6 Bustling Markets in Chiang Rai That’ll Give Bangkok a Run For Its Money

6 Bustling Markets in Chiang Rai That’ll Give Bangkok a Run For Its Money

For a taste of northern Thai culture, there’s no better place than Chiang Rai’s markets!

Maybe you’ve been to the likes of Chatuchak or Ratchada, or ventured to Bangkok’s trendiest night markets and have come to the realisation: if there’s one thing you must do in Thailand, it’s to visit a local market. It’s true that no matter which part of the country you head to, there’s bound to be a market or two selling delicious local street food and affordable souvenirs to bring home.

However, not many know that some of Thailand’s best markets can actually be found in the northern city of Chiang Rai! While Chiang Rai may be famous for its unique-looking temples as well as gorgeous tea plantations, you can’t miss its bustling markets where you can truly soak in the city’s atmosphere. Chiang Rai’s compact city centre also makes travelling to each market a breeze, with the markets being within walking distance of each other.

If you’re landing in Chiang Rai International Airport from Singapore from 1 Jul – 30 Sep 2019, you may be eligible for a free transport service! Relax in comfort as you get whisked right to the city centre, so that you have enough energy to visit all the markets on our list.

Redeem a FREE Airport Transfer

Night Markets

Saturday Night Market

chiang rai saturday night market

Image credit: Maxim B.

If you have just one night to spend in Chiang Rai, it’s best if it’s on a Saturday. This is when the city’s night market scene is the most alive — Thanalai Road is closed to traffic and transforms into a delightful walking street, with the nightly bazaar not far away. Keep your bellies empty before you head to this night market affair with the most amount of food stalls, and satiate your hunger feasting on delicious Thai snacks!

The highlight of the Saturday Night Market is a Thai line-dancing performance held at the open square. Watch as performers moves perfectly in sync with the music, and revel in the cordial atmosphere made by enthusiastic locals and fellow visitors. There’s also an open area where you can just sit back and enjoy the festivities as you indulge in the street food you’ve bought before.

When: Saturdays, 4pm – 12am

Getting there: The Saturday Night Market starts along Thanalai Road, but the easiest way to access the market is from Chiang Rai’s opulent clock tower. You definitely can’t miss the clock tower that glows brightly in the night!

Sunday Night Market

On Sundays evenings, San Khong Noi Road or San Khong Happy Street turns into another exciting walking street where all the action happens! While the Sunday Night Market is slightly smaller in size than the Saturday instalment, it also tends to be less crowded. Those who want to avoid the crowds will find the Sunday Night Market more appealing.

thai street food at the night market

Image credit: Maxim B.

At the Sunday Night Market, you can also try out some of the local Thai street food from the many stalls dotting the night market. For the more adventurous ones, you can try having a taste of this famous Thai street snack: fried insects. A good and cheap source of protein, you may want to start with nhon mai (silkworms).

Eat your street food in comfort, as there are also tables at the Sunday Night Market, located near the open area of the market where performances are held. A special feature of the Sunday Night Market is the traditional Lanna culture show, a performance unique to Thailand’s northern region. If the Lanna culture show is not on, enjoy watching local talents busk and showcase their vocal skills. With so much entertainment, it’s hard to get bored at the Sunday Night Market!

When: Sundays, 6pm – 10pm

Getting there: The Sunday Night Market is located just behind the busy Sankhongnoi Road on the western side of Chiang Rai’s city centre. Before heading to the Sunday Night Market, why not make a visit next door to the Oub Kham Museum? Spend an hour or two here understanding the ancient history of the northern Thailand region, before making your way to have dinner at the Sunday Night Market.

Chiang Rai Night Bazaar

chiang rai night bazaar performance

Image credit: cleong

If you won’t be in Chiang Rai during the weekends, fear not! You can still enjoy the Thai night market atmosphere at the Chiang Rai Night Bazaar, which runs every evening. The night bazaar is also considered the most touristy option in Chiang Rai, but that just means more interesting stalls for you to browse! Just like the other night markets in Chiang Rai, there are also performances held within the night bazaar itself. Enjoy the multitude of performances available at Chiang Rai Night Bazaar, as Thai traditional dancers showcase their routines while buskers strum their guitars in an acoustic rendition of hit songs.

Food stalls at Chiang Rai Night Bazaar accommodate to the palate of visitors, making it the most suitable night market for first-timers. The night market is best known for Thai-style hotpot, as each hotpot stall has their own unique broth to complement fresh meat and vegetables. Other popular foods in the night market include deep-fried dishes as well as favourite Thai dishes like pad thai.

handmade items sold at chiang rai night bazaar

Image credit: Nicolai Bangsgaard

Besides the usual food stalls, Chiang Rai Night Bazaar has plenty of stalls selling trinkets and fashion accessories. Most items available at the night market are actually local handicrafts, so buying these products will help the locals tremendously. If you are planning to buy these items too, remember to negotiate with the seller so that both of you walk away happily.

When: Daily, 6pm – Late

Getting there: Chiang Rai Night Bazaar is right behind the Chiang Rai Old Bus Terminal, where you can board buses to other Thai cities such as Chiang Mai or Bangkok. There is a new bus terminal in Chiang Rai, but the old terminal is located closer to the city centre, where all the action is.

Day Markets

Chiang Rai Kad Luang (Central Market)

Chiang Rai Kad Luang (Central Market)

Image credit: Alizee Marchand

If Chiang Rai’s night markets are known for their abundance of street food, Chiang Rai’s day markets are known for their wide variety of fresh produce. You can find the largest concentration of Chiang Rai’s local products right here in Chiang Rai Kad Luang, also known as Chiang Rai’s central market.

The first thing to do at Chiang Rai Kad Luang is to head outside and take in the sights and smells of the fresh produce, as the friendly stall owners might let you have a sample of their pride and joy. As the weather outside becomes hotter, head in to see some local clothing and accessories. We recommend getting a locally-crafted bamboo hat to shield your face from the glaring sunlight.

Chiang Rai Kad Luang will be very busy in the morning, as it is where locals go to buy their daily produce. For a taste of the local market experience, come down to Chiang Rai Kad Luang in the early morning and watch the local aunties peddle their goods to customers. While the stalls at Chiang Rai Kad Luang closes by the lunch hour, it reopens after 5pm with a wide array of street food stalls, prepared using the same produce sold earlier during the day.

When: Daily, 6am – 2pm and 5pm – Late

Getting there: Chiang Rai Kad Luang is located along Uttarakit Road, right between Wat Ming Muang and the old Chiang Rai Clock Tower. As it is the place to get local produce, ask any local where Chiang Rai Kad Luang is and they will happily direct you to the town’s number one day market.

Chiang Rai Municipal Market

Chiang Rai Municipal Market

Image credit: Paul Arps

Located in front of the central market is Chiang Rai Municipal Market. The sprawling market complex is where you can find Northern hill-tribe ladies setting up their stalls and selling local vegetables, herbs and spices. In fact, the herbs and spices that these ladies sell are what gives northern Thai cuisine its unique flavour, so you should definitely go check it out and buy some to cook your own northern Thai dish!

If you find yourself suddenly craving for local Thai food, head to the tin-roofed food court within the market complex. The food court is where you can find northern Thailand’s food specialties all nestled in one area, so you can save the energy to eat more instead.

The municipal market may not be the biggest market, but it is one of the more popular day markets in Chiang Rai. The traditional municipal market is where you can watch the daily lives of locals, as they engage with the stall-owners and end their trip to the market hauling a huge basket of fresh ingredients.

When: Daily, 6am – 6pm

Getting there: Chiang Rai Municipal Market is located on Thanalai Road, along the streets of Chiang Rai’s Saturday Market. If you will be in Chiang Rai on a Saturday, why not head to both markets – the municipal market in the day and the Saturday Market at night?

Sirikorn Fruit and Vegetable Market

Just off Chiang Rai’s main throughway is the Sirikorn Fruit and Vegetable Market. As its name suggests, the market is filled with fresh local fruits and vegetables that are in season. However, there are also other stalls selling items such as fresh flowers and snacks.

Sirikorn Fruit and Vegetable Market

Image credit: Maxim B.

At Sirikorn Fruit and Vegetable Market, stall-owners take pride in the freshness of their produce and provide customers with fruit samples. If you purchase the fruit to be eaten on the spot, they will help to cut the fruit before adding special Thai sauces such as fish sauce. 

Besides fresh fruit available at the Sirikorn Fruit and Vegetable Market, there is a famous stall selling a unique Thai snack of fried potatoes mixed with taro and fried tofu. Apparently, the combination of freshly fried food and fresh taro makes for a delicious snack, as locals and tourists alike highly recommend the stall.

When: Daily 9am – 9pm

Getting there: Sirikorn Fruit and Vegetable Market is located right behind Chiang Rai Night Bazaar, and can be identified from the many florists lining the entrance to the market. Since the night bazaar and Sirikorn Market are close to each other, combine a trip to both markets on the same day so you have more time to enjoy the sights and smells of each market!

Chiang Rai may be a small provincial city where tourists spend a night just to visit nearby temples, but the city centre also has its selection of markets for you to explore. With so much street food to try and cultural performances to enjoy, Chiang Rai is definitely a city you have to visit! For more information on what to do in Chiang Rai or Thailand in general, visit the Tourism Authority of Thailand’s official website, as well as their Facebook page.

Also read: 17 Must-Buy Things in Bangkok You Won’t Regret Hunting Down

Brought to you by Tourism Authority of Thailand (Singapore Office).

About Author

Lucas Neo

Lucas is always at home researching for his next travel destination. When he’s not doing that, he’s most likely heading to the airport to catch a flight to an exciting location. Lucas enjoys wandering around and exploring beautiful attractions, but he never turns down a spot of retail therapy too.