Some of the greatest things about pretty much any city outside of the US are the markets. What a concept to be able to walk daily to a location where you can purchase fresh and locally grown food. But aside from just food, whenever I visit a new city, the markets are some of the first things I try to find out about, and Chiang Mai was no exception. More than many other attractions, markets are a great chance to do as the locals do, take in some unveiled culture, and usually try some really delicious food.
For handicrafts you want to make sure to be around on the weekend. Late afternoon and evening on Saturday and Sunday the city restricts a main street and several off-shoots for pedestrians and sellers only, called the Saturday and Sunday Walking Streets respectively.
Every weekend day that Erik and I were in the city, we made sure to make time for these fabulous markets. Unlike much of the other window shopping we had done, although still somewhat touristy the walking streets somehow managed to avoid the same souvenirs seen everywhere, and focused more on local artists with unique wares. It was almost painful to pass by the beautiful crafts at prices that almost seem like robbery, and not purchase anything that we couldn’t easily carry on our backs for the next few months. We did fold and pick up a few pairs of beautiful teak wood chopsticks and a natural coral bath scrubbie, to replace the one we lost in Nepal. These markets take on a very festive atmosphere with food and sweet stalls, and musicians performing down the center of the street.
One of our favorites is a well lit stall with three women manning blenders behind a wall of clear plastic cups each filled with a different single or combination of fruit chunks. Just pick a cup, hand it to a lovely lady and “voila”, 20 seconds later you are getting a brain freeze from pure fruity frostiness.
Not too far from the Night Bazaar the main day time Warorot Market bustles constantly along the river. Seemingly the place to come to outfit your entire home, it was fascinating to wander/ get lost several times in the endless rows of stalls selling everything from fruit to pots.
Along one side is the famous flower market. Unfortunately we will just be missing the annual Chiang Mai Flower Festival in February, but we felt like we got a taste with a visit to this colorful exposition. We were told that later at night is the best time to go. As the temperatures drop, truck loads of stunning blossoms are unloaded and piled along the street ready for sale.