Traders and buyers at Mandalay Jade Market

©David Eimer/Lonely Planet

Jade Market


Rock dust and cheroot smoke fill the air in this heaving grid of cramped walkways, where you'll find a mass of jade traders haggling, hawking and polishing their wares. There's a K2500 entry fee (often not collected), but you could always sit outside the market and observe craftspeople cutting and polishing jade in the area around 87th St. Be on the lookout for merchants furtively discussing deals over cigarettes and tea at spots such as the Unison Teahouse.

You don't have to want or even like jade to appreciate the timelessness of the scene – merchants may be using their smartphones, but the fierce haggling and individual branding of the jade trade feel like an echo of another era. Best visited in the early morning.

Word is the market will move out to the Werawsana Jade Pagoda, not far off the highway on the way to the airport.