Chiang Mai has a well established live music scene and there are at least 20 different bars where bands play more or less every night of the week. This figure does not include Thai bars at which a solo guitarist provides a couple of hours of entertainment. The What’s Up has compiled a list of the recommended bars and pubs where superior live music acts give top performances. The choice of music genres is eclectic too and there are bars with jazz, blues, folk, rock, heavy rock, pop, ska, roots and reggae on the menu.
Live Jazz Music:
Boy Blues Bar | North Gate Jazz | Thapae East
Live Reggae Music:
Rasta Café | Roots Rock Reggae
Live Rock Music:
Hard Rock Cafe | Inter Bar | Pentatonic Rock
Live Thai & Western Music:
Bus Bar | Craft Beer Factory | Good View | Riverside | Further Reading
LIVE MUSIC BARS IN THE OLD CITY AREA
Roots Rock Reggae Bar
This bar is a top choice for live music. As the name implies, the collection of music genres is roots, rock and reggae with the occasional ska, ragga or contemporary Thai and Western tunes added in for variety. Roots Rock Reggae is a fun pub and noted for its economically priced beers, cocktails and soft drinks. This pub is in the same Ratvithi Road nightlife zone as Zoe in Yellow and is barely a minute’s walk farther into the complex.
Roots Rock Reggae Bar: #40/12 Ratvithi Rd., A. Muang, Chiang Mai 50200 | Open: 19:00-01:00 (Daily) | Tel: +66 83 762 2017 | Website | Facebook | Map
The Pentatonic Rock Bar
Located in the Ratvithi Road nightlife complex too, The Pentatonic is about 50 metres from Roots Rock Reggae. The Pentatonic is one of the few places in the Northern regions of Thailand where pure, unadulterated rock and heavy metal is on the menu. The bands which play here cover classics by bands such as Soundgarden, AC/DC, Metallica and Pink Floyd.
Pentatonic Rock Bar: #204/5 Ratchapakhinai Rd., T. Si Phum, A. Muang, Chiang Mai 50200 | Open: 20:00-00:00 (Daily) | Facebook | Map
The North Gate Jazz Co-Op
The North Gate has evolved into something of an institution in Chiang Mai and is rated as the best bar to take in live jazz. This small, retro bar fills up with music fans every evening and it is usually standing room only after 20:00. Scores of reviewers have praised the musical talents of the bands and solo artistes who play here. The North Gate serves standard Thai beers and cocktails and typically has one or two craft beers on offer.
North Gate Jazz Co-Op: #91/1-2, Si Phum Rd., A. Muang, Chiang Mai 50200 | Open: 21:00-00:00 (Daily) | Tel: +66 81 765 5246 | Facebook | Map
LIVE MUSIC BARS IN LOI KROH AND NIGHT BAZAAR AREAS
The Rasta Café
The Rasta Café is a Jamaican themed pub where music a la Bob Marley is the order of the day. The house band plays the iconic Jamaican music style in addition to ska and roots numbers plus a sporadic pop song. As the café’s ad says, guests could almost shut their eyes and imagine they had been transported to Jamaica. A range of beers, shots and cocktails provides choice. The Rasta Café is on Charoen Prathet and just after the soi leading to the Ping River and the iron bridge.
Rasta Café: – Charoen Prathet Rd., A. Muang, Chiang Mai 50100 | Open: 18:00-01:00 (Daily) | Tel: +66 89 838 8148 | Facebook | Map
The Bus Bar
The central feature of this al fresco, riverside bar is an old Chiang Mai city bus. The bus is parked up on a plot of land at the west end of the iron bridge. The Bus Bar has live bands nightly and they play a mix of Thai and Western songs. Tables for customers are set up along the riverside and these are cooled by gentle breezes from the Ping in the evening. The Bus serves draught, bottled and craft beers, cocktails and an assortment of Thai snacks and dishes.
Bus Bar: #33/10-11, Charoen Prathet Rd., A. Muang, Chiang Mai 50100 | Open: 18:00-00:00 (Daily) | Tel: +66 84 173 3113 | Facebook | Map
Boy Blues Bar
Inaugurated in 2010, Boy’s is the home of the blues in Chiang Mai. The bar features live music every evening and offers a diverse range of alcoholic beverages and soft drinks. Boy Blues occupies the upper level of a pavilion in the Kalare Food Court. This is on the opposite side of the road to the Night Bazaar.
Boy Blues Bar: – Night Bazaar, Soi 6, Chang Klan Rd., A. Muang, Chiang Mai 50100 | Open: 20:00-00:00 (Daily) | Website | Map
The Hard Rock Cafe Chiang Mai
Chiang Mai’s Hard Rock Cafe welcomed its first customers at the end of 2016. It provides the signature Hard Rock experience with a menu comprising the chain’s world class burgers and other culinary specialities, and premium range liquors and beers. Live bands play in the evenings but do not take to the stage until later on. The Rock Shop sells authentic T-shirts and souvenirs.
Hard Rock Cafe Chiang Mai: #115, Loi Kroh Rd., A. Muang, Chiang Mai 50100 | Open: 11:00-00:00 (Daily) | Tel: +66 53 277 766 | Website | Facebook | E-mail | Map
Thapae East is down a small alley off the Night Bazaar end of Thapae Road. The bar is designed to resemble a retro jazz and blues basement club. Thapae East does not have live jazz every evening, but on average there are bands two or three times a week. The bar’s Facebook page lists forthcoming events. Even when there are no live bands on, Thapae East is an agreeable place to hang out and has jazz music on the sound systems in addition to a selection of Thai and Lao beers.
Thapae East: #88, Thapae Rd., A. Muang, Chiang Mai 50300 | Open: 18:00-23:00 (Mon-Sat) | Tel: +66 81 765 5246 | Facebook | Map
The Inter Bar
The Inter is a converted timber structure about 30 metres before the gate end of Thapae Road. Live music starts here at around 20:00 every evening and carries on until well past midnight. The evening typically kicks off with a warm-up performance by a solo artiste and is followed by two bands. The set lists are primarily covers of western rock and pop hits by the likes of the Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Deep Purple and Led Zeppelin.
Inter Bar: – Chang Moi Rd., A. Muang, Chiang Mai 50100 | Open: 16:00-12:00 (Daily) | Tel: +66 53 276 653 | Facebook | Map
The Riverside Bar & Restaurant
The Riverside opened in the mid-1980s and has long been one of the top locations to take in live music in Chiang Mai. The music starts at 19:45 on the dot every evening with acoustic artistes before the city’s best bands take to the stage a little after nine. The music is a mix of Thai and international, the latest pop hits, rock and funk. A lovely setting by the Ping River, a huge choice of Thai and international food, and an endless beverage list including craft and draught beers are added bonuses.
Riverside Bar & Restaurant: #9-11, Charoenrat Rd., A. Muang, Chiang Mai 50100 | Open: 10:00-01:00 (Daily) | Tel: +66 53 243 239 | Website | Facebook | E-mail | Map
The Craft Beer Factory
This venue is run by the same management team as the Riverside Bar & Restaurant and is directly across the road from it. The Riverside Craft Beer Factory also has live music on in the evening. The bands play in the timber-structured bar. A patio outside the bar is a lot bigger than the waterside terrace at the Riverside and is a relaxing spot to listen to the music from the bar. The food and drink menu is the same as at the Riverside.
Riverside Craft Beer Factory: #9-11, Charoenrat Rd., A. Muang, Chiang Mai 50100 | Open: 10:00-01:00 (Daily) | Tel: +66 53 243 239 | Website | Facebook | E-mail | Map
The Good View Bar & Restaurant
The Good View is a couple of minutes on foot from the Riverside and also enjoys a premium Ping riverbank setting. Two bands a night play live at the Good View and offer a combination of pop and progressive tunes. The choice of food is even more varied at the Good View and includes Japanese and Chinese favourites. A collection of premier-brand spirits, cocktails, gourmet coffees and draught beers is the perfect complement to the food.
Good View Bar & Restaurant: #13, Charoen Rajd Rd., A. Muang, Chiang Mai 50000 | Open: 10:00-01:00 (Daily) | Tel: +66 3 241 866 | Website | Facebook | E-mail | Map