Often thought of as the Chiang Mai Night Market, the Sunday Walking Street runs every Sunday evening starting around 5:00 p.m. (though stalls will begin setting up as early as 11:00 a.m). The market runs from Tha Pae Gate all the way to Wat Phra Singh along Ratchadamnoen Road (about 1.5 kilometers total). Here you’ll find everything from handmade scarves and t-shirts, to leather goods and paintings, to home decor and bath loofahs. There are also two large food stall areas set up toward the beginning of the market on temple grounds and small stalls selling snacks, treats and drinks – as well as foot massage stations – set up throughout the market.
The Sunday Walking Street is still an attraction for foreign tourists, but draws a number of Thai tourists, locals and expats as well thanks to its location, variety of goods on sale, and enjoyable atmosphere. You definitely don’t feel like you’re walking into a tourist trap (like the Night Bazaar). That said, between all the people and the two double rows of stalls, the market can get very crowded, especially in the high season where people will be inching along shoulder to shoulder. You can always go early, while some of the tables are still setting up, or later in the evening when things are dying down to beat the crowds.
When: Sundays, around 5:00 p.m. – 11:00 p.m. (ish)
Where: Tha Pae Gate and Ratchadamnoen Road
Similar to the Sunday Walking Street, but on a smaller scale, the Saturday Walking Street has a slightly more local, neighborhood-y feel while still offering pretty much the same things as the Sunday Market (most of the vendors do both).
When: Saturdays, around 5:00 p.m. – 11:00 p.m.
Where: Wualai Road
If you’re shopping for large amounts of souvenirs definitely make a stop at this massive market (actually a collection of several different markets and shopping centers). While the area also has a number of bars, restaurants (including several seafood restaurants where you can order the seafood by kilo, as well as a McDonald’s, Burger King, Subway, Starbucks and Haagen-Daaz) and muay Thai fighting, it’s also one of the areas of town with the least character…and Thai people. You won’t see many locals around, even those working in the shops or stalls are often from other countries, and the dining areas are filled only with tourists. You can get some decent deals on goods, especially if you’re buying multiples of things, but the food and drink here is incredibly overpriced.
When: Nightly, Sunday nights are usually quieter because of the Walking Street
Where: Chang Khlang Road on the east side of town
The flower market along the river is impressive with its stalls and stalls of marigold garlands, orchid bouquets (often for as little as 25 – 30 baht!) and offerings. You just don’t see flowers like these at home. There are also places selling large floral arrangements, roses, orchids and whatever else is in season. While you can come during the day, many of the stalls are actually open pretty much all night. There’s something special about having it be 10 o’clock at night and driving down the street with burst of color and the smell of fresh flowers in the air.
When: Daily 24/7
Where: Behind Wororot market along the Mae Ping River on the east side of town
On Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights the steps of Kad Suan Kaew mall on Huay Kaew Road are filled with clothing, accessory and food stalls. Called the ‘blind market’, since it’s so dark and you can’t see what you’re buying, it’s a good stop to pick up dinner on your way home or peruse the current Thai styles.
When: Thursday and Friday Nights starting around 5:00 p.m.
Where: Kad Suan Kaew on Huay Kaew Road
Malin Plaza and Kad Rincome
The student market located near the front gate of Chiang Mai University is the place for cheap clothes, accessories and food, including hotpot and Japanese places. Open nightly, the market caters to the large student population living in the area and is one of two markets along the same road. The other, Kad Rin Kum, is on the same side of the street but further east heading into town and is the place to go if you want a cheap tattoo.
When: Nightly starting around 6:00 p.m. – 11:00 p.m.
Where: Huay Kaew Road near the university
It’s true around the world – with university students comes cheap clothing deals and even cheaper food. This is a great place to grab a quick dinner and try a variety of Thai dishes and snacks, both street food and prepared. There are also some stalls selling (mainly girls’) clothing and accessories and a ton of restaurants across the street.
When: Nightly starting around 6:00 p.m.
Where: On Suthep Road starting at the back entrance of Chiang Mai University
This huge food market, on the outside of the moat across from the North Gate, opens up in the evening and goes till the wee hours of the morning. You’ll find the all the staples – pad thai, noodle soup, omelettes – but the star is definitely Cowboy Lady Khao Kha Moo. The satay stand (with the disturbing cartoon pig cooking itself) makes nice turmeric pork sticks with pickles and the salabpao (steamed buns) in the front are hand-made. Quite a few of the stalls do seafood, but your results may vary.
When: About 17:00 – 3:00
Where: Across from Chang Phueak gate, on the outside of the moat
Chiang Mai Gate (south gate) food market
This market has a lot more variety than the Chang Phueak food market (including curries) but it’s not open as late. The area next to the moat’s edge has all the noodle soup and pad thai you’d expect and the row of vendors on the other side of the road sell fruit, fried fish and various snacks. Mrs. Pa’s smoothies on the moat side of the road is hugely popular and was even featured on CNN Travel. The curry vendors sometimes have interesting things like buffalo and southern dishes, but they won’t give you plates or spoons so you’ll have to take it home.
When: About 17:00 – Midnight
Where: Chiang Mai Gate, inside the moat across from Wualai Rd