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Merchants from the Warorot and Ton Lam Yai Market have brought their goods to sell in front of the Suriwong Hotel due to the fire on February 13, 1968. The empty land on the left is the former Chong Fa School, presently the Night Bazaar on Chang Khlan Road.
Boonserm Satrabhaya
Warorot; Ton Lam Yai Market; Chong Fa School; Night Bazaar; Chang Khlan Road

The three “Kad” or markets are on the eastern bank of the Ping River where two roads, Chang Moi and Wichayanon Roads, join. Kad Luang is the area at the intersection of the two roads. The Chek Ou Market is at the north, opposite Kad Luang on Chaing Moi Road. The Kad Ton Lam Yai is poopsite to Kad Luang on the Wichayanon Road side. All three markets were founded when the boat trading between Chiang Mai and Bangkok had prospered. They grew larger as the shipments increased at the piers along the western banks. One important pier was the Khum Chao Tha pier in front of the Khum Chedi Kiew (present site of the American Consulate). The pier was where the ruler’s boat caravans were parked along with the scorpion tail boats that traveled between Chiang Mai and Bangkok.

It was said that each day boats would line up from Khum Chao Tha to Khum Kaew Nawarat (the present Kad Chek Ou). Meanwhile, people slowly moved into the areas. Some were middle men who brought goods from Bangkok to sell and bought goods form northerners to trade in Bangkok. Some others traded with the middle men by selling them consumer products such as food, vegetables, meat, dried food and garments. When the rail was extended to Chiang Mai and the Ping crossing bridges were completed more people were drawn here to set up stores and find work. The markets continually grew as more and more people moved in.

Kad Luang or Warorot Market was set up on the land of the old northern ruler’s cemetery. In 1909, Chao Dara Rasami, the royal consort had the cemetery moved to Wat Suan Dok. In 1910 she developed the property into a market for people to do trading activities. Kad Warorot was named after Chao Inthawarorotsuriyawong, the 8th ruler of Chiang Mai.

Kad Lam Yai or Kad Ton Lam Yai The book “Rueang Lao Chao Kad vol.2” (tales of the market) said that the area used to be an elephant stable and elephant bathing area of the Chaing Mai ruler’s elephants. Later Luang Yonakanphichit (Mong Panyo Uppayokhin) rented the land to raise logging elephants for the Borneo and Bombay Burma Co. and built row houses along the Ping River bank for his workers to live in making the area a small community where merchants came in to sell goods to people in the area. The market grew from a small street side flea market and to the big Ton Lam Yai Market.

Kad Check Ou or Nawarat Market The market was named after Chao Kaew Nawarat the 9th ruler of Chiang Mai (1909-1939) because it was set in the area of Chao Kaew Nawarat’s residence. In 1945 Thaw Kae Ou (Chu Osathaphan) bought the residence and moved his family to live there. In 1957 he tore it down and developed it into a market seeing that it was next to the Ping River and so many people would pass by it. Moreover, the old residence was

At first all three markets were open spaces and were not very well-known. Trading activities would start at dawn and late in the morning by the time the sun had risen up high, everyone would have returned home. As more people moved in, permanent structures were built. Stores were set up all along the roadsides, some were wooden some were concrete. The interesting point of the three markets is that people from different racial backgrounds could balance their careers perfectly. The traders came from three major races; Chinese, locals and Sikhs (or what the people call “Nai Hang” meaning store master). The Sikhs opened fabric stores in the outer ring of the market from the Lao Zhou alley around to both sides of the Chang Moi Road. The Sikhs at these markets came from Punjab region in India. Most of them are the Namdhari centered at the Namdhari Temple on the Chang Moi Road near Kad Luang.

In 1968 a tragedy occurred causing the market people to fall into sorrows. On February 13, a big fire broke out at Kad Ton Lam Yai and spread to Kad Luang. Since the buildings were mostly wooden and the goods stored in shops were mostly fabric, the fire grew rapidly into chaos burning down both markets to ashes. The merchants affected by this had to move out and sell their goods elsewhere, for example around the Suriwong intersection or the Chang Klan Road. The market was later on rebuilt in a western style as seen today which in those days was considered very up to date.

Although the three markets are near, they did not compete for customers because each of them had their own characters. Kad Luang is the center for various kinds of fabric, both ready-to-wear and sold in rolls as well as a center of souvenirs like folk costumes and food. Chek Ou market is a center of factory made products whereas the Ton Lam Yai Market is the agricultural crops market selling vegetables, fruit and meat.

Many department stores have spread out all around the city but the people of Chiang Mai are still committed to the three markets. Each day, all kinds of vehicles bring people from different paces who come to find goods, especially, during long holidays in which the markets would be crowded with tourists who come to get local goods for their families at home. This picture has been true for decades.

Anu Noenhad, Pol. Lt. Col. (2007). Sapa Rueang Kao (Miscellanous stories
             of Chiang Mai in the past ). (in Thai). Retrieved April 8, 2007,
             from www.thainews70.com/index-culture-arnu.php

Plaiao Chananon. (1986). The roles of merchant capitalism in the rise
             and expansion of capitalism in Northern Thailand, 1921-1980.
             (in Thai). Master’s thesis in Economics, Chulalongkorn University.

Supaporn Abhawacharut (Ed.) . (2004). Rueang Lao Chao Kad Lem 1
             Lae 2 ( the stories of the Market vol. 1 and 2). (in Thai).
             Chiang Mai: Urban Development Institute.

Usanee Thongchai. (2007). Waed Wiang Chiang Mai (around the city
             of Chiang Mai). (in Thai). Chiang Mai: Faculty of Humanities,
             Chiang Mai University.
Chiang Mai University Library
Chiang Mai
Chiang Mai University. Information Technology Service Center
Chiang Mai
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Usanee Thongchai, Advisor and project expert
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