Last week we explored a few fun and interesting places to visit near Chiang Mai. But the list of activities in this “Northern Capital” of Thailand is very long and deserves at least one more look. This time, we’ll move away from the cultural and natural attractions of the area like those that we glanced at last week, and detail some of the more modern and urban activities of the city.
Chiang Mai is not Bangkok. You won’t find towering skyscrapers here with skybars perched atop them. Neither will you find the massive crowded nightclubs of RCA, Khao San Road, or Silom. What you will find, however, is a vibrant and often chilled-out nightlife that can truly hold its own when compared to its southern counterpart.
Warm up Cafe is one of Chiang Mai’s oldest and biggest nightclubs and has a little bit for everyone. At the front of the venue there is an outside terrace where the more sleepy customers can relax with a drink and chat or people watch. Inside the club you will find a large dancefloor at the back and a smaller one, located in a soundproof room nearby. In the former expect to hear local bands, DJs, and blaring pop music to dance energetically to. In the latter, get ready for bass heavy dancehall tunes the likes of which might be familiar to European travelers. Located about a 10 minute drive from the city’s western gate, if you are into nightlife, this is a great place to visit.
Another nightclub we’ll highlight here is Infinity Club, only a 10 minute walk down the street from Warm up Cafe. Known for its “European” atmosphere, Infinity Club boasts brightly colored flashing lights, blaring electronic music, and international DJs. Many travelers have reported the venue looks like an expensive night out, but in reality it is quite an affordable stop. This could be a great place to visit once you’ve finished “warming up” at Warm up Cafe.
If you’re coming to Chiang Mai, it’s a good idea to check out some of the best of the local cuisine. Known not only for Thai food, but for international dishes and for being one of the most vegetarian-friendly cities in Southeast Asia, Chiang Mai has something for everyone.
Tikky Cafe, described by some as “upscale streetfood”, isn’t much to look at. But don’t let its rustic, traditional appearance turn you away. Visitors have described this spot as having the best Thai food in Chiang Mai. Plus it’s affordable and open-air, giving you a great opportunity to relax in the warm, friendly climate of the city and watch the passersby on the pavement. Located just inside the moat on the western end of the Old City, this eatery is also not far from many of the city’s temples, museums, and other attractions. You could easily slip in here and have a quick lunch on your tour of inner-Chiang Mai.
For vegetarians and vegans visiting Chiang Mai, your options are endless. Among the best according to visitors and teaching staff in the area are Anchan Vegetarian Restaurant, Taste from Heaven, Cat House Chiang Mai, Free Bird Cafe, and Amrita Garden. These restaurants are spread throughout the city and a quick google maps search will take you right to them. Many serve non-vegan options as well, so don’t be afraid to follow your vegan friend, classmate, or co-worker down to one of these “green” eateries and try what they’re cooking up.
Finally we’d like to give a mention to the annual Songkran celebration in Chiang Mai. While Silom and Khao San Road in Bangkok are the two most famous destinations for this largest water fight in the world, Chiang Mai is an amazing place to experience it as well. From 13 until 15 April the streets fill with Thais, expats, and tourists alike shooting water guns, dumping buckets, and spraying hoses at each other and at any innocent passerby who happens to get caught in the mayhem. Activity is focused most strongly in the old city, around the moat, but the celebration spreads far and wide throughout the whole area.
So, there it is – a few more places to add to your to-do list in beautiful Chiang Mai. There are plenty more destinations not mentioned in this article, so be sure to get out there, explore a little, and find a few hidden gems for yourself!