Go Shopping in Chiang Mai
First time visitors, though, might have a little trouble understanding the appeal of the city as a place to call home. The old town, a large area in the center of the city bound by a shallow moat and crumbling walls, has little to offer in the way of day to day shopping needs. The stores are aimed firmly at the tourist crowd, and if you’re shopping for anything but basic groceries or traditional Thai crafts you might wonder how people survive in Chiang Mai.
For a real shopping center you should leave the comforts of the tourist areas. Once you’re free from the quiet, cafe and temple strewn streets of the old town you’ll find that Chiang Mai is a modern city with everything from fashion malls to Walmart-style hypermarkets.
The crown jewel of the city’s shopping centers is, without doubt, Central Airport Plaza. Located a few minutes from (surprise, surprise) Chiang Mai Airport, the Plaza houses a wide range of fashion outlets and great restaurants, all in the sort of clean, modern surroundings you’d expect to find in Bangkok’s upscale Central World, Siam Paragon or the brand new Terminal 21.
If Central Airport Plaza isn’t enough of a shopping center Chiang Mai also boasts Kad Suan Kaew Central Mall, just outside the old town on the north west corner. Central is a little older and not in the best shape, but the mall offers a bowling alley and a great karaoke center with beautifully decorated themed rooms. Downstairs you’ll find a range of great Thai restaurants, as well as a couple of western style chain restaurant such as Sizzler and KFC.
Best of all, though, are the pop up stalls on the ground floor of Central Mall. If you’re looking for inexpensive fashions you could do much worse than to pick through the endless racks of men’s and ladies fashion on offer in these daily stalls.