During our day trip to Doi Inthanon we briefly stopped at what our guide called the Monks’ Market, a feast of colors, handicraft and tantalizing fruits, and one of the best things to do in Chiang Mai. As local markets are always a great way to delve into the local culture and also one of my very favourite places to visit in any country I’m traveling to, I found this colorful food market managed by Thai monks a truly pleasant surprise along the way.
Quite active in this part of Thailand, Buddhist monks, alongside their famous “monk chat“, manage also this market, now listed as one of the things to do in Chiang Mai, the revenue of which goes part to their monk life, part to the Karen people who made some of the products, and part to charity.
Truthfully, it did look like a tourist attraction, but like all shopping stops, it did also enshrine some authenticity.
First of all, the products. I bought rice and dried and fresh fruits and everything was nothing less than delicious. I also bought some handmade bags, products from the Karen people’s tradition, and they were finely woven and with good material.
Second observation: the prices. While I’m in no position to say whether they were cheap or expensive compared to normal Thai prices (I tend to opt for the latter), they weren’t excessive, and if tourists can afford to pay a little more than locals, why not. And for the record, I bought quite a lot and I didn’t go bust.
Even though a clear shopping stop, I do think this small open market is to be listed among the things to do in Chiang Mai.
Where to stay, best hotels in Chiang Mai
High-end. Some of the best options for luxury hotels in Chiang Mai are Chala Number6 for luxurious rooms, swimming pool, fitness center, and a great on-site restaurant, Akyra Manor Chiang Mai, a luxurious all-suite hotel that features an infinity swimming pool on the rooftop and two on-site restaurants, and Ping Nakara Boutique Hotel And Spa, set in a colonial-style building and offering a lobby bar, an outdoor pool, an on-site restaurant, and luxurious rooms and spa services.
Mid-range. Good options for mid-range hotels in Chiang Mai include Mini Boutique House with spacious and nice rooms featuring a kettle, private bathroom, a desk, flat-screen TV, and located close to the main landmarks, At Phra Sing Retro, located in Chiang Mai city center and offering simple rooms equipped with the necessary facilities, helpful staff, and on-site dining options, and Jomkitti Boutique Hotel, a little more expensive but worth the price. This boutique hotel in Chiang Mai city center offers free WiFi and bikes, a fitness center, a small swimming pool, and rooms with a desk, private bathroom, air conditioning, TV, kettle, some rooms with a balcony and a minibar.
Cheap stays. Among the cheap hotels in Chiang Mai, some of the best are Bruuns Guesthouse, conveniently located near important landmarks such as Wat Chiang Man and featuring simple rooms with air conditioning and flat-screen TV, Wayside Guesthouse, another guesthouse with all the necessary facilities and free WiFi for a really cheap price, and Green Sleep Hostel, a cheap hostel in Chiang Mai city center that features free WiFi, air-conditioned rooms, and free bikes.