Mae Sai Market: Your large open-air market for shopping


If you are in the north and thinking of shopping for some great bargains then Mae Sai market is the place for you. It is one of the most sought after shopping destinations in Thailand situated in the northernmost province of Chiang Rai and borders the town of Tachileik in Myanmar (Burma) by a very short bridge.

My family celebrated New Year in Mae Sai, marking our last trip together in 2016 and our first in 2017. We arrived at about 8 pm but the market was chaotic as ever – lots of them people! There were stalls along both sides of the road that literally blocked the flow of traffic going across the border and those making a U-turn back to town.

The arrival

When we got out of the car, we were greeted by the cool breeze. The temperature said it was 14 degrees Celsius; suggesting it was indeed winter in this side of Thailand. No wonder most stalls lining up the road were selling jackets, sweaters and other winter clothes.

Ready to explore

The next morning after breakfast, we checked out of our hotel and put our things back in the trunk –  prepping up to see more of Mae Sai. I noticed that during the day, Mae Sai was literally a massive open-air market, stretching to alleyways leading up the hill.

Most of the products are locally made between Thailand and Myanmar, but Chinese manufactured goods are also common. There are stalls selling gemstones, silverware and some carvings in wood, stone and jade. Copies of branded Western items that came in different colors and in varying sizes are also very common, as well as authentic-looking stuff like Marlboro cigarette packs. Only the universe knows its contents, though.

It is interesting to note that most stalls sell identical products, but you can certainly use it to your advantage. If you like something and you didn’t like the price of the first vendor, go and check the stall next to it, and the next, and the next – until someone agrees to the price you like. You might get tired but the place will certainly not.

Final thoughts

Mae Sai Market may be chaotic and crowded, but it is worth a visit. Everything is mostly available here.

Leave A Comment
John Benliro