Chiang Mai in the day, not too much to say.
But Chiang Mai at night? A foodies delight!
Basically, what I am saying is, we didn’t find much to do in Chiang Mai during the daytime. Don’t get me wrong, there are of course landmarks, coffee shops and plenty of temples to visit. But by this point we were a little ‘temple’d out’. (If you are too, read my post about Ayutthaya). We also don’t drink coffee. So, the days passed, slowly. On the contrary, Chiang Mai at night is full of sweet, street treats. Eating accompanied by music, dancing, shopping, drinking… there was so much to fit in (in our stomach’s that is!)
Note: The photographs in this post aren’t ours (except the one with me in it), I had dropped and broken the camera before we got to Chiang Mai!
Each night had its own personality. Here’s what we got up to in Chiang Mai at night.
Night one – North Gate Jazz Co-op – the party-goer
What a place! This little music bar was a great stop and very popular with both tourists and locals. Get there before 20:30 if you want to grab a seat, otherwise you’ll feel the squeeze. One staff member did nothing but guide people to a seat, helping them move chairs to find space, and stop people from sitting on the ancient wall of the city which fell opposite the bar. When the bar was full, he too grabbed a beer and danced with the people. The music was phenomenal. Two bands played, both sounding incredible with trumpets, saxophones and a mean bass player. The atmosphere was as electric as the guitar. People danced and drank with strangers. Here you’ll find all walks of life, first dates, travellers, couples, locals, jazz fanatics. Definitely worth spending a night here. But note, the party stops at 12 midnight.
Night two – Sunday Night Market (Walking Street) – the shopaholic.
A great place for street food and souvenir’s. The majority of Rachadamnoen Road is taken up by stalls selling clothes, food, drinks, sunglasses, trinket boxes, underwear, paintings, the list goes on. This, hands down, was the best food we ate on the street markets in the whole of Thailand. We had pumpkin chips, juicy and yummy. Fresh fish cakes in a spicy sauce. Deep fried banana blossom? Which are crispy, savoury with only a hint of banana. All were truly delicious. Food and incense smells battled in the air, whilst street performers filled the sounds with their songs. A great place to wonder around and take in the sights and shop.
Night three – Ploen Ruedee Night Market and Night Bazaar – the entertainer.
The Night Bazaar was an unusual place. We only spent a few minutes here, but if you are in the area it’s worth popping in. Shaped like an indoor market, it is full of empty spaces. What I’m sure used to be thriving, now seems to be dying. On the lower level was the craft area. We did see plenty of artists working down in the market, some really talented painters and drawers. They sit surrounded by their work whilst they paint from photographs. On the upper level there were a few bars dotted about amidst the closed shutters. An unusual place but still worth a noisy.
Next door you will find Ploen Ruedee Night Market. Note: This is closed on Sunday’s due to the Sunday Night Market, but open every other day between 17:30 and 12 midnight. As you circle what looks like a local food festival, you will find cuisines from around the world. American burgers, Turkish kebabs, Chinese bao buns… I had a teriyaki chicken bao bun and it was delicious, one of the yummiest things I have eaten since we started travelling! The stalls surround an open area full of picnic benches and old chairs. Within that you will find a stage with musicians, serenading you as you eat. After your main meal you could grab a beer, a smoothie, an ice-cream or crepe? There is so much to choose from, you’ll be drooling as you try to decide.
So if you are planning on a visit to Chiang Mai, get your afternoon naps in and spend more time awake in the night. Your taste buds will thank you for it.