I spent a month in Chiang Mai and that was more than enough to explore the city's nightlife. Read this detailed review for my tips, including the best party areas, the best nightclubs and bars, and how to meet people.

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Quick summary of Chiang Mai nightlife
If you don't have time to read my whole review, here are the main takeaways:
- Best party areas: Old city (for tourists), Nimman Soi 7 and 9 (for young Thais and digital nomads), Loi Kroh Road (for older, male foreigners)
- Best nightclubs: ReD (techno), Infinity (Thai live music)
- Best bars: Zoe in Yellow (backpackers), North Gate Jazz Co-Op (digital nomads), Shelby (Thai)
- Where to stay near the nightlife: Anywhere around Tha Phae Gate, for instance Makkachiva Hotel (60$), Lamphu House (30$) or Thapae Happy House (28$).

Chiang Mai nightlife tips
Party & Events
There are several ways to stay up-to-date on Chiang Mai's nightlife events and parties. On Facebook, there are two groups called Chiang Mai nightlife and Chiang Mai Events. There are also WhatsApp chats created by digital nomads about Activities, Meetups and Things to Do and one about Meetups only. Finally, check Steve's weekly email.

Pub crawl
A fun way to meet people is to join a pub crawl. You can try the one organized by TripGuru.

Cost of partying
Thailand is a cheap country to party though prices have increased since COVID-19.

In a popular bar like Zoe in Yellow, a local beer costs around 100 THB (less than US$3), a cocktail 180-250 THB (around US$5-7), and a whole bottle of non-premium alcohol at least 2,000 THB (around US$ 60). Those are standard prices in the city but you can get slightly better deals in less-known venues.

Opening hours
Something I struggled with in Chiang Mai is that bars and clubs selling alcohol are required to close between midnight and 1AM. Sure, there are still a few places that stay open after that, but it means you'll always end up in the same bars every night once the curfew has begun.

A better way to proceed is to start earlier, just after dinner, so you have more time to enjoy the night and you can try at least a few different places.

Getting around at night
The best way to get around Chiang Mai at night is to use Grab. You can order either a GrabCar or a GrabBike and the price is cheap (50-60 THB for a 15-minute ride with GrabBike, double with cars). Tuk-tuks are almost always more expensive since their business model is different (they can't do as many rides so they charge more for each).

If you don't drink alcohol, you could also drive a scooter. It costs about 200 THB per day or 2,000 THB per month (more or less depending on the type of bike you rent).

Dress code
As long as you wear a shirt, you'll be fine everywhere. Backpackers are not always viewed favorably by Thai people, so if you can, try to avoid looking like one. This will help you to socialize in upper-class clubs and bars, especially in the Nimman area.

You can buy a SIM card in the city for about 300-350 THB with at least 50 GB per month. Don't buy them in the airport and avoid the Tourist Sim Cards which are 2-3 times more expensive for no reason. You can purchase a normal sim card with an internet package in any 7-11 (as long as you bring your passport). You can also buy them in the shops of AIS, DTAC and True, the 3 main telecom companies in Thailand. I usually choose AIS but in a big city like Chiang Mai, all of them will have good coverage and speed.

Note that WhatsApp and Instagram are rarely used in Thailand, where Line and Facebook are still the most popular social media apps.

Crime is low in Chiang Mai and it should not be a big reason for concern (though you should exercise the same level of caution as you would in any big city).

The biggest danger you will face in Thailand is road accidents. Last year, the country had nearly 1,000,000 of them, many of which involved foreigners driving scooters.

If you haven't done it yet, check if you have proper travel insurance covering such accidents.
Dating in Chiang Mai
Online dating is easy if you are young, attractive and you live in Chiang Mai. If you are lacking any of these, you will still be more successful than in Europe or the US, but don't expect to date a 9 if you are a 6 (unless you pay or you found her on seeking.com).

The dating apps that work the best in Thailand are Bumble, Tinder, OkCupid, and Badoo. Hinge is also recommended if you want to meet foreigners.

If you are planning to visit Thailand as a tourist, check Thai Cupid. The advantage of this site is that its users want to date foreigners and they don't mind if you don't live in Thailand. This will allow you to make some contacts in the country even before you land.
Meeting people
Chiang Mai isn't exactly a party capital, but you can still have a great social life here. There is a vibrant digital nomad community, loads of tourists, and it is also the main student city in North Thailand.

To connect with people living or traveling to Chiang Mai, you can join some Facebook and WhatsApp groups such as:

If you are traveling solo, you can download the CouchSurfing app and use the "Hangout" function.

Chiang Mai nightlife map
This is a map I created to help me when I was going around the city. Click it to enlarge it.
Nightlife areas + Hotels
From what I've seen, foreigners and Thais don't really mix much. 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 3 main nightlife areas in Chiang Mai, each catering to a different crowd:
- The old city is where most backpackers and tourists hangout
- Nimman, which is where young, trendy Thai people go for party (as well as some digital nomads)
- Loi Kroh, with an older, mostly male crowd of expatriates and retirees

Old City
The nightlife within the old city is scattered in various locations but the best area is definitely near Zoe in Yellow. This is where all the backpackers and all the international students gather to party every night.

Best bars and clubs in the old city
Zoe in Yellow is one of the busiest bars in Chiang Mai. It is split in two venues including a pub and a semi outdoor beer garden. You'll hear the same songs every night, a mix of famous pop, EDM, Latin and RnB songs. It's very easy to talk to people there and make friends. It is so full that the crowd spills to the adjacent bars (like 48 Garage and Roots Rock Reggae). 

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 100 THB.

The only nightclub you can reach by foot from the old city is Spicy (which is part of the same group as Spicy Bangkok). I didn't really like it as it was full of freelancers and the music was crap.

Electronic music in Chiang Mai
There are a few clubs and bars with techno, house and electronic music in Chiang Mai. 
The two main ones are ReD and After Bar, both of which close after hours and are near the old city. For the latest events and parties, you can also check  Techno Chiang Mai.

Best hotels near the nightlife in the old city
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.

Makkachiva Hotel (60$): The best location in Chiang Mai. A bit old but good value or money. Breakfast included.

Lamphu House (40$): Cheap rooms in the city center with balcony and swimming pool. 24-hour reception.

Thapae Happy House (28$): Excellent value for money for this clean and new property

Party Hostels
Mad Monkey has dorm beds for 10$ per night. They organize parties and bar crawls daily.

Nimman (Nimmanhaemin road)
This is 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 Grab.

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

The popular bars in Nimman are quite similar from one to the next. 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 80 and 120 THB.

I think the best way to explore Nimman's nightlife is by foot.

You could start your night out in Warm Up, a large café with live Thai music which is normally always crowded. It is a bit pricier than the average but you can still get a local beer for less than US$4. Their Thai food is also decent.

From there, you can easily go to Beer Lab, another nice spot with over 200 brands of beer. A bit pricey if you order the imported stuff (8-9$ for a pint).

You can then head to Nimman Soi 7 and 9 which are just a few minutes away by foot. There are dozens of cafés, restaurants and bars there so it's best to just walk around and choose the places that seem to be the most happening. In general, LVMC (Living Machine) and Rush Bar are good. For something more upmarket, go to Shelby or Caravan.

Outside of Soi 7 and 9, Nimman also has some larger nightclubs with semi-professional live bands. They may have an entrance fee of up to 200 THB and the drink menu will be more expensive. Understand that Thai nightclubs are different from the ones in Western countries. They usually have a mix of live music and DJs, and the customers rarely dance. Instead, they'll stand in groups around tables or sit on sofas watching the show and singing along with the band. If you are going out alone, this isn't the best configuration to meet other people. 

The famous Thai nightclubs around Nimman are Infinity (the more upmarket, feels like going to a concert), TaWanDang (old style, it seems to have working girls) and LISM.

Best hotels near Nimman's bars:
De Chai Oriental (60$): Comfy bed, new property, nice pool area.

Hug Nimman (40$): Affordable hotel in the middle of the action
Mayflower Grande (25$): Best value hotel in the area

Loi Kroh Road
Loi Kroh is within walking distance from the Old City and from the night market. It can be considered a red light area even though there are some normal bars as well.

If you walk around, you'll find plenty of beer bars that all look alike. The busiest 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.

There are also live music bars and pubs that don't have prostitutes. Among them I liked the pub Red Lion. They all close at 1AM but depending on the number of customers, they may stay open an hour more with the curtains closed.

Finally, there are some LGBT-friendly bars in Loi Kroh, each with drag queen shows. Check Ram Cabaret and 6ixcret.

Best hotels near Loi Kroh
Nightbazaar Inn (30$): Walking distance to the bars in the area

Best bars and nightclubs [with photos]
Other things to do at night in Chiang Mai

Old Bazaar
It's quite touristy but always fun, especially if you are new to Thailand. You'll find everything here from cheap clothes to street food.

If you have to do one tour in Chiang Mai, this is the one. Rated 5*, the guide will take you all around the city and make you try 15 dishes of Northern Thailand. It starts at 5 PM and lasts 4 hours which can be too long for some. In that case, you can also try this one which lasts only 2.5 hours and is also highly rated.

A pleasant tour by bike around the Old City where you will see all the most famous temples and sights. You will finish with a food tasting at the night market.

A fun activity that you can do alone or with your family. You will paddle for 6km on the Ping River, passing by local neighborhoods that are normally difficult to visit.

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