The Best Bars in Chiang Mai, Thailand

Plan your nightly bar crawl around Chiang Mai with the help of our local insiders
Plan your nightly bar crawl around Chiang Mai with the help of our local insiders | © ronny bolliger / Alamy Stock Photo
Kathryn Beeson

The options seem endless when looking for watering holes in Chiang Mai. So much choice throws up one major issue: how can you discover the best ones without having to suffer through the misses? Chiang Mai has some of the most lively and entertaining bars you’ll ever visit, but finding them without having to stumble into too many run-of-the-mill backpacker joints can be a bit of a struggle. To help you out, we’ve asked our local insiders for their best Chiang Mai bar picks. All that’s left for you to do is to inspect them over a tipple or two.

Woods Bar Rooftop

Bar, Asian, Fast Food

Boasting impressive panoramic views over the city and Doi Suthep mountain, it doesn’t get much better than this. With an excellent selection of local craft beers and an atmospherically lit swimming pool in which to dip your toes on a warm evening, Woods Bar Rooftop ticks all our boxes. It is located on the 12th floor of the Prestige Hotel Chiang Mai and attracts a relaxed crowd of both travellers and locals looking for a laid-back alternative to some of the city’s louder bars. Watching the sun go down while lounging in the swimming pool and sipping something locally brewed is a memorable moment indeed. Recommended by local insider Supawat Kadseesai

FACES Gallery and Gastro Bar

Bar, Bistro, Thai

Do you want to drink in a hidden forest full of terracotta statues and bas-reliefs? Of course you do. The decor at the FACES Gallery & Gastro Bar is simply stunning – a menagerie of palms and rainforest plants surrounds you as you drink and dine. From the jungle-ruin-esque exterior to the traditional Thai sculpture, be prepared to be blown away. The food is nice enough, but it’s sipping sundowners in magical surroundings that’s the main draw here. Recommended by local insider Mattia Miani

Caravan Bar

Bar, Thai

Classy nightlife spot Caravan is a fairly recent addition to Chiang Mai’s bar scene, but that hasn’t stopped it turning heads. Softly lit, stylishly fitted rooms ooze charm and sophistication, as do its high-end selection of spirits and thoroughly Instagrammable cocktail creations. Whiskey fans in particular will be taken with the choice of international options on offer. Caravan Bar is open from 5pm until 1am and is the perfect place for whiling away the hours conversing with friends on the (very comfy) couches or for post-dinner drinks with your date. Recommended by local insider Troi Williams

Drinksmith and Co

Bar, Thai

Eye-catching cocktails and top-shelf liquors are the order of the day at Drinksmith & Co, where a team of talented mixologists whip up creations of rare spirits, hand-chiselled ice and delicate garnishes to the delight of the city’s punters. The bar has something of an eclectic 19th-century study feel about it – think dusty bookshelves, miscellaneous pieces of old artwork and candlelight, which only adds to the atmosphere. It’s an exceedingly pleasant place in which to spend time – a dangerous thing indeed given the quality of the cocktails and just how many of them you’ll want to try. Recommended by local insider Troi Williams

The Corner Bistro

Gastropub, Restaurant, Italian, Steakhouse, American

Hamburger, Gourmet style
© olafBroeker/Pixabay

The Corner Bistro is a fun American bar in the city’s increasingly trendy Santitham neighbourhood. It attracts a diverse crowd – immigrants looking for a taste of home, travellers experiencing the city for the first time and locals drawn to its fusion menu of US classics and Asian staples. There’s a real community vibe going on here, with regular performances from local DJs, musicians and stand-up comedians, plus plenty of themed nights and a pub quiz. Overall, there’s plenty to keep you entertained here, and definitely enough variety to keep you coming back. Recommended by local insider Troi Williams

Castle Ghosthouse

Bar, Thai

Halloween fans rejoice! No longer does your celebration need to be confined to one night of the year, thanks to the horror-themed Castle Ghosthouse. This really is a Thailand first. There’s a range of spooky cocktails to discover at the bar, but the fun doesn’t stop there. There’s a ghost house, which you’ll have to escape while being scared witless by a succession of ghosts and ghouls and a rage room, in which you’re given a baseball bat and allowed to break things. It’s a spectacularly spooky way to start your night – pre-drinks don’t get madder than this. Recommended by local insider Troi Williams

CNX Rooftop Bar

Bar, Thai, Asian

Ambient lighting, attentive staff and a reasonably priced bar menu make CNX one of the go-to rooftop bars in what’s becoming a relatively crowded field in the city. Expect the usual range of street-food options to nibble on as you sip crisp, cold lagers, plus a couple of unusual dishes that adventurous eaters will love. It’s down-to-earth, super friendly and as popular with locals as with travellers. Grab a beer, order some snacks and watch the world go by. Recommended by local insider Supawat Kadseesai

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