If your trip to Thailand takes you to Chiang Rai, it’s worth seeking out the Night Bazaar to do some shopping and try various local cuisine. While nowhere near as large and expansive as Chiang Mai’s Night Bazaars, you’ll still have plenty of choices along with a few offerings unique to Chiang Rai.
Chiang Rai Night BazaarWhere: Just off Phaholyothin Road in the city center
Hours: 6pm till 10pm every night
Songkran festivities had already died down by the time we got to Chiang Rai, so there weren’t many people around when we visited the night bazaar. That’s just as well, since the night bazaars in Chiang Mai were an exercise in navigating a crowd of shoulder-to-shoulder people! In Chiang Rai, it’s a much smaller and simpler affair, but is still a great spot to seek out a cheap and delicious dinner, with the hot pot being the local specialty. I’m sure you can find these in Chiang Mai as well, but they definitely seemed to be a favorite here with many of the stalls offering them. The hot pot is served with raw meat and vegetables on a plate along with a boiling pot of broth, so you can prepare it at your table as you wish! The broth is so hot, it cooks within just a few minutes.
The Chiang Rai Night Bazaar is organized around two large squares. One houses a restaurant and stage where you can enjoy local performances. The other is more like a food court, with lots of food stalls lining the perimeter of the square with tables and chairs in the middle. It’s the perfect place for everyone in your party to order what they want, or to try a little bit of everything.
As far as shopping goes, it’s fair to say that the Chiang Mai Night Bazaars were a little more oriented towards tourists and souvenirs. You could find handicrafts, but kitschy souvenirs and cheap t-shirts were more prevalent. In Chiang Rai, the opposite seemed to be the case. Many of the stalls had handicrafts or keepsakes of some kind, as well as home goods, with a few of the stalls having cheap souvenirs.
We actually ended up spending more money here than in Chiang Mai because we found the quality of the product at some of the stalls much better, and because the overall bazaar is smaller, it’s easier to find the good stalls. Many of the vendors sell product from the local hill tribes, with the proceeds going straight to them, so it’s a good way to support the community.
One other thing we wanted to mention: while not part of the Night Bazaar, the best Khao Soi we had in Thailand could be found just a few streets over at Phor Jai. A bowl of Khao Soi will only set you back 40 baht (about $1.20), and it was so good, Shane had to have two bowls of it! Highly recommend!
If your Thailand itinerary takes you to Chiang Rai, the night bazaar is the place you’ll want to be in the evenings for great local entertainment and delicacies while you mingle with the artisans at the market. Ready to start planning your trip? Start here:
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