Night markets propose the best shopping options in Chiang Mai. The variety and diversity is outstanding, and they're found dotted all over the city. If you're in town on weekend then you have even more things to choose from, with entire evenings spent browsing, shopping, snacking and soaking up the scene.
Beside the same old tourist souvenirs you’ll find anywhere else in the country, many of Chiang Mai’s markets offer a much more attractive shopping experience, with stalls selling locally made handicrafts, one-off clothing items, and plenty of northern delicacies that are tough to find anywhere else.
The Sunday Walking Street is one of the tourist attractions, though in high season it can get quite hectic. We’ve rounded up five of the top, presenting Chiang Mai’s five must-visit markets below.
1. Chiang Mai Night Bazaar
An epicenter of shopping in Chiang Mai, the vast Night Bazaar runs every evening from 18:00 to 22:30. Defining where this market starts and ends is not simple, as the gathering of stalls and shops does vary; head to intersection of Chang Khlan Road and Loi Khro Road and you’ll be approximately in the middle, with the bazaar spreading out for about two blocks in every direction.
The market offers attractive much everything any other Thai night market has, just more of it; this means duplicate football shirts, carved elephants, artwork, handicrafts, sunglasses, DVDs, shoes, luggage, furniture, and homeware.
After your retail fix, start to one of the dozens of nearby bars or restaurants to breeze down.
Opening Hours: 18:00 – 23:00 daily
Located: At the junction of Chang Khlan Road and Loi Khro Road
2. Sunday Walking Street
Chiang Mai’s most well-known market runs only once a week, so if you’re only in town for just one weekend, make sure you visit this place on a Sunday evening. The kilometer-long stretch is situated in the centre of the city’s main tourist area and runs from Tha Pae Gate going towards Ratchadamnoen Road in the west.
The road is congested with traffic from 16:00 creating a temporary walking street, and on sale you’ll find a huge range of handicrafts, souvenirs, and accessories. Aside from the shopping, the area becomes lively with food vendors, makeshift bars and roadside massage areas for a foot rub.
The items on offer lean more towards handcrafted products rather than the variety of mass produced brick-a-brack on show at the night bazaar, although there are plenty of hill-tribe vendors peddling the usual assortment of tourist trinkets.
Remember that welcoming bargaining is acceptable, especially if buying more than one product from a stall. Temples on either side of the road turn out to be food courts where you can sample everything from fried rice to deep-fried crickets and there are tons of refreshment stalls set up along the road.
The spanking new fruit juice stands are a real treat and the kid in you will be charmed with a pancake on a stick, complete with a depiction of your preferred cartoon character, lovingly rendered in jelly.
With a lot to see (and buy) at the weekend market your feet are ready to get tired. Fortunately, there are abundance of places where you can sit down and get a relaxing foot massage for next to nothing.
Take a stroll in the amazing light of dusk while sipping on spanking new fruit juice, browsing handicrafts and snacking on random delicacies to the lilting accompaniment of traditional Thai music being played by street buskers.
While air-conditioned malls offer a pleasant getaway from midday heat, the outdoor markets, the Sunday Walking Street near Tha Phae Gate will undoubtedly will draw attention to of your trip.
Opening Hours: Sundays 16:00 – 22:00
Location: Tha Pae Gate to Ratchadamnoen Road
3. Wualai Walking Street
No moment for Chiang Mai’s famous Sunday Walking Street? Then move in Saturday’s smaller ‘Wualai’ market instead. In fact, lots of visitors actually favor Wualai Walking Street to the larger one by Tha Pae Gate, thanks to its outstanding range of locally-made products, as well as the fact that there’s space to walk, rather than get jumbled up.
The market is named after Wualai, which connects to Thipanet Road – just off the south side of the old city walls. Stalls and street vendors start to set up from afternoon on Saturday, with things winding down by 22:30 pm.
The Saturday night walking street is mounting in popularity, and towards sunset tends to be the busiest time. It’s still simple enough to walk along one side and then back along another, checking out all the diverse range of stalls.
There is a real assortment in the types of stalls at Wualai Market, and it include not only local tribe souvenirs and “I love Thailand’ t-shirts, but also some more attractive stands selling clothing and accessories from local designers, real paintings and even an orchid or two, if you think they will stay alive for their journey home! Wualai Road was once more well-known for its silverware and lacquer workshops, and there are still a number of shops open in the evenings.
To stroll around the market would take around an hour or two, depending on the number of stops you take to eat. A lot of people come here for the food as much as the shopping. There are local restaurants serving burning Thai food: barbequed fish, som tam, fried rice and pad Thai.
There are also plethora of stands selling snacks to eat as you walk, including traditional Thai sweets made from coconut, freshly blended smoothies and satay with fiery peanut dipping sauce. After eating some food and a stroll you can rest at one of the street side massage booths – there’s no better way to begin an evening.
We think this is the best walking street market in Chiang Mai. If you’re good at bargaining, the prices can be cheaper than elsewhere, and the wide range of stalls is more attractive. Although it’s busy, there’s a friendly vibe and it’s a must-do whilst visiting the city.
Opened on: Every Saturday 16:00-22:30pm
Located on: Wualai Road with Thipanet Road
4. Warorot Market (Kad Luang)
One of the top food markets in Chiang Mai, Warorot offers an remarkable array of fresh produce alongside ready-to-eat snacks and meals. In addition, the second and third floors are devoted to clothing and accessories – most of it’s not of any grand quality or style, but at least the prices are low.
Going back to the food, you will find genuine northern-style delicacies such as sai oua (spicy sausage), nam prik ong/nam prik noom (red and green chili dip) keap moo (crispy pork skin). Find Warorot Market at the end of Chang Moi Road close to the river.
The second and third floors at Warorot Market are devoted to clothing and everyday merchandise. Since the market targets usually locals, you won’t find the kinds of handicrafts and souvenirs that you would generally find at the night bazaar or other crafts markets around town.
Fashion is frequently casual wear, such as T-shirts, shorts and simple dresses. The prices here are much cheaper than at other touristy markets so if you need an extra pair of shorts or a T-shirt, Warorot Market is a excellent place to go. In compared to food and fashion, the merchandise section is not as motivating (unless you want an authentic Thai spatula).
A wide range of inexpensive cosmetics and personal care products are also on sale, although the quality is probably doubtful.
Most people head to Warorot Market to browse its enticing selection of food. Holidaymakers from Bangkok are particularly love of the grilled northern-style sausage (sai oua), red and green chili dip (nam prik ong/nam prik noom) and crispy pork skin (cap moo) here.
Grilled meats and ready-to-eat curries are also popular. In addition to picking up savoury treats, the food section is quite a banquet for the other senses as well. Walk around and watch the action as it unfolds.
Vendors chop up meat, stuff sausages, and then arrange them on the grill. Or smell wafts of spice and all kinds of wonderful aromas as you stroll from a giant caldron of sweet curries (kaeng hangle) to khao soi noodles to fried chili dips.
The whole basement and fraction of the first floor are like vast open kitchens where you can see all skillfully whipped up from scratch.
Opening Hours: Daily 10:00-22:00
Location: Between Chiang Moi and Kunag Men Roads
5. Ton Lamyai Market Riverside
For an substitute market experience in Chiang Mai, a morning walk around Ton Lamyai Market is a great way to boot off your day in the city. Specializing in one thing and one thing only – flowers – this exciting, colourful market is located next door to the larger Worarat Market, right on the banks of the peaceful River Ping.
Open 24 hours every day, the visiting in the morning means you’ll getaway the heat and crowds of later in the day, and also get see to see the day’s deliveries arriving in the lorry load. Expect to see spanking new, locally-grown roses, orchids, chrysanthemums, pussy willow and lotus flowers.
Talat Tonlamyai is the single place to get fresh flowers in central Chiang Mai and for that reason it is a hive of bustle, filled with locals and visiting Bangkokians, who love photographing the striking blooms.
Flowers are an important part of Buddhist culture and are often given as an contribution to the temples and shrines. You may also see garlands of fresh flowers, often with roses wavering from rear view mirrors.
Known as phuang malai these are said to guard people from harm, so don’t be surprised if you see a taxi driver nipping out of his cab to take hold of one. Chiang Mai is blessed with a cool and cosy weather and for that reason a wide range of flowers on offer is notable.
As well as orchids and jasmine you can find roses, pussy willow, chrysanthemums, lotus flowers, and even bird of glory, depending on the season.
Opened for: 24 hours, daily
Located at: Thanon Praisani, running alongside the river