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The only Chiang Mai markets that are worth your time

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Chiang Mai

Joanna Horanin

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Last updated at 20/05/2024, 19:00

Hi, I'm Joanna, the author of The Blond Travels. In the worlds of Thailand and Portugal, I feel like a fish in water - and it's no coincidence! I've been exploring Thailand for over a decade, and I've settled in Portugal for 6 years now. My mission is to support Dreamers - just like you - in discovering these fascinating countries and helping those in love with them find their own place on Earth, preferably for good! Let's uncover these unique corners of the world together.

Chiang Mai is famous for many things: nature, cuisine, great historical sites and shopping. There are a lot of places where you can buy all sorts of things and markets are one of them. Find fresh food, souvenirs, spices and artwork at these markets in Chiang Mai.

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During your visit in the capital of the northern Thailand, go to at least one of these places. Some of them are very local and might not be great for a shopping spree, but they are interesting nevertheless. Others will be great spots to buy a few things to take home with you.

Sunday Night Market

An older couple shopping at a night market in Chiang Mai.
The Sunday Market in Chiang Mai is a great place to buy some souvenirs.

Every Sunday, after the sun sets, the main streets of Chiang Mai are closed for traffic. Street sellers set up their stalls and crowds flood in to experience this lively and colourful market.

You can just stroll around, buy some food, try different snacks, fruits and smoothies. The shops are a mixture of those that offer some great handmade goods and those that sell Chinese-made souvenirs.

This Sunday Market is worth to visit at least once. It can get a bit crowded, so bear that in mind before visiting.

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    Night Bazaar

    A Thai lady sitting at a souvenir stall at a market in Chiang Mai.
    The night market has a good choice of cheap and more expensive goods.

    Is this your first time in Chiang Mai? Then, you must go to the Night Bazaar! This market is opened every day during the weekend, from around 6pm.
    The stock here is very similar to what you’ll find at the Sunday Market, but the atmosphere is worth giving it a go.

    There are some great restaurants and bars around, where you can eat and have a drink or two.

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    Lanna Market

    A group of male tourists sitting at a table at a night market in Chiang Mai.
    Lanna Market is a great place to start your night out in Chiang Mai.

    It’s one of the newest markets, located behind the infamous party place – Zoe in Yellow.

    Once a gravel filled parking lot was turned into a colourful and very pleasant market. Mainly, you’ll get food here, but there are a few stalls with clothes as well.

    Every night you have a chance to listen to live music as well.

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    Chiang Mai Gate Market

    A young boy packing food at a night market in Chiang Mai.
    There is a lot of food to choose from at this market.

    This is one of my favourite markets in Chiang Mai for a quick dinner.

    During the day the space is occupied by fruit and vegetable stalls. It’s mostly targeted towards locals, but it’s also an interesting place to visit.

    After the night falls, street food sellers set up their stalls and the real feast begins. Try some of the noodle soups here. They are really great. The sushi stand next to Tesco’s Lotus is good, too.

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    North Gate Market

    A leftover meat on a plate. Behind we can see a woman seller. Chiang Mai, Thailand.
    Here you will find some more local dishes.

    There are many night markets in Chiang Mai and the North Gate Market is one of those famous ones. Comparing to the other ones in the city, it’s not that big, but it offers a lot of delicious dishes, including bua loi – a sweet dessert, which consists of small balls made out of tapioca flour and coconut milk.

    This market is also well-known for the Cowboy Hat Lady, who was featured in one of Anthony Bourdain’s documentaries. She is rarely seen at the market now, but you can still try the dish she’s famous for – boiled pork and rice.

    This market opens in the evening.

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    Mae Kha Market

    A group of young Thai people sitting and eating at the Mae Kha Market, Chiang Mai.
    This is a more hip market in Chiang Mai. A lot of young Thai people like to hang out.

    Are you looking something more fancy and prettier than the other markets in Chiang Mai? Here’s something for you.

    This market is located along one of the side streets, at so-called klong – a river canal. The houses here were transferred into shops and cafes.
    During the day you can find some clothes and souvenirs here. Later on, you will buy food and cold drinks.

    One of the special things about this market is that the ladies from the mountains come here to sell their handmade clothes and trinkets.

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    JJ Market

    A man in a blue shirt and shorts walking along the JJ Market in Chiang Mai.
    JJ Market is a really pleasant place for shopping.

    This is another great market to visit in Chiang Mai. It takes place in the mornings. There are a lot of eco products and handmade goods.
    The fresh market offers a wide variety of fruits and vegetables and just next to it there are people selling ready-made food. Go there for a quick breakfast – buy some snacks and fresh coffee and sit down to listen to some live music.

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    Warorot Market (Kad Luang)

    Red Chinese lanterns hanging down the ceiling at a market in Chiang Mai.
    There are a lot of interesting corners at the Warrorot Market in Chiang Mai.

    Warrorot Market is located in Chiang Mai’s Chinatown. During the day it sells fresh fruits and vegetables, and spices. There are some stalls that offer food, but some of the more sensitive people might not want to eat here.

    At night there are a bit more stalls selling food and the market is lit very nicely.

    I think it’s worth visiting this place both during the day and at night. You can walk here for a very long time and find some lovely shops inside the main building and in the side streets.

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    Siri-wattana Market (Tha-nin Market)

    Three woman shopping at a local market in Chiang Mai.
    Visit this market to experience local life in Chiang Mai.

    This spot is perfect for expats, who live in Chiang Mai long-term. However, if you’d like to see a very local place, where people from the city do their shopping, Siriwattana Market is a good location.

    Around the main building there are little shops with clothes and cosmetics. There is a hall with food and drinks. Opposite that, you’ll find a place where you can do your grocery shopping.

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    Life-saving tips for markets in Chiang Mai

    Here are a few more bits that will help you to find your way around Chiang Mai if you’re visiting for the first time.

    If you’re looking for even more information, have a look at my Guide to Chiang Mai.

    Bargaining

    It is said that you should bargain when shopping at a Thai market. However, that’s not always the case.

    If an item has a price tag then that usually means that you can’t bargain and the price is set. If it doesn’t, then think if it’s worth haggling.
    Sometimes a few Baht is a great difference for a seller. Only if you think that the price is not fair, try to go down.
    You can also offer to pay less if you buy more. For example, tell the seller that you’ll buy 3 pairs of shoes instead of 2 if they give you a discount.

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    Payments

    Most markets in Chiang Mai has small stalls and street sellers don’t accept cards. Most of the time you’ll be asked to pay with cash.
    Make sure that you have some with you when you go shopping. It’s good to have your Revolut card with you, so you can withdraw cash when needed.

    How to get to the markets?

    The markets mentioned above are in different parts of the city. To get there, you can catch a songthaew, you can drive your scooter, or you can call a Grab taxi.

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    Where to stay in Chiang Mai?

    If you’re a tourist, then the best place to stay in Chiang Mai would be around the city centre. Have a look here to see my recommended places. You can also refer to Booking.com if you don’t find anything interesting on my blog.

    Booking.com

    Don’t forget your insurance

    Having a travel insurance policy when going to Thailand is really important. Remember that accidents and sicknesses happen and healthcare in Thailand might be quite expensive. I recommend buying a policy from SafetyWing or World Nomads, which offer great deals for digital nomads and long-term travellers.

    Visiting a market in Chiang Mai is one of the things you should do when you’re in the city. Spend some time during the day and the evening to experience the unique atmosphere of the places, local life and buy something nice to take home with you.