In our recent product research trip to Thailand, we had a chance to take a day trip to Lampang and learn about the Rooster ware. The bowls and plates painted with the rooster motif has gone through a massive revival as cooks and restaurants in Thailand and also abroad scrambled to decorate their creations with this unique and signature dining ware.
We started our day in Chiang Mai and took the morning train out to Lampang. The train experience was a novelty in itself. While the train was fairly modern, the train stations were vintage inspired or rather has not changed much for those who've seen it across the decades.
Chiang Mai Train Station: https://maps.app.goo.gl/65DeMGZ96euhWjkc7
The ride was a couple of hours so if you are taking a morning one bring a bento box or a sandwich bag. You'll get to see the view of the rural area with farms and then as the train climbs into the mountain ranges, the lush jungle and the tunnels. Overall, for a 50 baht one way fare, it was a great value to sightsee while enjoying the comforts of the train.
When we arrived in Lampang, it was almost lunch time.
Lampang Train Station: https://maps.app.goo.gl/wzcAvUiSN298Bmxf8
We decided to stop by a cute café to chill before heading to our first Rooster ware research attraction.
Cha Ngon Cafe: https://maps.app.goo.gl/bL83PKQqMC4ePrRM6
The 2nd floor seating area has a breezy open lobby design decorated with washed out doors and windows. The crystal chandelier was an interesting contrast along with mid-century bright colored furnitures. We had Strawberry Matcha latte and an Americano. The ceramic mugs and trays were on point, but of course, it was a given as we're now in the heartland of ceramic production within Thailand.
To get around, we used Grab app (like Uber but Singaporean based version). There were cars available and waiting for a ride didn't take long.
Our first visit was the Dhanabadee Ceramic Museum. There's actually over 200 manufacturers of the rooster ware in the city and because it is not a trademark motif, anyone can produce and sell this style of ware. However, Dhanababee is the one of the leading manufacturer who has received national level recognition for preservation of the craft so they created the museum to honor their family business and commitment to passing down the craft. Plus it's great for marketing!
Dhanabadee Ceramic Museum: https://maps.app.goo.gl/krtu3Q4XCwHuYvM2A
The museum has a guided tour for visitors (in English or Thai) to see a live demo of how the rooster bowls were original produced and also a separate souvenir cafe to shop.
We learned several things from the museum display and was amused by the history. The bowls were originally designed to be slightly dented on the side to help with grip. For Chinese family, people typically use chopsticks while holding a rice bowl on one hand to eat. The rooster bowl was designed to be easy on the hand thus the typical 8 dented sides.
Why was Lampang the chosen city? Apparently, the clay of the Lampang region was discovered to be Kaolin clay which was rich in minerals and optimal for ceramic production. When the Chinese immigrants moved to Thailand, they brought their ceramic and pottery skills from China and settled in the region to continued their craft.
Rooster has always been an auspicious motif from the Chinese tradition. It signifies prosperity for newly weds while the floral and faunas adore the rooster to boost the luck and well wishes. At this museum, only a few artisans paint the rooster ware including the descendant of this particular factory. Besides the traditional crafts, they also produce what you would find in the modern home and décor stores like the vases in the photo (look like the ones you would see in Target or Crate & Barrel).
Lunch awaits after an educational session. We made a short trek to a nearby local restaurant and sampled Lampang's version of the Northern dishes. Kanom Jeen Nam Ngew curry was our go-to. With any of the rice vermicelli curries, you'll receive a plate with variety of shredded veggies to accompany the noodle soup. We also tried the roasted chicken and chicken skewer with peanut sauce.
Krua Mukda Restaurant: https://maps.app.goo.gl/RLQvrB9BPqfJoxyY6
Our second research stop is another rooster ware manufacturer, Indra Ceramics. We visited the outlet which was a massive compound with a café, home goods shop, and an Instagram worthy spot like the giant rooster bowl which you can climb up to.
Indra Ceramics Outlet: https://maps.app.goo.gl/4r9bdZhbexLD46heA
This rooster ware manufacturer also produces modern style ceramics for typical home usage. While they don't have a museum or a tour guide to take you behind the scene, the front lobby area has some informative displays talking about this particular manufacturer's history.
We were going to catch a train back to Chiang Mai after this last visit but our train was delayed. With a couple of hours left, we added an iconic activity of Lampang and enjoyed a city tour. Lampang is also famous for the horse carriage ride. There's several pick up point for the ride and there's several routes you can choose depending on how long you would like the ride to be which will take you on a loop around the city back to where you were picked up.
Horse Drawn Carriage Pickup Point: https://maps.app.goo.gl/uzxuzi9hYiY4o2Ct8
We took the 1 hour ride and asked to be dropped off at the train station to catch our train. The ride took us to several historical neighborhood and colonial buildings. One of them being a house where a British gentlemen who was the son of Anna (from the King and I) had lived and a rich Burmese wood trader.
With the last of our activity completed, we waited for the train while watching the sunset and enjoyed the gentle cool breeze.
At Pandan Market, we feature Thai rooster ware made from Lampang, Thailand. We're based in Chicago, IL, USA and we ship worldwide. Check out our collection and have it shipped straight to your home!