Chiang Mai nightlife can be whatever you want it to be, the city offers a broad scope of drinking and dancing options but for the most part live music venues have the monopoly. Riverside drinking is a popular past time where residents and visitors settle down by the Ping River with a chilled drink and some good company, while the live band entertain with classic blues, jazz and rock tunes – a hallmark of any Chiang Mai visit.
The Nimmanheimin Road area has emerged as a popular haunt with the city’s younger set, in particular the Monkey club where live music and great food go hand in hand. Within the walled city there is a multitude of backpacker and hotel bars that cater to a range of budgets, from the cheap and cheerful to boutique-chic. As with the rest of Thailand there is quite a high concentration of reggae bars where cheap beer, cushion laden floors and chilled out beats make for a laid back evening.
The Riverside is a really fun area and it won’t burn a hole in your pocket. A cheap night spent drinking, eating and dancing is easily achieved. It is common in Thailand to buy a bottle of a spirits and leave it on the table for the course of the evening, sharing with friends. This is mostly due to the fact that it’s more economical and also the communal aspect of drinking and eating is a prominent idea in Southeast Asia.
As far as being a nightlife area the Mae Ping’s banks are home to Chiang Mai’s best live music venues with everything from jazz to classic rock and roll tunes being played. Team this great atmosphere up with the magnificent views and you can see why the Riverside is home to Chiang Mai’s most sought-after nightlife spots.
There are a few good places to head to in Chiang Mai’s Old Town, hidden away down sub sois there are guesthouses playing host to the backpacker set who are generally game for a drink or two. It has a more subdued vibe to it than say the Riverside or the Night Bazaar but nevertheless has potential for meeting people, enjoying a few drinks and the promise of live music. Fringing the Old Town there are a some lively pubs with pool tables and big TV screens showing sporting matches and the odd Rasta bar where the vibe is literally laid back with cushioned floors and cheap beer.