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Where to shop in Chiang Mai – where to go and what to buy

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As the second largest city in Thailand, second only to Bangkok, Chiang Mai also has a lot to offer for keen shoppers or just the casual souvenir buyer. From the night market which is built up of lots of other markets catering to specific needs to well-known international stores, Chiang Mai offers a wealth of shopping experiences. There are plenty of shopping malls with even more currently being built.

Andy Flynn

My Destination local expert on

Chiang Mai

Night Market

 

One of the most famous attractions in Chiang Mai is the night market, or night bazar as it’s otherwise known, which is actually the site of an ancient market. The market sprawls across the streets and is not only market stalls, but roofed concession areas, normal shops and street vendors all offering a wealth of goods, souvenirs and most things imaginable at good prices. Just don’t forget to bargain. Expect hill tribe made crafts, woven shirts, silver jewelry and elephant patterned bags and bronze statute Buddha’s.

 

Wualai Street

 

On the south side of the city, just outside Chiang Mai Gate is Wualai Street, which is well known for the walking market on Saturday evenings. Here street entertainers adorn the routes where markets sell handicrafts. This is the less touristy version of the walking market held on a Sunday. Wandering around the area during the day, escape off the main busy street to the back streets to see some local silversmiths at work.

 

Vieng Ping Night Bazaar

 

As part of the huge Night Market, the Vieng Ping Night Bazaar is situated inside a two storey arcade. This market specialises in locally hand crafted items, perfect for gifts, from clothes to wooden handicrafts. The most prominent item however is antiques. You can also find real Thai silk clothing here too.

 

Kalare Centre

 

If you’re more into food shopping than souvenir shopping, cross the road from Vieng Ping and enter Kalare Centre. This isn’t far from the Night Bazaar on Chang Khlan Road, tucked away from the bustling main market. Here you’ll find a huge array of local foods to try and buy. What’s more there are food courts and restaurants which operate a coupon dining system offering a wide array of Asian dishes.

 

Ban Tawai

 

If you’ve had enough of the busy, bright and bustling markets, head to the Ban Tawai. Ban Tawai is a 15 minute drive out of Chaing Mai and specialises in traditional Thai handicrafts. Here you will find emporiums dedicated to all types of handicrafts reflecting Thailand’s heritage. This is where lots of the markets source their items, and where you will be able to get them cheaper and bag a real bargain.

 

Warorot Market

 

Warorot Market is full of fresh fruits and flowers and traditional and local Thai food. This authentic market is part of Chiang Mai’s China Town. This market is a great place to visit if you are planning on re-creating you’re favourite Thai dishes at home as you will be able to get all the unusual ingredients and very cheaply. Brightly colored foods adorn each side of the market and vendors invite you to try before you buy.

 

Kad Suan Kaew

 

Kad means market in Thai, and inside this mall is a like a Thai market, open until 9pm and air-conditioned. It’s located outside the centre on a road with plenty of great cafes. There is a supermarket, mobile phone shops (perfect to get a local sim-card), western chemist, and department stores offering western sized clothes. However, it is more of a local’s mall. The food court has reputable traditional Thai food. Don’t miss the bargain massage parlour next to the mall to experience a real Thai massage too.

 

Chiang Mai Shopping Tips

 

Don’t forget to barter in the markets. Ask the price and then suggest something around half of that. If places don’t barter, then will be a sign saying ‘fixed price’. Carry cash in the markets. Malls will not participate in bartering and will accept most debit and credit cards.