When you’re in Thailand
Every week a full square mile in the heart of Chiang Mai’s Old City bursts into an orchestra of sights and sounds and smells. That makes a Chiang Mai Sunday walking street visit a definite “you’ve-got-to-go.” It’s not to be confused with Saturday walking street, by the way, which is much smaller and obviously on Saturday not Sunday. And it’s definitely distinct from the much more low-key weekday night bazaar in the tourist area of town.
The first time we went to Chiang Mai Sunday walking street, we took a quick cab late afternoon to avoid a walk (We were exhausted from earlier “eating” activities in the day, something you’ll experience a lot of in Thailand. Thai people love to eat!) Most people start at Thae Gate and walk along Ratchadamnoen Road. We started at the opposite side of the square and began to walk.
You can walk the whole square in about 20 minutes—unless you stop. And who can avoid stopping. There’s just too much to see and taste and experience to walk on by.
Locals line the streets with stalls that showcase the food culture and artisanship of Northern Thailand. Okay some of the crafts are kitschy, but in between the tourist traps are authentic artisans that know their craft.
Brightly painted bowls
And sprinkled in the crowds of people we heard musicians and singers that got donations more from pity than from any appreciation of their talents. Plenty of others though were really good.
At several stalls we saw delicately carved flowers–made out of soap. Give these guys a knife and a couple of hours and they’ll whittle a block of white soap into a masterpiece. Add a few airbrush touches and it’s done.
Of course the highlight of the Chiang Mai Sunday walking street for us and for most people is the FOOD! Everywhere you see steaming pots with rich noodle broth, smoking grills covered in sausages, chilies, and prawns and everything from edible bugs like cicadas and crickets to rows of fresh coconuts. Or choose one of the cups filled with mangos and pineapples for a smoothie of your choice.
Or for the more adventurous eaters (that would be my husband) a few pork delicacies.
After all the eating and walking, we came across a long line of low stools and basins of water where women eagerly offered us a foot massage. I admit I was tempted but opted for something more leisurely back at the hotel spa.
Reading about Sunday night Walking Street has nothing has nothing on stepping inside the real-life experience. If you’re exploring Chiang Mai, put the Chiang Mai Sunday walking street on your list!