The Traditional House Museum is fantastic way to take a step back into the past and get a taste of Lanna culture in the past hundred years. This hidden museum was set up by Chiang Mai University and for some strange reason has been overlooked by visitors. Thankfully this makes the visit much more enjoyable as you get to walk around the leafy outdoor site and peek inside some of the buildings without any crowds. Entry is free, although donations are welcomed, and the museum is open weekdays from 08:30 until 16:30. There are 12 buildings to explore at the Traditional House Museum and a visit won’t take over an hour. Be sure to check out another little-known but very interesting attraction next door: The Chiang Mai University Art Gallery.
Finding the museum isn’t hard, but it is quite a way out of the city centre, so best to take a taxi or songtaew. Head along Soitep Road out of town and get dropped off at the corner of the 121 highway. It is only a 3 minute walk from here on the left hand side. There is a small information point and cafe near the entrance but apart from that the museum is very casual. You are free to wander the grounds and explore the houses in your own time and take pictures. Outside every house is a detailed description of the property in both English and Thai to help guests add context to the experience. The houses are surrounded by trees and it is a very peaceful way to spend an hour, trying to picture the people who would have resided in these properties and how different Chiang Mai must have looked at the time.
The central house at The Traditional House Museum is impressive with whitewashed walls, a colonnaded balcony and is colonial in style. It now accommodates the museum’s offices and is the only property that was originally located here. Built in 1932 it once belonged to the representative of the Bombay Burma Company, who were teak merchants in the region. It stands out from the rest of the wooden buildings – the oldest of which were built in 1907 – that have been transported and rebuilt at the Traditional House Museum over the past 20 years. As well as the houses there are two granaries, and some large Ceylon Oak trees, which according to Lanna beliefs are said to bring good fortune to the houses on the compound, shedding delicate white flowers every year. The Lanna Traditional House Museum may be a little out of Chiang Mai town centre, but it is well worth a trip for anyone who wants more insight into the history of northern Thailand.
Lanna Traditional House Museum
- Opening Hours: Monday to Friday 08:30 to 16:30, Closed weekends and bank holidays
- Address: 239 Huay Kaew Road,Muang, Chiang Mai
- Tel: +66 (0)53 9436 2526