Monday, 4 August 2014

Things to do in Chiang Mai: Sunday Night Market

The Sunday Night Market in Chiang Mai is a must if you're ever in Thailand. It's held every Sunday from around four, starts at the Tha Pae Gate and goes on and on along Ratchadamnoen Road. It's a walking market so unlike the Chiang Mai Night Bazaar, you're able to walk freely through the street without any cars. I suggest getting there around five-ish, so it's not overly crowded and still bright. The Sunday Night Market is also a great place to witness the six o'clock stand still, where the Thai national anthem is played and everyone stops what they're doing and completely freeze. It was such a contrasting period of time, one second locals and tourists were haggling, talking, shouting and laughing loudly while shuffling through the market, and the next second everyone stopped and the whole street was engulfed in silence and stillness. When the anthem finished everything and everyone resumed their pace like nothing happened.

The Sunday Market, in my opinion, was more favourable than the Chiang Mai Night Bazaar. The Sunday Market had more diversity in what was being sold. At the Night Bazaar, we constantly saw the same things on sale, Thai baggy pants, imitation jewelry, shoes and watches, but the Sunday Market sold traditional crafts, bags and other great things. It was more authentic and not mass produced like the Night Bazaar. The absence of cars also made walking easier and it gave us a chance to view more stalls. However, both are a must when visiting Chiang Mai.

The Sunday Walking Market had so many shops and street entertainers that played and sang music, it created such a fun and fast-paced atmosphere! When walking along Ratchadamnoen Road, make sure you keep an eye out for two Thai temples Wat Phan Tao and Wat Chedi Luang. And also, there's a great sections that branches off from the main street where traditional Thai street food are sold. We bought these great little sweet snacks called Khanom Buang, which was basically a thin and crisp outer shell holding coconut flavoured mousse and sweetened coconut shreds. The mousse had a melted marshmallow like consistency. It was such an interesting snack, flavour and texture wise, I really enjoyed it! 

At the end of the road, in front of a traditional Thai dancing school, there was a stage set up and we were able to watch the students performances. There were so many categories and girls dressed in traditional costume and full make up. Their dancing was so unique! Hand movement seemed to be really important in Thai dancing, they were so graceful, delicate and precise in what they were doing.

We bought biscuits from this tiny old woman sitting on the floor surrounded by snacks on sale for fifty Bahts. She didn't speak a word of English and what she was doing was amazing! I wonder how old she is? We bought two types, one was a rice cracker that was really subtle in flavour and these sweet deep fried flower shaped biscuits.

One thing we noticed in Chiang Mai was the cleanliness! There is absolutely no rubbish anywhere whatsoever. Throughout the trip, I think I only saw about three pieces of rubbish laying on the ground. It is absolutely so clean in Chiang Mai! There's no rubbish smell that is quite common in south-east Asian countries and everything is spotless and neat. Through the market, a lot of the stalls had signs up that said "You may leave your rubbish with us.". I thought this was great! The locals really have a mentality of keeping things clean and handling rubbish properly. Even in the rivers, although isn't a pleasant colour, had no rubbish floating around! There wasn't rubbish bins everywhere, it was actually quite hard to find one, nevertheless there was no littering at all. It really gives you a peace of mind and the overall atmosphere was great because it wasn't ruined by bad smells or rotting food containers etc. Absolutely loved the Sunday Night Market! Here's a tip: When booking a flight to Chiang Mai, make sure you're there for a weekend so you can go to the Sunday Market!