Night markets are an awesome way to experience a culture. You get a taste of the handmade goods, food, and entertainment. There’s always so much to see, buy and ultimately experience. On our short little getaway to Chiang Mai, we were lucky enough to check out not one, but two night markets!
On our first night in Chiang Mai, we decided to check out the Night Bazaar which is actually made up of 3 different bazaars that simultaneously flow into each other. The Kalare Night Bazaar, Anusarn Market, and Chiang Mai Night Bazaar are open everyday till 12 AM and are composed of large indoor spaces packed with vendors selling Thai style clothing, handmade souvenirs and other crafts. The streets outside are also lined with similar vendors going on for blocks at a time. Honestly, it was a little overwhelming.
Since many of the vendors sold the same items, it was a lot of bargain hunting and haggling for us. After a while, however, it got a little tedious. Everything started to blend together and it got a bit dull seeing the same things over and over again. I did come out of it with some pretty cute pants though.
As for food, there were areas around the markets set aside for food vendors. We saw everything from pad thai and mango sticky rice to grilled crocodile and ostrich skewers. Although the markets are open until midnight, lots of food venders sell out or run out of ingredients well before then. So, that’s something to keep in mind if you’re a food enthusiast like us.
In the end, it was a great place to do a bit of souvenir shopping, listen to a few live bands and grab a bite to eat. We did have to hunt for our food, but eventually we got to chow down on some delicious pad thai and mango sticky rice. There’s a whole lot of walking and backtracking involved, so be sure to wear your walking shoes.
SUNDAY NIGHT MARKET
Chiang Mai’s Sunday Night Market, or “Walking Street,” is located right in front of Wat Phra Singh and extends as far as the eye can see. Unlike the other night markets, this one is only open on Sundays from 4 PM to 12 AM. We weren’t sure if we’d be up for it after a day of temple hopping, but once we saw it, we couldn’t resist.
This market is set up entirely outdoors and basically takes up an entire street (Ratchadamnoen Road) and pours out into a few other streets. For these reasons, it is the biggest and most popular night market in Chiang Mai… also the most crowded. The level of congestion here is no joke, but as someone who enjoys her personal space, I can honestly tell you that it is worth braving the crowds.
This market has it all, musical and dance performances, tons of street food, and plenty of handcrafted goods. Unlike the daily night markets, the booths here are all different and although there are a few repeats here and there, you’d be pressed to find vendors selling the EXACT same products. We loved that!
If you love street food, this is where you need to be. We totally porked out on stuffed squid, crab meat cooked in its own shell, rotee and a whole mess of other things. We also picked up some more unique items that we hadn’t seen at the other night markets like a tin of Thai tealeaves and some adorable handmade Thai style outfits for our doggo. It was honestly everything we had been hoping for.
I had read from other bloggers that this market isn’t too different from others and if you miss out on it, it’s not too big of a deal, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth. I’d say the Night Bazaar basically caters towards tourists, while the Sunday Night Market caters towards locals and tourists alike. So, if you can only go to one night market in Chiang Mai, it should hands down be the Sunday Night Market. The smells, the sights and the sounds aren’t anything you will soon forget. It’s an awesome way to take in the culture… and the food =)