Photo: Khao soi in Chiang Mai.


Rooftop relaxation

Intrawarorot Rd, just north of Wat Phra Singh, Chiang Mai


Seeking out a rooftop bar in Chiang Mai leads most tourists and expats to THC Rooftop Bar by Thapae Gate, but if you’re looking to avoid the sometimes seedy, neon rasta vibe, head to close by for an altogether more pleasant evening.

You haven't made it all the way up to the rooftop, and already there's Elvis and a flying bicycle.

You haven’t made it all the way up to the rooftop, and already there’s Elvis and a flying bicycle.

Tucked away on quiet Intrawarorot Road, just north of Wat Phra Singh, CNX Bar remains one of the few night-time establishments in the old city where you’re likely to run into more Thais than foreigners. Indeed, everything from the cheesy ukulele Lady Gaga covers to the oddball, almost cartoonish artwork greeting you as you ascend to the fifth floor rooftop is both vibrating with personality while fitting in perfectly with the local Thai bar scene.

Visually, the lower floors of CNX Bar are a cross between a graffiti, skater paradise, and the funnest house of mirrors you’ve ever explored. Lighting is kept at a minimum, and the combination of mismatched furniture with contributions from artists at the vanguard of the local art scene results in a space that would feel totally at home in a quirky Berlin neighbourhood. Every room on every floor is drastically different, though they all combine mismatching wallpaper with an odd collection of found objects that somehow end up working perfectly with one another.

The interior of one of CNX Bar's quirky rooms.

The interior of one of CNX Bar’s quirky rooms.

The rooftop itself is perfect for enjoying the ever dwindling stars of Chiang Mai (for some real stars, head to Chiang Dao). Furnished with intimate tables, and even a romantic candle or two, CNX Bar is our choice for a low-key evening in town. All in all, it’s a great place for a date or for catching up with old friends. The open air and night-time sky give the whole place an easygoing, jovial yet contemplative mood.

A simple, yet beautiful rooftop that's neon free.

A simple, yet beautiful rooftop that’s neon free.

The service is fast for Southeast Asia, probably due to the second bar on the fifth floor exclusively serving rooftop customers. While the beers and Sangsom sets arrive quickly and are always cold, we’d suggest avoiding the pricey, syrupy sweet cocktails.

The deciding factor in naming CNX Bar one of our go-to’s is its modest but ever so timely kitchen on the ground floor. All in all, the cuisine’s not as good or as varied as at Archer’s Bar, but it does include hearty Thai staples served up with generous portions of rice and a fried egg or two. If you ask us, nothing beats the comfort of a spicy cashew chicken arriving right around 22:00, when the hunger finally starts to hit, while in the company of friends and a view of the stars shining over sleepy Chiang Mai.

To get to CNX Bar walk or drive along Intrawarorot Road. CNX Bar will be about 200 metres from the moat, right across from Wat Phra Singh.

Our rating:

Last updated on 12th November, 2015.

Intrawarorot Rd, just north of Wat Phra Singh, Chiang Mai

Location map for CNX Bar

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