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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.