One thing’s for sure: the Terracotta Arts Garden in Chiang Mai’s Old City is a new favorite of ours. We’ve known about this secret garden for a long time but it wasn’t until a friend visited there recently and mentioned how interesting it was that we had to see for ourselves. Spending the afternoon in a place filled with moss-covered earthenware, uneven cobblestone paths, and lush greenery made us feel like we took a step back into Thailand’s past.
A Secret Garden in the Heart of Chiang Mai
The Terracotta Arts Garden isn’t really a secret but it certainly feels like it is.
For starters it’s neither far away in Chiang Mai’s surrounding hillsides nor hard to find among the city’s twisty turny back alleyways, but it hides in plain sight nonetheless!
It’s surrounded by an ornamental brick wall that does an impressive job of eluding the attention of passersby. Truth be told, we’ve driven by it a dozen or so times without noticing it.
But this time was different. It was easy to find the Terracotta Arts Garden when we were actively looking for it. After stepping through its elaborately carved entranceway, we were transported into a cool, quiet, and calm world with hardly another soul there.
The temperature noticeably drops inside the walls of the garden, the air instantly smells fresher, and there are sounds of birds chirping in the branches above and water trickling from a small catfish pond nearby.
The canopied garden is filled with clay sculptures of varying style and size. There are several seating areas, but it’s tempting to walk around the U-shaped garden and explore the secluded areas and admire the clusters of wall hangings, busts, pots, and garden statues before settling down somewhere quiet.
Coffee by Clay Studio
We’ve known about the Terracotta Arts Garden in Chiang Mai for quite some time but until recently had no idea that there was a small restaurant on site. All the more reason to stay longer! It’s called Coffee by Clay Studio and serves up well crafted caffeinated concoctions, delicious baked goods, and a small selection of popular Thai dishes.
Its motto is “Coffee in the garden” and that’s certainly what you’ll get. The entirely glass enclosed café is wide and airy with a lovely view of the lush plants and moss-covered terracotta structures. In fact, with the rainy season in full swing, this is the perfect spot to bring a good book, a laptop, or friends to enjoy a lazy afternoon coffee and stay protected from afternoon showers.
We indulged in a small afternoon snack of iced matcha green tea and pork panang curry, both excellent tasting and beautifully presented. We agreed that the matcha green tea was among the best we’ve had in Thailand and the blue jasmine rice was an unusual touch.
Baan Phor Liang Muen
What’s special about the Terracotta Arts Garden in Chiang Mai is that it’s a showroom for Baan Phor Liang Muen, a terracotta shop well-known among locals and Chiang Mai’s art scene.
The arts shop and the coffee shop are overseen by a father-daughter team; the father owns the terracotta art shop and the daughter owns the coffee shop.
The sculptures aren’t mass produced and put on display simply for ambiance, although the owner has done a fantastic job decorating the place. Instead, they are hand crafted and created by local artists at Baan Phor Liang Muen in the neighboring town of Lumphun.
In fact, the artwork is available for sale but you’ll be hard pressed to find price tags.
If you prefer creating your own clay art, we learned that it’s possible to take classes in sculpting and pottery right inside the garden! Sessions must be arranged in advanced and will be with the local artists themselves.
Location and Contact Info for Terracotta Arts Garden in Chiang Mai
This garden showroom and café is located near Chiang Mai Gate on the south side of the Old City Moat. It’s directly behind (north of) the Chiang Mai Gate market, which sets up every morning selling produce, flowers, hot snacks, and clothing and at night features food stalls.
Check out our latest vlog for a closer look at the Terracotta Arts Garden and be sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel.
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