Photo: Fried bamboo worms.

Don Phayam Market

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Don Phayam market is a bit out of the way but well worth the trip if you’d like to visit, what for us is, the quintessential Chiang Mai market.

Placed at the junction of Suthep and Canal Roads, just outside the north-western corner of the old town, Don Phayam market is well worth seeking out if wanting to experience an outstanding and still very typical, northern Thai fresh market. Take all the Thai market cliches beloved of guide books and tour programmes: bustling, colourful, lively, traditional, vibrant, and you’ve got Talaat Don, (sometimes written Ton), Phayam. Add lashings of exotic fruit, vegetables and herbs, a smattering of fried insects and it ticks all the market boxes.

So much yum. Photo taken in or around Don Phayam Market, Chiang Mai, Thailand by Mark Ord.

So much yum. Photo: Mark Ord

Don Phayam is actually a small market and would only take a few minutes to walk around but it does make a perfect break on your way to or from, Wat Umong or a slight detour if travelling to or from Chiang Mai aquarium or even Doi Suthep. Despite all the awesome northern delicacies on display though, there isn’t actually anywhere to sit and eat in the market itself, though there is a very good juice and coffee shop, so perhaps a opportunity to stock up and have a picnic elsewhere?

You’ll see mountains of pork scratchings, beloved of North Thais and Brits alike, fried in the largest woks you’ll ever see, mounds of various nam phrik (chili dips) to accompany it, freshly grilled, sizzling Chiang Mai sausage sold by the foot in mild, medium, spicy or lemongrass flavours and all your favourite insects: worms, beetles and ants.

Time to stock up on strawberries? Photo taken in or around Don Phayam Market, Chiang Mai, Thailand by Mark Ord.

Time to stock up on strawberries? Photo: Mark Ord

Don Phayam’s also a good spot to stock up on very fresh fruit and vegetables—some familiar, some not—while in one corner of the market you’ll find hill-tribe women selling forest products such as mushrooms and orchids.

The range of fruit and vegetables in Chiang Mai markets is particularly impressive since, while all the regular, tropical crops—mangos, bananas, papayas and so on—are grown in the lowlands and valleys, the cool highlands around the city also support many of the more temperate products, familiar to Westerners but exotic to Thais, such as strawberries, grapes and cherries.

You can never have too much pork. Photo taken in or around Don Phayam Market, Chiang Mai, Thailand by Mark Ord.

You can never have too much pork. Photo: Mark Ord

In addition you’ll find flowers; a meat and fish section, plus the usual mobile phone, bric-a-brac and household goods stalls around the edges. All in all, it’s a great place to wander: sample the local specialties, take some photos and smile a lot at the very friendly vendors as they don’t get many tourists up this way.

The market kicks off before day break and rounds up around sunset though a few noodle stalls continue well into the evening.

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Don Phayam Market

Junction of Suthep and Canal roads, Suthep District
Mo–Su: 05:00–18:00

Location map for Don Phayam Market

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