Forget the Night Bazaar and hit this market by the Silver Temple when you’re in Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Wualai Market, also known as the Saturday Walking Street, is a lively outdoor market with hundreds of street vendors that runs from 5-11 p.m. every Saturday evening in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Since we were visiting Wat Sri Suphan, known as the Silver Temple, on a Saturday and the market was conveniently located nearby, we both agreed that it was the perfect opportunity to check it out.
You can purchase everything from a variety of traditional handicrafts, clothes, tote bags, handmade hill tribe products to local herbal remedies. A short walk from the Old City’s South (Chiang Mai) Gate, the market takes place on Wualai Street, home to silver craftsmen. The enclave was resettled in the late 18th century by Burmese Shan state refugees, and its name refers to Ban Ngua Lai, a Shan village on the Salween River.
Perhaps because it’s the smaller, secluded sibling of the better-known Sunday Walking Street on Ratchadamnoen Road, the Wualai Market feels more authentic and less tourist driven. The market spans the entire length of Wualai Road, a few of the narrow lanes in between, and is closed to motorized traffic.
Prices are incredibly reasonable, so you’ll be sure to find some bargains here. Many Chiang Mai University art students use this marketplace to display their wares. Wally and I discovered a young woman selling charming linocut postcard-sized art and purchased a few of them as souvenirs.
If you get hungry while shopping, you’re in luck. Scattered along the Saturday Walking Street are food stalls to satisfy your appetite and quench your thirst. Look for the small courtyard with makeshift tables amongst a cluster of market food stalls with vendors selling a wide selection of Thai street food fare. Wally and I feasted upon a delicious bowl of spicy and sour tom yum soup, washed down with bottles of Leo beer purchased from a bar-like cart at the back.
If your tired feet need some help, there are plenty of makeshift street-side massage shops to choose from.
Periodically, you’ll encounter street musicians performing for donations. While the market is smaller than the Sunday Market, it becomes more crowded as the sun sets, so it’s worth turning up early. By 8:30 p.m., when we left, the streets were bustling with pedestrians, and progress through the crowds was slow.
There’s a line of tuk-tuks to take you elsewhere — just make sure to agree on the fare before you get in. They were all quoting the same price, one that was much too high for the journey back to our hotel, so Wally and I walked a block or so away and found someone who wasn’t charging an exorbitant sum. –Duke