Chiang Mai Shopping – Sankampaeng and other Markets

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Chiang Mai is known for many markets, malls and it is indeed a shopping hub. Since Chiang Mai was the last stop in my trip to Thailand, I had set aside some time to shop at Chiang Mai instead of Bangkok. And true to it, the night markets, the weekend markets and the handicrafts village had so many options to chose from. From the famous paper umbrella to lacquerware, from elephant printed bottoms to Thai silk, from tasting durians to sticky mango rice, from trinkets to silver jewellery, from chocolates to curry powders, here is a guide on what to buy from where. Let us walk through the Chiang Mai markets. 

Spices at local Chiang Mai market
Spices at local Chiang Mai market

Sankampaeng Handicraft Village

This is one of the recommended tours to take when in Chiang Mai. The San Kampaeng handicraft village is a village with many industries strewn all over the district. And since these are wholesale industries you are supposed to buy these at a subsidized rate. But you are also a tourist, so.. I booked this half a day tour at my hotel cos I wanted to see the handicrafts unique to Thailand and to take home a memorable souvenir. As part of this tour you hop around all the handicraft factories and they were good, they explain to you the process of making it and at the end of each factory tour, there is a good handicraft shop. Ummm.. this tour is definitely not suitable for the backpacker’s pocket. I did not spend at most of the places and some of the places did not make sense to me as an Indian. For eg, one of the stops was a Gold shop/ Gem shop and the tour guide raved about it. For an Indian, gold is not new and on top of it, it was 18-carat gold which my mom would beat me up if I buy that kind of a purity. For us anything less than 22-carat is not gold. So, I am taking you around all the shops in this Sankampaeng handicraft village and you chose what you want to visit. 

Sankampaeng thai silk
You can’t leave without buying Thai Silk

Leather Factory

The very first stop was the leather factory. And I don’t buy leather. So when I entered that shop, I was clueless as what to do. They had some collection of alligators or crocodile skins. If you are into leather, you might like it. There are designer handbags, wallets, shoes and sandals and since they are leather it was super expensive. But this was the first stop, so I did not want to disappoint our tour guide and put down the spirit of the tour. That doesn’t mean I bought something 😛 I roamed around the shop for a while before moving on to the next

Sankampaeng leather
Leather factory

Silverware Factory 

I liked this place as you get to see how they mould silver, shape it, polish it, create intricate designs. It was fun to watch the work. And there were some nice designs of earrings, toe rings and finger rings. My friend picked up an earring. 

Sankampaeng silverware
Working on Silverware

Thai Silk Factory

Everything about Thai silk. From the silkworms to weaving silk out of it, dying it and weaving it, you can see the end to end process of how Thai silk is done. You get to learn a lot about Thai weaving process and the natural dyes used. They had a separate section like museum types displaying about the tribes, what techniques they have incorporated from them and lot of knowledgeable stuff. This place is for all you fashionistas. They have awesome stuff to buy, elegant, traditional, for modern women and men. I loved the collection. But yea, it is silk so costly. Even a shawl costs a few thousand to spend on. But what I loved the most about this place is, we know that Thai silk is costly!  So they have made these little souvenirs out of Thai Silk, like handkerchiefs, pouches, jewellery holder, tiny stuffed elephants which were all adorable and affordable. This is great for tourists like me to buy and take back a souvenir. 

chiang mai shopping thai silk
Weaving of Thai Silk

Lacquerware

Lacquerware was very interesting to watch. Lacquerware is wood polished with lacquer and is ready for something to be inlaid on it. Something like pearl or shards. And lacquerware comes in two tones usually. Either black and gold, red and gold, etc. The artefacts we found in Chaing Mai had designs made of eggshells. The eggshells are processed and dried out and broke into small small pieces. These pieces are then assembled into designs over bowl or dish or vase. It was very very pretty. Out of my budget but lovely work and a very tedious work.

Sankampaeng lacquerware
Working on lacquerware at Sankampaeng village
lacquerware eggshell
See the two kinds of eggshells

Wood carving factory

For all furniture to be purchased and big framed photos and pictures that are intricately carved. The place had some awesome work. I wish like the Thai silk factory, they had also come up with some innovative souvenirs. How can we buy chairs and carved stools 🙁 So soaked in the beauty of the work and that’s about it. 

Sankampaeng wood carvings
Wood Carvings at Sankampaeng village

Umbrella Village

By now in all the night markets and weekend markets you would have seen these paper umbrellas for sale. Watching it being made in the factory was awesome. They chose specific wood and layer it up with paper after paper. The village of Borsang located on Sankampaeng road is the famous place for the production of umbrellas made from Saa paper, derived from mulberry tree bark. It was fascinating to watch huge huge umbrellas being made. The smaller ones are no longer handpainted, they are paper printed designs placed on top of the umbrella. However, the bigger ones are still hand painted the traditional way to form beautiful designs. This place is also like the Thai silk factory. They have mini souvenirs, affordable umbrellas to buy, painters who quickly cook up designs on the umbrella. Loved it here. This was the last stop at our San kampaeng village tour and I bought an umbrella 🙂

thai umbrella village
Making of Thai Umbrella
Sankampaeng umbrella village
Umbrellas waiting to get painted

Also read – Go on a tour to visit the Hill Tribes of Chiang Mai – Click here 

Sunday Walking Street

The town goes crazy on Sunday. The crowd starts to gather in front of the Tha Pae Gate, traffic is closed down the road and all the way till Ratchadamnoen Road which is about a kilometre stretch, shops are laid on either side. It is extremely crowded. Not just the one way road from Tha Pae gate onwards but roads branching out of this road also gets filled up with shops. If I remember shops start to open by around 5 pm. But people were there much before that, feeding pigeons and playing in front of the gate.

tha pae gate Chiang Mai
Whiling away in front of Tha Pae Gate

Here you can mostly find handicrafts and artefacts. Not much of clothes except shawls. But everything else like lamps, cushions, trinkets, makeup items, household decorative items, their famous umbrella, everything. This place is crazy. People just keep pushing you through the crowd. It is there on every Sunday and there is a Saturday market, night market, this market and that market, yet it is super crowded. There were some interesting finds to eat too. At 6 pm they play their national anthem and the entire street comes to stand still. I was in super awe! There was also a stage set and there were some dance performances.

chiang mai market
Scenes from Sunday Market
chiang mai sunday market
thai sunday market
When the National Anthem plays
The elephant pants
The elephant pants 🙂
chiang mai Sunday market dance
Dance performance at Sunday Market

Night Bazaar

The night bazaar or the night market is found every evening from 6 pm onwards. I and my friend were a bit early on this street and it looked like a ghost town as it was pouring too. Come night, you do not have space to step out your feet. The shops come abuzz, there are lights everywhere and hardly any space to walk.

chiang mai night market
When you are bit early to the Night Market

This night bazaar is huge and I would definitely recommend this one for all shopping needs. They had all souvenirs, handicrafts, clothes, shawls, junk jewellery, handbags, shoes, everything. People who want to buy a replica of popular brand handbags can find it here. I bought loads of junk jewellery, they were so pretty! Apart from pushcarts there are also shopping centres and mini mall like buildings with shops. They have a huge collection of dresses and convenient to try them out. You get all your elephant printed shorts and pants here 😛 And the street has plenty of good eatery joints that you can shop and eat and shop and eat. People usually recommend to do the Sunday market rather than this but I somehow preferred this night bazaar. And this night bazaar is in Changklan road. I dunno where it starts and ends since it was a huge stretch. But it is on this road. I couldn’t take many pictures here as it was raining.

night market thailand
Night Bazaar
chiang mai shopping night market
Shopping through night market

Warorot Market 

Wonder where the Thai people do their shopping? It is at Warorot Market also called Kad Luang. If you want to get the feel of the local market then this is the place. Opened all through the day. So you get traditional Thai sweets, curry powders, dry fruits, chocolates, spices, everything authentic as used by Thai people. You will find less of souvenir shops and more of fruits, vegetables and traditional sarongs, wraparounds and tribal wears. There was an entire floor selling fish and fresh meat. I bought curry powders from here. And also some dresses and shorts cos they were super cheap. If you want to know what goes into the kitchen of Thai people and what they use in their daily life then Warorot market is the place. Also, there are plenty of shops around the market, so you can walk around the streets too. 

warorot thai market
Candies and Thai chocolates
warorot local market chiang mai
Warorot Market
kad luang chiang mai shopping
Dried Fish and Meat at Warorot Market

And that’s about the Chiang Mai markets. There are a lot of malls, boutique shops and a couple of other markets too. But the above-mentioned markets covered most of my needs. If you stay at Old City of Chiang Mai, all these places plus all the monasteries are walkable from here. If you look into the map of Chiang Mai, the river will run around Old Chaing Mai forming like a square, find a stay inside it and you are sorted. 

To book your stay at Chiang Mai – Click here 

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8 Comments

  1. Elisabeth February 16, 2019
    • Chittra M February 16, 2019
  2. Priyanka Gupta February 16, 2019
  3. Anita February 17, 2019
    • Chittra M February 17, 2019
  4. Sara Essop February 17, 2019
    • Chittra M February 17, 2019

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