Thailand has a propensity for marketplaces (called ‘talad‘ in Thai or ‘kad‘ in northern Thai). Every neighborhood has its own market where people buy fresh produce and household necessities, while markets in more popular destinations cater more to leisure shoppers and visitors. Here is a guide to the best markets in Northern Thailand to see, hear, smell, and taste, the local socio-cultural landscape.
1. Sunday Walking Street, Chiang Mai
Every Sunday, Ratchadamnoen and Phra Singh roads inside the old city walls morph into one large walking street where visitors can browse everything from local craftwork to hand-printed t-shirts. Hundreds of food vendors and curb-side foot massages abound to extend the shopping experience.
2. Kad Luang, Chiang Mai
Located around Wichayanond Road, Warorot market, known locally as Kad Luang, is the oldest and largest market in Chiang Mai. Visit early or in the evenings for a large selection of fruits and finished foods, including some of the best sai-ua and kaeb moo (Northern style sausages and pork rind) in town.
3. Talad Muang Mai, Chiang Mai
Popular with restaurants and hotels as well as private households, the wholesale wet market is the community gathers over fresh fruit, vegetables, meat and fish. Located along Ping river and Muang Samut Road, and open pretty much around the clock.
4. Talad Pradu, Chiang Mai
Located inside the old city walls along the southern moat, this is where locals come in the morning to pick up some breakfast on their way to work; in the evenings the area in front fills up with food stalls. Open from early morning till around 8 p.m.
5. Talad Tesaban, Chiang Rai
This is the place to go for pretty much everything and anything in Chiang Rai. The inside of the market, situated on the corner of Suk Sathit and Uttarakit roads, sells mainly household goods, clothes and fabrics, while the exterior areas has fresh fruit and vegetables, meat, and finished dishes. Open daily from 5 a.m. to 7 p.m.
6. Evening Market, Phrae
The evening market is popular with tourists and locals, offering a good combination of edible and non-edible items and even a bar where visitors can have a drink while people-watching. Open daily at Pradu Chai between 5 to 10 p.m.
7. Wang Nua Market, Lampang
Every Friday afternoon, vendors set up stalls along Wang Nua Road north of the river. A worthwhile stop to shop for vintage kitchenware, decorative items, second-hand clothing, and of course, food. Open until 10 p.m.
8. Kad Tung Kwian, Lampang
Located in Hang Chat, the market formerly had a reputation for selling meat of forest animals (depending on the catch, this could include field rats and varying insects). Nowadays the offerings are much more geared towards the passing tourist trade travelling between Chiang Mai and Lampang, where one can stop for snacks, souvenirs, and Lampang-famous ceramics.