Chiang Mai Night Bazaar
a long day of elephant trekking through the Chiang Mai countryside, you
are probably going to want to return to your hotel to change out of
those muddy dungarees, perhaps even take in a little siesta. Just make
sure you do not sleep through the night as Chiang Mai comes alive at
dusk with a number of dining and beverage possibilities. Luckily for
us, we did not have to wander very far to find a virtual epicenter of
activity, the Chiang Mai Night Bazaar. A couple steps inside and it
was clearly time to get our shopping groove on!
Chiang Mai Night Bazaar features oodles upon oodles of souvenir stalls
selling everything from Thai silk scarves to those ubiquitous wooden
frog guiro toys. Perhaps the most satisfying shopping can be found on
the 3rd floor of the market. Here, merchants sell an artsy mixture of
authentic Thai religious iconography amidst designer lighting fixtures
and modern furniture. We spent a good 20 minutes watching the local
artisans at work on a series of impressive wood carvings before
realizing we still hadn't completed our mission of finding ourselves an
umbrella! Oddly, this task proved quite challenging, so instead, we
chose a Thai Massage to give us refuge during the storm. At the many
massage stalls you can get anywhere from a 10-minute to a two-hour
massage for surprising nominal fees. Have no fears, these are not
"sexy massages" - just straight forward therapy for your neck, back,
feet and hands in an open environment. Pure bliss. (See "essentials" for more information on Thai massage.)
The Chiang Mai Night Bazaar also features a few cafes that were quite crowded each time we passed through. (Fresh lobster and shrimp Thai dishes seemed to be the order of the day.) Whether your in the market for an authentic embroidered "hill-tribe" headdress or not, the bargains of the Chiang Mai Night Bazaar will keep you occupied for at least a couple hours! The vast market opens daily at dusk and most shops remain open all the way until midnight.
Care to shop from the safety of your own home? The Chiang Mai Night Bazaar now has their own web-store.
Shopaholics, stand up! We are talking to you. Been in Chiang Mai for a few nights, and already "old friends" with the nightly market mentioned above? No problem, stay in town until Sunday and witness the mother of them all, the "Sunday Market" (located just inside Chiang Mai's "old city.") The street bazaar spans many (many) blocks, and its wide variety of handicraft trinkets may just make you dizzy! Prepare to hunt for real quality here. While it may be easier to barter with the stall owners on the streets, the organization of the Sunday Market leaves a lot to be desired. When compared to the sleek and colorful presentation of the Night Bazaar, the Sunday Market is far more muddled (and repetitive).
huge plus to the Sunday Market is the abundance of food carts. Tasty
Thai treats are yours at very reasonable prices. (Our favorite was the
custom-made banana and pineapple waffles.) If you are looking for a
great pace to bulk up your souvenir cache for friends and family back
home, this may just be your best bet in town.
Set of Drifters tip:
Just beyond the hub-bub of the Sunday Market and the Thapae Gate
entrance into the "old City" lies Wat Dokkham, a Buddhist temple that
features a pleasing courtyard with ample seating to cool your heels, and
perhaps, check out your purchases. You will definitely want to take
notice of the exquisitely-carved wooden shutters that adorn the windows
of the Wat.
Sunday Market - Ratchadamnoen Road (inside the "old city" near the Thapae Gate), Chiang Mai
Wat Dokkham - 111 Thanon Moonmuang, Sri Phum, Mueang Chiang Mai, Chiang Mai