Local markets and walking streets are the name of the game in this town for both shopping and nightlife options. Luckily, mid-week visitors are rewarded as equally as weekenders, so there is always something to shop for and explore. Our tip: If you’ve seen one market in Chiang Rai, you’ve pretty much seen them all. Most of the vendors double-down on the market scene and make appearances at the pedestrian-only Saturday Walking Street (4-10pm on Thanalai Road) as well as the Sunday Night Market (6-9pm on Sankhongnoi Road), and the ever-present Night Market (6-11pm), a daily bazaar adjacent to the bus terminal. These markets are a fraction of the size of the mother of all markets—Bangkok’s Chatuchak Weekend Market—and are more manageable than Chiang Mai’s Night Bazaar, so browsing the stalls can be done at a leisurely pace. Touristy souvenirs are omnipresent but Hill-tribe handicrafts are also available, though you'll get better deals (and your money will help the local people more) when buying directly from the tribe on a trekking tour. If you're not planning on a tour, then go ahead and stock up here.
About 12km north of Chiang Rai on the road to Mae Sai is a gem of a pottery place called Doy Din Dang Pottery (49 Moo 6; www.dddpottery.com; tel. 05370-5291). Here, the lush grounds of the multi-building showroom are an inspiration to the Thai artists who craft wheel-thrown pieces finished in traditional celadon or contemporary styles. The English-speaking staff can help arrange shipping, and there is a nice coffee shop on the property.
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