City 7: Live Music
Chiang Mai is full of live music, from jazz to pop to Thai country. Here are just a few of the city’s top rockin’ venues. It was hard for us to pick just seven, so we cheated a little…
• Boy Blues Bar
This oddly placed little platform in the middle of the Night Bazaar is where Boy and his brethren rock out nightly to a variety of bluesy American standbys. Boy is the nephew of Took, who holds court at another prime Chiang Mai blues establishment, The Brasserie, which recently reopened on Chaiyaphum Road just outside the Old City.
• North Gate Jazz Co-Op
When it comes to jazz in Chiang Mai, North Gate is the undisputed favourite. With live brass nightly from a community of seriously skilled regulars, and raucous open mic nights every Tuesday – when things get so packed that people spread out onto the moat wall across the street – this is the place to be for locals, expats and travellers alike.
• Inter Bar
If you don’t mind fighting the backpacking masses on tourist-heavy Tha Pae Road, Inter Bar is a great option for live rock ‘n’ roll every night. If you want some space to dance, check out Pentatonic inside the Zoe complex, where regular bands bang out the likes of Nirvana, Green Day and AC/DC. Or, join the hip young locals at Bangkok Cafe on Chaiyaphum, where music starts at midnight and plays all night long.
For a truly unique night out, Tawandang is where it’s at. Picture an enormous concrete building with hundreds of tables of whisky-drinking Thais of all ages, topped with disco balls, strobe lights, portraits of communist leaders mixed in with pop culture icons lining the walls, and a huge stage in front featuring ska-like Thai country music accompanied by live dancers.
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• Good View
If variety and views are what you seek, the riverside area is a great place for a fun night on the town. Good View is a local favourite, with live music and tightly packed crowds. Next door and across the street, Riverside is another great option. Or check out Bear Bar just across the iron bridge.
• Roots Rock Reggae
One of the most popular spots in the infamous Zoe complex, Roots Rock Reggae has plenty of Bob Marley covers, plenty of space to dance and plenty of Sangsom buckets to keep you going. Or, if you’re on Charoen Prathet and in need of something similar, check out Rasta Bar, a more chilled out Jamaica-loving favourite.
If you are a young and trendy Thai ready to see and be seen, Warmup on Nimmanhaemin is the place to go. With multiple rooms for sitting and sipping and some space for dancing (though it’s usually the foreigners that participate in the latter), Warmup has something for everyone. But be warned, if you don’t arrive early, you will not get a table, so it’s nice to have a backup option, such as the equally exhilarating, multi-staged Monkey Club.