Chiang Mai Bars, Discos and Shows

Chiang Mai Nighlife

One of the best features of Chiang Mai is its diversity and the nightlife bears this idea out. Whether your idea of a good time is a classy bar with a nice view and live music or thumping beats, flashing lights and a packed dance floor, you’ll be able to find it in Chiang Mai. All over the city you will find hotspots that cater to a wide range of crowds. There are tiny corner bars perfect for a quiet drink and a chat, Rasta bars for the bleary-eyed dreadlocks crowd, high end joints with great live music, high-energy nightclubs to get your boogie fix and college bars catering to the many young Thais who study at the local universities.

Chiang Mai loves to party and you’ll find the atmosphere in the nightspots to be very welcoming and relaxed. If there’s a downside to Chiang Mai nightlife it’s the local regulation stating that all bars must close at midnight. This unpopular law has drawn complaints from all quarters but at the moment there are only a few places licensed to stay open until 02:00. Having said that, many places simply ignore the rules and if you keep an eye out you can usually find someplace open after hours.

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A few of the more popular and established bars

The Riverside Pub and Restaurant, 9-11 Charoenrat Road- A Chiang Mai institution, this is excellent live music venue should be on the itinerary for any visitor to Chiang Mai. The menu has an excellent selection of Thai and western food and the drink prices are fairly reasonable. The real attraction here, however, is the music. The show starts at 19:00 and the place is packed by 19:30.

The U.N. Irish Pub, 24/1 Ratvithi Road- This two storey establishment is known by locals simply as ‘The Irish’ and is the unofficial clubhouse of the expatriate crowd. This is the place to have a nice pint and watch (or talk) rugby, football or cricket. Other highlights are the great food and occasional spoken word and open-mic nights.

Tiny Corner, Moon Muang Soi 2- This charming hole in the wall lives up to its name and is possibly the smallest bar in Chiang Mai. This little hideaway is perfect for those who want to escape from the noise and pressure of the more touristy bars.

Brasserie, 37 Charoenrat Road- This classy place is possibly the best venue for live music in all of Chiang Mai. Local blues and rock legend Tuk is a fixture here as well as numerous other guest artists performing western covers and Thai rock.

THC Bar, 19/4-5 Katchasarn Road- Located opposite Tha Pae Gate, this rooftop bar provides excellent views, particularly on Sundays, when the night market lights up Tha Pae Square. The seating area is made up of cushions surrounding low tables, most of which are occupied by young bohemians from all over the world.

Warm Up, Nimminhemin road near CMU Convention Centre- This is the quintessential Thai college bar. Live music on Fridays and Saturdays keeps the place packed. In true Thai style spirits are only sold by the bottle. This is a great place to meet locals and see how real modern Thais party.

Bars and Pubs

Chiang Mai bars run the gamut from holes-in-the-wall that are little more than chairs and a cooler to theme bars to traditional British Pubs. There is a large concentration of bars along Moon Muang Road, inside the moat near Tha Pae Gate, and a number of great live music venues along the Ping River. Also, the Read More...


Cabaret shows are becoming increasingly popular with visitors to Thailand. The Las Vegas-style song, dance and comedy extravaganzas are performed by ladyboys (transvestites) who are sometimes so convincing that you’re not quite sure.

Themes range from the glamorous to the hilarious but the shows are always entertaining. Check out Blue Moon Cabaret at 5/3 Moon Muang Road.


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Loi Kroh Road

Just opposite the moat, towards the night bazaar you’ll find this stretch of bars. Loi Kroh Road is Chiang Mai’s answer to Bangkok’s Nana Plaza. Each of the dozen or so bars on either side of the road has their prettiest staff members outside beckoning patrons like sirens. If you’d like some easy ‘company’ this is the place to go. Otherwise it’s an inconvenient gauntlet to run.

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Reggae Bars

Just off of Ratvithi road behind you’ll find a short road lined with various reggae bars. Although the convergence of sound systems can make the area sound like a battle of the bands, this area has a great Bourbon Street atmosphere, with patrons carousing from bar to bar. On the corner is a more sedate beer garden with live acoustic music and good specials. Try a tower of draft Chang if you and your party are feeling adventurous (and don’t have much planned for the next day).

Van Bars

One of those quirky phenomena that make Chiang Mai so popular, van bars are exactly what they sound like. Full size vans are converted into mobile pubs, complete with full bar, sound system and even stools. Some even have extendable roofs and light shows. The most common place to find one is opposite Tha Pae Gate near the THC Bar. Not much of a dance floor, but a great photo opportunity.

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