Chiang Mai is the second most visited city in Thailand after Bangkok. I think I read on Trip Advisor that it was voted number 24 out of 25 cities to see in the entire world. Reviewing our visit there and doing a little more reading about Chiang Mai, I get it. I understand why it is such a popular stopping point and I would return in a heartbeat. There are many reasons Chiang Mai is so popular. Like the brightly painted bus above, Chiang Mai is colourful with abundant choices and a lot of variety with a fun and casual laid back vibe.
It’s a backpackers dream as it is inexpensive and easy on the budget for anyone. It’s a great base for exploring the surrounding countryside, for trekking and adventure sports if that’s your thing. There is plenty to keep you busy within the city and most places are in easy walking distance. For shopping, there is every kind of market stall you can imagine, plus the popular Sunday Night Market and endless restaurants, coffee shops, bars and pubs.
Intermingled throughout the city and the surrounding area are over 300 temples. Ranging in design from the historic and ancient, to the more traditional, and onto to the brightly decorated inside and out.
The top temple – Wat Chedi Luang – dates from 1441. The one directly above is inside Pung Tao Gong Ancestral Temple, one of the more colorful temples. A sign outside the entrance says it is the oldest within Chiang Mai but was rebuilt in 1996. As you can see from the signs below Chiang Mai is also a center for learning, particularly for Buddhism.
Switching to restaurants for a second, of course all cuisines were represented, especially Asian, but I remember seeing an Irish Pub, an English Pub (the traditional Red Lion) and then there was the Elvis Diner. This cracked me up – first we have Loco Elvis, but then it’s companion – the “Fat Elvis” American Diner!!!
Now that we have Elvis covered – back to the markets! Markets! Markets! Markets! (re: Brady Bunch – Marcia! Marcia! Marcia!!!) Below a cyclist transporting one of the many portable market stalls you will find throughout the city.
All those restaurants and where did we stop? What can I say, we needed a break to rest, and get out of the slight rainy mist, and some fries:) It was a good spot to overlook the stalls of the Night Bazaar.
The Night Bazaar features a variety of goods, if you are into knock off designer items, this is your market. In the more permanent building you can rest and have a foot massage, have a fish pedicure and there are more handcrafted items in this section.
The market Chiang Mai is most famous for is the Sunday Night Walking Street, or Sunday Night Market. The main road in the old walled section of town, Ratchadamnoen Road is closed off for for the market and it spills off into a number of side streets.
We got there in mid afternoon as the vendors were starting to set up, for a more relaxed view of the crafts for sale.
This market is a showcase for the artists and craftsmen of Northern Thailand. The quality and selection were top notch in my opinion.
I really enjoyed this market and the amount of true original work for sale.
The market starts getting very busy around 7 pm so we were glad we were able to browse earlier. However if you stay later there are street musicians and entertainers to add to the atmosphere. There is actually another market that was my favourite which I will show in the next post, hopefully I will have that up in the next couple of days. At any rate thanks for reading:)