If there is one place in Thailand for shopping that you should save up your money for, it is Chiang Mai. The city is packed full of markets, shops, and malls, all of which amazing bargains can be found at. Whether you plan to spend a lot, or a little, Chiang Mai definitely has what you are looking for.
Although, with all of the shopping choices that are available, it might get a bit overwhelming when choosing the perfect place to shop.
Here is the complete guide for shopping in Chiang Mai. It will cover what to buy, where to go, and when to go. It will also throw in a few insider tips to help you get started.
Northern Thailand, especially Chiang Mai, is known for handicrafts made from generation and generation of wisdom passed down from both Indian and Chinese Merchants, mixed with the local indigenous people of the area.
Woodcarving is a quite popular choice for many tourists. An abundance of items can be found from small wooden statues up to huge pieces of furniture. The quality varies from shop to shop because a lot of these items are now mass produced, but great quality items are still to be discovered.
There are plenty of tribal arts and crafts to be found, weaving seeming to be the most popular. These handmade textiles can range from traditional items dyed with natural ingredients to modern clothing, bags, and other accessories.
Jewelry is another item that seems to be in abundance in Chiang Mai. Everything from simple backpacker’s bracelets that cost mere pennies, all the way up to expensive, detailed pieces can be found in the city. However, shoppers need to be cautious when buying gems. Make sure to only buy from a reputable large retailer. Don’t worry, the prices there should still be cheaper than in the west. Remember, if you find a deal that seems to go to be true, it probably is a scam.
Real handmade Thai silk can be found in many stores in Chiang Mai as well; however, some of the “Thai Silk” is actually Polyester woven in Chinese factories. Silk should also be bought from reputable dealers.
Pottery and lacquerware are also very commonly found in the markets. Most pieces are small and can be carried back in your luggage. There are many large factory outlets where great bargains can be found on a variety of vases, dishes, and more.
Other popular items that can be found are knock-off designer goods. Shirts, shoes, bags, sunglasses, and everything else you can think of can be found. The quality can range from average to nearly indistinguishable from the real deal.
Besides all of these items, many more bargains can be found on items like stones, raw materials, various souvenirs, dried food, precious metals, and much, much more.
There are plenty of options for shopping in Chiang Mai. The most common places that shopaholics flock to are the Night Bazzar, the markets places, walking streets, and the malls.
The most popular and perhaps the most chaotic choice for shopping is at the Night Bazzar. Although it can become quite crowded with tourists, the Night Bazzar is a must-visit shopping experience during your visit. A little bit of everything can be found in the labyrinth of stalls set up. Best of all, amazing deals can be found all over the place.
The market can be found on Chang Klan Road, and it starts around 5pm and closes around 11pm every night. The actual market is modern building, but most of the shops extend outward from it and are usually open during the day as well.
If you are interested in a bit more relaxed local market areas, there are quite a few in the city that are quite opposite of the noisy Night Bazzar.
Warowot Market found on Wichayanon and Chang Moi roads. The indoor market is the largest in the city and is open from 7am until 4pm daily. Plenty of produce, food products, hill tribe handicrafts, and clothes can be found there.
Anusarn Night Market on Charoen Prathet Road is where many traditional hill-tribe goods can be found. These goods are a lot more authentic than found in other markets.
Sangkampaeng road is home to a vast variety of every kind of goods imaginable. There are also workshops that tourists can visit to see just how these handicrafts are produced.
Sunday Waking Street along Ratchadamnoen Road is open every Sunday from 5pm to midnight. The street is closed off to traffic, and it is a great place to pick up a few souvenirs.
Wulai Road is the heart of Chiang Mai’s silver industry. Everything from bracelets, necklaces, rings, and more can be found here. Most of the work is very detailed and crafted very well.
If the marketplaces and walking streets isn’t your thing, then you should try shopping at one of the many modern malls in Chiang Mai.
Kad Suan Kaew, located on Huay Kaew Road, and Central Airport Plaza, located near the airport are both massive air-conditioned malls. These are great places to do some relaxing shopping while escaping the hot sun during the day.
Don’t forget to bargain while in the marketplaces of Chiang Mai. Bargaining is a skill that can be learned pretty easily, and if you are good at it, you can usually get prices cut in half. Just remember that when you bargain, have fun, smile, and enjoy your time. Don’t get upset, and if the shop owner won’t give you a good deal, just walk away. Also, don’t waste your time trying to argue over a few Bhat, don’t forget, these shop owners are just trying to make a living.
Overall, the shopping in Chiang Mai will definitely be a fun and unique experience that can lead to finding that perfect souvenir to take back home.