This small town hosts several interesting markets
Published/Last edited or updated: 8th March, 2019
Although only a small town, Mae Salong is the principal commercial centre for surrounding villages, as well as having plenty of tourists passing through, so it does come with more than its usual share of markets.
First up is the permanent, morning market which gets going before daybreak behind Shin Sane in the centre of town, winding down by mid-morning. It mainly caters to locals doing their fresh food and grocery shopping but is a lively affair with plenty of Akha and villagers from the surrounding hills coming into town to trade. There’s a small, permanent, covered market building while other vendors spread their wares on the ground outside. Plonk yourself down at one of the noodle and tea stands to watch the goings-on. There’ll be some unusual products on display too include various foodstuffs from over the border.
A second morning market sets up on Saturdays at the top of the hill on the south side of town—opposite the hill-tribe market. This is another lively affair, with stalls in a roadside carpark overflowing onto the sides of Highway 1234. Again aimed at locals rather than tourists, we saw people from the Lisu and Lahu ethnic groups, as well as Akha, and offerings include clothes, hardware and household items in addition to food. During busy—and dry—periods there’ll be some Sunday action here as well, with the little market running from around 06:00 until midday-ish.
In the same part of town but daily—and lasting all day weather permitting—are two more small markets aimed more at the temporary visitors. Both set up on the roadside around the T-junction and police box at the southern end of town. On the south side of the road a side street sees a string of stalls selling hill-tribe souvenirs such as hats, sarongs, scarves, jewellery and so on while on the opposite side of the highway, with their produce laid out on mats on the floor, sit Akha women selling fruit, veg, herbs and spices as well as some forest gatherings such as herbal medicines, mushrooms and wild orchids. Vendors do tend to get very dressed up so the deal seems to be: buy my Akha carrots and you can take a photo!
Both these latter two markets vary considerably in numbers of vendors and shoppers and can be quite extensive affairs during busy months when the weather is more conducive but a lot quieter in monsoon season when rain hinders play and visitors are much scarcer. This is a bustling part of town at most times though and there are plenty of souvenir shops, tea houses and Chinese noodle cafes along the side of the road.
All three are well worth checking out if you’re in town at the right time and the atmospheric little morning market in particular merits an early start.
Hill-tribe Market Around the T-junction and police box on Highway 1234 at the southern entrance to town Open: Mo–Su: very approximately 08:00–16:00
Morning market Down the alley running north from Shin Sane Guesthouse Open: Mo–Su: 05:00–09:00
Saturday market West side of Highway 1234 next to Khumnaiphol Resort Open: Sa: 06:00–12:00
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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