The walled city of Chiang Mai is a subtle balance of quiet tree-lined streets dotted with temples and tiny shops selling hot meals and massages, and the hustle and bustle of night markets almost every evening of the week and the flower sellers at Warowat Market.

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The city walls of Chiang Mai

Night Markets

 

While Chiang Rai attracts many tourists who want to see the Golden Triangle and learn of the opium trade in the area, Chiang Mai is a lovely quieter alternative with its charming ‘Gates’ leading in and out of the walled city centre. I stayed just outside the Chiang Mai gate and spent my first night in Chiang Mai at the Chiang Mai Gate night market where street vendors sell colourful woven bags and clothes, trinkets like bracelets and dream catchers, and hot food and fruit shakes. The market extends all the way down the street and it’s impossible to see the end of it which can be overwhelming at first.

 

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Eating a giant waterbug dscf3300

 

Feeling adventurous I decided to try some fried insects which were 10 baht for a bag of each type. Not really inclined to eat an entire bag of fried waterbugs or bamboo worms, I asked if I could get a selection of each one for 10 baht and tried a waterbug, couple of bamboo worms, and a couple of other insects. I asked a Spanish couple nearby to take a photo of me eating them and the girl asked if she could try one since she’d watched me stomach them without batting an eyelid. She promptly gagged and ran into a nearby alleyway to throw up and I felt terrible but ran into them at another market the next day and we became fast friends.

 

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I bought a pair of these shorts for 100 Baht which was roughly $8 AUD at the time

 

Lady Boy shows

 

I later met up with the group I was travelling with on a G Adventures Tour and we went to dinner at another market where there was a mix of relaxed bars and restaurants and stalls selling food. I had a delicious laksa and then explored the market where locals were selling beautiful hand-crafted wooden toys and homeware. Beware that if you show interest in an item and pick it up, persistent stall owners will keep trying to haggle with you and reach a price that will convince you to buy it even if you say you’re not interested. I had a few yelling after me even after I walked 20 metres away and tried to lose myself in a crowd. The night markets are also a good chance to sit in a Fish Spa but be warned its extremely ticklish. I have seen grown men laughing uncontrollably with tears in their eyes which was pretty entertaining.