There isn’t actually an official ‘walking street’ in Chiang Mai, but every Sunday the whole length of Ratchadamnoen and Pra Singh Roads, the old city’s principal east/west axis, plus several side streets, are closed to traffic and become one long street bazaar, stretching all the way from Wat Pra Singh down to and including Tha Pae Gate. (That’s well over a kilometre, plus it seems to get longer by around 25 metres every week.)
The market kicks off late afternoon and goes on until late evening, but come 18:00 or 19:00 it starts to get seriously busy, so it’s worth turning up early for. Note also 1.2 km of dawdling browsers, buskers, lost tourists, and donation-seeking Thai girl guides can be totally exhausting. Mostly handicrafts, bric-a-brac and clothes are on sale, but there is nonetheless quite a range to be perused, and some excellent artwork can be found.
Food-wise you’ll find the usual range of Thai snacks and drinks, and for sit down fare it’s fun to pop into one of the temple courts that line the street and become al fresco eating areas for the evening. Think food courts with Buddhist décor – you select dishes from vendors and sit on mats to eat them. (Plenty of cafes, coffee shops and bars line the streets if you need sustenance but don’t want to sit on the floor.)
The lack of vehicles and range of items on sale make this a far more browser-friendly, and indeed picturesque, market than the night bazaar. But if it’s Chang Beer T-shirts or pirated DVDs you’re after, this is not the place to go. And by the way it’s called the Sunday market, okay?!
By Mark Ord.
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