Shopping at the cultural district, Wualai Walking Street in Ching Mai
Apart from rich of tourism natural resource of abundant forest and mountains, Chiang Mai is also outstanding in the attraction like old temples and architectures and the weekends’ walking street that is famous among the people both local and from other parts of the country and international. And the remarkable walking streets in Chiang Mai are Wualai or the Saturday Walking Street, and another is Tha Pae Walking Street that opens on every Sunday night.
About Wualai Walking Street
Wau Lai is a long street that lines along the Khu Muaeng Road (city moat road) to Chiang Mai International Airport. Typically, the location is the residential area of the people with the classic style shops including the famous Buddhist temple “Wat Sri Suphan” where the place is a house of the first silver ubosot in the world.
On Saturday afternoon from 5pm upwards, Wualai Street will be livelier with the visitors and becomes crowded once the sun is set.
The so-called “Saturday Walking Street” of Chiang Mai offers lots of gripping goods which are mainly native products and handicrafts, exotic accessories that are distinctive from others shopping places, handmade painted fabric tote, contemporary Lanna style trousers, and so on. The vendor stands are lined endlessly through the street that you can enjoy your shopping til you drop.
Charming of Wualai Walking Street
And worry-free in case some might get the tired muscle or your legs because there is more than enough foot massage to service the tourists all along the route. Otherwise, to find something to fill up your stomach, Wau Lai Walking Street features a broad array of local and street foods in both sides of the way that is so easy for you to grab and go.
In the middle of the walkway is like an outdoor playhouse with different ages of artists and performers – children, teenagers, and seniorities to show their talent; singing, music playing, traditional dancing, etc. to earn some money from the tourists as they please.
The tourist that would like to visit Wau Lai Walking Street, we recommend you to travel by the red pick-up truck service since it’s really hard to find the parking here. Alternatively, some with the motorcycle can get some parking at the space opposite to Wualai Intersection.
Becoming the Wau Lai Walking Street
The title of this place “Wau Lai Walking Street” is after the name of the road where the place is the location of Wau Lai Village. According to the history of this community that can be traced back for over two centuries in the reign of King Kawila. The king intent to revive the city of Chiang Mai after was dominated by Burma by evacuated the citizen of Pu, Ngua Lai, and Kong from Salween River Region (currently the territory of Myanmar) that were the silversmith community. The migration was between 1799 – 1804 and they settled around the city wall of Chiang Mai and named this area as “Wau Lai” followed the original location of them. And the center of the community was Wat Muen Sarn, Wat Nantharam, and Wat Sri Suphan.
For Wualai Walking Street, the area starts at Chiang Mai Gate (the opposite side to Chiang Mai Gate market), the south gate of the city moat, and continues to the end of the road at the junction on Thipnet Road. The route is straightforward that is not too consume much energy from the walk. The products here are quite similar to ones at Tha Pae Walking Street; however the quantity and diversity might be lesser according to the capacity of the place that is smaller than Tha Pae site.
Taking Tour at Wau Lai Walking Street
The 1.1 km estimate is the length of Wualai Walking Street, making the tour at the site can start at Chiang Mai Gate. Turning to the gate and then you walk across the road and walk to the right, you will meet Wau Lai street. Do not worry because it’s effortless to find.
Once you enter Wau Lai street, you will see lots of vendors stands that sell consumer products, food, gift, and souvenirs, etc. Mainly, the products are from native producers in the northern territory with reasonable price (of course it’s less expensive than at Chiang Mai Night Bazaar). The Saturday Walking Street opens at 5.00pm and closes at 10.00pm; however, the peak period of the place is between 7.00-8.00pm.
After your several walks, you may spot the music band called “Prasarnmitr Band” which usually plays here and Tha Pae Walking Street. The group is so fantastic with some musical instrument that adapted from the things we use in general, for example, the paint bucket that they use as a drum. The band is very attractive to the visitors both Thai and international. Particular in early of the evening that the band is paid attention by packed audiences and give the applause for them after the show finish. And yes, they would be appreciative for your support by putting some money into the box.
Now, we will get back to our journey that is not less entertaining. The doll shop “Lazy Bear” that is one of the busiest shops at Wau Lai Street. The place offers the cutie items of doll and keychain with free 8-alphabet of your name embraided service. And the price is not too expensive starts from hundred Bath. The most exciting thing is the products at Lazy Baer is not supplied from any manufacturer and the shop owner who is the one that makes the delicate embraided work is a guy, too.
And the must-not-miss shop when you come over Wau Lai district definitely is ‘silverware’. Wualai Village is well-known as the home of the silversmith that began earnestly since 1957 and has inherited from generation to generation. Unluckily, the favor in silverware is declining compares to the past, also the skillful silversmith is lesser, as well.
Next shop is the canvas shoes that the price is so low just only THB29 for a pair or THB100 for 4 pairs! The shoes made from the cotton fabric from the north of Thailand that is so soft and comfy. Then, it is the OTOP wine shop that offers the various wines made from fruits such as Lychee, Strawberry, Mulberry, etc. And you can buy whether a drink or bottle with the price starts at THB20-30 per glass. No doubt that the shop is quite popular among the foreigner to chillax with a glass of wine.
If you start to get tired you can stop by to get some massage from the traditional Thai massage shops that provide you with selections therapy – body massage, foot massage, or aroma oil massage. The rate starts at THB60-80 for 30 minutes that is not expensive at all, isn’t it?
The Silver Ubosot at Wat Sri Suphan, the highlight of Wualai District
The ubosot or the main chapel of Wat Sri Suphan is the first silver ubosot in the world. The building is furnished with delicate and magnificent silver art by the local artisan of Wualai Village. For any tourist that come to the location before dusk, you should not miss visiting inside the temple and the silver chapel. Besides the fabulous and exotic beauty of the architecture you might see the artists do the work in the unfinished part of the building, too.
Moreover, the silver ubosot is also the house to enshrine the sacred Buddha image called “Phra Buddha Patiharn” or better known locally as “Phra Chao Jed Tue”, the exquisite work by the royal court artisan. The holy statue was respectful invited to house at the compound at the establishment of the site in 1500 by Phra Muaeng Kaew, the king of Mangrai House and his mother “Queen Siriyoswadee”.
Apart from that, Wat Sri Suphan is the learning center of the community for all kinds of the craftsmanship including the making of silverware and lacquerware. Also, the display and exhibition for those pieces of crafts.
Taste the local street food at Wau Lai Walking Street
The most popular activity among the tourists both domestic and from the overseas at walking street here besides the shopping is enjoying street food. The grab and go style food and snack are offers for the visitors to enjoy all along the walkway. And here we brought you some side street local snacks that you should try while you are visiting Wau Lai Walking Street.
Menu 1: Thai Classic Style Popsicle
Generally, the classic popsicle that we can find from other places offer some several flavors which made from soda or carbonated drinks. But the popsicle here gives you more with the interesting flavors such as fruit juice, Thai milk tea, mango, grape, pink milk, cocoa, kiwi, coconut juice, lime, etc. and the price is just only THB5 per stick!
Menu 2: Grilled Squid with Spicy Dipping
The mouth-watering charcoal grilled squid served with the seafood style spicy dipping. And for the foreigners you should bear in mind that the dipping is really hot and spicy, so we suggest you ask for less or separate from the squid. The price starts at THB20 per stick.
Menu 3: Pan Sod (Steamed Fish Ball)
The famous food stall with the long queue that can guarantee for its deliciousness. The warm fish ball served with sweet and sour dipping, and the fresh and crunchy veggie as a sided dish is so yummy. The price is THB30 for a serve (served in the banana leaf bowl).
Menu 4: Waffle Hug
Many of you might think what is interesting of the waffle? We say yes since the waffle here is the right grab and go snack that you would love to try. The warm waffle that is crispy outside and tenders inside with the various selection of topping. And the price is incredible that is just only THB10 per piece!
Menu 5: Green Curry Grilled Skewered Pork & Pandan Grilled Skewered Pork
When talking about the side street food, we can’t miss the grilled skewered pork. But the grilled pork at Waul Lai street offers you with the distinctive flavor of the favorite Thai dish “green curry” and the aromatic green leaf ‘pandan’. Both of them are tasty, and the meat is tender. The price is only THB7 per stick or THB20 for 3 sticks.
Menu 6: Toasted with Butter
The 15-Baht Thai classic style toast spread with butter and some sprinkle of granulated sugar (you can ask not to put the sugar on it if you want). And this is another favorite snack that we can regularly see the visitors at Wau Lai Street hold the toast stick in their hand.
Apart from this food mentioned above, there are many more delicious things that you can find and taste at the walking street here, including the northern style foods and snacks. So, do not lose your chance to try.
How to Get to Wau Lai Walking Street
If you drive to Wualai Saturday Walking Street you can park at the corner and the end of the road which are next to the street at Chiang Mai Gate and Thipnet Road.
By Public transportation: (the red pick-up truck)
- From Chiang Mai International Airport, gets the red pick-up truck service to the site with rate is between THB30 – THB40.
- From Arcade Transportation Hub, the charge is about THB50.
**The charge is subject to change, so the tourist should ask for the price before you get the service.