Tuesday, December 18, 2007


Chiang Mai's nightlife scene is the most happening in the North, although still a far cry from Bangkok's. There are discos, karaoke bars, and live music everywhere. The busiest nightlife zones are near Tapae Gate, Loi Kroh Road and along Charoenrat Road on the eastern bank of the Ping River.

[edit] Bars and pubs

Most of Chiang Mai's bars and pubs are located along Loi Kroh Road and Moon Muang Road. Here you can find small expat hangouts, go-go bars and sports bars. Most have pool tables and hostesses, along with music videos or various TV sports programs. A few of those similar bars are:

  • Elephant Café, Kotchasarn Road (near Thapae Gate) +66 857 233440 - nice clean friendly bar with pool room, large TV & friendly hostesses.
  • Half Moon Pub, Soi 2 Moonmuang (around the corner from Topnorth Guesthouse), +66 853 205023, [35]. Open 10am till late, late. Sports bar with many regulars and tourists. Darts & pool area, big TV, really nice international cuisine, especially the burgers but also good Thai & Indian dishes. Excellent (can be loud) music, friendly atmosphere and beautiful women.
  • Number One, Loi Kroh Road Soi 1 - friendly bar with free Internet and pool table. Plenty of talkative expats and pretty hostesses.
  • Tuskers, Chaiyaphum Soi 1, +66 871 804 665, [36] - bar and restaurant with a touch of Thai style and international standards of service, free pool table and live sports.

There are also some bars with a different atmosphere:

  • Café Souvannaphoum, 20/1 Ratchamankha Road, (near Moon Muang) +66 53 903-781. A decent wine bar with comfortable seating and relaxing music, great escape from the busy street life, open M-Sa: 17:00 - 01:00.
  • The Pub 189 Huay Kaew Road (near Amiri Rincome Hotel) +66 53-211550, [37]. long established olde worlde English pub in the true tradition, has had a makeover and extended the bar and the restaurant but kept its charm. Great selection of food and drinks, including roast dinners on Sundays. Has an outside area where you can sit and enjoy the tranquility of a tropical garden, and has recently added bungalows for those wishing to linger longer.

West of the city center, the area around Nimmanhaemin Road is a popular hangout for younger Thais, perhaps due to its proximity to Chiang Mai University. The pubs, as they are called here, tend to straddle a fine line between bar, restaurant and nightclub, and feature loud music interspersed with live bands fronted by musicians who are most likely hitting the books in the daytime. Tourists looking for something racier are better off staying in the east side of town.

  • BangRak, Nimmanhaemin Road Soi 6 - hangout spot for a primarily student crowd. Weekend nights are standing-room only and the clubbing atmosphere is complete; weekday nights are a little slower. Well air-conditioned, and no cover charge, but you'll be expected to purchase some drinks. Open 18:00-01:00.
  • Mo'C Mo'L, Huay Kaew Road - pub and restaurant near Chiang Mai University, there are many zone in the restaurant: coffee shop, dining outdoor near the small pond, dining indoor with live music.
  • Monkey Club, Nimminheimin Road Soi 9 +66 53-226997 -8 - another hot spot for the students, with a variety of live music. Open 17:00-01:00.

[edit] Live music

The area along the east bank of the Mae Ping River on Charoenrat Road is famous for jazz, rock, pop, Thai and country and western live music, along with restaurants serving Thai, western, and Chinese food. Coming from the center of the city, just walk from the night bazaar across the Narawatt Bridge, from where all the restaurants can be seen along the river on the left.

Most bands in Chiang Mai play for about an hour, and then move on to do the same at another restaurant or pub, so don't be surprised to see the same band twice if you switch venues.

  • La Brasserie, 37 Charoenrat Road +66 53-241665 - this riverside venue is not famous for its food, but the music is great, and there's a good selection of cocktails and spirits. Sit outside in the lush garden setting where acoustic guitar is played (19:00-midnight) or inside at the bar and catch the famous Took and Friends (23:00-02:00) who play old Hendrix, Dylan, Marley, Stevie Ray Vaughn, and other favorites.
  • Tha Chang Jazz Club, 25 Charoenrat Road (next to Gallery Restaurant) +66 53-248601 - good for a drink any day, but best visited on Saturdays for live jazz.
  • The Chiang Mai Riverside Restaurant, 9-11 Charoenrat Road +66 53-243239 [38]. Everyone who has been to Chiang Mai eats at least once here. There is a large menu of Thai and western food. If you want a good homemade hamburger, this is a good place to get one. The live music starts around 19:00 with dinner music from the Eagles, Beatles, or soft jazz. Starting at 21:00, the music changes to more rock and pop songs. Full bar service serving wine, beer, and spirits are available. The Chiang Mai Riverside restaurant gets very crowded, so get here early to get a table. The Riverside also offers a nightly dinner cruise departing at 20:00 for 70 baht/person extra.
  • The Garden Chiang Mai, 139, Ratchadamnoen Road, [39]. Well stocked bar, great food and a beautiful garden. The Chiang Mai Blues Club meets here to play at 20:30 on Wednesdays, and there's also live music on Sundays during the walking street market which is right outside the gates.
  • The Good View, 13 Charoenrat Road +66 53-241886, [40]. Thai and western varieties of rock, jazz, pop and country music entertain in the evening. Their extensive menu offers more than 150 Thai, Chinese, and western dishes, including curries, noodles, rice, and pizza. Soft drinks and a full bar serving wine, beer, and spirits are available. Again, if you want a good, riverside-view table get there early.
  • The North Gate, inside the city moat and east of Chang Puak Gate, [41]. The North Gate has easily become one of the most popular, regular destinations for Chiang Mai's young ex pat community. With nightly jazz performances starting around 9:30 PM with different performers and occasional guests from the audience, the North Gate offers something unique to the often repetitious Chiang Mai live music scene. In addition to nightly music performed by true lovers and technicians of jazz, the North Gate offers a variety of drinks not normally found within Chiang Mai- notably red and white wine, mojitos, and other mixed drinks. The staff is quick and efficient and prices are damn cheap!

[edit] Nightclubs

  • Bubbles - B1, Porn Ping Tower, 46 Charoen Prathet Road. Would be just another cheesy hotel disco if not for some good DJs and enthusiastic crowds; now it's a cheesy, packed and fun hotel disco on weekend nights. Cover charge 100 baht including one drink; open until 02:00.
  • Discovery - opposite Kad Suan Kaew shopping centre and Lotus Pang Suan Kaew Hotel. Is a small club with live band, DJ and huge screens showing music videos, good for drinking nights and letting loose. Bring ID/passport as they can be strict with entry especially on weekend nights.
  • Spicy is a hectic after hours place with good drinks, dancing and lots of local good looking girls looking to party - be warned, they almost always ask for money.

[edit] Gay Bars

Chiang Mai is a popular destination for gay tourists and many Gay people have retired here. It has a vibrant Gay scene, highlights include:

  • Friendship Bar, Thapae Road Soi 1 (between the Peak Climbing wall and D2 Hotel). Small oudoor bar popular with Thai gays, ex pats and tourists alike. 50 baht up for small beer.
  • Glass Onion, Room 1 project, 61, Nimmanhaemin Rd., Telephone: 66(0)53218479. Sophisticated wine bar popular with gays, opposite "Warm Up"
  • Golden Ball (Bon Tong in Thai), Santitham Road (At Junction with Tewan Road), Chang Phuak Tel: 66(0)53406043, [42]. Northern Thai style outdoor bar and restaurant. Local prices: Drinks start from 45 baht for a large Chang beer. Packed with very friendly staff and fun atmosphere.

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