It’s difficult not to shop in Thailand. And it’s even harder to resist the lure of cheap, colorful textiles and clothing once you get up to Chiang Mai. The northern capital is full of good markets at which you can buy not only the usual souvenirs, but also local food, wicker furniture, hill-tribe goods, and a whole spread of other items.
Chiang Mai is well-known for its Night Bazaar, but there are several night markets here, plus a couple of solid day markets. Here’s a run-down on the best of them:
Also called the Night Market, this street mall has a festive feeling to it. All sorts of souvenirs are on offer, many of which you’ll find elsewhere in Thailand: textiles such as pillowcases and table runners, muay thai boxer shorts, Chang beer t-shirts, etc. But there are a few original tidbits; a shop that sells delicious “forest flower” honey, a stall that has been churning out unique purses at least since my first visit in 2003. It’s fun to just wander around and seek out original items. A cavernous “mall” area – the Chiang Mai Night Bazaar Building – as well as a side bazaar are also stacked with stalls. Food vendors and nightly performances keep you full and entertained.
The Night Market is open from 7pm to midnight, seven days a week.
Saturday Walking Street
Just south of the Old City, Saturday Walking Street is – you guessed it – a Saturday evening market. Known for its hill tribe products, the Saturday market is a good place to go to find funky and unique products such as woven handbags or silver bangles. An array of snack stalls and fruit smoothie vendors are mixed in as well. It’s open from 4pm until midnight.
Sunday Walking Street
The Sunday Walking Street market, which runs on Ratchadamnoen Road through the center of Chiang Mai’s Old City, is very similar to Saturday night’s market in terms of products. The thoroughfare is blocked to vehicles and becomes packed with Thais and tourists wading slowly past brightly-lit tables of t-shirts, bags, woven shoes, and colorful lights, to name a few. Street buskers perform in the middle of the packed road, and small courtyards to the side are packed with street stalls. The market is open from 4pm until midnight.
This day market is Chiang Mai’s oldest. East of the Old City and on the river (a location that took advantage of water transport back in the day), Talat Wororat is geared more towards everyday Thais. But just because you might not be able to find a Singha t-shirt doesn’t mean it’s not worth the trip – it’s actually the opposite. Bustling with the energy of everyday Thai life, the market is a mass of highland fruits and vegetables, household goods (these make fun souvenirs), and its own flower market. Bring your camera.
The market is open daily from 6am to 5pm.
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[Photo credit: YuvalH, Flickr]