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Chiang Rai Shopping Guide: What, Where, and Why

 

Shopping in Chiang Rai is recommended over shopping in Bangkok. In fact, especially in terms of the same tourist souvenirs that are sold all over the country, Chiang Rai normally offers the best prices, and the markets and shops are less crowded as well.

In addition to the prices, Chiang Rai is surrounded by mountains so enjoys a natural benefit of having high-quality tea and coffee plantations. Therefore, make sure these two items are on your shopping list. Being home to various hill tribes, Chiang Rai is also an ideal place to buy authentic handmade products and arts and crafts, which reflect the style of Northern Thailand’s designs.

Beside tea and hill-tribe handicrafts, you can also find original Thai silk, spa products, and Thai spices in Chiang Rai. These local products of Thailand are not only perfect for your own usage, but also make suitable souvenir gifts to bring home.

Highlights

  • Being located in the mountains makes Chiang Rai famous for its finest quality tea, coffee and other herbal products.
  • Chiang Rai is well-known for being the home of many hill tribe people, so you can find many kinds of northern hill tribe handicrafts there.
  • As in many other northern cities in Thailand, in Chiang Rai you can find many spa products and authentic Thai spices.
  • You can find some local souvenirs in Chiang Rai Herb Shop, Chiang Rai Walking Street, Doi Chang Coffee house, and many other shops.
  • Some of the favorite products people buy for souvenirs are herb products, spa products, coffee, and Thai spices.

What to Buy: 6 Must-Buys in Chiang Rai

1. Tea

Why you should buy it: The ideal climate and soil conditions allow Chiang Rai farmers to cultivate excellent tea. The tea in Chiang Rai is grown under optimal conditions, carefully handpicked and processed by world class methods. Chiang Rai tea is high in quality, rich in taste and aroma, and has a pleasant, lasting aftertaste.

2. Coffee

 

Why you should buy it: Although Thailand is not among any countries that coffee originated from, the perfect climate and mountainous landscape has made Chiang Rai the ideal place for coffee plantations. If you are a coffee lover or coffee expert, don’t miss the opportunity to take a day trip to some of the finest coffee plantation farms near Chiang Rai. One of the most popular ones at present is for Doi Chaang Coffee. It produces some of the world’s finest coffee. Don’t hesitate to buy some samples as the quality is great and the prices are even better.

3. Hill Tribe Handicrafts

Why you should buy these: In Chiang Rai, visitors can find hand-woven fabrics and clothing, such as scarves, pillow cases, tufted carpets, and a fashionable range of clothing, produced by hill tribe people. Apart from textile products, you can also find hand-made ceramics, houseware, decorative lights and wall hangers, wood carvings, etc.

All the products are hand-made by hill tribe people. You can see the unique shapes as well as the authentic designs from the northern tribes of Thailand displayed in every product.

4. Thai Silk

Why you should buy it: Thai Silk has a stronger weave that can withstand heavy dyeing. This characteristic makes Thai Silk considered the best silk in the world. There are two kinds of Thai silk: one is smooth and the other is rough.

Smooth and rough Thai silks have different surface conditions and functions. Smooth Thai silk has a satiny, lustrous finish and is perfect for clothing and interior decoration. Rough Thai silk has a coarser surface but is still very soft, and is good for blankets, curtains, table runners, and heavier clothing.

If you want to be able to distinguish real Thai silk from polyester imitations, you can use fire or light. When you burn real Thai silk, it will become fine ash and smell like burning hair, and it will immediately stop when the flame is taken away from it. On the other hand, when you burn polyester, it will produce an acrid black smoke and the fire keeps burning even when the flame is removed.

The other proving method is by light. When you bring your silk up to the light and examine the surface, the colors will shift, depending on what angle you look from, while polyester will always reflect white light.

5. Spa Products

Why you should but these: You can buy scented candles, and essential oils from unique plants and flowers, the names of which you’ve never heard of before. Some popular spa products that people choose to buy in Thailand include essential oils, reed and candle diffusers, herbal message packs and compresses, carved soaps, foot soaks and body scrubs.

Essential oils are concentrated liquids produced by extracting the fragrance or other compounds from plants. You can buy essential oils of some popular plants like peppermint, lavender, and lemon grass. Carved soaps in northern Thailand are particularly known for their elaborate and varied designs.

The most popular designs are flowers. The artist will carve the shape on a regular soap and then paint it beautifully. These cute, healthy products make beautiful gifts.

6. Spices

Why you should buy these: Learning Thai cooking in Chiang Rai is not enough for you who want to explore Thai cuisine; it will be completed if you bring some Thai spices back home. Thai spices, along with a Thai cookbook, will be perfect things for you to buy in Chiang Rai.

Thai spices are generally used for making curry dishes. There are many Thai herbs and spices that make up curry powder, such as cumin, coriander seeds, cinnamon, mustard powder, cardamom and many others. These spices not only boost the food taste, but also have beneficial medicinal properties. So you will get both, delicacy and health.

Where to Go Shopping: the Best Local Shops and Markets in Chiang Rai

1. Chiang Rai Herb Shop

This shop has a complete range of herbal products and supplements. The authentic collection includes Oolong tea, slimming tea, herbal capsules, dried Linzhi mushrooms, exfoliating masks, spa products, fruit wines and more. Their product packaging is quite basic, but they definitely are good souvenirs for your relatives and friends back home.

Location: Prasopsuk Road, opposite the bus terminal.

Opening Hours: 08.00 – 21.00

2. Chiang Rai Walking Street

Chiang Rai Walking Street is a weekend local market that sells northern Thai snacks, handicrafts, spa products, clothing, tribal crafts, and a collection of Doi Tung branded goods. You can relax and shop here while enjoying live folks music, cultural performances, and the local atmosphere. This market opens every Saturday evening at the 1.5 km stretch of Thanalai Road.

Location: Thanalai Road, from Tung Garden to Chiang Rai Vocational College

Opening Hours: 16.00 to midnight

3. Chezmoi Handicraft Shop

Chezmoi is the French word for “my home”. Chezmoi is a handicraft shop and a homestay that provides warm-hearted hospitality and traditional accommodation. They sell handicraft products and merchandise, from clothing and accessories to home decorations. They work with the indigenous tribes of Thailand and strongly encourage the authenticity of the local hill tribe products and Thai products.

Location: Sankhongnoi Road

Opening Hours: 00.00 – 18.00

4. Doi Chang Coffee House

For you who are coffee lovers, Doi Chang Coffee House is a perfect place to visit. This coffee house sells Chiang Rai’s top-quality Arabica coffee beans. These coffee beans are cultivated at 1,200 meters above sea level on the Doi Chang Mountain. The beans are organically grown, harvested by hand, and processed according to the full wet method, which helps keep them at its top quality.

You can choose a range of roasted beans, from Doi Chang Premium beans to single-origin Peaberry, Swiss Water Processed Decaf and wild Thai civet beans (Kopi Luwak).

Location: Banpaprakan Road, immediately west of the Clock Tower

Opening Hours: 07.00 – 21.00

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