Tuesday, December 6th, 2016

Chiang Mai Has Great Nightlife? Who Knew?!

18

When I was learning about Chiang Mai, I kept hearing the same themes:

“It’s so nice and relaxing here.”

“It’s much calmer than Bangkok.”

“It’s a great place for a family.”

So a nice city, but no nightlife destination by any stretch, I assumed.

Was I ever wrong!

On my first night out in Chiang Mai, I met up with a friend I made on the bus from Bangkok and we found ourselves drinking watery mango mojitos in a farang-filled bar in the old city.  Not very exciting.

So we changed course and headed to an all-Thai club, making friends with a magician and his friends, then dancing in an after-hours club and ending with a 4:30 AM meal in what I assume was a combination restaurant and gas station.

A few days later, Unbrave Girl and I were sitting down to our sworn final drink of the night when we were given red roses and a bottle of whiskey by three Thai guys, then taken to the VIP section of a club for dancing.

Seriously, they know how to party in Chiang Mai!

So, what’s the secret about Chiang Mai nightlife?  Nimmanhaeman.

Nimmanhaeman is a neighborhood northwest of the old city introduced to me by Unbrave Girl.  This is a bit of a trendy neighborhood filled with tons of great restaurants, bars and cafes.  And the nightlife is excellent.  I can see why so many expats decide to live there!

If you visit Chiang Mai, know that nightlife in the old city isn’t very good for the most part.  Most of the time, the bars don’t have much of a vibe, catering solely toward tourists.  The area immediately east of the old city is worse, filled with bars for young Thai women and the older white men who love them.

But Nimmanhaeman?  Just awesome.

Here’s what I noticed about Chiang Mai nightlife:

Live music rules. Live music is the attraction at many venues, and there are often several different bands in one night.  The bands are frequently quite large with six or more musicians, including horns, and they are always immaculately dressed.

The dominant music?  Pure cheesy pop. As it does in many other Asian countries, cheese rules in Thailand.

In some venues, when the bar closes, you have to stand for the king’s anthem.  Now THAT’S what I’d do if I ruled a nation!

When “Empire State of Mind” comes on, the lone farang becomes the most popular person in the room.

Thanks to Thailand’s street food culture, the post-club late-night meal options are endless!

If you want to experience the best of Chiang Mai nightlife, here are four great places to try:

Monkey Club — trendy place in Nimmanhaeman that feels like a posh restaurant in a resort town in California.  You can come for dinner or drinks and enjoy live music in two rooms.

Warm Up — The front is similar to Monkey Club with dinner, drinks and live music, though it’s not quite as posh.  The back, however, turns into a giant dance club!

Fabrique — hot after-hours club with both live music and a DJ.  Pricey 300 baht cover, but it includes a few drinks.

“The Hipster Bar” — Not sure what it’s called.  After you pass Monkey Club, it’s a bit further down on the left.  Look for the open-air building and street vendors.  Cheap whiskey and quite a crowd.

Comments

18 Responses to “Chiang Mai Has Great Nightlife? Who Knew?!”
  1. Sally says:

    Woot! Woot! Glad I could show you the good places to hang out in Chiang Mai. Even I was surprised all that fun was right here in my neighborhood!

  2. Priscilla says:

    Looks like you are having a blast!
    Curious to know since you change plans and have open ended travel dates, how do you budget yourself? Is it per day, per week or per city budget? I think you could write a good blog article on that subject.
    Cheers,
    Priscilla

  3. Andi says:

    Looks like so much fun!!!

  4. Candice says:

    SOLD. I’m moving.

  5. chris says:

    I live in Chiang Mai right near Nimmanhaeman here for 3 years I love it, great post btw!

  6. Math says:

    Hi,

    Just moved here with my girlfriend for at least a year !

    We would love to meet a few people to have a drink or play poker or whatever , chill !

    great blog by the way ! it help for a beginner !

    Matt

  7. PassportDave says:

    I know this post is a bit older but I must also suggest “Rush” bar near the monkey club on soi 9. Never see anything but locals there, open air, pool, decent live music, and of course, all you can drink beer from 6-9 for 130b. Probably my favorite place in CM so far.

  8. Looks like fun! Heading to Thailand soon for the first time and I’m really looking forward to Chiang Mai. We only have 4 nights there, kinda wish if planned for a bit longer but can’t wait either way. Thabks for the tips!!

  9. M says:

    “The area immediately east of the old city is worse, ”

    Well, only for you.

  10. Dave Brett says:

    So Funny I remember reading this post when it was published, now I’m living in Nimman I fully agree with this post, I’ve only been to party within the walls once, spend mostly all my time in Nimman area, really is an awesome area.

  11. Erin says:

    Long shot, but any chance anyone wants to grab a drink in this area tonight? So glad to have found this point because my hostel friends insist on Zoe Yellow every night 🙁

  12. Jari says:

    As a big metal fan i still go to pentatonic in Friday and Saturday. Great live band and you can mosh as much you want.

  13. Taiss says:

    Yes Nimman neighborhood is the place for chill vibes and fun times. SO much has changed since you wrote this article. Many new places!

    • Alex says:

      Would love some updated recommendations on where to go out in Nimman, Taiss- we’re heading to Chiang Mai in November and so excited!!

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