to mostly Thai visitors.

Sŏrng·tăa·ou (20B, 20 minutes) run all morning from the northern side of Surin's fresh market, but the last one back to the city (wait out on the main road, not in the village) is at 10am. A túk-túk should cost about 250B return.

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