Chiang Mai Day 4 (12 Nov 17) – Last Stop of Our Trip: Shopping in Warorot Market

Shopping in a Local Market – Warorot Market

Today is our final day in Chiang Mai. Our flight leaves Chiang Mai at 5pm and since we have a few hours to kill, we headed for Warorot Market after breakfast. Warorot Market is located around 7 mins walk from the hotel we were staying along the night bazaar street. Warorot Market comprises of 2 buildings on either side of the main road, selling similar goods. The market seems like a place where locals visit to get their daily needs. The stalls in the 3-storey Warorot Market are arranged in a rather systematic manner. Most of the stalls on the ground floor sell food items as well as a section where one can find eateries. At the centre of the ground floor is where fresh food items are being sold. The second and third level of Warorot Market is occupied by stalls selling clothing, shoes and bags. I find more locals visiting this market then tourists. There are more shops around the main building of Warorot Market, making this a great place for visitors to get last minute souvenirs before heading home. We could have spent hours shopping for souvenirs in Warorot Market, however as we have a plane to catch, we had to head back to the hotel and get ready for our flight home.

Warorot Market is a market that serves mainly locals
Such shops selling clothing are a common sight in Warorot Market
More shops selling clothes in Warorot Market
A section of Warorot Market selling fresh produce
The centre of Warorot Market on the ground floor sells mainly fresh produce
Warorot Market

Time to Bide Chiang Mai Goodbye

We left for the airport at around 3pm, in time for our flight home. I find people in Chiang Mai are friendlier and more patient as compared to their counterparts in Bangkok. The pace of life is slower here as well. The streets of Chiang Mai is cleaner and the prices of things in Night Market is lower than Bangkok. Chiang Mai is a place where even the locals, especially those from Bangkok visit to get a break from the hustle and bustle of city life. Even the air is fresher in Chiang Mai. There are beautiful sceneries and spectacular waterfalls in Chiang Mai, which I did not manage to visit. Perhaps the next time if I return to this northern city of Thailand, my focus will be more of nature.

Having a glass of mocktail before we depart Chiang Mai in the hotel
Departure drinks from the hotel
Driving towards the airport
Chiang Mai International Airport
Some very last minute shopping in the airport
Waiting to board our aircraft
The bird that will bring us home
Taxiing to runway
Flying past Doi Suthep
Doi Suthep and city of Chiang Mai
Bye bye Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai Day 3 (11 Nov 17) – Wat Chedi Luang and Wat Phan Tao – Ancient Temples in Old City and Another Day of Shopping in Chiang Mai

Today we planned to visit some of the temples in the Old City, after all during my research prior to this trip, I found out that there are several temples worth visiting in the Old City. As we did not have the dedicated car today, we moved around in the city via songthaew.

The impressive stupa in Wat Chedi Luang

The Chedi That Stood the Test of Time – Wat Chedi Luang

Our first stop today is Wat Chedi Luang. The main draw for us to visit Wat Chedi Luang is the partially ruin chedi that was believed to be the tallest building in ancient Chiang Mai. Entering Wat Chedi Luang, pass the ticketing counter, a small shrine – Inthakhin Pillar Vihara at the side of the main building is the first thing that we visit. Interestingly, there is a sign that says women are not allowed to enter this shrine. Upon reading the sign, it is believed that the city pillar of Chiang Mai was buried beneath this shrine and that women who entered might cause social instability. The interior of Inthakhin Pillar Vihara is very colourful, with paintings that depict Buddhism in Thailand. We headed for the main prayer hall just a little into the temple grounds of Wat Chedi Luang’s main entrance, pass Inthakhin Pillar Vihara. This large viharn is guarded by 2 elephants and 2 nagas, the 3 tiered roof of the main shrine is a work of art. The facade of the shrine is covered with Lanna-styled gold elaborate and detailed carvings. The interior of the viharn, decked in maroon and gold colours, look grand and elegant. A row of chandelier hangs in the centre of the ceiling that leads all the way into the prayer hall. The main Buddha, standing a whopping 3 storey tall, was cast in the 14th century. To this date, the Buddha statue is very well maintained and there are no signs that show its age. Visitors to Wat Chedi Luang can buy some gold foils from a desk at the entrance of the viharn to paste onto the Buddha statues. The Thais believe that pasting of gold foils onto Buddha statues is a way of making merits and is also believed that one would get their prayers answered by doing so. There is a row of small stupas nearer to the entrance of the temple building, where visitors can paste the gold foils according to the zodiac animals that one is born in. There are also Buddha statues further into the viharn next to the stupas, where one can paste the gold foil according to the day of the week one is born. We bought 3 gold foils and pasted one onto the Buddha statue at the entrance of the viharn, one on the stupa according to our zodiac animal and one onto the Buddha statues according to the day of our birth.

Guardian at Wat Chedi Luang
Entrance of Wat Chedi Luang, from this angle, the massive stupa is not visible
Viharn that the city pillar is buried beneath. Woman are not allowed to enter this small viharn
The interior of the viharn, the murals painted onto the walls depicts Buddhism
Impressive mural inside the viharn
Murals inside the small viharn
Exterior of the small viharn by the entrance of the Wat Chedi Luang
The exterior of the main viharn of Wat Chedi Luang
Taking a wefie with the elephant statue in front of the main viharn in Wat Chedi Luang
One of the 2 nagas guarding the main viharn in Wat Chedi Luang
Entrance to the main viharn in Wat Chedi Luang
The interior of the main viharn is impressive
Small stupas for visitors to paste gold foil onto
Pasting a gold foil onto the stupa of my zodiac animal
Buddha statues for visitors to paste gold foil onto according to the day of birth
Buddha statues for visitors to paste gold foil onto according to the day of birth
Buddha statues for visitors to paste gold foil onto according to the day of birth
Me pasting gold foil onto the statue that represents the day of my birth
The Buddha statues in the main viharn in Wat Chedi Luang
Wax figurine of past head abbots of Wat Chedi Luang
Me pasting a gold foil on the Buddha statue at the entrance of the viharn
The main viharn with the stupa in Wat Chedi Luang

The highlight of Wat Chedi Luang lies behind the main temple, this is where the giant stupa that seems to stand the test of time is located. The 5-tiered stupa, built in 1441, is massive! With a height of 62m and base diameter of 54m, the stupa is impressive. It used to be 82m tall and was at one point, the tallest building in Chiang Mai. However, an earthquake sent the top 30m tumbling down. Despite that, the stupa is still impressive. The stupa once housed the Emerald Buddha at the top, which now sits in the Grand Palace in Bangkok. The Emerald Buddha is regarded as a symbol of power which gives whoever possesses it the legitimacy to rule the country. Walking around the stupa, it seems that the earthquake did not take away the grandeur the stupa exudes. Every inch is a work of art, I can imagine how grand and elaborate this stupa must have been in its heydey. A pair of Nagas statues guarding the 4 stairways on each side of the stupa, that leads to the top of the stupa for centuries. The Buddha statues housed in the top of the stupa on all four sides are visible from the base of the stupa. The stupa is fenced up these days to prevent visitors from climbing, thereby causing more damage to the dedicate stupa. On the southern side of the stupa, 7 elephants can be seen protruding out of the stupa on the 4th tier, that seem to be carrying the weight of the top tier of the stupa. Some of these elephants less 2 have been restored over the years.

The massive stupa that Wat Chedi Luang is built around
There are Buddha statues like this one on the base of each of the 4 sides of the stupa
Stupa up close
One of the 5-headed nagas guarding the entrance to the stupa at the base
Stairways up to the stupa, which is out of bounds these days
View of the massive stupa, a Buddha statue can be seen installed inside the stupa
Taking a wefie with stupa in Wat Chedi Luang
Another view of the stupa in Wat Chedi Luang
Stupa in Wat Chedi Luang with a Buddha statue at the base
Elephants on top of the stupa in Wat Chedi Luang
5 of the 7 elephants on the stupa

Behind the stupa lies an open building that houses a large statue of the Reclining Buddha, with a short fence at the front of the building. Initial we were just taking pictures from beyond the fence. A closer observation, I realise that the fence was not locked and visitors are allowed to enter the building through the gate. One can take pictures without pillars of the building blocking from inside the building. There are 3 other statues of Buddha housed in the same building. Next to the building with the reclining Buddha are 2 wooden buildings. These buildings houses wax figurines of the abbots of Wat Chedi Luang. We headed for the exit after spending a little more time admiring the stupa which Wat Chedi Luang is built around.

Reclining Buddha in the building behind the stupa in Wat Chedi Luang
Buddha statues in the same building as the Reclining Buddha
Another Buddha statue in the same building as the Reclining Buddha
One of the 2 wooden buildings next to the Reclining Buddha
One of the 2 wooden buildings beside the Reclining Buddha

The Unsung Treasure of Chiang Mai – Wat Phan Tao

Leaving Wat Chedi Luang, we headed to a small temple next to Wat Chedi Luang. This small wooden temple is Wat Phan Tao, which is often overlooked by visitors. Wat Phan Tao is a small temple, with only one wiharn that faces the main road. The beauty of Wat Phan Tao lies with the material that was used for its construction. Wat Phan Tao was constructed entirely of moulded teak wood panels fitted together and supported by 28 teak wood pillars. Not a nail was used in the construction of this temple. As it is not visited by tourists, I find it particularly peaceful inside the wiharn of Wat Phan Tao. Inside Wat Phan Tao houses a golden Buddha statue. There are some old temple bells, ceramics and old palm-leaf manuscripts on display inside Wat Phan Tao. After taking some pictures, we exited Wat Phan Tao and headed for more shopping.

 

Exterior of Wat Phan Tao
Wat Phan Tao is made entirely of teak wood
Exterior of Wat Phan Tao
Some gold decors on the facade of Wat Phan Tao
Buddha Statue inside Wat Phan Tao

Shopping in Central Festival Chiang Mai

Our next stop is Central Festival Chiang Mai, located northeast outside the Old City. Compared to Maya Lifestyle Shopping Centre, Central Festival Chiang Mai not just is bigger, it is also livelier. The mega shopping mall is one of the largest in Chiang Mai, covering 250,000 ㎡ of shopping space, spread over 6 floors. The shopping mall houses more than 300 shops, with a good mix of local and international brands, such as Marks & Spencer and Uniqlo to name a few. This place is a shopping haven for shopaholics. It is a one-stop shopping complex that has everything that one would find in a modern shopping mall. There is even an ice-skating ring in Central Festival Chiang Mai, other than the usual mega cineplex. The 4th and 5th floors of the shopping mall mainly house eateries with local and international cuisines up for choice. There is a Thai local food roadshow in the basement of Central Festival Chiang Mai at the time we went. Here is where we got most of our local food souvenirs and the price is rather reasonable. At the time we were there, most of the shops are having a sale, we had a great time shopping here. The shopping mall has a tourist privilege scheme, where tourists can get a discount card good for discounts in numerous shops in the shopping mall, with discounts up to 50%, although the shop that we went to offer only 5% discount. The shopping mall event has a complimentary shuttle bus service that links the shopping mall with some of the bigger hotels in Chiang Mai. 6 routes at a fixed time schedule brings visitors to and from the hotel they stay in. A word of caution, as the shuttle buses can be quite small, do be at the shuttle bus pick up point 15 mins prior to the departure to secure a seat. When at the pickup point, just walk up to the bus and the staff will be happy to let you board while waiting for the scheduled time to depart. The bus that brought us to our hotel can take up to 9 pax, a group of Chinese tourists tried to board the bus but it was full.

Central Festival Chiang Mai is a modern mega shopping mall in Chiang Mai
Facade of Central Festival Chiang Mai
Inside Central Festival Chiang Mai
Inside Central Festival Chiang Mai
Wefie inside Central Festival Chiang Mai

Shopping on the Saturday Walking Street

After resting a little in the hotel and having dinner, we spent our last night in Chiang Mai shopping in their Saturday Walking Street. The Saturday Walking Street is a night market that opens only on Saturdays from 4pm until midnight. The street that this Saturday Night Market is located south of the Old City along Wualai Road and is popular with locals and tourists alike. As the entire road is closed to traffic, visitors can be assured of a safe vehicle-free shopping environment. The Saturday Walking Street is very crowded when we visited. We walked at a zombie-like slow speed. There is no lack of night market shopping here with the numerous stalls selling stuff that is typical of any night market in Thailand. Most of the stalls on the Saturday Walking Street sells mainly souvenir items like those “I have been to Chiang Mai” type of T-shirts, handicraft souvenirs from keychains to soap carvings. I do find the prices here to be cheaper compared to any night markets in Bangkok. As with the Night Bazaar, there are pockets of areas where one can detour in to find more shops or even a street food area. As it was a warm night at the time of our visit, there are insects flying around the lights, we did not try any of the street food here. We spent the whole night walking along the Saturday Walking Street, mostly browsing on the items that are up for sale.

One of the stalls selling food on Saturday Walking Street
Food stalls on Saturday Walking Street
Shopping on Saturday Walking Street
Shopping on Saturday Walking Street
There is a huge crowd on Saturday Walking Street
Shopping on Saturday Walking Street
Shopping on Saturday Walking Street

Surprise Find of the Silver Temple – Wat Sri Suphan

As we were walking in the Saturday Walking Street, we made a turn at a fork junction. Little did we expect this route that we took brought us to a surprising temple that is totally not in our plan to visit. As we were walking along the street, reliving that the crowd here is thinner than what we had experienced, we were attracted to some performances inside a temple ground. A thin crowd gathered to see some men performing with fire. After the performance, since we are already at a temple, we decided to check it out. The main wiharn of this temple is an impressive 4-tiered roof large building. A little further from the entrance to the temple, we saw a small 2-tiered wiharn in Silver. This is the Silver temple or known as Wat Sri Suphan. The silver temple is made using a mix of aluminium, compounded silver and pure silver. The temple is built in 1500 to serve as the main temple for a silversmith village. A couple of Buddha statues, one in silver and the other in gold, sits peacefully in front of the silver temple. The entrance of the silver temple is guarded by 2 5-headed nagas. The temple is especially spectacular at night when the interchange colours are being cast onto the temple, giving it a mystical feel. The temple is out of bounds to female visitors due to an old Buddhist rule. The work is impressive inside the temple. Traces of painstaking carvings in every panel can be seen. There are even carvings of the world map on the floor of the Wat Sri Suphan. There are murals that depict Buddhism as well as the late Thai King. A golden Buddha statue sits in the temple, contrasting with the silver used in the construct of the temple. After visiting the temple, we traced back our footsteps back to the night market and shopped a little before heading back to the hotel to rest as it is almost midnight and the stalls are packing up, ending the day of sales.

Entrance to Wat Sri Suphan
We were attracted to the fire performance in Wat Sri Suphan
Fire performance in Wat Sri Suphan
Main viharn in Wat Sri Suphan
The unique and impressive Silver temple in Wat Sri Suphan
Purple lighting cast onto the Silver temple in Wat Sri Suphan
Elaborate carving on the silver walls of the Silver temple
The Golden Buddha inside the Silver Temple in Wat Sri Suphan
Even the chandelier is cast in silver
Taking a wefie inside the Silver Temple
Buddha statue inside the Silver Temple
One of the Nagas guarding the entrance to the Silver Temple in Wat Sri Suphan
Gold Buddha statue outside the Silver Temple
Facade of the Silver Temple

Chiang Mai Day 2 (10 Nov 17) – Three Temples Visit: Wat Doi Suthep, Wat Phra Singh and Wat Sri Don Moon

The Golden Temple Overlooking Chiang Mai – Wat Phra That Doi Suthep

Visits to Chiang Mai is incomplete without a visit to their Temples. Apart from the “Big Four” Temples in Old City, Wat Phra That Doi Suthep is one of the most visited temples in Chiang Mai. The Wat Doi Suthep sits on top of the mountain Doi Suthep, seemingly watching and protecting the city of Chiang Mai. The journey from Chiang Mai city to the Wat Doi Suthep takes us pass windy mountainous routes where we saw a glimpse of the city resting on the plains at the foot of the mountain. Wat Doi Suthep is perched on top of 309 stairs. There is a tram service that ferries visitors to the top of the slope where the temple sits in around 5 mins. Wat Doi Suthep’s facade itself looks like a work of art. Decked with red, green and gold paints with intricate carvings, the layer roofed tall and slim structure that surrounds the temple is portrays distinctive Thai-style architecture.

The iconic Wat Doi Suthep

Driving towards Doi Suthep

The tram station is on the right side of the 309 stairs that visitors would otherwise have to take to get to Wat Doi Suthep

The tram rail that we have travelled

Shrines that form the facade and the walls surrounding Wat Doi Suthep

Shrine that forms the outer walls to Wat Doi Suthep

Like all other Thai temples, visitors are required to remove their footwear before entering the temple. Unlike most of the Thai temples that I have visited throughout the years of my visit to Thailand, the temple grounds of Wat Doi Suthep is mostly outdoors. Passing through the outer walls of the temple, a large golden stupa lies in the centre of the temple grounds. The stupa is surrounded by 4 prayer halls, each in one direction. It is believed that the Buddha’s bone that the white elephant brought to this piece of land is buried under the stupa. The stupa has been fenced up, devotees are seen walking 3 times around the stupa chanting some sutra (which is available in English and Chinese other than Thai) at the same time. Statues of Buddhas decked in white stone, golden paint and green glass are placed around the parameters of the walkway. One can choose either of the 4 sides to pray to the Buddha in Wat Doi Suthep. The main prayer hall, or wiharn, is next to the main entrance of the temple. This is the largest wiharn with several golden statues of Buddha placed in front of an elaborately painted wall. A smaller wiharn is situated opposite the main wiharn, where only 1 buddha statue is housed. One can obtain blessings from the temple monk in either of the wiharns. On either side of the wiharns are smaller shrines where statues of Buddhas, enclosed in glass panels. There are numerous spots for photo taking of the iconic golden stupa that defines Wat Doi Suthep. Most of the visitors are here to take the iconic pictures.

Counter than sells offerings for prayers

There are lockers available (free of charge) for visitors to store their shoes before entering Wat Doi Suthep

The golden stupa and umbrella that are icons of Wat Doi Suthep

Golden stupa in Wat Doi Suthep

Emerald Buddha statue in Wat Doi Suthep

A small reclining Buddha and another Emerald Buddha in Wat Doi Suthep

Buddha statues in Wat Doi Suthep

The main wiharn in Wat Doi Suthep

Whitestone Buddha in Wat Doi Suthep
The smaller wiharn in Wat Doi Suthep
Such Buddha statues displayed along the parameters of a temple is typical of a Thai temple
Golden stupa that rises amongst the buildings in Wat Doi Suthep
Another temple building in Wat Doi Suthep

As Wat Doi Suthep is situated on Doi Suthep, we headed for the viewpoint at the back of the temple, that granted us views of Chiang Mai city. At the first viewpoint, we saw Chiang Mai International Airport and parts of Chiang Mai city. A little further from the first viewpoint is another viewpoint where we saw the entire Chiang Mai city. Both viewpoints offer great photo spots for visitors.

A Pavilion at the first viewpoint
View of Chiang Mai city from the first viewpoint
Panoramic shot of the city of Chiang Mai from the first viewpoint
View from the first viewpoint
Taking a wefie at the first viewpoint
Bells in Wat Doi Suthep
En route to the second viewpoint
We see more of Chiang Mai city from the second viewpoint

Lanna Temple Art and Architecture – Wat Phra Singh

Leaving Doi Suthep, we headed to the nearby Wat Phra Singh, located in the western part of the Old City. Wat Phra Singh is a temple typical of Lanna art and architecture. Wat Phra Singh is a temple dedicated to the Lion Buddha. A Lanna styled and rather new large 3-layer roofed temple structure sits facing the main entrance to the temple greeting visitors. Most visitors would stop by this temple building during their visit to Wat Phra Singh. The decor inside this temple building exudes simple yet revered feel. There are no elaborated paintings on its walls, nor detailed carvings inside this temple building. At the end of the building, a large Buddha statue sits solemnly, seemingly welcoming visitors offering their prayers. Next to this Buddha statue are several wax figurines of past abbots of Wat Phra Singh. The treasure of Wat Phra Singh is not housed in this building, but in a less elaborated building further into the temple grounds. Behind the main temple building is a small inconspicuous wooden building, the Ubosot, used for the ordination of monks. Built in 1806, this simply decorated building but richly decorated with wooden carvings, houses a smaller image of the Lion Buddha and a replica of the famed Emerald Buddha (now housed in the Grand Palace in Bangkok).

Lion statues that guard Wat Phra Singh
The exterior of the main prayer hall
Inside the main prayer hall
Inside the main temple in Wat Phra Singh
Wax figurine of past abbots of Wat Phra Singh next to the Buddha
A large Buddha statue sits at the end of the temple
Mythical creature that guards the temple
Temple library in Wat Phra Singh
Ubosot behind the main prayer hall in Wat Phra Singh
The interior of the Ubosot is simpler compared to the main  prayer hall
Inside the Ubosot
A replica of the Emerald Buddha in the Ubosot
I saw this stone that has carvings of another language inside the Ubosot.  There is no signage to explain its significance

It is hard for anyone visiting Wat Phra Singh to miss the large Chedi beside the Ubosot. The golden stupa that stretches towards the sky, sits on a square base with images of elephants protruding out of the each of the sides of the square base. It seems like these elephants are carrying the chedi on their backs. A statue of the sleeping Buddha, housed in a very simple small building at the back of the temple grounds. The treasure of Wat Phra Singh is housed in a very inconspicuous building tucked at the back of the temple grounds next to the golden chedi. This white building is where the exalted statue of Lion Buddha rests since the 1360s. It is easy to miss out on this building.

Golden Chedi beside the Ubosot
It is believed that the ashes of the King’s father are buried on the ground where Golden Chedi is located in Wat Phra Singh
Golden Chedi in Wat Phra Singh
Main prayer hall, Ubosot and the Golden Chedi in Wat Phra Singh
There is a statue of the reclining Buddha in one of the smaller building in Wat Phra Singh
The white building is where the Lion Buddha statue is placed
This white building is where the Lion Buddha statue is placed
Around Wat Phra Singh
The building where the Lion Buddha is placed

The White Temple – Wat Sri Don Moon

The third temple that we visited today is a local temple, with literally no foreign visitors. Unlike the previous 2 temples we visited so far, Wat Sri Don Moon does not charge entrance fees. On our way to Wat Sri Don Moon, stopped at a Thai restaurant for lunch. Wat Sri Don Moon is located southeast of Old City and is about 30 mins drive from Old City. This temple can easily be missed by visitors to Chiang Mai as it is located in a remote part of the city. Wat Sri Don Moon is an all-white temple from the structure to the roof of the temple building. Unlike the temples we have visited so far, there is no layered roofing in Wat Sri Don Moon. Instead the roof of this temple building is painted in gold, giving the temple a unique look. The interior of Wat Sri Don Moon is decked with colours of all hues, unlike its exterior. Inside the temple houses 2 statues of white Buddha, enclosed in a glass case. What attracts me most in this temple is the artwork painted on the walls of the temple. The paintings seem to relate the life of Buddha and how he attained nirvana. Perhaps due to the lack of visitors, Wat Sri Don Moon appears to me as more serene and peaceful. We headed back to the hotel to rest and have dinner before ending our day with shopping along the night bazaar just outside the hotel we stayed.

We stop by a Thai restaurant for lunch en route to Wat Sri Don Moon
We had Tom yum seafood for lunch
Pineapple fried rice is delicious and flavourful
Deep fried Sea Bass with garlic and salt
Taking a wefie in the outdoor area of the restaurant
The white temple in Chiang Mai – Wat Sri Don Moon
Wat Sri Don Moon is mainly white in colour with golden colour painted on its roof
A naga protecting Wat Sri Don Moon
Facade of Wat Sri Don Moon
Wat Sri Don Moon
Wat Sri Don Moon has a statue of Buddha enclosed in  glass  panel
Statue of Buddha in Wat Sri Don Moon
These paintings no the wall tells the story of Buddha
These paintings on the wall tells the story of Buddha
These paintings on the wall tells the story of Buddha

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

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 along 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. 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 pass when these walls were useful.

Getting onto Songthaew, Chiang Mai’s version of taxi
These Songthaews are comfortable and cooling, making the experience of travelling within Chiang Mai unique
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 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
Facade of Maya Lifestyle Shopping Centre

After lunch, we walked around the shopping mall, thinking that we might enjoy the shopping in here after all. However, no matter how we try to find things that might excite us in terms of the 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. There are stores 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 the endless shopping. As though these make-shift night market stalls are insufficient to satisfy visitors’ shopping needs, there are some shops on either side of Chang Khlan Road that 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 hotel

Thai set dinner in 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, there are entrances that 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