Chiang Mai Sunday Market Through a Vintage Lens [Super-Takumar 55mm f1.8]

chiang mai sunday market vendor

Images shot with the vintage Super-Takumar 55mm f1.8

Every Sunday evening, the streets in the centre of Chiang Mai’s old town are transformed from free-flowing scooter thoroughfares and become instead arteries clogged with the cholesterol of slow moving human traffic.

Some are selling, others are buying, and all not moving very quickly whatsoever as the Chiang Mai Sunday market is held.

As the market is in the centre of everything in Chiang Mai’s old town, it’s good to spend the daytime exploring the streets and a few of the temples nearby before the market is set up.

tuk tuks in chiang mai thailand

monk and songthaew chiang mai thailand

yellow thai buddhist flags

old men t chiang mai night market

Of course, Chiang Mai’s Sunday night market is a massive draw for the tourists, but I found myself visiting a few times even when living here too.

The place just seems full of energy, and some of the street food is really good too.

As the main walking street runs east/west, it’s also a great spot for some golden hour photography as the market is being set up.

Most people seem to like going after dark, to get the night market feel, but it gets too busy for me to enjoy.

Walking around in the last of the day’s sunlight with a vintage lens on a Sony mirrorless camera is far more enjoyable.

Once that light has gone, the shots you can get after dark are not to be sniffed at either.

If you’ve never shot with a classic lens, the 55mm Takumar I used here is a good and inexpensive place to start.

You can find yours on eBay.

As well as working very well with vintage lenses, the Sony Alpha mirrorless cameras have the small size and great image quality needed to be your only travel camera.

If you’re in the market for a new one, check them out on Amazon.


market at chiang mai temple

chiang mai sunday night market


girl in red dress chiang mai night market

man at chiang mai night market

Don’t worry if you happen to be in Chiang Mai on the wrong day(s) and don’t catch the Sunday market, as there is also a Friday morning market in a different place too.

And in between the Friday morning market and the Sunday night market, there’s the Chiang Mai Saturday night market.

Don’t worry either if you’re not in town for any of these, because the Chiang Mai night bazaar (below) is held every night anyway, again in a different place.

It’s huge, and you could easily spend an entire evening perusing the stalls while eating and drinking along the way.

chiang mai night bazaar

coloured lights on chiang mai night market

chiang mai walking street

Robert Capa famously said that if your photos aren’t good enough, you’re not close enough.

Other common photography wisdom states that the longer your lens, the creepier you look.

I was using my Super-Takumar 55mm f1.8 for these pictures, which meant I could get a few candid shots in amongst the ones of the stalls and goods.

The lady eating clearly saw me though.

Being able to open up the Super-Takumar to f2.8 (I never go wide open) also meant I could keep the ISO sensibly low, especially as there was enough ambient light from the market stalls and street lamps to work with.

In truth, if you’re in a city, there usually is.

I personally spend as much time looking for light to use as I do subjects to shoot, and rarely (if ever) use a flash.

The Chiang Mai Sunday night market is something that anyone who has the chance should visit once.

My tip is to arrive early whilst the light is best for photography, and stay until you’ve had your fill of both night shots and street food too.

chess on chiang mai street

phonebox in chiang mai thailand

… p.s. if you’ve enjoyed this post on Chiang Mai’s Sunday market and think others will too, why not share or pin it!

The Chiang Mai Sunday market closes the town centre and sees 1000s of tourists throng to load up on souvenirs. Come see how it looks through a vintage lens.
written by
Hi, I'm Lee - creator of My Favourite Lens and the one whose work you're seeing whenever you read a post on here.
I shoot as much film as I can in as many different cameras as I can, and I enjoy playing with vintage lenses on digital cameras also.

Everything I do and what I learn along the way gets shared on here, to inform and inspire you to get out and shoot as much - and as well - as you can too.

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