A mini guide for the best night markets for you to visit when you’re here.
I am not much of a shopper; in fact I really dislike shopping. I tend to put up a fight every time I am required to go close to a mall or market. Chiang Mai changed that for me (with regards to markets at least), and I now look forward to going out to the different markets that happen throughout the week here. Granted, I mostly just find a small stall selling Thai food and cold beer and then don’t move for the rest of the night, rather than actually shopping, but even this is an improvement.
Chiang Mai boasts a ridiculous amount of markets, and when I first arrived here I happened upon a different one almost every day. The most popular are the night markets, and so in this post I’ve attempted to put together a mini guide for the best night markets for you to visit when you’re here.
When: Every night from 6 pm. Sundays tend to be the quietest.
The Night Bazaar was the first market that I stumbled upon in Chiang Mai, and it is huge. It is comprised of many different parts: there are stalls all the way along Chang Khlang on the side of the street, making it pretty difficult to drive or walk along here, and there are two market courtyards filled with stalls and permanent shops. The night Bazaar is geared mainly towards tourists and you would be hard pressed to find local Thais shopping here, the merchandise is everything from clothing and food, to wooden frogs and live fish foot cleansing.
There are various restaurants and pubs surrounding the courtyard and you can take your pick of anything- Indian, Irish and Lebanese food, as well as your more western fast food outlets such as McDonalds and Burger King close by.
This is the market to hit if you have a huge amount of shopping to do, and presents to buy to take home, especially if you are not here over the weekend for the other markets.
Sunday Night Walking Street
When: Sunday Evenings 5 pm till about 11 pm.
The Sunday night walking street is arguably the most popular of all the night markets. The stalls start by Tha Pae Gate and extend all the way down Ratchadamnoen road for about 2 kilometers to Wat Phra Singh, one of Chiang Mai’s most famous temples.
There is a variety of things to buy along this market. Here you will find the usual tourist merchandise such as “Same Same but Different” t-shirts, and those billowing Thai pants that no one but tourists wear. But you will also find more local goods such as hand made shirts and scarves.
The thing I find most charming about the Sunday Night Walking Street are the musicians who sit in the middle of the roads and play instruments or sing. It lends an incredible atmosphere to the air, and walking along the market is a heady concoction of swirling colors, different dialects and the smell of the Thai food being cooked in the two temples just off the street.
While it is a beautiful market, just a forewarning, it gets extremely crowded. Especially in high season from Nov- April, if you don’t deal well with too many people being in your personal space, I would advise that you sit this one out.
Saturday Night Walking Street
When: Saturday from 5 till 11 pm.
This is my favorite of all the night markets, and it is quite similar to the Sunday Night Walking Street but is a much more manageable size, and not even close to being as crowded.
There is also a wonderful mix of people here, and you will find tourists, expats, Thais and everyone in between, all mingling together. The market is also the most diverse with regards to products you can buy; there is all the usual market fare, local beer and tourist merchandise. However, you will also find live plants, local Thai drinks like black jelly, unusual exotic fruit, and massages that will set you back a whole 2 dollars for half an hour.
I like to go early at about 4 o’clock and relax with a beer, while watching the stall owners set up for the evening. There is always banter, laughter and usually a man playing a ukulele on the street. The Saturday Night Walking Street would definitely be my first choice if I was here for a short time, and everyone that I have taken there has fallen in love with it, just as much as I have.
This is by no means an extensive list of all the markets in Chiang Mai, as that would take me days, but I will write another post on the daytime, food, and flower markets in the next week or so. In the meantime I hope that this list will help you find your away around the most popular night markets when you are visiting Chiang Mai.