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With a cosmopolitan population, a thriving handicraft industry and an eclectic food scene, Chiang Mai is a wonderful location for market lovers. From fresh food markets, to vintage clothes, to hand-made produce, there is a market in Chiang Mai for all occasions. The city also represents excellent value for money for shoppers and is arguably the best place in Thailand to buy souvenirs to take back home.
If you’re planning a visit to Northern Thailand, check out our pick of the best markets in Chiang Mai to visit.
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If your trip to Chiang Mai coincides with the weekend, don’t miss the outstanding Sunday Walking Street Market in the atmospheric Old Town area. Stretching the length of Ratchadamnoen Road (and a number of side roads) from Tha Pae Gate to Wat Phra Singh, this is one of the most enjoyable markets to visit in the whole of Thailand. Even if you don’t like shopping, the easy-going atmosphere combined with live music and an incredible array of food stalls make it a pleasurable way to while away an evening.
Serious shoppers can spend hours here and never get bored. Many of the items for sale are hand-made by local people and considering the quality, prices are exceptional value. Unlike Chiang Mai’s Night Bazaar and some other tourist-centric markets in Thailand, this is where local people come to shop too and the prices are already fair. Although there may be some wiggle room for haggling, especially if you are buying items in bulk, this isn’t a typical tourist market and aggressive haggling is not the way things are done here.
You’ll find food stalls in many of the temple grounds along Ratchadamnoen Road and the serene setting makes for an atmospheric place to tuck into some tasty Thai food. The Sunday Walking Street Market is a no smoking and alcohol free zone, but there are places nearby where you can sit down with a cold drink and watch the world go by. Villa Duang Champa offers cold beer and live music with a prime view of the market. And just a little further away on Ratchapakhinai Road, Annie’s usually hosts their Sunday Sessions with live music from 8.30pm onwards.
As the name suggests, Walking Street, ’or Thanon Khon Doen’ as it’s known locally, is closed to traffic from around 4.30pm continuing through until around 11pm. Be prepared to stand still for the Thai national anthem which is played over loudspeakers at 6pm.
Location: Ratchadamnoen Road and surrounds
When: Every Sunday, 4.30pm-11pm
Compared to the Sunday market extravaganza in the Old City, the Saturday Walking Street Market on Wualai Road is a smaller, quieter, but equally enjoyable affair. Located just outside the walls of the Old Town close to Chiang Mai Gate, Wualai Road is the heart of Chiang Mai’s historic silverware district and a great place to shop for jewellery on any day of the week. If you do visit this area, be sure to call in at the stunning Wat Srisuphan aka the ‘Silver Temple’.
You’ll find many of the same vendors and goods for sale at the Saturday Walking Street Market as you will at Sunday’s ‘Thanon Khon Doen’. While the Saturday Walking Street is still popular with tourists and it can get busy, it tends to be even more laid-back than the Old Town version. We particularly like the Saturday Walking Street Market for some of the more unusual handicrafts and ceramic that you’ll find here. On the food front, there’s plenty to graze on throughout the market, plus some dedicated sit-down areas with hawkers touting northern specialities like sai ua, khao soi and kanom jeen nam ngiaw.
As with the Sunday Walking Street Market, the street is closed to traffic from late afternoon and you can take the cue from the vendors and Thai people around you who will stand still to pay respect to the Thai national anthem which is played over loudspeakers at the market at 6pm.
Location: Wualai Road, near Chiang Mai Gate
When: Saturdays, 4.30pm-11pm
The biggest and busiest daily market in Chiang Mai is a local institution. The colourful Waworot Market (known locally as Kad Luang) is located in the heart of the labyrinth of streets that forms Chiang Mai’s Chinatown district. Although you will find a small amount of tourist-type stuff for sale here, this is much more of a local market with a range of goods available including clothes, homewares, handicrafts, dry goods and spices.
Opposite Waworot Market is the fresh market at Ton Lamyai Market with fruit, vegetables and a wet market. As if the feast for the senses wasn’t enough, there is a fabulous flower market that runs along Praisanai Road adjacent to the Ping River. Whether you are interested in shopping or not, this is a fascinating and photogenic area to visit and highly recommended if you are visiting Chiang Mai.
With the Waworot area such a hive of activity and attracting so many local people, it’s a fantastic place to chow down on regional specialities. On the ready-to-eat food side, dishes worth hunting out here include gaeng hunglay, a northern, ginger-heavy curry of pork belly (the market’s Dumrong take-away rice-and-curry stall has an especially enthusiastic local following). And don’t miss khao soi, the signature dish of Chiang Mai. Curried noodles complete with a topping of deep-fried crispy noodles are served with a helping of chicken, beef or pork. Kanom jeen nam ngiaw rice noodles are another market favourite along with sai ua northern sausages, and kap moo deep-fried pork crackling (the last two are also especially worth buying to take away for bus and train journeys, or for those who live in Thailand or the region to take home as foodie souvenirs and gifts).
When it comes to produce, Chiang Mai’s cooler climate means you can expect to find fruits that are rarer (or at least many times more expensive) at markets elsewhere in Thailand, and certainly in Bangkok, like avocados and passion fruits. Keen cooks may also wish to pick up speciality northern ingredients like makhwaen, translated as ‘prickly ash’ and a relative of Sichuan pepper.
Location: Chang Moi Road/Praisanee Road, near Ping River
When: Daily; Waworot Market 4am-6pm; Flower Market open 24 hours
The Chiang Mai Night Bazaar is much closer to a conventional tourist-geared night market in Thailand (and indeed it’s one of the originals), in that it’s the place to head if you’re looking for pirated designer clothes, jewellery, DVDs and so on plus the obligatory likes of Chang beer t-shirts. Unlike the Saturday and Sunday walking Street Markets in Chiang Mai, the vast majority of customers at the Night Bazaar are tourists and there is more scope for haggling on prices.
The Chiang Mai Night Bazaar sprawls along Changklan Road and as the bazaar has grown over the years, it has come to encompass not only street-based market stalls but also a number of indoor shopping centre spaces and spin-off markets. You’ll also find street food stalls, restaurants, coffee shops, and massage spas around the main hubbub of retail therapy.
If you’re in the Night Bazaar area, do make time for Anusarn Market located close to Wat Si Don Chai on Changklan Road. Amongst the stalls here there are a good selection of restaurants and venues to relax with a cold beer or cocktail. For live music, head back up Changklan Road to long-standing favourite, Boy Blues Bar. Located inside the Kalare Pavilion, the open-sided bar is upstairs and easy to find once you are inside. The Kalare Pavilion also has an excellent food court for inexpensive and tasty Thai food.
While the Night Bazaar won’t be to everyone’s liking, especially for Thailand old-hands, it’s an expansive and long-running market that turns out a wide range of goods at reasonable prices, and it’s a must-visit for many Chiang Mai first-timers. Perhaps best of all for those only in Chiang Mai for a few days, the Night Bazaar is open every evening of the week.
Location: Changklan Road
When: Daily, 5pm-midnight
Located a short stroll away from the Night Bazaar, but offering an altogether different vibe, is Ploen Ruedee Night Market. Opened in 2014, the compact al-fresco venue has a more youthful feel with a mix of entertainment ranging from traditional music to contemporary local bands.
A lot of thought has been put into making this a family friendly space including the addition of a children’s zone where kids can play safely. The food vendors are obliged to meet high hygiene standards and there is a strong focus on being environmentally friendly with a ‘No foam, no plastic’ campaign at the market. All in all, Ploen Ruedee is a great place to chill out, listen to live music, and enjoy hot food and a cold drink away from the bustle of the Night Bazaar.
Location: Changklan Road
When: Monday-Saturday, 6pm – midnight
For any serious foodies, the Kad Chin Haw Market is definitely worth setting your alarm clock early for. While this unique market won’t appeal to everybody, it is a classic example of the diversity of Thailand’s amazing food scene.
Starting at 6am each Friday morning, a small enclave near the mosque off Changklan Road transforms into a Muslim-Chinese market. Kad Chin Haw sells an array of food and produce that the average visitor to Thailand is unlikely to see anywhere else on their travels. Foodies can also take the opportunity to try traditional foods enjoyed by the Tai Yai (Shan) community
The original Chin Haw settlers in what is now North Thailand were Muslim traders who arrived on mule caravans from Yunnan in China. Some of the vendors at the market today still dress in traditional clothing and use their naive language. And with the addition of the Tai Yai, the market is a blend of cultures and distinctly different to most markets in Thailand.
Location: Soi 1 Charoen Prathet Alley (off Changklan Road)
When: Fridays, 6am-11am
At the southern entrance to the Old City, fruit and vegetable deliveries start arriving at Chiang Mai Gate Market at dawn each morning. It’s a colourful sight and wandering around this lively working market is always an experience. The area undergoes a transformation later in the afternoon as most of the indoor market closes up for the day and attention switches to the outside area. Portable tables spring up, food stalls come to life and a steady stream of diners arrive throughout the evening to enjoy the variety of street food that helps make Chiang Mai Gate Market one of the best value places to eat in the city.
Location: Bumrungburi Road
When: Daily; Indoor market 4am-4pm; Outdoor market 4pm-midnight
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