While I love to thiz (the bay area in me), upon reaching 25 years, I’ve found my scene more at relaxed bars with good music and good company. The maturity concept scares me a little, but somehow, I can always manage to make a dance floor out of none, if I really want to. Here are the places I frequent:
7 pounds – Classic American Retro vibe. Tunes are indie or from the 50’s, seats are from old school Cadillacs and decor is all vintage. Where do they get this stuff – who knows? Popular with the young Thai crowd, the place serves up good khaw muu and sometimes has appearances by one famous Thai metal star.
Side note: I adopted two kittens from this place!
Crying Tiger (Chang Phuak) – My favorite regulars bar. Artsy, talented, edgy group of Thais and Expats alike. The two humble and easy-going guys who own the place are amazing artists, one with a pencil, one with a spray can. The patrons are all people who live close by, like meeting creatives and enjoy good conversation. I had the fortune of meeting two accomplished photojournalists, an insane tattoo artist, quirky graphic designers, inspirational world travelers and a random selection of other off-beat fellas.
Sangdee – review to come!
Archers – review to come!
Beer Gardens – reviews to come!
Small House – The expat bar. I’m sure you’ve already been here. The owner, Chris, is from the bay area, so I have immediate love for this place. The crowd can be a bit pompous so I only go here when I have a group of friends with me, but otherwise, it’s a fun venue to do a jig near the jukebox, get a round of billiards in and relax. Weekends get crowded and the drinks don’t stop flowin.
Riverside – One of my favorites to let loose and be me! Attractive mix of Thais, expats, travelers and backpackers. Grab a bite to eat while overlooking the Ping River, buy a few bottles of Sangsom and you’re good to go. They always have a killer cover band who knows how to inject “get-on-your-feet-and-shake-your-booty” energy into a fun-loving crowd. The real party starts around 11pm, and the entire bottom floor is grooving to funky pop-rock by midnight.
Tawan Dang – Being a Communist club, the place has an air of danger about it. The live bands are a bit odd with anthem style rock music and costumed-ladies gettin down on stage. The waiters all wear red shirts. The decor is big-brother style portraits of famous Communist leaders: Stalin, Lenin, Che Guevara and Mao Zedong, among others (John Lennon is on the wall too…). The venue is a vast open warehouse, which seems it could hold thousands of people. Throughout the club, everyone looks upon the stage and bobs their head up and down in a sort of conformist way. Definitely worth checking out.
JJ Market – This actually refers to an entire road of bars and clubs. Near the backside of Tesco Lotus lies a large, but quiet street of bars, shops, markets, cafes and restaurants. The nighttime is when the action picks up as you’ll hear loud music blasting from each of the dozens of outdoor bars, see purple lights flashing from the corner club, and nearly run your bike into drunk people falling into/eating on the street. People usually go here to pre-party and drink potent pitchers of liquor concoctions, then attempt to head out to Nimman clubs. What actually happens is young Thais passing out on the floor unaware that sweet refreshing pitcher of liquor had crept upon them in one sudden swift move.
Clubs – reviews to come!
Fabrique – Hands down, best electronic music in Chiang Mai.
Monkey Club – All around fun. Some pop-hip hop too.
Zoe in Yellow/Rasta Bar – Backpackers love it, I despise it. Everyone is sloppy drunk and smelly here. A place to get trashed and not care.
Warm Up – meh
Discovery – More on the upscale side and sometimes good pop-hip hop.
I’m always on the lookout for fun new spots, so send me your nightlife loves!