Markets are maybe my favorite thing about travel. I love them all; supermarkets, bodegas, city markets, wet markets, farmer’s markets, art fairs, you name it. I think you get a good sense of a place when you visit its markets.
Chiang Mai has some great ones, and I’m determined to drag Jack to every one of them. The small city market near us has a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, herbs and spices, all so beautiful and inspiring that I wish I were shopping to cook.
One day we ventured outside the Old City to the biggest city market, a rabbit warren of market buildings and alleyways with hundreds of stalls offering dry goods, fresh food, crafts, clothing, household items, appliances, and so on. Whatever you need you can get here as long as you have the patience to find it. I love this kind of market but it’s not Jack’s favorite and I admit it can be exhausting. Someone told us this is called the Chinese market because it’s in the middle of Chinatown.
Behind the Chinese market along the riverfront is the flower market. There are dozens of vendors with beautiful fresh flowers, so fragrant and tempting.
Our guesthouse host suggested we visit a weekly organic food and craft market, also outside the Old City. This one is more upscale with a produce pavilion, several lovely cafés, crafts from some of the hill tribes plus beautiful clothing from local designers. I don’t usually photograph clothing or jewelry because I worry that the designers will think I want to copy their work, but it was all beautiful and well made. If I weren’t living out of a suitcase I’d have a whole new wardrobe.
Coffee is a very big deal here in northern Thailand, and making a pourover cup from single source beans is a ritual.
In addition to the traditional crafts there are lots of quirky local artists. I wish I could have bought one of these cats.
The prepared foods here looked great but we opted for ice cream, our first in Thailand.
There are a couple of daily night markets in Chiang Mai but the big one is the Sunday one on the Walking Street. It runs halfway through the Old City and along some side streets too, with several hundred vendors selling new and used clothing, crafts, food, leather goods, paintings. It’s impossible to take it all in.
One night a troop of Hari Krishnas chanted and drummed their way through the crowd. We hadn’t seen them for years.
Most of the food stalls are in the temple grounds, and there are quite a few temples along the route. You can usually find an empty table to sit and enjoy your food.
There are always lots of buskers playing every kind of music.
As the sun goes down the crowd gets bigger until it’s shoulder to shoulder along some stretches. That’s when we take a side street to get out of the fray and head home for some peace and quiet. But we always go again the next week.