The charming streets and lanes of the Old City in Chiang Mai are filled with great shopping spots, if you know where to go. Most famous of all are the two walking streets. Make sure you are here at the weekend if you want to experience these – they are really not to be missed. The shopping experience in the old city tends to focus on artisans and independent designers, so there are plenty of beautiful clothes and jewellery shops scattered around, where you can pick up one of a kind pieces and items inspired by northern Thailand’s Lanna culture. There are also plenty of artists’ studios; be sure to have an exploration of these, you never know what gems you’ll uncover. If you don’t know where to start here’s our top ten shopping in Chiang Mai Old City:
- Wat Doi Suthep & Hmong Hill-Tribe Village
- Doi Inthanon National Park Tour
- Ping River Dinner Cruise
- Khantoke Dinner with Traditional Dance Performance
- Old City Half-Day Bike Tour
- Flight of the Gibbon™ Zipline Tour
- 2-Day Whitewater Rafting & Ziplining
- Full-Day Countryside Bike Tour with Lunch
- Aroy Aroy Thai Cooking School & Market Tour
- Full-Day Excursion to Chiang Rai & Golden Triangle
Wualai, the Saturday walking street, is a lively and fun night market that takes place in Chiang Mai just a short walk from the old city walls. It starts in the late afternoon and continues until around 22:30. We prefer the atmosphere here to the more famous Sunday night walking street, because even though it’s smaller, there aren’t the same crowds of people, so it makes for a much more leisurely stroll. Not only are there plenty of handicraft items and locally-made products, it’s also a good place to pick up some tasty snacks to provide sustenance as you wander around. Wualai Road links to Thipanet Road, near the south side of the old city walls, and around a ten to fifteen minute walk from Tha Pae Gate. It’s very easy to get dropped off by a tuk-tuk or public van (songtaew) near the far end. Don’t miss the magnificent Silver Temple in the grounds of Wat Sri Su Pan, roughly half way down Wua Lai Road. Read More...
- Opening Hours: 17:00 until 23:00 (approximately), Saturday nights only
- Location: Wualai Road, near the South moat of the old town
The Sunday Weekend Walking Street is easily the most popular shopping experience in Chiang Mai. It is a vibrant spectrum of art, crafts, music and food – with handmade quality goods and souvenirs that echo the spirit of Northern Thailand. The Sunday Walking Street serves as a venue for all kinds of local events, from dance recitals to beauty pageants and the sois (lanes) on either side of the main road feature stages and performance spaces. It starts at Tha Pae Gate and runs all along Ratchadamnoen Rd, for around one kilometre. As the name suggests it takes place every Sunday from 16:00 until around midnight. The road is closed to traffic during this time, and as one of the most popular tourist attractions in the city, it does get busy. Read More...
- Opening Hours: Best time to go is after 17:00
- Location: Tha Pae to Ratchadamneon Road
Shopping for quality spa and aromatherapy products in Chiang Mai is made easy with the fabulous Herb Basics, a brand who makes the most of Chiang Mai’s temperate climate to source local flowers and oils from the hills surrounding the city, creating a fabulously scented collection that will make you feel pampered and relaxed. In Chiang Mai you will find Herb Basics in two handy locations. There’s a small branch on Tha Pae Road and a larger store on Sunday Walking Street, at the corner of Rachadamnoen Road and Prapokklao Road. Although all the products smell lovely, they are split into two groups: those which are just scented and those which are said to have healing properties. Read More...
- Opening Hours: 09:00 – 18:00
- Address: 344 Tha Pae Road
- Tel: +66 (0)53 234 585
Shopping can be lots of fun, but nowhere is it more cheery than at The House, where Thai brand Ginger displays their colourful range of kitchen-ware, Thai-inspired furniture and clothing. Anyone who loves to shop will have a field-day here, with so many eye-catching items on display. The House is a beautifully renovated home that makes the perfect backdrop for the bright cushions and funky clothing on display. Set up in 2002 in Chiang Mai it is a daring fusion of Danish and Asian design. They really have fun with their selections and it would be tricky to walk away empty handed. The House Shop can be found on Moon Muang Road at number 199, around a fifteen minute walk from Thae Pae Gate. Read More...
- Opening Hours: 10:00 until 22:00
- Address: 199 Moonmuang Road, Chiangmai
- Tel: +66(0)53 418 263
Inspired by rabbits and elephants this charming little shop and gallery is run by the artist Supachet, who creates pastel paintings, figurines and statues of animals. Often the artist will be at work in his studio at the back and is happy to take time and talk to visitors about his work. If a full-sized canvas is too large to fit into your suitcase then Supachet makes some smaller items, such as bookmarks, incense holders, gift cards, t-shirts, bags and postcards for sale. We really like the small resin and ceramic elephants (starting at 250 baht), which echo his larger works. This art gallery stands out amongst many in Chiang Mai not only for its original, accessible designs but the warm welcome of the owner.
- Address: 56/2 Rachadamnoen Rd, Chiang Mai, 50200
- Tel: +66 89 950 1329
We can’t decide which item we would rather take home from Vinita: the cute printed t-shirts or the amazing batik silks that are piled up in this quirky shophouse on the corner of Prapokklao and Ratchadamnoen Road. Vinita runs the shop alongside her daughter, who is also an artist. The clothing and scarves that are on sale here are all stitched and dyed by hand. The collection runs from quirky silk trimmed sun hats to full length skirts and trousers, which use traditional techniques. Vinita has paired these with some white tees with cartoon prints. We loved the doggy in the window T-shirt and couldn’t leave the shop without buying one. On a more practical note we also purchased a beautiful parasol here, which wouldn’t have looked out of place in colonial times.
- Location: Corner of Prapokklao and Ratchadamnoen Road
The collection of necklaces at Eranyara is stunning, taking the best of local stones and materials and turning them into fashionable pieces that really stand out. Our favourite collection incorporates the elephant, made out of jade or antique glass, the shape subtle and curved. What makes Eranyara’s jewellery stand out is that it reflects northern Thailand, but in a modern way. There is some pretty impressive statement jewellery created with chunky silver beads, shell and lapis lazuli. In this scarlet lined shop you will find timeless strings of beads, each one unique and hand strung. Suitable for women of all ages, these necklaces make great gifts and a long-lasting reminder of Thailand’s natural elements, with prices starting at 12,000 baht.
- Address: 145/2 Ratchadamnoen Road, Chiang Mai
- Tel: +66 (0)88 2620 163
If you want to shop like a local, then this is one of the best places to come. A traditional Thai market that runs during the day, Somphet Fresh Market is located just off Moon Muang Road in the north east area of the Old City. It is only a small fresh market but it is a great place to buy fresh fruits or grab some noodle soup, and there’s also a few stalls selling clothes and odds and ends. Somphet Market is at its most hectic in the early mornings when residents head out to pick up their groceries and catch up on the local gossip. If you’re lucky monks will pass by silently collecting alms and it is very interesting to experience the daily rituals of the inhabitants of Chiang Mai, seemingly untouched by the hotels and guesthouses that surround it. This market is extremely clean and inviting for foreigners.
- Opening Hours: Sunrise to sunset, although it’s busiest between 06:00 and 09:00
- Address: Moon Muang Road, just north of Tha Phae Gate
Located on Tha Pae Road, Nova Jewellery specialises in hand-crafted contemporary pieces created from a whole range of metals – from stainless steel to platinum. Whether you are looking for a plain band, or an ornate multi-stone ring there is a piece of jewellery to suit everyone, with prices starting at around 3500 baht. We love Nova’s sterling silver bracelet mounted with a large chunk of opal in an 18 carat gold bezel and the glass fronted locket filled with colourful loose fancy sapphires. Nova also designs one-of-a-kind rings, pendants and earrings if you are looking for something extra special. Given the attention put into every creation you may have to wait for the item to be shipped to you at a later date. If a trip to Nova Jewellery brings out your arty side, then consider enrolling on their jewellery course: in only one day you can create your own ring.
- Address: 179 Tha Pae Road, Chiang Mai
- Tel: +66 (0)53 273 058
Situated in various spots around the old and new town, this is considered the best used-books store in Chiang Mai. The expansive collection has been amassed through a system of buying books from travellers and locals. Consequently this chain of shops features an extensive choice of non-fiction and fiction, science fiction, horror, mystery, new age, Southeast Asian history, travel, Buddhist and Christian and a good few rock n' roll biographies. While the vast majority of books are English language there is a small selection of Dutch, German and French titles.
- Opening Hours: 09:00-21:00
- Address: 2/6 Chang Moi Kao Road
- Tel: +66 (0) 53 874 066