There are several markets in Chiang Mai worth visiting. Most tourists will head straight to the Chiang Mai Night Bazaar, located in the heart of the city on the Chan Klan road between Tapae and Sri Donchai roads. The Night Bazaar is renown for hilltribe and Northern Thai handicrafts and portrait paintings, as well as cheap DVDs and CDs. Items sold here tend to be on the pricey side and you will need to employ your best bargaining skills. A convenient outdoor foodcourt on the riverside of the market provides a variety of tasty Thai and international dishes, drinks and entertainment.
Situated only 2 minutes walk north from the Chiang Mai Night Bazaar along the Ping River is Warorot Market – a busy hive of daytime activity located next to Chiang Mai’s Chinatown. Warorot Market opens daily early in the morning and closes after dark. It’s best to go there by foot, Tuk-Tuk (motor rickshaw) or Songtheaw (red taxi truck) as it is nearly impossible to get a park there unless you have a motor bike or bicycle.
Warorot Market is one of the popular city markets where Thai locals do their own shopping, so expect to find the same or similar goods that you see at other markets throughout Thailand. You will also find a lot of goods here that you will not find in the tourist markets like the Night Bazaar, such as fresh/dried fruit – vegetables – flowers, butchery and bakery items, herbs, condiments, clothing, shoes, cosmetics, jewelry, lacquerware, silks, hemp products, handicrafts, ceramics, wood carvings, beauty supplies, household appliances, electronic gadgets, sunglasses, watches, souvenirs, and fireworks, just to name a few.
My favourite market in Chiang Mai is the Sunday Market where local craftpersons open stalls along Rajdumnern Road on the inner-east side of the moat near Tapae Gate. This popular craft market starts around 4pm and lasts until 10pm. The street is blocked off from traffic so there is plenty of room to walk. Unlike the traders on Chang Khlan Road (who sell mainly fake designer goods), the Sunday Market traders sell excellent handmade items at very reasonable prices. There are 5 major Thai temples along this road which cater in real Northern Thai food and snacks during market hours. In between all the walking and shopping, there are plenty of masseurs along the road offering relaxing foot massages!
If you miss the Sunday Market, there’s always the Saturday Market on Wualai Road (the street that shoots off at an angle just outside Chiang Mai Gate on the south side of the old city). This market officially starts at 5pm although the road closes to cars from about 2pm onwards; it’s pretty much over by 11pm. This market is located in the old silver working district of the city, and some shops stay open late on this day. Like the bigger Sunday Market, there’s lots of food and local crafts.