Chiang Mai in Northern Thailand does not have the liveliest night life at first glance, but an investigation in the City will reveal many places for good night out. There are two main areas to find bars in Chiang Mai, at the night bazaar, Thapae Gate and along the banks of the Ping River. You will find Go Go bars, karaoke bars, live music bars and your common English pub but though it has the variety of night life, it has less selection, and Chiang Mai is certainly a place with a more relaxed night life scene rather than the full on hedonism found elsewhere in Thailand.
That being said the standard of some of these places are excellent, many bars provide delicious food, both western and authentic Thai, and the live music bars have some great bands, especially if you want to see a bit more of those Thai style live music bands that play the classic western rock and roll.
Even though Chiang Mai is the second largest city in Thailand it is small compared to Bangkok, and with less traffic so easy enough to travel from any of the night life areas to find the night out of you’re choosing. But start early as although there are some late night bars to be found and the discos open until 2am, many of the bars in Chiang Mai close at 12 am in accordance to new night life regulations.
Thapae gate is the place in Chiang mai where many of the budget travellers stay, and many of the bars along this area are laid back and sell cheap drinks. Most of the bars are beer bars where you can bar fine the Thai girls but they are unlike other beer bars in Bangkok and elsewhere and have a relaxed atmosphere; certainly the girls are not pushing for trade and they are a nice place to have a drink, game of pool and chat with the locals and other tourists. If you are looking for some company with the local Thai girls then Thapae gate is home to a few Go Go bars and some karaoke lounges, the most prominent bar being Spotlight a Go Go. The Chiang Mai Saloon is most definitely recommended for some excellent western food.
If after an evening shopping in Chiang Mai's famous Night Bazaar you are in need of a refreshing drink then don't fear as you are never far away from a good bar in this area. Higher priced than bars in the Thapae Gate area you will find a better quality of bars ranging from English and Irish bars serving good food and showing the latest sports events, to karaoke bars and coffee shops in the surrounding hotels.
Located near some of the nicest hotels in Chiang Mai is the Ping River home to some great restaurants and bars and a favourite place for Thais and expats alike. The bars at the Ping River serve western and Thai food, have some excellent Thai live music, against the backdrop of the picturesque Ping River lazily flowing by. For a relaxed and romantic night out in Chiang Mai you cannot beat dinner and a few drinks at a bar on the banks of the Ping River.