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Sunday Night market

Crowds pack the street at the Sunday Night market in Chiang Mai.

The regular sites of Chiang Mai take on a new light during the annual Yi Peng festival. I could have just as easily included this post in my previous entry about Loy Krathong, but felt it deserved its own. Lucky you. Not one, but four Loy Krathong posts in a row. (Uh, no I can add. There are two more to come as Bonus Shots.)

Chiang Mai’s Sunday Night Market is what its nightly Downtown Night Bazaar aspires to be. Hundreds of vendors line this walking street selling homemade goods, art, delectable snacks, and all the crap you already saw at the Night Bazaar. Only cheaper. Every intersection boasts a group of young Thais singing or playing native musical instruments. Its popularity with the locals is evident as the crowds become claustrophobic by 8pm. Touri, used to driving on the right, walk up the wrong side of the road, trying to push their way through the opposing force of hundreds of Thai bodies out for an evening’s stroll. Thais stroll slowly. The market centers on Ratchadamonoen Road from the Thae Pae Gate to its terminus at Wat Phra Sing. It also branches off onto adjoining side streets for several blocks in both directions. It’s huge.

The local wats get into the spirit of the market and open their grounds to food vendors. Some offer a few carts of food, others large selections with seating for hundreds. It’s easy to eat your way through the market. Especially since most dishes cost under $1.00. Ono food and a great excuse to pig out on Thai dishes.

My friend Noom and I were in Chiang Mai for the Yi Peng festival and saw no reason to not include a trip to the Sunday Night Market as part of our festivities. I love street markets. Noom loves buying souvenirs. I also love taking pictures of monks, so we hit every wat along the street as we make our way through the crowds. The horde inside the wat compounds is always a bit thinner than out on the street, so the wats are also a good place to take a break and catch your breath.

Wat Phan Tao, next door to its more famous cousin, Wat Chedi Luang, usually has but a few food vendors around its entrance for the Sunday Night Market. It’s teak wood structure lit at night is undeniably beautiful, but really, a visit to this wat is better during the day. For Yi Peng, however, the monks had a special surprise. In the wat’s vast courtyard, they had laid out hundreds of small clay pots, each holding a small lit candle. The scene mimicked a thousand Krathongs floating down the Ping River. Without the accompany barrage of firecrackers and M80’s. A tranquil setting ablaze with light, it was one of those scenes impossible to describe with words alone. So I’ll shut up, and let a picture do the talking.

Wat Phan Tao

Noom poses among the flames at Wat Phan Tao.