Chiang Mai is shopping paradise for most travelers because of its unequaled abundance of handicrafts and quaint local goods sold at very affordable prices. Shopping venues are scattered around the city both at day and night; the range of products for sale is vast and many visitors to Chiang Mai include an extra empty bag to their shopping list in order to haul the bounty home. Each of several famous markets has gained recognition and nationwide popularity as the best overall place for buying quality hand-made products at very reasonable prices. As Chiang Mai is a well established tourist destination, finding accommodations and getting around the city are not something to worry about.
Chiang Mai is recognized as one of the handicrafts centers of Asia because it has a very large system of street markets and local markets that are very easily accessible. The markets trace down many blocks along bustling streets and that sometimes seem to have no end. The limiting factor in how much market you will be able to cover may often depend on how far you want to go before your feet tire out. The products are available in a vast variety including a wide range of wood work, silk products, silver art and jewelry, clothing, ceramics, interior decor, antiques, Buddhist art, lacquer work, and the list goes on..
Chiang Mai Night Bazaar is the most well known night market in Thailand, taking up about 10 square blocks centered on Chang Klan road in central Chiang Mai. It is easy to spend a whole night just strolling past hundreds of street-side stalls and indoor arcades. The Night Bazaar is a great place to shop for exotic and beautiful handcrafted goods created by local artisans and skilled crafts-persons from the surrounding villages. The quality is generally high and some very good values can by found, especially if you are skilled at bartering a good deal.
Chiang Mai Walking Street can be a very nice alternative to the more hectic Night Bazaar and prices are aimed more at the locals so prices are generally low; so much that often there is no room to negotiate a bargain. The Walking Street Market is open only on Sundays and is a definite must see because the atmosphere is very relaxed, the market street is quite beautiful and this is an excellent place to mingle with the wonderful Thai people and to find fantastic bargains. The entire Walking Street is about 1 kilometer long and runs the entire length of Ratchadamneurn Road beginning at Thapae Gate and ending at Wat Prasing. Apart from a wide range of hand-made products on offer, one can also enjoy many Thai food stalls, street performances of a traditional nature, and also some much need massage and foot massage.
More serious shoppers can go directly to the villages and factories that manufacture handicrafts and other products and offer for wholesale at San Kamphaeng. Borsang village, just before San Kamphaeng, also has many shops offering a range of handicrafts and is renowned for its unique Borsang umbrellas. Baan Tawai just south of Chiang Mai is home to a wide range of wood carving, wood decor, and other handicrafts.
Chiang Mai is also popular for the diverse ethnic arts that you can find many hill tribe shops across the city. One recommended hill tribe shop is the Hill Tribe Products Promotion Center on Suthep Road next to Suan Dok Temple. It was established by His Majesty the King to promote the products created by 6 different tribes in Chiang Mai including Akha, Karen, Yao, Hmong, Lisu, and Lahu. This is aimed at generating alternative income to replace a reliance on opium cultivation in the past. Shop here for unique ethnic goods and help the hill tribe people.
Those who are interested in modern shops of the much more commercial variety, there are two big shopping centers: Kad Suan Kaew Plaza and Central Airport Plaza. The latter is relatively new and less than 5 minutes from the Chiang Mai International Airport. Panthip Plaza on the same road as Night Bazaar is ideal for techy people who are looking for computers and electronic gadgets with many discounts and a wide range of technical product available at good prices.
Chiang Mai offers more than shopping venues. It is a friendly and beautiful city with rich history steeped in Thai Lanna culture. Hundreds of temples and historical sites are found everywhere across the city and it is very easy to head out of the city to some spectacular natural areas. When not shopping, a visitor can enjoy waterfalls, elephant shows, and trekking tours. Some may be attracted by the more adventurous activities such as white water rafting, bungee jumping and paintball battle. Whatever you could ask for in a trip, Chiang Mai can offer- plus a whole lot more.