Chiang Mai walking streets guide
Plenty of us drop by Chiang Mai on our travels in the hopes of exploring its bustling streets, or trying delicious Northern Thai cuisine. However, since our time is limited, we could use some help deciding on which places allow us to snack on street food or roam around to admire traditional Lan Na architecture at the same time.
Here are 10 Chiang Mai walking streets where we can sample snacks unique to Chiang Mai, shop for smol handmade gifts, and witness picturesque mural art by local artists.
Read more about markets in Thailand:
- 9 Bangkok night markets to visit in 2022
- 6 floating markets in Thailand
- Ong Ang is a walking street in Bangkok
1. Tha Phae Walking Street — Leads to a photo spot to snap pics with the ‘Old Gate’
Image credit: @indymeenchannel
Let’s start off with this famous walking street. Tha Phae Walking Street is one of the most popular places where people from all walks of life come to do shopping or take leisurely walks at nightfall. Since it’s located in central Chiang Mai, I find it pretty easy to access for many people, especially tourists who are staying in the city’s centre.
Every Sunday, you’ll expect to see crowds of folks wandering around and browsing shops on the sides.
Image credit: @chanapong_junpisu
If you ever visit Tha Phae Walking Street, you can’t miss this large, iconic gate. Ta Phae Gate is a historic site and also a photo spot for visitors to prove they’ve made it to Chiang Mai.
On both sides in front of the gate lies a large number of handmade gift shops. A pro-tip is to look around at more than one stall selling similar things, as you’re likely to find crafts you’d like with cheaper prices.
Image credit: @scott_wild
Walking around rather mindlessly, you might encounter a live traditional Thai music performance in the middle of the road. If you enjoy their entertaining show, you can reward them with some coins in their jar.
Image credit: @yzzsyn
After walking for an hour, your stomach will give you a signal to grab some food. As expected, you’ll locate many northern food stalls while you walk along this particular street.
We’d highly recommend picking up a portion of Mee Yum (Spicy Noodles) from ฿20 (~USD2.37), which is a common gateway snack for most walking streets in Chiang Mai.
Finally, Tha Phae Walking Street is located close to many aesthetic temples, so you might want to go sightseeing first, before heading to this walking street in the evening.
Ta Phae Walking Street
Address: Rachadamnoen Rd, Tambon Si Phum, Mueang Chiang Mai District, Chiang Mai 50200
Opening Hours: 5PM – 10.30PM, Sunday
2. One Nimman — a European walking street for hipsters
Image credit: @ps_bill
FYI, Chiang Mai isn’t just home to traditional places for tourists to visit. There are also some European-themed areas to consider if you fancy indulging in those ‘overseas’ vibes.
One Nimman is an Italian-themed walking street that’s full of trendy clothes – particularly apt for those among us who consider themselves hipsters.
Image credit: @dooholee
After exploring the area for a while, you’ll find yourself standing in the plaza that is encircled by retro Italian-style establishments. The shadow you see on the ground is a clock tower that will remind you of ‘Sienna‘ in 1800s.
TBH, I – as a fan of Italy’s architecture and culture – had an urge to experience this place myself once I saw it in pictures.
Image credit: @dooholee
We hear there are loads of fashionable clothes to check out. Also, we’d suggest you get your money ready if you’re keen on collecting chic accessories because there are copious amounts of stylish accessories stacked on displays in each store.
Image credit: @dooholee
After giving your calves a workout, we won’t be surprised if you develop a thirst after being exposed to the heat for some time.
Look carefully as you turn the corner on this street, and you may just spot Kiew Kai Ka Cafe – a modern loft cafe in One Nimman to grab a cup of iced chocolate to cool down.
3. Warorot Market — a 3-storey complex with hundreds of street food stalls
Image credit: @ksrisuwan
Now it’s time to look at Warorot Market, a market that you can visit to get everything you’re looking for in a walking street – like food, glorious food.
On the outskirts of the market, you’ll spot hundreds of street food stalls sitting along the road. For those who are street food lovers, I guarantee this market will command your attention instantly.
Image credit: @allybunnyruth
Inside the massive complex, the market offers you 3-storeys worth of spaces to explore and locate the food items that you’ve kept in your must-try list when planning a visit to Chiang Mai.
Image credit: @lim_onpreeya
Topping our list of recommendations is a bowl of Khao Soi, a chicken broth mainly mixed with coconut milk, curry spices, and yellow noodles.
Khao Soi is a Northern dish you shouldn’t miss when you’re in Chiang Mai. If you’ve tried it before, let us know what you think but it’s always a comforting staple food in our books.
Image credit: @theheavenly_gd
Apart from the market, the street will lead you to the vicinity of a traditional Chinese temple where visitors often go to pay their respects or seek blessings. If you’d like to snap a pic for the road, just do so respectfully.
Address: Wichayanon Rd, Tambon Chang Moi, Mueang Chiang Mai District, Chiang Mai 50300
Opening Hours: 4AM – 6PM, Daily
4. Wua Lai Walking Street — Traditional architecture & hand-painted dinnerware
Image credit: @casavespa.cm
Wua Lai Walking Street in located at the heart of central Chiang Mai, and I find that it’s pleasant to go for a walk here to observe some traditional La Na buildings. For the uninitiated, La Na buildings are the ones with the sloping roofs – sometimes with guardian figurines perched at the tips.
Image credit: @siamxea
This street is also well-known for the shops that sell traditional Thai hand-painted dinnerware. If these patterns pique your interest, consider getting one or two plates to surprise your family back home with these extravagant pieces.
Image credit: @bear14latte
You’ll also spot plenty of cosy cafes to order a latte at, while you’re on your brief sojourn along this street. We’d recommend chilling at these nooks to recharge if you feel a little tired from walking, and then continuing the journey after.
Wua Lai Walking Street
Address: Wua Lai Rd, Tambon Phra Sing, Mueang Chiang Mai District, Chiang Mai 50100
Opening Hours: 4PM – 10PM, Saturday
5. Kad Farang — a modern community mall and Thai-style Starbucks
Image credit: @aunkung_wara
Before we get into elaborating on this street’s offerings, we bet you’ll be wondering why we’re leading this section with this commercial image of Starbucks of all things. Pay close attention to its roof – designed to pay homage to traditional Thai architecture and the reason could be clearer.
Kad Farang is located in the southern part of Chiang Mai. Although it’s sort of far from the centre, we think its features still make it worth mentioning on this list.
Image credit: @neo_future
This shopping space combines traditional Thai-style shops and a walking street that is brimming with modern outlets with brands that wouldn’t look out of place in a marketplace in Europe.
Keep walking a few more steps, you’ll reach an alley that’s lined with branded clothing stores. If you’re looking to indulge in some retail therapy on well-loved brands at some VAT-free prices, this is probably a good option.
Image credit: @cafekantary
Of course, there are some F&B options – including coffee shops – to take it easy and update your friends on social media on your hauls as well.
If you aren’t feeling the impulse to rush inside and order your fav cold brew at this Thai-style Starbucks, consider the more indie Cafe Kantary to hang around in the afternoon before deciding where to head to next.
6. Kad Malin — a night market for foodies near Chiang Mai University
Image credit: Qvan Qvan
Kad Malin is a night market near Chiang Mai university. For those who are passionate about food, we’re sure you’ll adore this place.
When you first get here, you will be inundated by the many street food booths that you might struggle to pick which one to try first.
Image credit: @khao_soi_song_pee_nong
Well, if you have no idea what to get, we’d recommend Khao Soi Song Pee Nong as a gateway dish for all first-time visitors. You can expect a big bowl of creamy yellow curry topped with crispy noodles and a massive fried chicken cutlet. Fans of Japanese curry dons will feel right at home here with this dish, for sure.
Image credit: กาดหน้ามอ เชียงใหม่
After enjoying your dinner, you’ll find that since the night is still young as the market closes at 11.30PM daily, feel free to explore the rest of the street. We spotted some smart dress shirts as well if you’d like to upgrade your wardrobe to look 10/10 profesh when meeting clients.
I believe you’ll find a ton of affordable clothes and accessories that suit you – pardon the pun – if you search hard enough, as this market does entertain mainly a university student crowd, due to its proximity to the school.
Address: 113/2 113/2, 99 Huay Kaew Rd, Mueang Chiang Mai District, Chiang Mai 50300
Opening Hours: 4.30PM – 11.30PM, Daily
7. Chamcha Market — artisan crafts and a retro bus cafe
Image credit: @chamchaamarket
If you’re seeking a place to catch a bit of sunlight amongst greenery while walking along Chiang Mai’s famed streets, Chamcha Market is a locale that’ll check both of those options for sure. The market is sheltered by plenty of huge leafy trees, so the humidity will be slightly abated as you explore the market.
Image credit: @wicker.thailand
Unlike other ordinary markets – I like that fact there are a lot of pretty handmade products for sale here. Some of these products are made directly in the workshops in the market. So if you’re interested, feel free to take a peek inside these workshops to watch the artisans at work.
Definitely keep a lookout for this traditional Thai bus in the market as well. At first, we thought it was just a display model, but it turned out to be Bus Pizza – a mini pizza eatery that offers a mezzanine floor on the bus’ rooftop via the staircase.
After purchasing your slices, opt for a seat downstairs or take your pizza and walk up the steps for an upstairs seat to catch a 360° view of Chamcha Market.
8. San Kamphaeng Walking Street — famous street food like grilled sticky rice and roasted bugs
Image credit: @om_surakit
Raise your hand if you’re visiting Thailand with the purpose of doing a street food eating spree. Boy, do we have the walking street for you.
San Kamphaeng Walking Street is popular among locals and tourists who enjoy ordering everything from grilled sticky rice, to crispy deep fried grasshoppers from the stalls along the sidewalk.
Image credit: Gartoon
For those wanting to binge-eat Northern street food – thankfully – San Kamphaeng is there for this very purpose with its many vendors and everchanging seasonal menus.
We’d say you should def try ‘Khao Ji‘ – as pictured above. The round balls of sticky rice are skewered, before being grilled and brushed with egg yolk and salt. It’s a snack that’s easy to eat while walking around, and I personally adore the crispiness of the charred edges thanks to the charcoal grill.
Image credit: anya
Here’s one for the more adventurous foodies among us. By this point in your trip, you may be pretty bored with typical Northern fare, so definitely consider ordering a plate of flavoured, deep-fried worms. I know it sounds disgusting, but you’ll be surprised how many people actually come to like it when they’ve mustered the courage to try one. I personally think these crunchy snacks are savoury and crispy – just like how you’d imagine eating chips.
By the way, there are plenty of different bugs to try on the menu at street food stalls here, apart from these worms. We’d recommend trying all of them to find out which bug is your favorite and to share your reactions with us.
San Khamphaeng Walking Street
Address: Ban Talad Soi 2 San Kamphaeng, San Kamphaeng District, Chiang Mai 50130
Opening Hours: 6AM – 10PM, Saturday
9. Jing Jai Market — walking street lined with old-timey houses & vibrant street art
Image credit: @jingjaimarketchiangmai
Jing Jai Market is market nestled among lush trees for those of you who adore trekking in nature instead of bustling markets in the city.
What’s pleasant about this market is that the stalls are scattered amongst the towering trees, with a rather minimalist aesthetic which creates open spaces to just enjoy the vibes while shopping.
Image credit: @chulbal_hara
Upon arriving, you’ll probably spot several apparel booths for you to search for casual garments – mostly collections that tout Korean minimalist vibes or Japan-inspired looks. Behind the booths, there are terraced buildings that harken back to traditional architecture. With both of these in mind, you may feel like you’re stepping right into a street market in Seoul or Kyoto.
Image credit: @kimbza
Not too far from that vintage house, you’ll also find elegant street art on the walls by local artists – and even though snapping a selfie’s pretty basic, no one’s gonna judge you if you can’t resist the urge.
Image credit: @rasawady
All things considered, I find this market worth-visiting since it offers visitors many things that other markets don’t – plus points for the sheltered trees and traditional houses to escape the glare of the afternoon sun.
10. Kalare Night Bazaar — for night owls who wan a pint or a dip in a fish foot spa
Image credit: @grendoggye
Sometimes, a lonely night could arouse our desire to go out and have fun to increase our oxytocin levels. But as choosy revelers, it’s quite hard to find the perfect spot to go out with the squad for a night to remember.
We chanced upon Kalare Night Bazaar that’s more than a walking street or night market that sells street food. It’s basically a food court, saloon, and live music show destination all rolled into one. Perfect for night owls and like-minded folk to gather and enjoy each other’s company as night falls.
Image credit: @jinogram
If you find yourself active at night or simply need to down a bottle to calm the mind before you sleep, these bars decked out in fairy lights are great for hanging around with your homies, or to catch Premier League football matches on a Saturday night.
Image credit: @chiangmai_memory
This may sound a little random, but Kalare Night Bazaar is also famous for offering a particular self-care service – fish spas.
Think little fish nibbling at your legs and feet to remove dead skin and flakes. Here’s the kicker. Right next to this spa stands a stage where a music band will be performing catchy Thai hits for passers-by to vibe with. We’re not sure if you’re ready for the full experience of getting smooth soles, while listening to smooth soulful live music, but in front of the stage, there are seats for the audience to sit with their food and enjoy the performance.
Getting here is no trouble. If you’re already staying in central Chiang Mai, you can hail a Grab car or motorbike taxi to reach within 10 minutes.
Exploring our beloved walking streets in Chiang Mai
Besides stumbling upon a cafe that you’ve read rave reviews about while exploring the central city, you’ll find that Chiang Mai does indeed have a lot more to offer in terms of night bazaars, street markets and homages to a vibrant culture. That’s also precisely why we – like many locals and tourists – keep returning to the these walking streets at the heart of Chiang Mai.
Most of these markets and walking streets are located directly in central Chiang Mai too, so it’s pretty convenient to go from one place to another within a short span of time.
Now that our list is complete, we’re not sure what’s left to do, other than to book plane or bus ticket to Chiang Mai, and get your sturdy walking shoes at the ready.
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