Chiang Mai, Thailand
tel: +66 53 204 5334
NileGuide Expert tip:
Keep left. Head to the chairs for a foot massage when it all gets too much.
Every Sunday from 4pm until midnight Chiang Mai the old centre of Chiang Mai becomes a vibrant and colourful bazaar, the size and scope of which is arguably equal to any in the world.
The Sunday Market or Walking Street Market, runs the entire length of Ratchadamnoen Road, right through to Thapae Gate and is a must see on any traveller's Chiang Mai itinerary.
Unlike the Night Bazaar on Chang Klan Rd, which features a good deal of your typical Asian market fare - the Sunday Market is truly a unique showcase of Northern Thailand's arts and crafts. Many of the stalls feature handmade items from the stallholders themselves and they are a testament to the creativity and skill of local people.
There is an incredible array of items for sale and it is the perfect place to find gifts or beautiful things to decorate your home. Make your way into the people stream and let it carry you down the street while the sights, sounds and smells fill your senses. Rule of thumb here is to keep left wherever possible, as a venture onto the wrong side will find you ducking and weaving to make any progress.
The number of people that turn out for The Sunday Market is truly impressive in a town that despite its size feels not unlike a village at times. The market is not misnamed and you will do quite a bit of walking but when it all gets too much, make your way to one of the massage chairs at an intersection and let an expert masseuse relieve those tired feet. All that walking can really kick the appetite into overdrive and fortunately some of the best street fare to be had in Chiang Mai is located within the temples along the market's route.
On the main street is Wat Phan Tao and down a side street is the impressive bulk of Wat Chedi Luang. Both have a wonderful array of food and drink options, but none better than the barbecue chicken at Wat Sam Pao. The market also offers the opportunity to see a wonderful assortment of street entertainers including traditional musicians, Thai dancers, living statues, puppet shows and rock bands, some of whom are blind or handicapped but rock out regardless.
The Sunday Market is one of those events where both Thais and foreigners come together in equal appreciation of its colour, vibrancy and atmosphere. If it all gets too much, head to The Garden - a patio style venue located 50 meters from one of the market's main intersections at 139 Ratchadamnoen Road - here you can sit, relax, have a glass of wine and enjoy live music from a variety of quality local musicians. The food here is quite good but bear in mind that many locals in Chiang Mai will head to the Walking Street Market with the express intention of eating at the fabulous and affordable food stalls located within the temples.