Wednesday, 30 March 2011

The Sensational Street Markets of Chiang Mai

One of the amazing things about Chiang Mai and probably Thailand in general is the amazing sense of business enterprise you constantly come across. There seems to be all manner of street food vendors everywhere you go and countless market stalls are dotted throughout the city and tourist spots. Generally, there appears to be no formal opening times and there is always some enterprising Thai trying to sell you something at any hour of the day. However, for a more organised event, the Sunday night street market is a must see. I’m not sure whether there is a Guinness book of records entry for the worlds largest open-air night market, but if there is, this one would certainly be in the running. It involves closing off several of the major streets in the old part of town, spreading out into the narrow laneways, invading the grounds of several local temples and generally occupying any spare space close to the action. For sale are endless examples of Thai art and craft produced from large local factories down to small backyard operations. When Jules and I went along, it was a balmy night and it seemed that the whole city along with a few thousand tourists were there. However the mood was, as you would expect in Thailand, very happy and relaxed. As we browsed and strolled along, numerous music groups were playing traditional tunes making the event feel more like a cultural festival than a market. The various food stalls continued to tempt our taste buds with exotic flavours drifting through the night air, until we finally succumbed. When we saw something we liked we engaged in some light-hearted bartering, as is expected in this part of the world. Although, Jules often felt guilty about the ridiculous prices we were paying and simply wanted to give the stall owner what they were asking only to find them giving her a discount anyway. It was hard to believe that a market of this size happens each week, but for those who missed it or who are just hooked on searching out a bargain, we found that there were plenty of other opportunities at the daily night bazaar. While being generally more commercial in its selection of products, it still remained a nice way to spend a warm evening in Chiang Mai followed by a nice meal and cooling drink sitting alongside the banks of the Ping River.


  1. Are these markets selling mostly traditional Thai stuff? or does it consist of mainly of dodgy rip offs of well known brand names?

  2. Well Dave, the Sunday night market generally has traditional and genuine Thai produced goods. However, the daily night bazaar has the rip-off brand names. Still very popular, if your into that sort of thing... they are very cheap after all!