I only spent 6 days in Chiang Mai but it was enough to get a quick overview of the city's nightlife. I managed to visit all the most famous bars and nightclubs, a task which is not so difficult considering there aren't more than 20 interesting venues.

I didn't really enjoy the party scene there. Chiang Mai is the 4th largest city in Thailand but it is provincial and conservative. The thing I hated the most was the curfew on bars at 1AM. Even on a Saturday night you'll struggle to find a decent club open after 2AM. For a tourist and university town, that's really a shame.

Also, most nightclubs have live music instead of a DJ. This means the customers will rarely be dancing, but instead they'll stand around tables or sit in sofas watching the show. If you are going out alone, this isn't the best configuration to meet other people.

Finally, generally speaking foreigners and Thais don't mix. If you go to a tourist bar or club, the crowd will be almost 100% foreign and inversely if you go to a Thai nightclub, the crowd will be almost 100% Thai. There are not some many places in-between (except those with bar girls). That's very different from the situation in Jakarta.

Nightlife Areas in Chiang Mai
Chiang Mai Nightlife Areas
There are 3 main nightlife areas in Chiang Mai, each catering to a different crowd:

→ Nimmanhemin (or Nimmanheminda) Road - also shortened Nimman:
This the posh area of Chiang Mai and it attracts mostly young Thai students. You'll also occasionally see a few foreigners, usually under 30, who are long term residents in Chiang Mai. From the Old City, it takes about 10-15 minutes to reach using a taxi.

Almost all the nightlife in Nimman is located just south of the upmarket mall Maya. More specifically, the highest concentration of bars, restaurants, live music clubs and coffee shops is in the Soi 7 and soi 9. In 2017, the most crowded places are Mirror Café (a beer garden/sports bar with pool tables and a live music room), LISM, LVMC (Living Machine Chiang Mai), Rush Bar and Wanz Café.

These venues are quite similar to each other. They have Thai music (often from a live band), a Thai crowd, sports on flat screen TVs and a hipster design. They are generally inexpensive, with local beers costing between 60 and 80THB.

Outside from Soi 7 and 9, Nimman also has larger nightclubs with more professional live bands. They will normally have a 200THB entrance fee and the drink menu will be more expensive (a beer will cost up to 100THB for instance). You can go there later in the night as they close around 1AM. 3 are spread around a huge parking lot at the end of Soi 6, namely Infinity (the more upmarket), Loft (not to be confused with the gay club Loft Hero) and TaWanDang (it has working girls). You can also try Warm Up just a few blocks away.

→ Old City (and particularly Boon Yoo Market)
The nightlife within the old city is scattered in various locations but the best area is definitely in Boon Yoo Market (also called Soi Reggae). This is where all the backpackers and all the international students gather to party every night. You will be surprised by the number of foreign girls too. There are only a few Thais who are interested to meet foreigners (including some freelance prostitutes).

Zoe in Yellow is easily the most busy bar/club in Boon Yoo Market (and maybe in Chiang Mai). It is split in two venues including a pub and a semi outdoor beer garden. It has pop/electronic music that will get the drunk patrons dancing by 10PM. It is so full that the crowd spills to the streets and to the adjacent bars (like Roots Rock Reggae). It closes at 1AM.

In the old city, another busy place is the North Gate Jazz Coop. It is a semi-opened small bar on two floors with live Jazz/Reggae/Soul/Blues music every night. I went there a few times as I was staying nearby. It was always full with a mix of more mature expats and tourists. A local beer costs 80THB.

Finally, on Chaiyapoom Road, north of Tha Phae Gate (East Gate), there are some naughty venues with freelance prostitutes. The most popular, Spicy nightclub (same group as Spicy Bangkok) is a proper disco (with a DJ). It can be fun but it closes at 1AM. On the other side of the road, 500 meters in the south, Mandalay is a Thai-style live music club that closes at 2AM (200THB entrance). You can also try the gogo bar Spotlight.

If you are looking for an after-hour venue, there are two in the Old City:
- Living Room (closes at 6AM) is a billiard lounge hidden in Sithiwongse road, behind Miami Hotel. It has no sign at the entrance.
Jack Wan is even more hidden and it does not have a sign as well. You'll find it 100 meters from Spicy, near Mad Cow Burger (closes at 5AM/6AM).

→  Loi Kroh Road
This area is within walking distance from the Old City and from the night market. There are no nightclubs there except the new Safe House (click to read my review).

If you walk around, you'll find plenty of beer bars that all look alike. The best area is within the Loi Kroh boxing stadium where you have around 40 of them. Each has about 8-10 hostesses that will try to grab you and force you to sit down as you walk by. They can accompany you for drinking, for playing pool or for sleeping if you pay (15$ bar fine + 30-50$ for the girl).

There are also more normal live music bars that don't have prostitutes. Among them I liked Interbar even though the band was awful. They all close at 1AM but depending on the number of customers, they may stay open an hour more with the curtains closed.

→  Other Areas
I've seen other bars on other parts of Chiang Mai but they often seem to be catering to locals only (they only have Thai signs).

If you feel like exploring, you may want to check the Santhitham student neighborhood where more bars can be found (including Differ Club). Another club I wasn't able to try but that seems interesting is Take It.

Chiang Mai Nightlife Map
This is a map I created to help me when I was going around the city. Each color represent a type of venue (click here to full details).

Hotels Near the Nightlife
Nobody comes to Chiang Mai specifically for the nightlife. I imagine you want to find a hotel near the tourist attractions first, and if possible close from the bars/nightclubs.

The best area for that is anywhere near the Tha Phae Gate. It is walking distance to the Old City and walking distance to the Night Market. Also, it is near an important road with fast access to Nimman or to the airport.

These are my recommendations (I appreciate if you book from Agoda as I receive a small commission out of your booking - no additional cost for you):

4-Stars
Amora Tapae (60$): The best location in Chiang Mai. A bit old but good value or money.
Duangtawan (60$): It has the nightclub Safe House inside. Walking distance from the beer bars.

3-stars
Thapae Loft Hotel (65$): A brand new hotel near the Sunday market. 
P21 Hotel (40$): Modern and comfortable hotel. Good WIFI.

3-stars
Thapae Happy House (30$): Excellent value for money for this clean and new property

Meeting Girls in Chiang Mai
Compared with Pattaya, Bangkok, Phuket or Samui, it is relatively more easy to meet girls, foreign or local, in Chiang Mai.

I think the main reason for that is that there are less male tourists and much more female tourists than elsewhere in Thailand.

The bars and nightclubs I would recommend for meeting girls are Zoe in Yellow, Mandalay, Warm Up, TaWanDang, Spicy, Safe House and The North Gate Jazz Coop. Some of them have a high proportion of working girls.

In local clubs like Infinity (and those I listed in Nimman Soi 7/9), girls will be a bit harder to approach. If you are not living in Chiang Mai they may lose interest quickly.

Online dating is a more easy way to find someone. Tinder does not work very well apart with foreign girls. Thai Cupid is a much better options and it has the largest database of users in Thailand. The girls there are looking for serious relationships so you should start chatting with them a few weeks before your trip.

2 comments to '' Chiang Mai Nightlife: Best Bars and Nightclubs (2018) "

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  1. See some of the nightlife at Loi Kroh Road. https://youtu.be/QvstT1d_MtY

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  2. You can also add the club@koi nightclub. This club is wonderful 39th floor city view.

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