Chiang Mai Night Market Or Sunday Walking Street: Don’t Miss Sunday!

Chiang Mai Sunday Walking Street Market

Chiang Mai Sunday Walking Street Market

When I first stumbled on this packed street in Chiang Mai, closed to traffic, with hundreds of stalls and a few thousand folks, I thought: “Wow, lucky me! A big festival!” (Well, it’s just one more splendid Chiang Mai routine that happens every Sunday from 3 to 10 PM.) “And it’s free!” (Well, with so many mouth-watering goodies to sample, ethnic goods to purchase and body massages in the street, the cost depends on your personal shopping limits.)

The Walking Street Market is a welcome relief from the infamous Night Bazaar on Chang Klan road, where tourists are funneled past stall after stall of wizened hawkers shouting “Looking! Looking! Have discount! Give me all your money!” Stretching from Wat Phra Singh to Thapae Gate on brick-paved Ratchadamnern Road in the middle of old Chiang Mai, the Walking Street is open and relaxed while bustling with many more Thais than foreigners, street musicians, artists, hill tribe folks, teenagers and 300-year-old ladies selling lights, Thai and Laos silks, carvings, jewelry, paintings, custom nail polishes, voodoo dolls, lottery tickets, stickers, plus a plethora of crafts, handmade from textiles, paper, yarn, wood, wax, metal, bones, coconuts, beer cans, grass clippings, rusted auto parts, used CDs and many unfamiliar organic materials.

Prepare to barter for larger items and when you finally settle on a price that’s too high, just walk away. In a few steps, you’ll probably hear, “Okay, okay, you buy 200 baht!” Some folks expect to barter, and it’s kind of fun, but they’ve had way more experience at it than you. Some things are so cheap they already seem underpriced! When you’re faced with wrinkled mom and her darling daughter squatting on a blanket, do you really need to score their goods for 14 baht instead of 15?

Market Bugs at the Chiang Mai Sunday Walking Street

Market Bugs at the Chiang Mai Sunday Walking Street

You can eat until you explode and require assistance to get back to your hotel: ancient ice cream, modern espresso, multi-colored, jiggly, Jell-O-like deserts, corn-on-the-cob (or off, served with butter, sugar and chocolate sprinkles or in a waffle) or scrumptious Thai dishes from mobile sidewalk cafes and at stalls in temples lining the street. For the brave, but not for me, fried crickets, scorpions, grasshoppers, baby bee omelets and every individual body part of the pig…including Blood Jell-O.
Do yourself a favor and schedule a Walking Street stop while in Chiang Mai. If you can’t manage Sunday, another market pops up on Wualai Road outside the moat every Saturday night as well.

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