The beauty of enjoying the bar scene in Chiang Mai is that everything is pretty close-knit. Though a major city, it is relatively compact and most of the action for tourists is in the centre. Restaurants and cafés are easy to get to on foot or by tuk-tuk and prices are half that of Bangkok.
Chiang Mai comes with a large variety of eateries, to include a disproportionate amount of places serving Western food. This is mainly on account of the large expat populace as much as it is Chiang Mai being a top tourist draw, but there is also quality northern Thai cuisine everywhere if you can handle the spice!
Most eateries in the city centre are cafés and small restaurants with Thai food, yet there are also several top class French and Italian restaurants within easy reach. Add to that a plethora of Westernised bars and pubs, several markets with food courts, and typical fast food burger joints.
Dine at the riverside, within the Night Market, up on the mountain, or on the roadside. Be sure to try a northern speciality, such as Khao Soi noodles, or go whole hog with a unique Khantoke dinner. These involve a dinner and dance show and are great for getting a true taste of Thai culture whilst enjoying a sumptuous meal.
Recommended Chiang Mai restaurants
The Riverside: (Thai & Western) Always popular and busy restaurant on the riverside. Indoor/outdoor seating and two live bands nightly. 9/11 Charoenrat Road, tel: (053) 243 239, fax: Fax: (053) 242 511, website.
Good View: (Thai & Western) Large, noisy eatery near the Riverside. Tasty food, live bands and riverside location. Very loud later on. popular with locals. 13 Charoenrat Road, tel: (053) 241 866, fax: (053) 302 764, website.
Le Coq d’Or: (French) One of the best eateries in town, with great French cuisine and wines, situated in an antique teak house. 11 Soi 2, Koh Klang Road, Nong Hoi, tel: (053) 141 555, website.
Farang Ses: (French) Expensive, luxury French dining, very high quality. Dhara Dhevi Hotel, Chiang Mai-Sankampaeng Road, tel: (053) 888 888, website.
Chiang Mai Saloon 1: American-style burger eatery and pub on Loi Kroh Road and a newer one on Ratwithi. Usually busy. 80/1 Loi Kroh Road, tel: 080 675 2169.
The Duke’s: (American) Hearty American-style food with two locations. The original (Chiang Mai-Lamphun Road) is cheaper. The other is within the Night Bazaar. 49/4-5 Chiang Mai-Lamphun Road, tel: (053) 249 231, website.
Antique House: (Thai) Tasty Thai food at this understated restaurant surrounding a 100-year-old teak house. 71 Charoen Prathet Road, Night Bazaar, tel: (053) 276 810.
Khun Nai Dern Sai: (Thai) Interesting menu, nice décor, and ambience at this favoured eatery off trendy Nimmanhemin Road. 3 Nimanhaemin Soi 11, tel: (053) 222 208.
Ratana’s Kitchen: (Thai & Western) Popular and affordable eating at this conveniently located eatery on Thapae Road. Opens to midnight. 320-322 Thapae Road, tel: (053) 874 173. $
Café de Siam: (Thai) Simple bistro near the Night Market area, with a tasty menu, perfect for tourists to the bar areas. 85 Loi Kroh Road, tel: (053) 207 258. $
More Chiang Mai restaurant listings at 1stopchiangmai.com.