Shop & Eat To Your Heart’s Content At Chiang Mai’s Lively Markets

Chiang Mai, the largest city & hub of Northern Thailand, is more developed & commercialised compared to the other cities in the region. I could feel the difference between Chiang Mai & Chiang Rai immediately as we arrived in the capital city of the north from the quieter Chiang Rai. There were many more foreigners that we could see in Chiang Mai, making it a livelier & more cosmopolitan city. Of course, with a significantly higher population of expats & visitors, more commercial activities naturally follow. We explored 2 vibrant markets in the city, one at night & one in the morning, which I will share more details below. 🙂

1. Sunday Night Market

Also known as Sunday Walking Street, this is a night market that opens only on Sundays, as its name implies. There is an equivalent night market or Saturday Walking Street located along Wualai Road, near the Silver Temple that opens only on Saturdays, selling similar stuff. Since we only stayed in Chiang Mai for 1 night on Sunday, we could only check out Sunday Night Market. 😉

The Sunday Night Market is just behind the Thaphae Gate

Located right in the heart of the city where we were staying, Sunday Night Market is a large night market that extends from behind Thaphae Gate to about 2km along Ratchadamnoen Road. Be prepared to knock elbows with the huge crowds visiting the market, as this is a very popular place to hunt for bargains. In fact, it looked horribly crowded when we tried to enter from the Thaphae Gate, & most of my tour mates decided not to go in. Nonetheless 2 of us decided to “brave” through since we were already in the area. 😛

Thankfully, it wasn’t as bad as we imagined after we managed to get through the crowd. Ratchadamnoen Road was pretty long & wide, & it was nice to know that the road was close to vehicular traffic on Sundays when the market is open, so shoppers could wander about freely without having to constantly watching over our shoulders for motor bikes zipping past. Open from 4pm till midnight every Sunday, its long opening hours surely satisfy the night owls!

Unlike the Chiang Rai Night Bazaar, Chiang Mai’s Sunday Night Market was a much more energetic marketplace with many more stalls selling all sorts of handicrafts, fashion & knick knacks unique to Northern Thailand. But prices were a little higher here compared to the one in Chiang Rai (i.e. if you can find similar items). Guess this is inevitable since Chiang Mai is more touristy than Chiang Rai. Food & beverage stalls seemed to be scattered along the entire stretch, instead of being concentrated in 1 area like Chiang Rai’s. But we did notice that there seem to be an area towards the end of the road where more F&B stalls were stationed. There were also a number of buskers performing on the street to keep us entertained while we shopped. Overall a nice place for some festive vibes in the Old City, & we managed to bag some bargains & interesting crafts home! 😉

2. Waroros Market

Waroros Market, or Kad Luang (ตลาดวโรรส) in Thai, is also spelt as Warorot Market. It is the largest market in town situated only 2 min north of the Chiang Mai Night Bazaar by foot. The market opens daily for long hours from early morning till evening, but it is more popular as a daytime market.

We visited the market the first thing in the morning after checking out of hotel. Essentially, there are 2 parts to the market, separated by a road in between the Waroros Market & Ton Lam Yai Market (signages seen in above collage). The market was really quite big, but we weren’t given too much time to roam around, so could only concentrate on the grocery, cooked food & dried food areas on the ground floor. At the Waroros Market building, upper levels were comparably quieter, selling clothing, toys & other household products. We only went up for a quick peek before coming down to check out the (more) tempting food level. 😛

There is an old-school Chinese Thai feel at the large market, popular with both locals & tourists who are keen for quality buys at cheaper prices compared to other markets in the city. At the upper levels of the market, I felt like I had travelled back in time, as if I were a kid, visiting the old People’s Park Complex in Chinatown to buy CNY clothes with my mum. 😅 From outside the building, several Chinese jewellery shops could be found. So this is Chiang Mai’s little Chinatown. No wonder some of the stallholders could speak Chinese with us. 😊

A variety of local fresh fruits & dried produce

This stall selling a selection of fried foods was constantly crowded with customers

Above photos are some of the tantalising food offerings at this local market. The mango sticky rice (50 THB, ~S$2.05) recommended by our friendly tour guide was really very yummy. I took a bite of the dish bought by another tour mate & simply couldn’t resist buying 1 to eat it myself haha. Sidetrack… throughout the time we stood in front of the stall, the lady boss didn’t smile at all… 😑

In addition, I also couldn’t resist the fried chicken chop from the popular stall pictured above, after getting a taste of it thanks to my tour mate. Seemed like this was 1 of the locals’ favourite stalls as it was constantly crowded with customers trying to lay their hands on the aromatic fried foods. In the end, I bought 2 large pieces of the chicken chop home to enjoy it with my family. Can’t remember the exact price but I think it was around 50 THB (~S$2.05) too. 🙂

We enjoyed exploring these 2 markets during our short stay in Chiang Mai, not just because there were great bargains & food to purchase. Afterall, markets are the best places to know & understand more about the local culture, aren’t they? So who doesn’t like to go to markets? 😉

A little pity I didn’t really have time to venture to Chiang Mai Night Bazaar, the night market nearby Sunday Night Market, which opens daily at night & is reputable for a huge selection of imitation designer goods. Maybe next time!

Thus, if you haven’t been to any market in Chiang Mai yet, make sure you include at least 1 in your itinerary the next trip! Or if you have already been to the above, do share your experiences by commenting below too. 🙂

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