The Chiang Mai Night Bazaar is surely one of the most thrilling shopping experiences in all of Thailand – nay..all of Southeast Asia! From local street cuisine to Buddhist-inspired souvenirs, this electrifying marketplace has it all. Yep: There are hundreds of stalls to choose from. They burst with vintage clothing and antique jewellery, watches and electronic gizmos, exotic spices and knock-off fashion wear – it’s endless!
We’d actually go as far as to say that the Night Bazaar is one of the top Chiang Mai attractions of all! Everyone from backpackers to honeymoon travelers seems to coalesce here when the evening sets in. Some come to people watch and dine on soy-topped noodles from the street stalls. Others come to grab souvenirs for folk back at home and pack their bags full of authentic Thai handicrafts.
This ultimate guide to the Chiang Mai Night Bazaar will take you through all you need to know. It’s got details on the opening times, the best places to shop for different items, haggling etiquette, and a whole load more. Ready? Let’s go…
A short introduction to the Chiang Mai Night Bazaar
You’re guaranteed to have a great time strolling the streets of any market in Thailand, and the Chiang Mai Night Bazaar is no exception. In fact, it might just be the very best of the bunch (sorry, Chatuchak!).
Stalls upon stalls selling everything and anything, from cheap souvenirs to children’s clothing to spicy Thai curries, all converge here. It’s precisely the sort of thing you imagine when you think of Southeast Asian markets.
The quality of the merchandise varies from stall to stall. However, low prices tend to dominate, so there’s usually good value for money. You can also haggle for a bit of extra fun (more on that later though).
The Chiang Mai Night Bazaar has a long history. It can trace its origins back through the centuries, beginning as a Chinese trader quarter outside the old Lanna city of Chiang Mai. It developed and grew at a considerably pace in the late 20th century to become the major tourist draw it is today.
Where is the Chiang Mai night bazaar?
The Night Bazaar sits in the ancient city of Chiang Mai, roughly 700km north of Bangkok. Its central location in town makes it easy to find. Look for it around the intersection of Chang Khlan Road and Loi Kroh Road.
The entire market stretches approximately a kilometer around those. In fact, Chang Khlan is now considered the main Chiang Mai walking street. It’s where the bulk of the sellers meet, touting electronics and traditional Thai dresses under the gaze of the large shopping mall. The bazaar also spreads into vast covered marketplaces around Loi Kroh Road.
The easiest way to find the market is by travelling east from the East Gate of the old city. It’s about 10 minutes by foot from there.
Chiang Mai Night Bazaar opening times
The market is open every day of the week. Things start at 5pm and begin to wind down again around 11pm, although those are rough times. It’s usually at its busiest at around 7pm, which is when the bulk of the crowds will be chatting and haggling around the goods area. After that, most people make for the food quarters or local restaurants to eat. The weekends are generally quieter, as other markets will be running simultaneously.
How long do I need in the Chiang Mai Night Bazaar?
The night market will keep you entertained for at least a couple of hours, possibly longer. We’d recommend leaving it until around 6.30pm to turn up. That’s because we love the energy of the bazaar when it’s in full flow. If you prefer to shop in relative peace and quiet, you might be better off coming earlier and on a weekend night.
Chiang Mai Night Bazaar food
We hope you’re hungry! The Chiang Mai Night Bazaar food offering is seriously eclectic.
There’s an overload of delicious cuisines to sample in this heady maze of a market. You’ll find everything from local Thai stir fries and pad Thai noodle creations to deep-friend scorpions and insects (yep – try them if you dare!).
There’s also a nod to the bazaar’s roots as a Chinese trader quarter. That comes through in the abundance of Cantonese dishes that are sold, adding a little extra flavor of the Far East into the mix.
The area where the market makes its home also has popular fast-food outlets such as Subway, McDonald’s, and Starbucks, along with big retail stores and strip malls. It’s actually known as Chiang Mai Walking Street for its abundance of things to see and do.
Other Chiang Mai attractions at the bazaar
The night bazaar is much more than just a bazaar. One of the highlights is the central stage, where local musicians will perform to the widespread audience passing by. It is free to stop and watch; however, leaving a tip is enormously appreciated. The artists are incredibly talented, and it’s not something you can miss experiencing.
Haggling & Prices at the Chiang Mai night bazaar
There are no fixed prices at the night bazaar, and how much you spend depends entirely on how good you are at haggling. Please don’t feel embarrassed or uncomfortable to barter with the vendors, as their initial price will be assuming that you will. Bargaining is one of the fun parts of being there. But of course, always haggle with a smile on your face.
As a rule of thumb, we usually go in at a 50% lower price than the original offer. However, expect the vendor to come back at you with a counteroffer. Once you’ve done it a few times it becomes second nature, and can even become rather enjoyable.
Although you aren’t obliged to haggle at the night bazaar, if you don’t, expect to be paying over the odds for nearly everything.
The vendors only take cash, so make sure to have your baht handy. There are, however, plenty of banks and ATM’s alongside the night bazaar, as well as money exchange stalls within walking distance.
Chiang Mai hotels near night bazaar
If you’re looking for accommodation near the Chiang Mai night bazaar, then there are plenty of options available. Typically, rooms prices are higher during the busy season (November to April) and tend to book up fast. To avoid disappointment, make sure to book early in advance.
- Tapae Place Hotel – 0.4 km from night bazaar. Prices from 600 baht.
- Dutch Cosy Home – 0.7 km from night bazaar. Prices from 230 baht.
- Thapae Boutique House – 0.6 km from night bazaar. Prices from 600 baht.
- Villa de Chiangmai – 0.6 km from night bazaar. Prices from 1000 baht.
- Mandala House – 0.5 km from night bazaar. Prices from 540 baht.