Chiang Mai is well known as Thailand’s major centre for handicrafts, with many home industries offering quality workmanship at cheap prices. Top tourist shopping hotspots include night/day markets, walking streets, “Handicraft Highway” and shopping centres.
Within Chiang Mai
There are 2 walking streets (or shopping streets) in Chiang Mai and both attract many shoppers, local and farang (foreigner). The first is Sunday Walking Street, along Ratchadamnoen Road every Sunday from 7pm until about 11pm. You can start your shopping journey at Thapae Gate. There are various kinds of local products at reasonable prices lining the pavements on both sides of the street. Of course, always try to bargain. Some products are already at rock-bottom prices though so don’t push too hard and always do it with a smile. And when you’re hungry or thirsty, there are lots of Chiang Mai street delicacies and drinks to try.
Even if you don’t buy anything, walking through here is an experience in itself. Many local Chiang Mai artistes perform here and you can see local dances and listen to local songs.
Wualai Street is the other walking street and is open on Saturday evenings. This is also known as the handicraft walking street, famous for silver, lacquer wares and local handicrafts.
This is along Changklan Road and is the main tourist shopping area. Bumper-to-bumper street stall carts line both sides of the road and shoppers walk on the narrow pavement, sandwiched by the stalls. Open everday starting from 5pm. All kinds of products can be found here, from Chiang Mai made crafts to counterfeit designer goods. Other than the street stalls, there are also indoor shopping areas and shopping centres. The building Chiang Mai Night Bazaar has many shops selling local handicraft.
Some visitors may find the Night Bazaar too touristy. A better alternative will be the Sunday Walking Street.
Dalat Warorot is Chiang Mai’s biggest and most famous traditional market. Just beside this market is Tonlamyai Market. Bustling with activity everyday, from morning to night, you can find just about everything here. During the day, the stalls sell raw food, cooked food and processed foods. Fruit stalls here sell many types of local fruits you can only find in Chiang Mai and northern Thailand. There is a flower market here too. Other than food, great selections of fashion and accessories at bargain prices abound. And at night, different street stalls pop up, including many delicious food stalls.
Central Airport Plaza Chiang Mai is the newer shopping centre in town with a movie cineplex. It is located on Highway 1141, near the Chiang Mai International Airport. Open from around 11am to 9pm, the 2 major stores here are Robinson and Central. While you are here, don’t miss Northern Village. You will find a showcase of some of the best wood carvings, fabrics and clothes, lacquerware, celadon and other handicraft from Chiang Mai and around.
The other major shopping mall is Kad Suan Kaew, on Huay Kaew Road. Although larger than Airport Plaza, many shop spaces are left empty. You can find a sports superstore and an IT superstore here though.
Outside Chiang Mai
The road to San Kamphaeng is also known as the “Handicraft Highway” and easily reached from Chiang Mai. Along a stretch of about 12km lies many of Thailand’s major handicraft producers. Bo Sang, or umbrella village, is where the largest concentrations of these home industries are.
To get here, you can ride a motorcycle or drive eastwards from Thanon Charoen Muang where the train station is situated. Or you can take white songthaews from Warorot Market. Another option is to book a tour.
These are the top finds for the shopper:
Cottons & Silks
Chiang Mai silk ranks among the finest silk. First-class Chiang Mai cottons and silks are of incomparable quality and suitable for various fashion and furnishing applications. The largest possible selection is available in San
These are inextricably associated with Bo Sang where villagers have been engaged in their manufacture for at least 200 years. All materials, silks, cottons, Sa paper (manufactured from the bark of the mulberry tree) and bamboo are produced or found locally. Visitors to Bo Sang will see literally hundreds of designs and sizes ranging from the miniature to the gigantic.
The finest Thai silverware is made in Chiang Mai, where certain families have practised their art for several generations. Traditional skills and a guaranteed content of at least 92.5% pure silver invest bowls, receptacles and decorative items with authentic value.
Typified by striking black and gold designs, lacquer enhances items made of wood, bamboo, metal, paper and baked clay in the form of receptacles, ornaments and different souvenirs.
Woodcarving is a traditional northern Thai art featured in numerous temples. In Sankampaeng, you can find an assortment of teak wood furniture crafted by skilled craftsmen. Hand crafted souvenirs like carved elephants and figurines are also in abundance here.
These include silver ornaments, from bracelets, necklaces, and pendants to pipes of intricate design, and richly embroidered items including tunics, jackets, bags, purses, caps, and dress lengths.
Chiang Mai is a major centre of Thailand’s pottery industry. Prized items include high-fired celadon which is produced in many forms, including dinner sets, lamp bases and decorative items.