If you’ve planted yourself in Chiang Mai for a summer or semester study abroad, you can rejoice in knowing that the nightlife in this city is phenomenal. There’s an entire world of amazing venues off the beaten backpacker trail that are popular among Thai locals and long term foreign residents from all across the globe. Here’s a handful of the best spots for live music and absurdly hip vibes in Chiang Mai.

The Northgate Jazz Co-op

Jazz Bar, as it’s most commonly called, is a favorite among live music lovers in Chiang Mai. Every night, this place offers fabulously talented bands that cover the best of R&B, soul, funk, jazz and classic rock. If you’ve got some musical prowess of your own, head to Jazz Bar on Tuesday nights for the Open Mic! After a night of incredible musical energy, head across the street for some of the best late-night street food in Chiang Mai.

North Gate Jazz Bar Chiang Mai
North Gate Jazz Bar. Photo by Cara Taylor.

Bus Bar

Bus Bar is yet another example of how well Chiang Mai does cool concepts—it’s an outdoor bar on the Ping river with a dope view of the colorfully lit Iron Bridge, and an old VW Bus with rooftop seating. This place also has live pop and rock bands that play every night. Yes, you are sensing a theme here. Head to Bus Bar just before sunset on a Friday night, and you’ve already kicked off your weekend right!

Rasta Cafe

If you’re into talented reggae cover bands this is going to be your jam. Rasta Cafe has great live music and is set up with ample dance space near the stage and lots of cozy chill-out space at the back. It’s also just a hop skip away from Bus Bar so you can start there and then head to Rasta Cafe for some proper groovin’.

Boy Blues Bar

Another live music favorite, Boy Blues is a cool rooftop bar that has a massive lineup of amazing blues and rock bands throughout the week. It’s located in the Night Bazaar, so you can spend some time shopping and eating before you settle into a night of great music. The famous Boy, who owns the bar, plays on Saturday nights and mesmerizes crowds with his stellar guitar skills and effervescent stage presence. If you go to Boy Blues Bar for any reason, let it be the sound of Boy’s guitar and the smile that beams from his friendly face.

Boy Blues Bar Chiang Mai

Baan Din 

Baan Din is probably the most chill bar in this city. Made of mud and great vibes, this earthship-style bar is the perfect place to start off your night out. Prices are low, and the staff is incredibly friendly! The coolest thing about Baan Din however, is that guests can choose the music that bumps from the speakers. Situated at the end of the bar is a computer that any and all guests can use to queue up whatever jams they’re feeling at the moment, and don’t worry, people who frequent this bar are generally the type with great music taste!

Corner Bistro

This is the place to dance until the sweat on your face starts to make it difficult to see. Honestly though, Corner Bistro has truly everything you need on a Friday night: Late 90’s/early ‘00’s hip hop, happy hour, and FREE french fries. This is not a drill, they serve hot and delicious trays of french fries until closing.

Warm-Up Cafe

Warm-Up is hands down the most famous club in Northern Thailand. A favorite among hip Thai Millennials and even Thai popstars, Warm-Up is a massive club with a few separate rooms for people wanting to flow between live rock and upbeat EDM. This bar has a different atmosphere than the laid-back places mentioned above, so be sure to bring your photo ID and your more sophisticated chic apparel for a night at this really fun spot.

The Living Machine

This is an astonishingly hip bar on Nimman soi 7. It’s frequented by hipster Thai students so it has great prices, and they play artists like Tame Impala, Mac Demarco and Chet Faker. Go here for a relatively relaxed night out and soak in the cool oozing from every corner of this bar.

Learn more about how you can undertake a semester, summer or summer internship in Chiang Mai, Thailand.