Chiang Mai’s Chinatown
Chiang Mai’s bustling “Chinatown” quarter spreads across a sprawling section of town known collectively as Worarot, extending on both sides of Chang Moi Road and covering an area between Ratchawong, Tha Pae Road and the Ping River.
The centrepiece of the area is a three-storey covered market also known again as Worarot, or more commonly among locals, in the local dialect, as Kat Luang.
To the north of Chang Moi Road is a labyrinth of narrow lanes home to wholesale shops and vendors, with not too much of particular interest for casual visitors but with a strong Chinese feel to them. Between Chang Moi Tat Mai and Kuang Mane Roads is a Hmong and hilltribe market, while facing the Ping River is a photogenic flower market backing on to Lam Yai covered market. Kind of in the middle of all this—and surrounding streets are also full of stalls and ambulant vendors of all description as well—is Worarot covered market itself.
The two covered markets, Worarot and Lam Yai, are similar three-storey buildings situated on either side of Wichayanon and linked by a footbridge. The contents are fairly similar: mostly foodstuffs, fresh and dried produce, on the ground floors and clothes and household goods on the upper two floors. The centre is open so you can look down on the ground floor from either of the two upper-storey walkways or mezzanines, which provides some good photo opportunities.
Foodstuffs cover everything from fruit and veg to the obligatory fried insects and dried produce from every part of Thailand, as well as neighbouring countries such as Burma and China. There are also plenty of noodle and rice stalls so it’s an interesting place to grab a snack too.
Both covered markets are open from around 06:00 to 18:00 but there’s almost 24-hour action in the adjacent streets, plus a popular local night market around Chang Moi too. Don’t expect pirated DVDs and souvenir T-shirts, but authentic it certainly is. For a rundown on the heritage aspect of this Chiang Mai institution and fears for its future development check out this excellent article.
The principal market is south of Chiang Moi Rd along both sides of Wichayanon Rd but spreads into adjacent areas. It’s around a 10-minute walk from Tha Pae Gate.
Based in Chiang Mai, Mark Ord has been travelling Southeast Asia for over two decades and first crossed paths with Travelfish on Ko Lipe in the early 1990s.
These tours are provided by Travelfish partner GetYourGuide.
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