Chiang Mai Day 1 (9 Nov 17) – Exploring the Shopping in the Northern City of Thailand

in Hello Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai is the second-largest city in Thailand and is the northernmost city in the country. Chiang Mai used to be the capital of Siam, the old name for Thailand before the capital shifted to Ayuthaya and subsequently to the current city of Bangkok. Chiang Mai is full of historic sites, mainly Thai temples. Other than temples and shopping, people visit Chiang Mai for the sceneries. Chiang Mai houses Thailand’s highest peak, Doi Inthanon measuring an astounding 2,565m. During this trip, I visited mostly temples and of course, shopping!

Looking into the tarmac of Chiang Mai International Airport

Driving to the hotel in Chiang Mai

As we were rather tired due to having to wake up early to catch our flight from Singapore to Chiang Mai, I planned today to be light. We plan to visit one of the few shopping malls in Chiang Mai followed by strolling in the night market in Chiang Mai. The taxis in Chiang Mai is unlike those we saw in Bangkok. The taxi in Chiang Mai is modified from pickup trucks, Songthaew which literally means 2 rows, can ferry up to as many passengers as it can take. Instead of running on meters, these Songthaews charges a flat fee of ฿30 per person that takes you anywhere in the city.  Maya Lifestyle Shopping Centre is located across the city from the hotel we stayed in. As we were driven across the Old City, remnants of the Old City Wall are still visible. Most of the Old City walls are reduced to rumbles, except for the Eastern City Gate of Pratu Tha Phae, which seem to be have been restored either to attract tourists or to commemorate a glorious past when these walls were useful.

Getting onto Songthaew, Chiang Mai’s version of a taxi
These Songthaews are comfortable and cooling, making the experience of travelling within Chiang Mai unique
The moat in marking the limits of Old City in Chiang Mai
This remnant of the Old City Wall is a common sight in Chiang Mai

The Modern Shopping – Maya Lifestyle Shopping Centre

Driving across the Old City, we soon find ourselves arriving at Maya Lifestyle Shopping Centre. The facade of the shopping centre looks promising as a place where we can shop till we drop. Maya Lifestyle Shopping Centre is a modern shopping mall with 7 floors of shopping including a basement. Our excitement soon died down as we entered the Maya Lifestyle Shopping Centre. The shopping mall was dead and there are very few people shopping here. Even the effort to hold a Northern Thailand roadshow failed to draw in the crowd. As it passed lunchtime, we were more concern with filling our stomachs and did not let the lack of life in the shopping mall bothered us. We headed straight to the 4th floor to hunt for food. After walking around a couple of times, we did not find anything that suits us. Instead, we settled our lunch at a Thai brand cafe that serves Thai food.

Christmas decorations already up outside Maya Lifestyle Shopping Centre
Outside Maya Lifestyle Shopping Centre
The facade of Maya Lifestyle Shopping Centre

After lunch, we walked around the shopping mall, thinking that we might enjoy the shopping here after all. However, no matter how we try to find things that might excite us in terms of shopping here, we fail to do so. Most of the time, we find ourselves walking in the mall like zombies. Perhaps due to the lack of crowd that makes the entire shopping mall boring. Finally, we decided to give up and head back to the hotel to rest and get ready for dinner. As we were walking out of Maya Lifestyle Shopping Centre, the night market outside the shopping mall started operations. This is where we saw more people walking around these night market stores in the shopping mall. Stores are selling everyday stuff such as clothing and footwear, as well as a section where one can find delicious street food.

A small night market set up outside Maya Lifestyle Shopping Centre

Night market outside Maya Lifestyle Shopping Centre

Maya Lifestyle Shopping Centre

Strolling in the Night Bazaar

We headed back to the hotel and rest a little before heading to the restaurant in the hotel for dinner, that is part of the hotel package we booked. After dinner, it is time to explore the night bazaar that is just outside the hotel we are staying. The night bazaar opens daily from 6pm to midnight and is situated east of the Old City, between Ping River and the East gate of Tha Phae along Chang Khlan Road. Countless stalls that seem to stretch forever lined up along both sides of Chang Khlan Road, mostly selling T-shirts and handicraft items. Generally, I find things being sold in this Night Bazaar cheaper than what one would find in the night markets of Bangkok. Walking along the street of stalls is sufficient to occupy one’s night with endless shopping. As though these make-shift night market stalls are insufficient to satisfy visitors’ shopping needs, some shops on either side of Chang Khlan Road operates late into the night every day. As we walked along the street full of stalls that burst into life at night, there are some pockets of entrances that lead to more night market shops. There is one such entrance leads to a large food area. Stalls lined up around the parameter of this area where one can find Thai cuisine being sold alongside cuisines from other countries.

Thai set dinner in the hotel

Thai set dinner in the hotel

Walking along Chiang Mai Night Bazaar

Walking along Chiang Mai Night Bazaar

The food area in Chiang Mai Night Bazaar

The food area in Chiang Mai Night Bazaar

The food area in Chiang Mai Night Bazaar

Taking a wefie at the food area in Chiang Mai Night Bazaar

Lanterns in  Chiang Mai Night Bazaar

Along Chang Khlan Road, some entrances lead one to huge areas of night market stalls under the shelter provided by huge tentages, which makes these areas weatherproof. The stalls here mainly sells clothing. 2 wooden structured buildings, one on either side of the road, with huge letters that spell “Night Bazaar” seem to promise more shopping inside. These night bazaars are a lot quieter than the main streets, with stalls selling mostly art pieces. There isn’t a lot of crowd inside these night bazaars. After walking around the Chiang Mai Night Bazaar for a while, the stalls seem to be repetitive, selling mostly the same items. Our mood shifted from finding out what’s on sale to which stall offers a better deal.

More stalls at Chiang Mai Night Bazaar

Some of the roadside stalls in Chiang Mai Night Bazaar

Chiang Mai Night Bazaar

More stalls in Chiang Mai Night Bazaar

One of the shops in Chiang Mai Night Bazaar

Shopping around Chiang Mai Night Bazaar

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