Chiang Mai Sunday Night Market: Sights, Sounds, and Smells.

Everything sizzles and pops around you. Steam floats into the night sky like aromatic clouds carrying scrumptious smells of marvelous treats like various meats, or grilled vegetables, or spicy soups — all to the song from a lute; cracked leather-like fingers pluck the instrument, that long necked worn cherry-colored lute called the sueng, releasing a melody of ting-tang-tong-tang-ting to add sweet soundtracks amongst the chitter-chatter of the throngs.

Here and there and everywhere  is food porn galore. From spicy papaya salad to buttered garlic bread, pork balls and chicken balls (not testes) to kababs with zesty yogurt — everything your tantalized taste buds can salivate over.

Needle and thread dive in and out of colorful fabrics with a delicate urgency under soft yellow light as young and old create intricate gifts before your eyes. Maybe you’re looking for a poncho, or a scarf, or a hat — whatever it may be, it can be found as far as the eye can see.

This is the Sunday walking street market in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

Once you enter Ratchadamnoen Road; near Thapae Gate cutting through the center of Old Town, you are lost in the ebb and flow of the Thai and tourist slow moving river. And there is almost no turning back — though you probably won’t want to anyway.

Do what I call the Chiang Mai Market Shuffle: right foot slides forward two inches, left foot slides forward two inches, rock your body one way to glance at trinkets, rock the other way to fiend over drool-worthy food, and repeat. It’s packed in the market so you’ll have to do a little shuffle.

The Chiang Mai night market is a place bursting with people, but this river of buying and selling is a treasure trove of Thai and exotic street food and hand-made arts and crafts.  Much of it that is rarely found cheaper or of better quality than here. There is a reason why even Thai people fight the current of bodies to shop here.

Photo of crowds in the Chiang Mai Sunday Night Market in Thailand.











Thai curry Chiang Mai Night Market

Police officer playing guitar Chiang Mai Night Market


The Chiang Mai Sunday night walking street is definitely a busy place, but one of my favorite things in the city to do each weekend.


The Sunday night walking street market is located directly across the from the Thapae gate on the eastern side of Chiang Mai, the entry into the old town. The stands begin to pop up in late afternoon and around dusk, and begins to get overly packed around 7:00pm to 9:00pm.


Make sure to come on an empty stomach and with smaller bills — many of the vendors cannot break 500 baht and 1000 baht notes. You will also be walking for quite a bit so wear comfortable shoes. Since the market is teeming with people, bring a back that has secure zippers and straps so you can keep your belongings safe.


Since the walking street market is in the heart of old town, most of the available hostels in hotels are close by and within walking distance. During peak season, Chiang Mai accommodation can fill up fast so make sure to book your hotel or hostel a few days in advance.

Have you ever been to the Chiang Mai Night Market? 


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  • Sam
    Posted January 19, 2014

    Beautifully written, as always Ryan. I especially love the caption “He’s smiling because it is about to sear your mouth”! I have never been to Chiang Mai, but I can’t wait to get there.

    • JustChuckinIt
      Posted January 22, 2014

      Glad you dig it Sam! Thank you for the compliment on my writing, it means a ton! You’ll love Chiang Mai no doubt!

  • James Shannon
    Posted January 19, 2014

    Excellent overview Ryan! If you’re caught with big bills though, you can go to 7/11 and break them there by buying something small … the clerks may roll their eyes at you, but they’ve got the bankroll to do it!

    • JustChuckinIt
      Posted January 22, 2014

      Aha, great tip James! That is pretty much what I do anyway though! Thanks for the compliment sir.

  • Maria Falvey
    Posted January 19, 2014

    Night markets are a great way to eat local food WITH locals and the vendors are usually more outgoing and in the mood for fun than those at the day markets. Awesome people watching there.

    • JustChuckinIt
      Posted January 22, 2014

      Ahhh, yes Maria, I absolutely love night food, and especially wherever the locals are eating too. Then you know it is good!

  • Val-This Way To Paradise
    Posted January 19, 2014

    I love this market!! I am considering making that my next spot to base myself out of (Chiang Mai, not the market)…This gave me one more reason!

    • JustChuckinIt
      Posted January 22, 2014

      Yes Val, a favorite of mine as well! And you’ll be moving there?! I will be too! Planning on making my base there while figuring out teaching =)

  • Mary @ Green Global Travel
    Posted January 20, 2014

    Wow. This seems incredible!! I love the way you described it. Thank you for sharing!

    • JustChuckinIt
      Posted January 21, 2014

      I’m glad you liked it Mary! A bit more whimsical than normal, but it was a fun one =)

  • Natascia Russo
    Posted January 25, 2014

    Chiang Mai Night Market is always been my favorite. Food, food and so much food. 😀 And I really laughed at this one “He’s smiling because it is about to sear your mouth.” Thanks for the great post.

    • JustChuckinIt
      Posted February 8, 2014

      Ha, yes he was quite devious Natascia! I love it as well. Thank you for your comment and compliment!

  • ActivityFan
    Posted March 9, 2017

    Excellent post! As a foodie, Chiang Mai Night Market was a heaven! There are so many food that I haven’t seen or tasted before. Even though, I came from the neighbouring country, Indonesia. I still found the market very interesting because it has a totally different taste and kinds of food.

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