I personally loved Chiang Mai. It's got a quieter, more chilled vibe than Thailand's capital during the day, but during the night the city comes alive. The night markets sell items from knock-off electronics to stunning scarves, with some delicious street market food thrown somewhere tastefully in the mix.
Thailand in general really surprised me in terms of how beautiful their bags are. To me they seem like the sort of thing the likes of Accessorize base their products on.. before charging £35-40 for them. The key difference is that these are all handmade with so much attention and care and they cost a fraction of that. Authentic and affordable.
I wasn't sure about how safe the earrings were when it comes to hygiene: since living in India, I've always been cautious around jewellery when abroad. I didn't end up picking up any but that didn't stop me staring at hundreds of gorgeous earrings in awe.
The food area of the main night market was completely filled to the brinks with global cuisines smelling delicious all at the same time. They use a coupon system in this area to make it easier for the locals to make transactions and avoid theft. The coupons are bought in bunches and if you've got any leftovers after eating you can exchange them for your money back - that way, you haven't spent too much and the system can work with ease. We absolutely loved the Indian stalls there as well as the banana roti stall - a hot banana roti smothered with honey doesn't sound right, but my oh my it tastes spot on.
Smoothies were essential to stay cool in the 28 degree evenings. I went for pineapple and passionfruit whereas my brother went for the classic strawberry and banana combination.
After enjoying the markets and eating a bit too much food, we took a tuk tuk back to the hotel. I absolutely love tuk tuks - they remind me of riding on rickshaws back when I lived in Delhi. Chiang Mai's drivers are far more chilled than in Bangkok, so fortunately no rides in this city involved terrifying, near-death experiences.
All in all I absolutely adored my (numerous) visits to the night markets in Chiang Mai over the 3-day time period we were in the city. If you were to ever visit I'd take into account these three points:
1. Banana roti's are always something you should say yes to.
2. Bargain like you've never bargained before. Aim to take 50-60% off their original asking price - the term 'tourist tax' springs to mind...
3. Enjoy yourself. Pick up things you couldn't buy anywhere else or really capture the spirit of your trip. But avoid anything too large/heavy. Chances are if you're visiting you're constantly battling with the weight of your baggage. I know this from experience...
Have you ever visited a night market? If so - whereabouts in the world?