For holidaymakers and ex pats like myself, the Chiang Mai Night Bazaar in Chan Klang Road, Chiang Mai is usually on everyone’s “must do” list. The area is also a popular haunt for the many tourists that visit because of its girlie bars, restaurants and hotels. The Night Bazaar is always prominent on maps of the city and any tuk-tuk driver will take you there in no time at all. The Night Market being in the heart of the city means that many tourists are within walking distance from their hotels, so many people decide to make more than one visit.
As dusk falls every evening the centre of Chiang Mai comes alive with street vendors setting up their stalls to display a wide variety of goods. How they squeeze so many stalls onto the pavements at the side of the road, I shall never know, however, the colours, aromas and people, make it an attraction worth any holidaymaker’s time.
There are plenty of bargains to be had and on the many occasions I have shopped there, I have always picked up many items such as scarves, pottery, handicrafts, T-Shirts and even a fake Rolex watch!! The key to all this activity is remembering to barter which is part of the fun. The many street vendors I have dealt with certainly barter in a friendly fashion with no aggressive sales tactics, unlike some European resorts I could mention. If an item, for instance, a coloured silk scarf has been quoted at 400 baht (about 8 pounds), I always begin by quoting back 100 baht (about 2 pounds), take it from there and usually end up somewhere in the middle. The seller and myself both always seem to be happy with the deal.
Many holidaymakers purposefully visit Chiangmai to take a trip to the Night Bazaar. I have seen suits being measured up ready for collection the next evening, Asian silver jewellery being eagerly bought and of course there are always DVD stalls that sell the latest blockbuster movies. I would advise anyone to go early, around 6 p.m. as by 8 o’clock the Bazaar itself is usually heaving with people, of different nationalities from all over the world.
The Chiangmai Night Market has gained legendary status within Thailand and indeed further afield. It is one of the cheapest places for holidaymakers to shop because of its close proximity to the source of products and the fact that the cost of living in Chiangmai is still relatively cheap. Many small soi (lanes) feed in and out of the Night Market which offer tourists the chance to sample local foods in the Thai restaurants that are nearby. There are also a number of camera shops, travel agents, bars and internet cafes dotted around the area that are also visited in large numbers too.
Returning to the subject of bartering, which can seem awkward to some holidaymakers, is to take your time and be patient. The longer you persist with this friendly dialogue to the street vendor, the better your final price will become. It is worth remembering however that the goods for sale are usually very cheap to start with and the most of the vendors earn modest incomes.
So if you have never been to Chiangmai’s Night Bazaar do pay it a visit, you may love it as much as I do.