Chiang Mai is the largest city in northern Thailand and therefore is the hub of all nightlife for the region. You’ll find many options catering to tourists of all tastes.
This guide will help you find the perfect place to spend your night out, whatever your style and preference for the night.
Due to its deep association with the authentic Thai culture, the city is immensely popular and famous tourists. So much so that according to Thailand’s Tourist Authority, in 2013 Chiang Mai had 14.1 million annual visitors.
This city’s nightlife can be whatever you want it to be as the city offers a wide scope of drinking and dancing options. For the most part, though, live music venues have a monopoly. Riverside drinking is a popular pastime, with residents and visitors settling down by the Ping River with a chilled drink and some good company, while the live band entertains with classic blues, jazz and rock tunes – a hallmark of any Chiang Mai visit.
The Nightlife of Chiang Mai
From beautiful mountain landscapes to stunning temples, Chiang Mai definitely has a lot to offer for locals and tourists alike. Despite the strict laws relating to alcohol serving places, Chiang Mai the first destination in Thailand that comes to mind when thinking about nightlife. If you find yourself in the city and want to go out for a beer or two, want to have deliciously exotic food or simply want to dance on some good beats, this guide will help you to make nightlife in Chiang Mai worthwhile for you.
You may not encounter your worst experience, therefore, we have chosen the finest and the best locations to enjoy the nightlife of Chiang Mai to catch the spectacular memories of your life. The city has a decent amount of hotels, bars, and night clubs. Apart from the above general, there are some other nightlife specific activities which could also be enjoyed. So here we have compiled this list of what we believe are the top activities to do in Chiang Mai at night, check out our recommended options here for the best venues available in Chiang Mai and all are ready to make you happy while you are enjoying your nightlife experience over there:
Tom Lamyai Market
Ton Lamyai Market is a bustling trading area that is just north of Chiang Mai Night Bazaar on Chang Khan Road. It is open almost 24 hours a day, visitors are advised to arrive in the early morning when the flower deliveries are being made and the place is alive with traders. Most stalls here are packed tightly together under a tarpaulin but there are other open-air stalls that are less frantic. The overall aroma of this place is pretty romantic and gives a romantic vibe to it.
Chiang Mai Ladyboy Cabaret Show
Chiang Mai’s Ladyboy Cabaret Show is the most popular show in the city and on the list of things to do for many tourists visiting Thailand for the first time. Located in the Night Bazaar the nightly show features some of Chiang Mai’s prettiest and liveliest ladyboys. The performers sing, dance and put on a good show for the audience while dressed up in outrageous dresses, full makeup and wigs. The performers also ask for audience participation and will bring people up on stage and ask questions. The show is in parts funny, but never goes raunchy so it is suitable for couples and even families. There are two shows every evening – one at 21:30 and one at 23:00. It is a good idea to buy your tickets in advance during high season and if you arrive earlier you can get a better seat
Spas and Massage Shops
This kind of spots are almost Scattered throughout the Night Bazaar area you’ll find plenty of shophouses offering foot massage, Thai massage, facials, and other treatments. Considering most people walk for hours when exploring this area, a pit stop at a massage shop is very popular which gives you a relaxing time. The quality is generally good, but owing to the turnover of staff, it’s hard to pick out a clear favourite. Massages start from somewhat fairly priced, with the price increase in the fancier looking places. If you’ve never tried a genuine Thai foot massage, it should definitely come high on your list of things to do in Night Bazaar.
The Night Bazaar
The Night Bazaar in Chiang Mai is probably the best place in all of Thailand to buy your commonplace souvenirs at the absolute best prices. Printed tees, candle holders, shawls and other everyday items are overflowing from the endless stalls in this area. There are actually several parts to the night bazaar, with indoor and outdoor sections on either side of Chang Klan Road, so our advice is to start from the intersection in front of Le Meridien Hotel and simply explore. Along the way, there are snacks, drinks, and ice creams to try, and many restaurants serving a wide range of regional cuisines are also in the area.
Art in Paradise
Art in Paradise is a fun activity for all the fun seeker out there roaming in the city, where expertly painted three-dimensional pictures allow visitors to interact with the art for some memorable photographs. The gallery is split into several zones such as ancient Egypt, underwater and a section where old classic works of art are given humorous touches. Art in Paradise also has a café on the ground floor and a small food court in case you get hungry. You could get around the entire four floors in an hour but we recommend around three hours to really make the most of your experience.
Best Bars in Chiang Mai
If you want nothing else than having a glass of chilled drink, Chiang Mai has a wide variety of different venues to offer such kind of entertainment. You can explore the fancy Nimmanahaeminda Road for upper-range bars that serve cocktails and expensive, imported beers or take a stroll around the east side of the Old City for bars that mostly cater the backpacking crowd, these bars will surely provide you ultimately and premium experience. Last but not least, you can also visit Loi Kroh Road, in the red light district of Chiang Mai, for places that are a little raunchier and can be easy on your pocket.
The list below is a compilation of what we consider to be the best bars in Chiang Mai, we’ve put together an ultimate guide here to the best bars in Chiang Mai to help you narrow, so go out with your friends and loved-one out there to have a memorable experience on your vacation at Chiang Mai:
Vintage Chiang Mai
It is a small bar that mostly caters to a young, local audience. Vintage Chiang Mai’s decor is just like the name says – vintage with the charm of small bars in Berlin Kreuzberg. Old TV sets, collectibles and coke bottles from the past days make the atmosphere cozy and warm. The music is mostly Thai pop, sometimes acoustic versions of Thai and international songs by local artists. It’s one of the favorite places in Chiang Mai to drink a cold beer far away from the tourist crowds.
CNX Rooftop Bar
This lesser-known rooftop bar in Chiang Mai does not have to hide behind its more popular sisters at Maya Mall or the THC rooftop bar at Thapae Gate, that is famous amongst backpackers. CNX offers great views of the Suthep Mountain and the Old City and serves both drinks and delicious food at its location near the West Gate. It’s the perfect spot for a romantic dinner with your significant other while enjoying the sunsets.
Everyone loves a good beer and even if you are in Thailand, you are not limited only to the local brews. Nimman Road is plastered with beer bars that serve imported beers from all over the world for those who are willing to spend a little more money. One of the most popular ones is the Beer Republic. With a wide range of Belgian and German beers amongst others, this bar will make your heart go faster if you consider yourself a beer “connaisseur”.
Blue Bat Rooftop Bar
Blue Bat Rooftop Bar is the highest rooftop bar in Chiang Mai with clear views of the Night Bazaar, Riverside and Old City. Sitting on the 24th floor of Pornping Tower Hotel, the décor is a little staid, certainly when compared to rooftop bars in Bangkok, but it is full of charm and the drinks are excellent value for money. Blue Bat Rooftop Bar is also famous for its barbeque buffet, although there are better places to eat. This is perfect for getting a bird’s eye view of the city before dinner or as a nightcap.
This popular nightclub is located in the basement of Pornping Tower Hotel and stays open late into the early hours. The music policy sticks to Thai style house music so expect the bass to be pumping all night and the clientele of mainly foreign men and Thai women to be up on the dance floor or sinking bottles of whiskey. With a name like Bubbles Nightclub it should come as no surprise that some of the girls frequenting this nightclub are not just there to have fun, but in truth is it is similar to several other nightclubs in Chiang Mai, and most people are just out for a good time.
Foxy Lady a Go-Go
Being a typical go-go bar this place is surely not to be visited by everyone, but if you want to see a bit of risqué nightlife in central Chiang Mai then Foxy Lady a Go-Go is the recommended place to go. Located in an alley behind Dusit D2 Hotel, you will find plenty of ladies hanging about outside to welcome you in. A favorite with stag parties, Foxy Lady a Go-Go is an honest establishment with two floors following the tried and tested formula of a central podium with plenty of girls dancing suggestively. This is one of the only go-go bars in Chiang Mai and widely considered the best. Entry to the bar is free.
The Red Lion
When you’re craving a draft pint of English ale and some hearty pub grub The Red Lion in Chiang Mai will hit the spot. This two-story venue has all the dark wooden fittings and cozy booths you would expect to find in an English country pub, with the added benefit of being bang in the center of the Night Bazaar in Chiang Mai. Drinks served here are fairly priced. All major sports are shown on several large televisions inside and there is also a spacious outdoor terrace for people watching. All in all, it could be a great place to hang out with friends and have some great shots.
O’Malleys could be titled as the largest bar in the Anusarn Market section of the Night Bazaar. Located on Chang Klan Road, it stocks an excellent range of European beers and has Guinness on tap (as you would expect from an Irish bar). It’s a great spot for people watching as Anusarn Market is fringed by bars and restaurants with an enjoyable market section running through the middle. Inside the bar, they show all the latest sports, but we enjoy the outside section with views of the market traders. All in all, it could be termed as a great place to enjoy a drink while enjoying the natural ambiance of the market.
Best Bar Restaurants in Chiang Mai
It’s absolutely and devastatingly charming, largely walkable, and home to some of the best eateries and cafes in the whole of Thailand. Even if you think you know Thai food, eating your way through Chiang Mai might have you wondering if you’re in the right country. With dishes not found elsewhere in Thailand, the cuisine here is characterized by mild but intense flavors, smoky grilled meats, and rich curry noodle soups and especially not to mention a decent spread of foreign food and a thriving cafe scene. Best of all, meals here cost a fraction of what they would in Bangkok, and the vibe is almost assertively casual and easy. And with influences from China, the Muslim world, Myanmar, and the region’s so-called hill tribes, Chang Mai’s eating scene is unlike anything else in the country. The best thing one could do is to select a bar that also serves delicious food. That way you’ll never even have to leave your bar stool whenever there is a hold off hunger on you. Therefore, to fulfill your extreme craving for delightful food and awesome booze, we’ve got you covered with a list of Chiang Mai’s best bar-restaurants, good enough to try on the go:
The Restaurant at Anantara
The Restaurant at the Anantara Chiang Mai Resort offers breakfast, lunch, and dinner to both hotel guests and visitors from outside the hotel. The Restaurant offers a fine dining experience at one of Chiang Mai’s finest five-star hotels. The outside area has riverside views of Chiang Mai and is a great place to spend sunset. The inside area has a mix of tables and booths to sit in and large glass windows so guests can still see the river and garden area. The menu at The Restaurant offers a range of starters and an international cuisine focusing on Indian and Western dishes
It’s not specifically Chiang Mai-style, but the rotisserie chicken here which was the inspiration for the version served at Portland’s famed Pok Pok — is delicious regardless of provenance. Couple the dish with a basket of sticky rice and a plate of spicy-tart papaya salad and you’ve got yourself a crash-course in the food of Isan, Thailand’s northeastern region.
Among Thais, Chiang Mai is renowned for its cafes, and at the top of the heap is Akha Ama. Quite possibly one of the best-value coffee shops in the world providing a great cappuccino even priced at low level, it also serves a good cause: The beans here are grown in the remote corners of neighboring Chiang Rai province, providing a needed economic resource for northern Thailand’s minority groups
The back hills of Chiang Mai province are home to remote communities of Yunnanese Chinese, and for several decades now, this restaurant has brought their cuisine to the city folk. Go for dishes with uniquely Chinese ingredients such as pleasantly salty Yunnan-style air-dried ham, wok-seared greens, spicy and fragrant DIY salads, and for contrast, one of the typically mild, comforting soups. All in all, a great restaurant serving varying dishes.
One of Chiang Mai’s most legendary eateries is this shack-like shrine to bubbling oil. Choose your deep-fried protein — chicken, pork belly, sun-dried beef, among others — and enjoy it with a mountain of steaming sticky rice, a plate of crunchy pickled mustard greens, and a spicy northern Thai-style dip. As the name suggests, this is for late-night noshing only.
Dash Restaurant and Bar in Chiang Mai draws in big crowds even though it is located down a small lane in a quiet part of the old town. The setting is perfect: a beautiful wooden house with doors open onto a small patio and tasty Thai food that suits all palates. Add to this the live band that plays in the evenings and they really have a winning combination. Dash is located on Moon Muang Road, around a five-minute walk from Tha Pae Gate. If you’re not familiar with Chiang Mai’s winding back lanes then it’s best to take a map. The restaurant is open every day from 9:00 until midnight. If you end up loving the food you eat here, Dash restaurant and Bar in Chiang Mai also run cooking classes.
Huen Phen Restaurant
Huen Phen restaurant is also famous for its Khao Soi noodle soup dish. During lunchtimes, this is the main dish that Huen Phen serves, but they also have a range of other traditional snacks and Northern dishes such as jackfruit salad and sticky rice, and ‘Aeb Pla’ fish grilled with sweet basil and wrapped in a banana leaf. Because Huen Phen restaurant is well known it can be quite busy with Thai and foreign guests during lunch hours so be prepared to wait or arrive early. Huen Phen restaurant opens twice a day. In the daytime, they serve in an open canteen-style area and there are lots of customers around. In the evenings Huen Phen changes into a romantic restaurant with low lighting and antique decorations. A different part of the restaurant is opened which can be reached by walking down an outdoor landscaped pathway and an old entrance door. The menu is also different in the evenings with more variety of central Thai dishes but Khao Soi curry is still available.
Laap Kao Cham Chaa
If it’s good enough for crowds of rowdy locals on a nightly basis, it’s good enough for you. This raucous open-air place is a safe bet for just about anything local. Just point at whatever happens to be on the grill, because it’s bound to be good; go for the fragrant northern Thai-style lamp, a dish of finely minced meat, or impress your friends with tam som oh, a pounded salad of pomelo (a grapefruit-like citrus) and crab paste, a uniquely northern Thai condiment. All in all, it’s a great restaurant that serves delicious foods.
Best Nightclub in Chiang Mai
You can notice after roaming in the city that Dance clubs are a very rare thing to find in Chiang Mai because of the enforced closing times at midnight. Mostly a few of the nightclubs are scattered around here and there in the city. If you don’t like Electronic Dance Music, you can choose between many of venues that have live bands playing reggae, pop or even jazz music. Sometimes you just want to enjoy a good drink with your friend or date or just want to relax after a busy. These Nightclubs are a great place to do all such things. Make sure to check out the following recommendations if you happen to be in the city, as these places are only in their surrounding providing such entertainment:
Zoe in Yellow
The go-to place for everyone who wants a Kohpangan-Esque party experience in Chiang Mai. Lots of young people come here to dance into the night to loud electronic music while drinking buckets of cheap alcoholic drinks. Zoe in Yellow is actually only one of a hand full of bars at the former Boon Yoo market. The area hosts a variety of bars that cater to various peer groups. Fans of rock music will enjoy headbanging at Pentatonic Rock Bar, while Reggae lovers get their fix at Roots Rock Reggae Bar. Also worth mentioning is the small Havana Saloon, where owner Eddie and his wife serve delicious drinks at fair prices and in a less crowded atmosphere as you would find at Zoe in Yellow.
Probably one of the most popular venues amongst young Thais. Warm-Up is famous for top-notch live music and has served as a springboard for many famous Thai bands. Musicians of famous Thai bands such as Bodyslam can sometimes be spotted having a drink here. You can dance to covers of both Thai and international pop music in front of the stage, move inside the club area where DJs play electronic music or grab a cocktail and relax on the quieter patio.
Northgate Jazz Co-Op
Even if you are not a fan of Jazz music, you need to pay this place a visit. The Northgate Jazz Co-Op is one of the most famous venues amongst expats in Chiang Mai. Some of the musicians who play here have worked with and gotten highly influenced by American Jazz legend Sun Ra – and it shows. The Northgate Jazz Bar is almost always packed with people standing on the sidewalk or even the street to listen in to the best musicians in Chiang Mai working their magic. If you are a musician yourself, bring your instrument along on Tuesdays, when the club hosts its open-mic events.
Although the police in Chiang Mai is very strict about closing hours, sometimes you can still be lucky and find a place or two that are open late. While there are a few bars that have kept doing this for a longer time, the list of after-hour places changes quite frequently. Just ask around at midnight when the club or bar you’re at is closing down. Knowledge of after-hour places often gets exchanged via word of mouth and fellow travelers or expats often happily take you by the hand and take to a bar that’s still open.
Bus Bar has become more and more popular because of its secluded location at the Ping River, just next to Nawarat Bridge. It is surrounded by old buses that serve as booths to order your drinks from. The music starts off with changing live bands, that play both Thai and international pop music. Later at night, when the music changes to Electronic Dance Music, people start hitting the dance floor.
Spicy Nightclub is well known as the last place to close in Chiang Mai because even after the strict rules this places close the late. Pumping out dance music late into the night it is loved and hated in equal measure, but if you don’t want to the party to stop this is the place to be. Spicy Nightclub in Chiang Mai is located on the outside of the moat, just north of Tha Phae Gate. Arrive before midnight and you will find a dark, empty room with pounding house and trance music, but once everywhere else closes it becomes packed. It’s not a sophisticated place, but it is a lot of fun if you are looking to dance and mingle late into the night. All in all, you could simply just enjoy this bar because there is no restriction in this bar.
Let us conclude the topic, here in this article we had a brief introduction of Chiang Mai along with highlighting some of its prominent norms, culture, and nightlife features. We also went through different activities and places to enjoy the nightlife of the region, Musical venues, Bars, Restaurants and Nightclubs as well. Such activities provide a great source of entertainment for tourists and locals as well.
As already elaborated, the nightlife attraction of Chiang Mai scattered throughout the city. There are several streets / bustling areas of the city where cafes, concert and dance venues, galleries and restaurants offer something special to everyone who loves the culture, shopping and nightlife attraction. There are a decent amount of pubs & bars throughout the City areas and they are truly satisfying the desire of thirsty visitors where you can enjoy your cocktails with the mesmerizing architectural beauty of the city and its decor.
You don’t feel any hunger during your trip, that is why we also suggested some of the finest restaurants in the city that offer exotic and delicious food along with your favorite drinks. You can enjoy the taste of good food along with some great booze.
And lastly, we went through comprehensive options of nightclubs of the city that offers great music and fun with some delightfully exotic choices of drinks and cocktail that will delight your overall experience of charming nightlife during your stay at Chiang Mai.
All of the experiences as mentioned above will work together to make your journey to Chiang Mai absolutely a memorable one. A perfect and balanced blend of the above-identified activities can actually boost your experience and make your trip extremely unforgettable for you.