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Shopping in Chiang Mai

Shopping in Chiang Mai is some of the best in the country thanks to the city's close proximity to traditional handicraft villages, several busy night markets and a slew of new shopping centres.

Key areas

Though you can find shops and markets spread throughout the city, some of the best shopping areas are found around Tha Pae Gate and along Thanon Tha Pae toward the river as well as Thanon Nimmanhaemin and Thanon Wualai.

Markets

Chiang Mai’s Saturday and Sunday Walking Streets (on Thanon Wualai and Thanon Rachadamoen respectively) are must-sees popular with locals and tourists alike while the massive Night Bazaar, at the junction of Thanon Chang Klan and Thanon Loi Kroh, sells just about every souvenir and craft you can think of and cheap counterfeit designer goods.

Also worth visiting is Wororot Market, Chiang Mai's oldest bazaar, along the river north of Thanon Tha Pae. The nightly student market, located on Thanon Huay Kaew near the back entrance of Chiang Mai University, is good for cheap clothing, accessories and snacks.

For additional handicrafts, visit the nearby village of Ban Tawai, about 15km (9 miles) away, for wood carvings and furniture, or Bo Sang, about 9km (6 miles) away, for hand-painted souvenir umbrellas.

Shopping centres

The major shopping centres include CentralPlaza Chiangmai Airport at 2 Thanon Mahidol Road, Maya Lifestyle Shopping Center at 55 Moo 5, Thanon Huay Kaew Road and Central Festival at 99/3 Moo 4, off the Superhighway. All house international brands and stores.

Opening hours

Opening times vary, but most shops are open daily from 0900-2000. Morning markets start around 0600 and close in the late afternoon, while night markets tend to open by 1800 and close around 2300. Larger shopping malls are open daily beginning late morning until between 2100 and 2300.

Souvenirs

Chiang Mai is an artist's town, so along with the typical elephant-print harem trousers, all of the best souvenirs are handmade. These include decorative umbrellas, celadon pottery and carved wooden furniture. You'll also find plenty of tribal textiles and silver jewellery unique to northern Thailand.

Tax information

Foreign tourists are eligible to receive a VAT refund on certain purchases as long as they leave via an international airport and take the goods out of Thailand within 60 days of buying them. You must produce the original receipts and fill in a VAT Refund Application Form (VAT Form 10) at the airport before checking in. Participating stores will display a ‘VAT Refund For Tourists’ sign.

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Riverside House

Spacious, air-conditioned and simply furnished rooms are set in three blocks, and there's a small swimming pool in the garden too. Breakfast is free, and there's also a small cafe serving meals. Set along the Ping River near Saphan Lek (Iron Bridge), the hotel is also five minutes' from the night market.

Varada Place

Set on a quiet side street, this hotel offers excellent value. The simple, spacious rooms all have balconies and are furnished with small fridges, microwaves and balconies. Breakfast isn't offered, but there are plenty of options nearby.

Galare Guest House

The riverside setting is the big draw at this long-established, family-run guesthouse. Upmarket, comfortable rooms with air conditioning and hot water overlook a shady, peaceful lawn that leads down to an appealing covered restaurant on the banks of the River Ping.

Mandarin Oriental Dhara Devi

A few kilometres east of the city centre, the Mandarin Oriental Dhara Dhevi is a stunning mock-up of a traditional Lanna village, with elegant stucco and mahogany villas and pavilions dotted around a vast garden of rice fields, palm trees and pools. Additional features include a spa, a themed swimming pool and three restaurants. One of the best hotels in Chiang Mai.

Gap's House

Centred on a leafy courtyard, this comfy hotel in Chiang Mai is crammed with antiques and northern Thai bric-a-brac, and the tasteful rooms have air conditioning and hot showers. The restaurant serves a popular evening vegetarian buffet, and the owners run a Thai cooking course in their village home. No advance reservations are taken.

Julie Guesthouse

The most popular backpacker haunt in Chiang Mai, this agreeable guesthouse has a relaxing garden full of exotic plants, a roof terrace full of hammocks, a popular travel agency offering adventure tours, and a terrace restaurant that is always full of travellers swapping stories.