Chiang Mai Market Guide – Part I

While I’m not a big shopper, I do enjoy meandering through the Chiang Mai market streets taking in all the lights and colors and doing a bit of people-watching.  It never fails to amaze me how much stuff is available and how  everything is completely set up and taken down whenever the markets runs, whether it’s weekly or even daily.

Ansuarn Market, Chiang Mai
One of the many night markets in Chiang Mai

I’ve shown you glimpses of the student market and the Saturday Walking Street in Chiang Mai before, but that was barely skimming the surface on the regular, outdoor markets the city has to offer.  So, I’ve (attempted to) put together a series of posts listing out the different markets I take people to visiting Chiang Mai.  This first post – of a 3-part series – includes the more well-known shopping spots of the Chiang Mai markets, but check back in the next couple weeks for Parts II and III for more local finds you probably wouldn’t hear about if you were just in town for a few days.

Sunday Walking Street

Sunday Walking Street, Chiang Mai

Probably the best known market, the Sunday Walking Street runs, well, every Sunday.  Though it’s considered a night market, people have been setting up their tables earlier and earlier (beginning as early as 11 in the morning) and by 5:30 most stalls are ready to go.  The market starts at Tha Pae Gate and goes all the way along Ratchadamnoen Road until Wat Phra Singh in the center of the old city (about 1.5 km).  This is the place for souvenirs, t-shirts, artwork, hand made items and just about everything in between.  There are two large food areas set up toward the beginning of the market on temple grounds and small stalls set up the entire way.

While I highly recommend going, be warned that it is crowded.  Very crowded.  Especially in the high season, it’s not uncommon for you to be jammed up next to people inching your way along.  To get from end to end when it’s this busy can easily take an hour+ even if you’re not stopping too much along the way.  I like going before it gets dark out while there’s less people and a kind of calm before the masses hit.  It’s also one of the best places to see the 6 o’clock national anthem and moment of stillness.  Everyone will be moving around but as soon as the first notes come over the loud speaker everyone stands still for the length of the song.

  • When:  Sundays, around 4:30/5:00 p.m. – 11:00 p.m. (ish)
  • Where: Tha Pae Gate and Ratchadamnoen Road
Saturday Walking Street
Saturday Walking Street, Chiang Mai, Thailand
One of my favs

The Saturday Walking Street is basically like the Sunday Walking Street, but a little smaller and more manageable.  As I’ve already written about here, it’s one of the markets I enjoy the most because of the size and mix of people that go to it each week.  The Sunday night market also has a variety of people, but since it’s so large and well-known, many tour groups (Thai, Chinese and Western) come in for the evening.

  • When:  Saturdays, around 5:00 p.m. – 11:00 p.m.
  • Where: Wualai Road (moving southwest away from Chiang Mai Gate (south gate)
Night Bazaar

Night Bazaar, Chiang Mai

Honestly, I really don’t like the Night Bazaar, but if you were looking to do some major shopping or have things on your list you want to buy and aren’t in town over the weekend, it’s a good place to go.  It’s massive and has many different parts to it – there are stalls lining the street (and making the sidewalks very narrow/crowded), as well as several permanent building structures with floors of shops and two market courtyard areas with more shops, tables, bars and restaurants.

This area is entirely geared toward tourists – you won’t see many locals shopping around,  In fact, many of the people working the stalls aren’t even Thai, but Lao or Burmese.  The merchandise is usually marked up a bit from the walking streets and food is heavily overpriced.  For example, usually I can buy the very basic Thai dish kai jio moo sap (Thai omelet with minced pork over rice) for 25 – 30 baht.  At the Night Bazaar, this – just rice and egg! – is going for around 60 baht with stir-fried mixed vegetables (another super simple dish) going for 80 – 90 baht.  There are also several Western-food sit down restaurants as well as fast-food places like McDonald’s, Burger King and Subway.

  • When:  Nightly, Sunday nights are usually quieter because of the Walking Street
  • Where: Chang Khlang Road on the east side of town

Be sure to check back soon for the next installment of this Chiang Market series.

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10 Comments

  • Posted May 2, 2013
    by Jessica Wray

    I consider the lady boy “cabaret” show at the Night Bazaar a must do, and one of the best reasons to go to that one ;)

    • Posted May 2, 2013
      by Alana Morgan

      I’ll give it that ;) To go and eat/shop, I’m not a fan…

  • Posted May 2, 2013
    by Audrey | That Backpacker

    I’m going to enjoy shopping in this city ;)

  • Posted May 2, 2013
    by AHARON

    I’m planning to visit this market

  • Posted May 3, 2013
    by Stacy | The Lacquerie

    I just came across your blog the other day and LOVe all your photos! I taught English in Bangkok for 6 months in 2010 and really miss mt time over there :( Living vicariously through your posts – thanks for sharing!!

    • Posted May 3, 2013
      by Alana Morgan

      Thank you for reading – I’m so glad you like it! I can’t imagine how much I will miss it whenever I end up leaving…

  • Posted May 3, 2013
    by jmayel & sacha

    There’s a cool one in Chiang Rai too on a Saturday, like the Saturday street in CM but calmer with less crowds.

  • Posted May 4, 2013
    by Adam Pervez | HappinessPlunge.com

    Wow, great memories of these places! I did like the night bazaar though :)

  • Posted May 5, 2013
    by Ash Clark

    By far my favourite part of the Sunday Night Market is the blind band. they always have a captivated crowd around them!
    Love the pics!

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