Rooftop bars are the perfect way to escape the hustle and bustle of the city for a breath of cool air and a few moments of serenity, much better than yoga.
Chiang Mai can be a challenging place to live, particularly when the traffic and air quality is ghastly. You sometimes just need to step out of the chaos for a while, but unless you head out of the city there’s not much of an escape. Within the city itself there are only a couple of small parks which require at least 20 minutes through the traffic to get to, which kind of defeats the purpose. This is where the magic of the rooftop bar comes into play.
I have selflessly undertaken extensive research into the field of rooftop bars in Chiang Mai to discover which are the best. I say selfless because there were times my vertigo thing really spun out of control.
These bars made the list because they are easy to get to, in the Nimman area and because each brings something different to experience – except the view. Doi Suthep is always the view.
Sipping a cocktail at Myst is a special experience. This bar is on top of the shopping mall, Maya in the Nimman area. It is very easy to find. On the rooftop there are several cafes and restaurants, but Myst is the most special. You climb a spiral staircase to arrive at the small bar with panoramic views. Although they sell beer and other drinks, I feel it’s obligatory to drink cocktails in these venues. The drinks are beautifully made and presented, however they don’t have any specials, promotions or free nibbles. Cocktails generally cost around 220 BHT (around $AUD 11), and the range is huge.
As you can see from this little clip the bar staff can do some amazing things. The most spectacular of which involved three storeys of glasses, Sambuca and fire to make a Flaming Lamborghini, but I’ve only seen that on the promo clip.
Snacks and meals are also available.
This is the most laid back of the bars with rustic tables and stools to sit on. It is easy to find once you know it is located on the roof of the Prestige building at the back, not the Prestige building facing the road. If you see the bull statue in the foyer, you’re in the right place.
The bar is on top of a condominium building and usually pretty quiet around sunset when the views are best overlooking Doi Suthep. Of all the bars listed, this one brings you closest to the mighty Doi. There’s a pool up there too and some nights they have live music.
Although the drinks and food menu is limited, they do craft beers and some cocktails. The prices are cheaper than Myst but have less wow factor.
This is the most exclusive of the bars listed. Rise is located on the 8th floor of Akyra Hotel, a five-star boutique hotel that attracts wealthy clients. It is small, with the capacity to seat about 7 small groups/couples. The main part of the bar is galley style – long and narrow, overlooking Doi Suthep. Next to the lounge seats is the transparent pool that allows you to see swimmers as you sip your cocktail, unfortunately the only people who can afford to stay at this hotel are aged, so don’t be thinking eye-candy.
The cocktails here are pretty expensive, 375 BHT (around $AUD 17) for a Whiskey Sour, but between 5.30 – 6.30 they offer a two for one deal. On top of that, they also give you a few nibbles. It can get full quickly here, so it pays to get there at 5.30 on the dot.
This bar is the least known about than any of the others. It is located on the top floor of a four-star hotel. While it is not the most spectacular, you pretty much have the whole place to yourself. We happened upon it on a hunch. It’s not even mentioned on their website. There’s also a pool up there.
This bar doesn’t do cocktails which is a shame, but it does have an offer of 3 Singha beers for 100BHT ($AUD 5) which is pretty hard to beat.
So, there it is, four places to escape the madding crowd and embrace serenity now.