Chiang Mai might be better known for its ancient temples and rolling mountains, but the northern capital also boasts an ever-growing list of lively bars and pubs, ideal for evening drinks after spending the day being all cultural.
Most of the city’s hotels and guesthouses are spread around the Old City and the adjacent Night Bazaar area, so it makes sense that the highest concentration of bars are found here too. However, long gone are the days in which tourists’ nocturnal activities were restricted to the two-kilometer radius around Tha Pae Gate; we’ve come up with the perfect collection, from expat Irish bars, to hip hangouts on Niman Road and tranquil waterside spots overlooking the River Ping.
- Wat Doi Suthep & Hmong Hill-Tribe Village
- Doi Inthanon National Park Tour
- Ping River Dinner Cruise
- Khantoke Dinner with Traditional Dance Performance
- Old City Half-Day Bike Tour
- Flight of the Gibbon™ Zipline Tour
- 2-Day Whitewater Rafting & Ziplining
- Full-Day Countryside Bike Tour with Lunch
- Aroy Aroy Thai Cooking School & Market Tour
- Full-Day Excursion to Chiang Rai & Golden Triangle
Rated as one of the best places in Chiang Mai to catch live music, this buzzing night bazaar spot belts out the blues six nights a week (closed Sundays). Located on the second story overlooking the sea of shops and stalls down below, expect a classic blues soundtrack courtesy of ‘Boy’ (now you get the name), along with his friends. Mondays are Jam Night, the perfect chance to impress your date or embarrass the kids. Look out for the stairs going up in front of the food court at Kalare Night Bazaar to find it.
- Opening Hours: 20:00 - 01:00
After opening half-a-dozen highly successful branches in Bangkok, it was only a matter of time before HOBS (or ‘House of Beers’) made its way north. The brand have kept everything pretty much the same as in the capital, with a trendy location (inside the swanky Kantary Terrace shopping mall), live music, and, true to its name, a very long menu of beers from around the world. Expect to pay 200-350 for a beer, which is generally the going rate in Thailand to drink imported brews. Read More...
- Opening Hours: 18:00-24:00
- Tel: +66(0)53 289 313
Myst is another slice of Bangkok that’s made its way to the Chiang Mai, bringing with it some excellent rooftop views from the top of the city’s newest mall, Maya. Just like the branch in the capital, Myst specialises in fancy molecular cocktails, as well as shisha pipes which come in all sorts of unusual flavours. Certainly not a go-to spot every night if you’re on a backpacker on a budget - but definitely worth a look if you’re celebrating a special occasion, or just want to get a decent panorama of the mountains while seeing how the city’s affluent locals like to splash the cash.
- Opening Hours: 17:00-01:00
- Tel: +66(0)61 5126768
Most of Chiang Mai’s rooftop bars are set a little outside the Old City – or just have no views at all. OASIS Rooftop Garden Bar is an exception to the rule, located just inside the northeastern corner of the old moat. Chill-out tunes compliment the excellent views over to Doi Suthep Mountain perfectly, even more so if you arrive as the sun sinks below the horizon (between 18:00-19:00). Emphasis is more on the cocktails rather than anything else, with a short but quality lineup of classics and signature mixes alongside your usual bottled beers and Thai-style pub snacks.
- Opening Hours: 17:00-01:00
- Tel: 081 693 5019
Although Warm Up on Nimmanhaemin Road calls itself a ‘café’, you won’t find anybody casually sipping coffee mugs or catching up on their work here. This Chiang Mai nightlife institution is best-known as the city’s biggest and best club – although come early enough and you can enjoy the pleasant alfresco bar area before the crowds, and ear drum-bursting music, arrives. The place is split up into various sections; the more laidback outside terrace fronting the venue leads into the large room at the back. It’s here where the local bands belt out the Thai pop, with each and every table almost tipping over, stacked high with whiskey bottles, buckets of ice, glasses and boxes of free popcorn.
- Opening Hours: Mon-Sun 18:00-02:00
- Tel: +66 (0) 5340 0676
This long-running riverside joint keeps things simple, with a sturdy menu of drinks and Thai food delivered (with a smile) all day long next to Chiang Mai’s River Ping. The main indoor section is spacious, and the nightly live band keeps the atmosphere bubbling away nicely. However, Good View’s main draw is its location, perched on the banks of the river (although seating next to the water’s edge is rather limited compared to inside. So, to get around this, arrive before the sun sets (when all the locals are still at work), or reserve a table through the contact details below.
- Opening Hours: 12:00-02:00
- Address: Info@view-goodview.com
- Tel: +66(0) 53302764 , +66(0)53 241866
Located near Chang Puak Gate on the north side of the Old City’s moat, this is one of the top places in Chiang Mai to soak up some quality live jazz music with a friendly expat crowd. The modest venue might lack the décor and sound system of some of the fancier riverside spots, but we love how they always stay true to jazz classics - not watering them down to pop standards as some places are prone to do in Thailand. Arrive early to grab the sofa facing the band, or enjoy the ambiance at a slightly lower volume on one of the tables that spill out of the bar. Usually there are two bands every night, playing from 21:00 and finishing at 24:00, as well as ‘free jam’ sessions on Tuesday nights.
- Tel: +66 (0) 81765 5246
This unpretentious Nimmanahaemin bar offers a whopping 15 different international beers, lagers and ciders on tap – not to mention some of the juiciest burgers we’ve ever sank our teeth into in Chiang Mai. From the pale ales of Belgium, to London’s finest bitters and a selection of more familiar names like Hoegaarden and Leffe, The Beer Republic certainly has one of the most comprehensive range of brews in Chiang Mai. Don’t know what to drink? Then don’t worry, the part indoor, part outdoor bar provides a convenient five or ten sampler menu for 295 and 550 baht respectively.
- Opening Hours: 16:00-24:00
- Tel: +66(0)53 216 568
With a décor concept best described as ‘electronic colonial’ The Writers Club & Wine Bar is Chiang Mai’s unofficial press club open to anyone who enjoys good conversation and drinking with Chiang Mai’s media set. There is a constant influx of guests – from British authors to Burmese painters – who ensure a stimulating evening. The Writers Club & Wine Bar is located on Rachadamnoen Road, close to Wat Pan Tao in the centre of the Old City.
- Opening Hours: 12:00-24:00
- Tel: +66 (0) 0538 14187
Irish pubs are a ubiquitous sight in any tourist area, and the Old City in Chiang Mai is no different. I’m confident you know the score by now: oak and brass fittings, hearty pub grub, football on the telly, Guinness on tap – The UN Irish Pub isn’t reinventing the wheel but they are the best at what they do in Chiang Mai. The menu offers all those comfort foods Europeans miss from back home such as bangers and mash or a steak pie. Saturday and Sunday nights The UN Irish Pub is popular for Premier League football fans, and on Monday, NFL takes centre stage. There’s a leafy beer garden out the back that has twinkly fairy lights and a small bakery open in the daytime.
- Opening Hours: 09:00-24:00