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Sun-rising for High Season?

There is chatter in the air, wherever you go: tourists have been spotted in Chiang Mai! Yes, apart from the new floor at the Garden bar and Lisu boys working at Adam’s Apple, the main topic of conversation the last few days has been the noticeable increase in the number of visitors and people out and about in bars and restaurants. After the total tourist drought that has led to rainy season this year being renamed the dead season, rather than just low season, Chiang Mai could be seeing the next dawn.

Garden Bar
Khyn Bo, Bar tender at a packed Garden bar

It’s early days yet, but it’s been great to see some fresh faces about, both old friends returning for the cool season and tourists coming to stay in the hotels. Lotus Hotel and the Garden bar have had a buzz to them that hasn’t been seen in a long while, and nearby bars such as Adam’s Apple and Free Guy have been reporting great business. Yokka Dok has also seen brisk trade; only the Night Bazaar bars at Sleaze Alley are bucking the trend and remain deserted, seemingly doomed to follow the Dodo.

Garden bar Boys
Some of the guys waiting for you at Garden bar

Recent flooding in Chiang Mai, although already dissipated and the clean-up completed, had caused concerns the tourists would stay away. But so far it’s not looking so bad. Of course, some of the extra traffic could be people coming to Chiang Mai, rather than risking problems in Bangkok. Thailand’s biggest city has managed to escape the flooding so far, though there is still frequent torrential rain and flash floods even in the centre. Meanwhile the surrounding suburbs and provinces have not been so lucky with numerous areas under several feet of water, with severe damage to industry, agriculture and infrastructure.

Mae Fang - Chaing Mai province
Beautiful cool season weather in Chiang Mai at Mae Fang

Not so Chiang Mai; for ten days or so, the high pressure area from central China, which defines cool season, has been dominating the climate here and an initial ridge has been pushing the monsoon trough further south. Clouds are dispersing too, leaving blues skies and sunshine with pleasant temperatures. Rainy season usually ceases around mid-October followed by a warmer period with the occasional shower, until cool season fully kicks in by mid-November and typically lasts until mid-February. Temperatures in the last week have averaged 24 °C Min and 32 °C Max with minimal rainfall.

Yeepne Khom Loy
Fire Lanterns at Chiang Mai Yeepeng festival

With Loy Krathong, or Yeepeng festival as it’s called in Chiang Mai, coming early this year in just three weeks (9-11 November), now is a great time to plan a trip to Chiang Mai. For gay accommodation check out our gay scene guide to Chiangmai; or see our particular suggestions below.

The favourite for many visitors is the Lotus Hotel, Chiang Mai’s first gay hotel is located close to gay areas in Chang Puek/Santitham with its own popular “Garden Bar” and Adam’s Apple Club right across the road.

Lotus Hotel - Gay Chiang Mai
The Lotus Chiang Mai's Premium gay Hotel

Founded by well known Lebanese gay entrepreneur Khun Mo more than twenty years ago, it has grown steadily into a luxury hotel. Khun Mo has used his skills as an architect and interior designer to develop a stylish, comfortable and homely hotel. All rooms are en-suite with A/C and full features. The hotel’s white exterior hides a surprise; inside the feel is that of a teak wood house, marvellously decorated in a contemporary colonial style with many antiques complementing more modern aspects. The Lotus is a full service hotel with all the expected amenities including, laundry and concierge who can arrange travel and tours.

PJ’s Place is a Boutique guest house, which combines luxury hotel standards with the friendliness of a small establishment. It’s beautiful, tranquil garden location, set in a quiet lane off Huay Kaew Road, gives an impression of not being in the city.

PJ's Place Boutique Guesthouse

The owners, long-time boyfriends Jiab and Peter, are the perfect hosts, renowned for their hospitality and service. Accommodation comprises four deluxe rooms and two suite houses all in a modern chic style that retains classic Thai influences. All rooms are en-suite, air conditioned and have facilities such as minibar, tea/coffee and in room safe, normally only expected in large hotels.

Your hosts are a perfect source of information about Chiang Mai and can arrange tours and provide every other assistance to make your stay enjoyable. Over several years PJ’s Place has built up a dedicated following of repeat visitors, which leads to only one complaint: “they’re fully booked”! Especially during high season and festivals; early booking is strongly advised.

Alternatively, located close to PJ’s is the popular Soho bar and guest house; now under new ownership since August. Santitham Guest House is another popular options near the Gay area.

Though not gay, Chiang Mai also has some truly excellent five star hotels in the night Bazzar Area where you can often get some excellent deals. Check out The Chedi, Le Meriden, Shangri-la and D2, by Thailand’s world renowned Dusit Thani hotel group. There are also several resort style hotels around the city centre too, which are great places to stay if you feel like a little pampering.

Shangri-la Chiang Mai
Shangri-la luxury Hotel in Chiang Mai

Wherever you choose to stay, now is an excellent time to visit Chiang Mai. Don’t forget to print out our Quick Guide with addresses in Thai before you go, so you can easily find your way around.

  1. hakan says:

    Who is that guy with the tattoo ? he works at garden bar ? I cant wait february to be at garden bar !!

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