If you’re coming to Chiang Mai, there’s a good chance you’ll want to spend some quality time at various markets, like the Chiang Mai Night Bazaar, Warorot Market, and both the Saturday and Sunday Walking Street markets. There will be plenty of handmade goods on display, from jewellery and hand-painted pottery, to silk scarves and silver serving vessels. Not to mention a dizzying array of delicious food along the way. If you’re scratching your head about where to focus your souvenir spending money, read on for some of the best things to buy in the city (besides all that amazing food).
Wualai Road is home to some of the best silversmiths in Thailand. This is the old silver-making district of Chiang Mai and where you’ll still find some traditional silver shops where you can pick up handmade silver bowls of various sizes, serving trays, jewellery of all kinds, and other worthwhile items that make for great souvenirs, either to keep or give to friends and family. Find a variety of options at the Saturday Night Walking Street market. To keep silver goods clean, put them in vinegar and fresh milk for five to ten minutes, or keep silver items in lemon juice or tamarind juice until you see them getting shiny again.
One of the highlights of any visit to Chiang Mai has got to be a visit to a hill tribe village. Traditional clothing from the villages has become popular among many visitors as a souvenir because it is unique and handmade. If you’re not able to buy some straight from their village, you can still find some handmade hill tribe items to bring home. Hidden down a small street behind Warorot Market is your best bet. Just keep in mind that anything you buy should be hand-washed rather than put in the washing machine.
These vibrantly-hued lanterns are a significant part of Chiang Mai’s Yee-Peng Festival and New Year celebrations, when thousands are released into the sky in a colourful display. All of our homes and neighbourhoods are decorated with these beautiful lanterns, and if you want to bring one home you can find them in Warorot Market, usually from mid-October to February. Before you buy, check that the paper is in good condition and make sure whatever you choose can fit in your luggage; some of lanterns are easier to pack than others.
Due to its high quality, Thai silk is one of the most famous products in Thailand, the majority of which is produced in and around Chiang Mai. You can find it at any market you visit in Chiang Mai, and as you shop you can choose from different designs and colours, and items including clothing, pillow cases, scarves, sarongs, skirts, neckties, and tablecloths, depending on what you’re looking for. You can test for authenticity by holding a silk item up to the light and looking at it from different angles. The real thing should appear to shift colors.
We live 300 to 1,000 meters above sea level, so Chiang Mai gets good tea-growing weather all year round. Tea was introduced to northern Thailand from China, and grows high in the mountains. Pay a visit to Warorot Market and Chiang Mai Night Bazaar to shop for almost every type of tea you could want, including green tea, red tea, black tea, flower teas such as chrysanthemum, osmanthus tea or rose tea, ginger tea, saffron tea, and fruit teas. When you decide on what to buy, choose tea in a vacuum-sealed package versus tea sachets, which will stay fresher for longer.
Go deep into modern Thai art and culture, with a visit to an artisan village and workshops featuring ceramics, quilt-making, woodworking and more.