Leisure and entertainment are two certain priorities among the people of Chiang Mai. Thailand’s northern capital is a tourist town, but it is also home to 300,000 people, many of whom prefer a laid-back lifestyle focused on meeting and eating with friends, enjoying nature, taking it easy and partying with visitors.
Without losing its ancient charm, Chiang Mai has provided a myriad of simple entertainment options for its visitors and locals. This isn’t Las Vegas, but rather a quaint town comprising numerous restaurants and bars, and a number of discos, movie houses, bowling alleys, cultural shows, museums and nature activities. In recent years, the accommodation options have gone upmarket with the opening of several five-star hotels and luxury boutique guest lodges. Budget travellers will also find the charming guesthouses in the old town particularly good value.
We suggest treating yourself while here since you can enjoy a truly luxury experience at affordable rates. Try a breakfast on the terrace at the Dhara Dhevi, lunch at the Four Seasons, high tea at the Anantara Resort, cocktails at the trendy dusitD2 or dinner at the elegant Shangri La.
Enjoy an evening of live music as you tuck into an abundant spread of Thai curries and snacks at the popular riverside restaurants, or catch a bite to eat at a small noodle shop down a quiet lane. Afterwards, head to the lively bars on Moon Muang road or go shopping at the Night Market. For a taste of the local scene, head over to the Nimmanhemin area (west of town) to hang out with the students in their trendy bars.
The great advantage of entertainment in Chiang Mai is that’s all in close proximity of the hotels, where you can simply stroll from one laid-back bar to another down small Old Town lanes, free of the bustle of other popular tourist centres and intense traffic. What’s more, it’s one of the cheapest tourist centres in Thailand – from haute cuisine to tapas and street side Pad Thai served on a banana leaf, everyone’s budget and taste is surprisingly well covered.
One unique way to absorb the classic Northern culture is to attend a Khantoke Dinner. Exclusive to Chiang Mai, they are enchanting evenings of Thai cultural dance and music, with Northern specialities enjoyed at lap level, all within a stunning traditional giant teak pavilion.