Street markets in Thailand are called walking streets in English. These streets do not actually walk and the term derives from the Thai to English translation. Chiang Mai is the venue for two walking street markets every week. Vendors at both markets sell a huge assortment of the handicrafts, fabrics, clothing, handmade jewellery, accessories and toys Chiang Mai is renowned for. The vibrant atmosphere is added to by street musicians.
The first walking street market is held in the traditional silver shop and silversmith district on Wualai Road every Saturday. This is the smaller of the two walking street markets and starts up at about 16:00, although it does not really get going until at least two hours later. Shoppers can browse stalls laden with the likes of carved candles, sandals, silk boxer shorts, lanterns and lamps, toys made out of old Coke cans and model motorbikes crafted from wood.
As is the case with most Thai walking street markets, there is a good selection of snacks and drinks on offer. Refreshing passion fruit juice and deep fried meatballs (look jin) are always worth trying. Rejuvenating Massages and street musicians are other enticements to head down to Wualai walking street on a Saturday.
Ratchadamnoen Road is the main road leading west from the moat at Tha Phae Gate, through the Old City to Wat Phra Singh Temple. Each Sunday, stallholders stack up their products on mats or tables on Ratchadamnoen. Most of the items on sale at the Sunday Walking Street Market are handmade and often by the stallholders themselves or by district OTOP (One Tambon One Product) cooperatives. This market is open from 16:00 to 24:00, but is at its busiest between 18:00 and 22:00.
Visitors will find all manner of interesting clothing, footwear, souvenirs, toys, paintings and objets d’art will tempt them to spend their baht. Food options are good here too and a couple of the temple courtyards alongside Ratchadamnoen Road are turned into huge al fresco restaurants for the evening. Snacks on sticks, juices and bowls of khao soi curry noodle soup or kanom jeen noodles are an essential ingredient in the Sunday Walking Street experience. Relaxing foot or back massages are an option here too.