Photo: Scenery surrounding Chiang Rai.

Chiang Rai walking street market

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If your calendar doesn’t permit a visit to either of Chiang Mai’s Saturday or Sunday walking street markets never fear: Chiang Rai also has a couple of good ones. In content they are very similar: clothing, hill-tribe chic, the ubiquitous carved soap and candles, plenty of food and drink stalls and general bric-a-brac although even if you have visited the larger, big city ones, provincial Chiang Rai’s versions are less hectic and crowded, with a more relaxed atmosphere and well worth taking in as well.

Dusk on Thanalai

Dusk on Thanalai

If the Night Bazaar looks a bit quiet on a Saturday evening it’s because all the locals have headed down to Thanalai Road for a bit of browsing and grazing. The walking street sets up along some 500 metres of Thanalai which is just one block north if you’re walking up from the clock tower or the restaurants and night bazaar of Phaholythin. It opens up a bit earlier than its daily competitor – from 17:00 onwards – and while there is some overlap in terms of goods on show there is definitely a bit more variety in the Saturday one.

Nice spot for a sunset stroll

Nice spot for a sunset stroll.

Lacking the fixed eating areas of the Night Bazaar there’s a consequential proliferation of food, snack and drinks stalls also offering a very varied selection of consumables. (We reckon we put on two kilos during the 500 metre stroll.) Chiang Mai’s Ratchadamnoen has adjacent temple yards with seating areas and food vendors, which Thanalai lacks, but being far less crowded you can browse and nibble here, which you’d have a job doing at the former.

Fresh fruit from the hills

Fresh fruit from the hills.

There are of course the obligatory fried insects but also sate, kebabs, grilled chicken, dim-sum, miang kham (tea leave packets stuffed with desiccated coconut, peanuts and ginger) and plenty of juices from locally grown fresh fruits and smoothies. There aren’t many sit-down eating spots but there are plenty of takeaway curries and other dishes you can take back and eat in Mercy Hostel’s guest kitchen, for example.

Setting up at 5.00 p.m.

Setting up at 17:00.

A second walking street sets up every Sunday evening on Sang Khon Noi (also known as Happy Street and that’s got nothing to do with massages), which isn’t so central and a bit smaller than the Thanalai one, but it’s even more relaxed and friendly. Items on display are of course very similar but the wider, more tree-lined road has more sit-down eating spots. Starting time is similar, though the more suburban Sang Khon Noi market closes down a bit earlier – usually around 23:00. It’s only a 10-minute walk from Jedyod Road or a 60 baht tu -tuk ride from the night bazaar.

Yoghurt smoothies - pretty tempting on a sticky evening

Yoghurt smoothies, which are pretty tempting on a sticky evening.

Saturday walking street: Thanalai Rd, from the junction of Tri Rat to Sri Kerd Rds (one block south of the clock tower); open 17:00-00:30.

Sunday walking street: Head south on Tri Rat Rd and turn right at the junction with Chiang Rai hospital; open 17:00-23:00.


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What next?

 Browse our independent reviews of places to stay in and around Chiang Rai.
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 Read up on where to eat on Chiang Rai.
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