Night Life In Chiang Mai
Chiang Mai is, alas, for a city of its size, quite lacking in the nightlife compared to Bangkok and Pattaya. However the city never pretends to be a naughty nightlife place in the guise of Pattaya and the like. It seems to walk a line between Pattaya and Aytthaya in certain respects. Since the the good/bad old days of the 1980s to late 2001 the nightlife has 'toned down', in-part due to the draconian attitude of the TRT/PPP government and due to Thaksin Shinawat hailing from the province.
The main area for nightlife is from Moon Muang road across to the Ping River. This area is where tons of tourists and expats tend to hang out and drink the night away. The Night Bazaar is great for getting some shopping in and a lot of fast food restaurants like Burger King and McDonalds are here. In the areas surrounding Chiang Mai city limits are where the Thai hang-outs and drinking dens are located. In the old days they were closer in to the farang areas but these days they tend to be further away.
Back in the day some girly bars used to be in the easterly part, alas when the clamp-downs occured (early 2000) they turned into a bunch of lame reggae bars. Plenty of cafes-bars which seem to want to cater to backpackers. Foodwise, they are ok, but lack the atmosphere and activity of a real bar.
Moon Muang, Moat Road East (Running North/South)
Moon Muang has (starting from the north) a strip of cafes, then beer bars, then few night clubs. The bars tend to be a mix of small, medium and large. Some of these are girly bars, others are just imitation pub boozers with a 'home-from-home' feel. All are on one side only as the moat and city walls occupy the other. Traffic is one way.
Turning-off the moat road onto Loh Kroi will see you in the heart of the beer-bar zone. Running down this soi from the moat (one-way only) is a line of bars on both sides filled with plenty of bar-girls. Walk too slowly and you'll get pulled in or bombarded with 'compliments', too quickly and you'll risk tumbling about as people step into and out of the bars. Further down the road the beer-bars thin out and become ordinary bars (no bar-girls) and cafes. These tend to be boring with exceptions being the No1 Bar and its opposite 'sister bar.' If you carry on down Loh Kroi there is an open-air entertainment complex called 'Star Entertainment Plaza' on the right. It is reminiscent of Patong beaches Ratuwit areas. This is an ok 'gathering' of beer bars with bar girls all over the place. A Thai Boxing ring in center holds staged contests (except on Thursdays). A mediocre go-go bar called Star Entertainment is adjacent to the complex. If you go in to the go-go be ready for some seriously over-priced drinks compared to the average go-go bar.
This is tourist central at night, you can't move for them! If tourists aren't in your way then it's Hill Tribe folk out and about selling their wares. You want Hill Tribe stuff? Then this is the place! DVDs, clothes, knives and some outdoor gear is abundent. The prices are iffy but not a complete rip-off if you use your bargaining skills and make sure you 'walk-away' after the 'final offer' If they call you back then you've got the lowest deal possible. The Night Bazaar is within walking distance of the
Running Parallel to the Night Bazzar road is a narrow road with more bars on either side. These are, alas, mostly gay bars full of bar-boys. However a 'straight' orientated go-go bar (foxy lady) is slotted in at the end of a gay bar 'zone' on this road. Some straight bars are futher up on the right, again, these are in the midst of another gay bar zone so use your discretion and intuition if you want to avoid them and get settled into the 'normal' bars.
Plenty of 'gathering venues' and kitchen discos like 'Monkey' but you need to be in a small group to really enjoy yourself at one of these places as the sitting arrangements tend to preclude the lone bachelor! For more information on the University Quarter click here.
Chiang Mai has quite a few of these. The closest to the city center and within the moat is the Mandalay Club and the innovative pub-club hybrid 'Sharkys' aka 'Shark Club'.
Thailands a big place, explore the map below to see what Thailands nightlife has to offer!