Chiang Mai Sunday Market: Thailand’s Famous Walking Street

Last updated May 15, 2022 | Published on Jan 10, 2022

I love shopping at street fairs and flea markets. There’s nothing quite like browsing a selection of handicrafts in an open-air market while bantering with vendors and snacking on street food.

If you love outdoor markets as much as I do, then you can’t miss the Chiang Mai Sunday Market the next time you’re in Thailand – a must-do on any Chiang Mai itinerary.

Located in the northwestern corner of the country, this famous walking street features all kinds of homemade crafts and goods for sale by local Thai people. From silk scarves to colored umbrellas and hand-knitted caps to the ubiquitous Thai elephant pants, you can find all sorts of amazing things for sale at the Chiang Mai Sunday Market.

Also known as the Chiang Mai Walking Street or the Tha Pae Walking Street, this weekly market is one of the best and most well-known markets in Chiang Mai. Every Sunday night, Ratchadamnoen Road in Chiang Mai’s Old City is transformed into a bustling outdoor market. During this time no cars are allowed along the street and the road is packed with tourists and locals alike.

The outside of Wat Sum Pow temple is transformed into an outdoor food hall during Chiang Mai Sunday Market

The outside of Wat Samphao temple is transformed into an outdoor food hall every Sunday night

Even if you don’t purchase any souvenirs, Chiang Mai Walking Street is worth a visit. The city is famous for its spectacular temples and there are several gorgeous examples along the route.

You can also find a wide assortment of street foods and snacks along with music, art, and multiple sit-down restaurants. There is even an entire area dedicated to massages.

Pro tip: you will need proof of vaccination to enter the Walking Street. For more details see the COVID Entrance Requirements section below.

Some goods on display during Sunday Walking Street

Shopping for Souvenirs

The highlight of Chiang Mai Sunday Market is, of course, shopping at the various stalls. All kinds of items are available for sale along the walking street, with an emphasis on handmade items and handicrafts.

You can also find an endless variety of clothing – from silk-shirts and t-shirts to skirts and scarves and everything in-between. A number of stalls feature brightly colored clothing and accessories covered in dangly pom-poms. These stalls are typically run by the local hill tribes and are renowned for their traditional clothing.

Not everything at the market is homemade. There are also some stalls selling tourist trinkets and mass-produced items that you could expect to find at a tourist shop. But I found that to be the exception rather than the rule.

Thai silk shirts on sale for 220 baht ($6.50 USD)

I had to restrain myself from buying these cute souvenirs as there is no room in my backpack

This adorable pooch models some doggie-size clothing made by the local hill tribes

My favorite shop at the walking street is one that sells Thai pants. I bought several pairs of pants from this vendor during my first visit to Thailand and wore them until they disintegrated. I was very happy to find a stall selling the exact same pants on my recent visit to Chiang Mai.

Bargaining is acceptable when shopping for items in the market, especially when you are spending a lot of money at one stall or buying multiple items. I’ll admit I didn’t bargain very often though. It isn’t a skill I’m especially familiar with.

Hooray for Thai pants! My favorite!

Street Food

Be sure to arrive hungry as there is no shortage of amazing food on offer at the Chiang Mai Sunday Market. Food stalls selling all kinds of yummy foods are interspersed among the clothing stalls as you walk along the street.

If you’re really hungry, however, look for a bunch of street food vendors grouped together with a seating area. There are several of these makeshift food halls along the walking street, usually located at temples. Here you can find a wide variety of food to choose from in a single area, along with seating (and bathrooms).

Wat Samphao temple is one of my favorite food halls and has a vast selection of food vendors. Wat Phan On and Wat Si Koet are two other temples with a thriving collection of street food every Sunday night.

Pro tip: grab a seat at one of the designated eating areas to enjoy your snack or drink. Due to the pandemic, eating while walking is currently prohibited.

Steamed buns and pork dumplings to go

Meat on a stick? Yes please!

A vendor sells rotis filled with sweet toppings. A roti is a tortilla-like flatbread.

Daniel grabs a low seat in the food cart area behind Wat Samphao temple

Street Musicians

No street fair would be complete without music! The Sunday Night Walking Street features a great collection of musicians interspersed throughout the market.

Some bands play traditional hill tribe music and others play rock/blues. Many of the musicians are blind or disabled and make their living from performing at the Sunday market.

Be sure to stop by the performance area in front of the information booth on Prapokkloa Road. Various bands typically perform there throughout the evening and are worth a listen.

Two blind musicians play music in the middle of the walking street as the crowd stands in the background

Musicians performing at Chiang Mai’s Walking Street

A band plays music on the main stage next to the information booth

Massage Lane

While you are strolling along the Chiang Mai Sunday Market, why not rest your aching feet and get a massage?

This market is unique in that it features an entire side street filled with masseuses. A row of chairs line the street that are typically filled with people getting foot rubs. It’s not something that I’ve seen outside of Thailand before.

And it’s affordable too! A half-hour massage will generally run you 80 baht ($2.40 USD).

Would you care for a foot massage?

Art Road

If you’re in the market for art, another side street is filled with paintings from local artists. To find the artwork, head to the information booth at Prapokkloa Road and turn north.

I love browsing the artwork and seeing the various pieces on display. It’s not something that I have room for in my backpack, however, so I’ve had to content myself with just looking. Maybe someday I’ll find that perfect work of art and ship it home.

Art on display at the Sunday night market

Temples

Chiang Mai is famous for its Buddhist temples. In fact, it’s hard to walk very far in Old Town without running into a magnificent temple (or two). There are 117 Buddhist temples in Chiang Mai alone.

There are several temples located along the Chiang Mai Sunday Market that are worth visiting. While most temples typically close their doors in the evenings, some stay open late on Sunday nights so that visitors to the market can enter.

Wat Phra Singh is one of the best temples to visit during walking street. Located on the market’s west side, its doors are typically open to visitors on Sunday nights. Wat Phantao is another lovely temple that is open to visitors during the weekly market.

No matter which temple you choose, leave your shoes outside the door and dress respectfully. Be sure to wear clothing that covers your knees and shoulders before entering.

Wat Phantao Temple during Sunday Walking Street

An outdoor food market outside of Wat Si Koet temple

Chiang Mai Sunday Market Practical Information

When is it?

The market is held every Sunday from 4:00 pm to 11:00 pm. Vendors are still setting up their stalls in the first couple of hours but things really get going after dark. The Thai Anthem is played on speakers at 6:00 pm (plan to stop where you are and stand respectfully until the music is over).

This is one of Chiang Mai’s most popular tourist attractions so it can get quite crowded after 7:00 pm. If you’d prefer a less crowded experience, plan to arrive earlier.

The crowds along Chiang Mai walking street after dark

Where is it Located?

Chiang Mai Sunday Market is located on Ratchadamnoen Road in the heart of Old Town (Mueang Chiang Mai District). The route is 1.1 km (.7 miles) long and runs from Tha Pae Gate to the Wat Pra Singh Temple.

COVID Entrance Requirements

Requirements in place as of February 2022

After a long hiatus due to the COVID pandemic, the walking street started up again in December 2021 and is still going strong. There are now regulations in place to help curb the spread of COVID-19.

All attendees to the Sunday market must present proof of vaccination before entering and get their temperature scanned. They must also wear a mask the entire time and provide contact trace information via the Thai-chana app (find the app on Google Play or Apple App Store). If you don’t have the app you can also log your name and contact information on a notepad.

Be aware that you cannot eat or drink while you walk around the street fair. I’m a little sad about this as it’s one of my favorite parts of visiting a street fair, but it makes sense. If you do purchase food at the walking street, you can consume it at one of the designated eating areas near one of the temples.

Entrance station at the western end of the walking street

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Hi, I'm Unicorn!

I am an avid hiker, traveler, and adventurer who is on the mission to explore hiking trails around the world.  I’m also obsessed with National Parks, long-distance trails and other outdoorsy things.

I hope to share this knowledge with you and inspire you to explore new hiking trails too!

4 Comments

  1. madhuonthego

    I love visiting Asian markets..they are so vibrant and full of life ..thanks for sharing

    Reply
  2. Hailey | The Restless Adventurer

    I didn’t make it here when I visited Thailand. I’ve been wanting to go back there though, so I’ll add this to my list!

    Reply
  3. Christina

    Love street fairs. The Wat Phantao Temple is beautiful at night.

    Reply
  4. pinkcaddytraveloguegmailcom

    That foot masage line is so wild!! This looks like quite the vibrant experience!

    Reply

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