Jan 10 2012
We’re covering a very different kind of market compared to our last post’s one on Prathu Chiang Puaka though it’s certainly another of our faves in Chiang Mai. Kamthieng market is what in the West we might call a garden centre, as it sells flowers, plants, trees, garden equipment, furniture, decorations and so on.
This is obviously not the sort of market where foreign visitors might flock to pick up bargains; there’s not a fake watch, pirated DVD, Hmong handicraft or kilo of rambutans in sight. But it’s a good bet as the city’s most picturesque and photogenic market and a great place for a stroll.
The market is huge — think of an open-air, spread out Chatuchak — and contains just about any kind of tropical or sub-tropical plant you can think of: fully grown trees, bedding plants, potted herbs, rare collector orchids, temperate flowers such as roses, cacti, lilies and lotuses and so on. Most stalls specialise so you’ll find one with 30 different species of begonia, another with 27 colours of bougainvillea, fern houses, an ornamental banana plant vendor and yet another with half a dozen mango varieties for sale. This is like a pot plant version of a botanical garden and surely fascinating to peruse even if you don’t list gardening as one of your hobbies.
Then there are the garden ornaments: pots, fountains, statues, coloured stones, paving stones cut from any rock imaginable, fish ponds, bird baths… Some stuff is very tasteful and some — as below — is so kitsch it’s almost cool.
If that still doesn’t grab you, wander over to the fish section and check out the spectacular fan-tailed guppies, Siamese fighting fish, ornamental catfish and the range of weird and wonderful aquarium decorations on offer.
Several coffee shops and food stalls are dotted around so you could spend a while wandering the market. If most of the items are too large to take home as souvenirs perhaps you could check out the seed packet shop and try planting a few exotic flowers or veggies at home?
Kamthieng is located off Atsadathon Road (see map), which leads off northwards from the northeast corner of the moat road. The market is set off to the right of the road just before it meets the superhighway and directly behind the huge Tesco/Lotus. You could walk it in say 30 minutes from Tha Pae or pay around 60-80 baht for a tuk tuk. Tuk tuks aren’t too common at the market itself though so it may be worth arranging for your driver to pick you up or wait.
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