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Thailand Travel: Chiang Mai's Walking Street Market
Visitors to the northern Thai city of Chiang Mai are spoiled for choice when it comes to shopping opportunities. Large modern department stores and the Night Bazaars are well known, and every weekend their choice is expanded even more as the so-called Walking Street Markets get underway.
On Saturdays, the market is held in Wua Lai Rd, which is just a couple of minutes walk south west from Chiang Mai Gate, just outside the southern side of the moat that surrounds the original 'old city'.
On Sundays, the market traders move to join many more at a much larger location in Ratchadamnoen Rd, and Phra Pokklao Rd, which interesects it.
Arts and Crafts and Culture
The dominant theme is arts and crafts, and the range of items available for sale is quite staggering, Just walking the length of the market and exploring the small lanes and alcoves and neighbouring temple grounds full of colourful stalls is always an interesting experience. Apart from items for sale, there's also a wide range of Thai snacks available from lots of stalls along with some fairground style -' try your luck' kinds of stalls, such as mini rifle ranges. Street entertainers are a common sight too, ranging from blind musicians to traditional Thai dancers.
Traffic is barred from these roads while the market is in operation, which is from around 5 PM to 11 PM. Both markets become very busy at night, and walking through them at night becomes very slow compared to late afternoon and early evening.
The larger Sunday market features staged Thai dancing performed mostly by school kids dressed in beautiful traditional clothes. These performances can be found at the southern end of Phra Pokklao Rd. Seats are provided and it's free (although donations are always welcome). Just sit down and stay a while. The Sunday market also has a busy street massage service, (intersection of Ratchadamnoen Rd and Phra Pokklao rd).
Unlike the Night Bazaars, these markets aren't operated as tourist attractions. Tourists are not an uncommon sight here, and there are lots of signs in English as well as Thai, but the majority of visitors are Thai people out shopping and looking for bargains. The traders are well used to serving tourists too, though, and English is widely understood. The benefit of shopping at a market designed for locals rather than tourists is that prices are far more reasonable than at the highly-touristed Night Bazaars.