Eat, Haggle and Relax at the Night Bazaars of Chiang Mai
After a day of temple touring and elephant bathing in and around Chiang Mai, the evening brings relief in the form of the various Night Bazaars that populate the city. They serve as a nexus where both locals and tourists intersect to feast upon dollar dishes and snatch up bargain wares. The sheer volume of offerings on display can feel overwhelming, but a night out in Chiang Mai should start at one of the bazaars, even if you intend to branch out into the broader night life the city has to offer. When the sun goes down, the Night Bazaars begin.
Chiang Mai Night BazaarWhere: Chang Klan Street, 1km east of Tha Phae Gate
Hours: Dusk till midnight every night of the year
The Night Bazaar is open from dusk until about midnight every day of the year. It’s a hub for nightlife for both tourists and locals, where you can find great deals on a wide assortment of goods, fill up on Thai street food for $3, get a Thai massage of fish foot spa, and dash into a pub for some drinks before heading off to a club to party late into the night.
Getting there is easy. Just tell your songthaew or tuk tuk driver that you want to go to the Night Bazaar and they will most likely drop you off at the McDonalds on Chang Klan Street. From there it’s easy to orient yourself. Head north or south on Chang Klang and you will see lots of pop-up tents selling all manner of goods including clothes, DVDs, bags, trinkets, and more. Of course most of the name brand stuff is fake, but there are a few vendors with authentic goods.
The Night Bazaar is actually a cluster of several smaller bazaars that can easily be reached from each other, so if you’re spending several nights in Chiang Mai you might want to plan on hitting up a different section each night. The main Chiang Mai Night Bazaar and Kalare Night Bazaar had a better selection of Thai handicrafts, while we enjoyed the food stalls at the Pavillion Night Bazaar. The Anusarn markets had the most vendor stalls, with lots of bargains that make for great souvenirs to take back home. We got t-shirts and shorts for $3 each (100 baht), and a pair of Birkenstock-style sandals for $5 (150 baht).
When it comes to food, you’ll have ample options. In addition to the pop-up stalls there are several restaurants and pubs offering Thai as well as western choices. There are also several restaurants serving up fresh Thai seafood dishes. The volume of options makes the Night Bazaar a logical choice when seeking out a cheap dinner. From the pop-up stalls, dishes like pad thai, satay, and dumplings can all be had for $1-2 each (30-60 baht). The best way is to get a little bit from each vendor and have a Thai feast for under $5 per person.
If your feet are sore from all the days activities, there are also a lot of spa and massage parlors around the Night Bazaar. An hour massage should run around $6-7 (200-250 baht). Quite a bargain, so be sure to tip generously!
Saturday Night BazaarWhere: Wua Lai Road, south of city center near Wat Sri Suphan
Hours: Dusk til midnight, Saturday nights
In addition to the daily bazaar, there are also separate ones that appear on Saturday and Sunday nights, offering a similar experience but with enough changes to warrant a visit if you’re in Chiang Mai on these evenings. Like the daily bazaar, they also start at dusk.
The street is closed to traffic and tents will line both sides. Expect it to be very crowded. There will be side streets with food vendors and tables to give you a break from the crowds if needed.
As far as selection Iylana found the clothing here to be a bit more fashionable and trendy than what she saw in the daily bazaar, and picked up a few articles of better quality for not much more baht.
Sunday Night BazaarWhere: Rachadamnoen Road, just inside Tha Phae Gate
Hours: Dusk til midnight, Sunday nights
Like the Saturday Night Bazaar, the Sunday Night Bazaar is only open once a week on its namesake day. The overall experience is similar, but from our experience might get even more crowded. The feeling here is a little more communal with some of temples on the street partaking in the festivities, setting up tables and opening up their courtyards to food vendors.
Despite the crowds, we might vote the Sunday Night Bazaar the best of the bunch, so be sure to check it out. Note that on Saturday and Sunday nights the daily bazaar still runs, and will be less crowded (a good thing) but without as many vendors since they either take the night off or set up their tents in the other bazaars.
The night bazaars are an essential stop for any visitor to Chiang Mai. With plenty of bargains on food and shopping, it will definitely help stretch your budget further!
More things to do in Chiang Mai:
Escape the Crowds at Chiang Mai’s Terracotta Garden