Six tips to make the most of Chiang Mai’s weekend marketsDiscovery, Passion | 22 July 2016
The Chiang Mai weekend markets – one Saturday night, one Sunday night – are chaotic collections of street stalls selling some of the best local products in Chiang Mai. Locals and tourists alike come to meander through the market, snacking, socialising and scoring good deals on fantastic finds. Here are six tips to make the most of the experience.
1. Keep your eye out for the small, regional quirks that make the market unique, such as the band sitting in the middle of the marketplace, with the flow of shoppers winding around the players.
2. Don’t be afraid to venture outside your comfort zone! Nibble your way through the evening, sampling the delicious local foods on at countless stalls throughout the market.
3. In the exciting jumble of sights, smells and sounds, it’s tempting to zip from stall to stall at a frenetic pace. But try to take it slowly. Not only are you less likely to miss things, you will better absorb the spirit of Chiang Mai’s rich culture. Go with the flow of the crowd, which tends to be quite leisurely and rarely becomes claustrophobic.
4. With a rich array of local products at great prices, the markets are a great place to snag special souvenirs and meaningful gifts, as well as being culturally immersive experiences in themselves. Shopkeepers are usually delighted to discuss their wares, and playful bargaining will often nab better deals.
5. Many artisans ply their trades in their booths or stalls, offering a one-of-a-kind opportunity to meet and learn more about the craftsmen who create exceptional objects ranging from tin plates to intricately woven handbags and baskets.
6. When crowds thin, merchants gradually pack up their goods and close down their stalls. Rather than an abrupt closing time, the market simply fades as warm lights are flicked off and shoppers and sellers drift home. Though the memory of the market’s vibrancy lingers, the fluidity of its beginning and end times encapsulate its unique nature as a truly evanescent encounter.