Whether you did not bring the right clothes to look like a teacher, one of your shirts got torn, or you just want to go shopping, this is your guide on where and how to buy clothes in Chiang Mai. There are a lot of options, based around your preferences, tastes, and the depths of your pockets. Chiang Mai is a big city and can provide for whatever you want, you just have to look in the right places.
By tourist clothes, I mean things like that tank top that says “I <3 Chiang Mai”, or that Singha beer shirt because we all know the Singha logo is really cool. It’s the souvenir shirts and elephant pants that you can bring back to your home country to represent the adventures you have been on. These are generally crazy cheap and really comfortable, but a little bit silly to wear around town here, in my opinion. My opinions do not stop a lot of people, and I even do go workout in a Chiang Mai City shirt and I have some of those elephant pants for pajamas. These are all also great travel clothes because they pack down really small. The cotton used in the elephant pants makes it possible to fit an entire grown man sized pair of pants in the space of a golf ball.
The go to place to buy all of these is definitely the Night Bazaar. However, throughout the old city and all over little spots in town you can spot and pick these up no problem. The elephant pants specifically are a trademark of Chiang Mai, and I thoroughly recommend to guys and girls alike to pick up a pair. They are the most comfortable pants you will ever pick up, and even if they literally do not match anything because elephant print, just wear them around the house. They can be picked up for about 100 baht if you bargain or go to the right place. Around the Night Bazaar and old city you will also be able to pick up a lot of shirts and shoes. Everything in this category can be quirky cool and comfortable, but do not expect a lot of quality, especially in the shoes. Do not expect them to be your new trail running, endurance shoes.
There are 5 major shopping malls in town and these are the places to buy your western brands of clothing. You will get designer brands and nice fabrics and the latest fashion, but with an obvious drastic price hike. Stores like H&M and Zara offer very nice new clothes, which will cost as expensive as they look. The malls are Central Festival, Kad Suan Kaew (weird quirky), Central Airport Plaza, Maya, and Promenada. The two you should most likely concern yourself with are Central Festival and Maya. You can look at my blogs on these two if you want to know more about them.
The other kind of place you can look in for branded new clothes, even if they are cheaper and of lower quality is supermarkets, specifically Big C. This is probably your best option if you are missing teacher clothes and are in a bind for time and money. No, you will not have the best looking clothes and they won’t fit flawlessly, but what they lack in prestige, they make up for in value. They are really cheap for new clothes, and are built to follow thai laws about teacher uniforms to a tee. In these supermarkets is also a shoe store named Bata. Bata and Big C both generally have fairly cheap, and decent looking dress shoes, just to complete your teacher look. If I was in a bind and needed teaching appropriate clothes really fast, I would not hesitate to go to my local Big C and Bata first thing.
This is my absolute favorite option. I like shopping and looking through piles of clothing, because you will find the coolest, weirdest clothing in town, and you will never spend more than 100 baht on an item clothing. One of my favorite shirts I picked up for 20 baht, along with a 20 baht, legitimate Giovanni tie, made in Italy. The second hand stores here are a wealth of adventure and it is far too easy to blow a lot of money on crazy stuff you find there. You will almost definitely leave with something, and once you start buying second hand, you will struggle to spend over 200 baht on a shirt. They also often have huge and amazing shoe selections. I picked up a pair of vintage brown oxford leather dress shoes in mint condition for a mere 60 baht. When I took my class (yes I was a student of Entrust) to a second hand store about 3 minutes from my house, everyone bought something. No one spent over 100 baht on anything, including a Levi Jeans jacket, and we all wore our “new” clothes on a night out that night.
These shops are huge and scattered throughout town, but I will link 3 fairly close by places. The main worry people have is that things will be dirty, but I promise that they wash everything they receive very thoroughly before putting it up on the racks. I definitely recommend checking and trying on anything you would want to pick up before purchasing it though, because sometimes they have a rip in them that you might not notice otherwise, but then again, you probably only would have wasted 50 baht.
• Tiger Second Hand: https://goo.gl/maps/kVGUqCEkhiG2
• Also Check a spot called Aloha right across the road. They repair and refurbish shoes, and everything in there is 400 baht. I’ve picked up some really nice refurbished limited edition Vans before there.
• Melon Second Hand: https://goo.gl/maps/PQEzN938BzB2
• The link is to a furniture store right across the road from Melon. It is not listed on Google Maps.
• Good shoe selection and really close by.
• The main Melon Second Hand: https://goo.gl/maps/krJTKGZMjW62
• Melon is a chain and this is their biggest store.
• It’s a little farther away, but it is huge.