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Gay Guide Updates in 2014

Changes in Chiang Mai’s gay scene during 2014

The Chiang Mai gay scene has always been quite fickle with too many businesses chasing an ever smaller market as gay moves into the mainstream. As a result there is quite a high turnover in businesses open and closing here and 2014 has been no exception. In this article we take a slightly bitchy look at the comings and goings of gay businesses in 2014 (N.B. Tagged Sarcasm 🙂).

Times have changed and so has gay culture. The internet has become the place to find gay sex partners and the gay concept has become more acceptable at least in much of the western world. Gays are more confident and the younger generation feel less need to socialise in exclusively gay bars. The demographics of gay visitors to Chiang Mai has changed too with a definite decline in the numbers of sex tourists coming here. Chiang Mai still has a large gay sex-pat population, but these are largely retired gentlemen, growing older and with perhaps less spending power than in the past.

The on-line information culture and social media has led to Thai’s being much more aware of gay issues and prostitution, creating a growing gap between younger Thai gay guys and their older western suitors. This is reflected in the Chiang Mai gay scene: the big gay clubs are packed with a now almost exclusively Thai clientèle and venues offering discreet encounters with gay for pay boys behind closed doors, such as go-go bars and massage shops, continue to attract customers.

However, more traditional gay bars see a continuing decline in customer numbers and spending so they increasingly have to appeal to a more mixed audience if they are to survive. As you can read below, 2014 has been a challenging time for many of Chiang Mai’s gay businesses.

The Gay Bar Scene

In gay Chiang Mai in 2014 we said hello to Orion bar and Mango Bar, down at the Night Bazaar and we welcomed R&A bar to Santitham plaza. Also in Santitham, Metro Bar re-opened for a short lived period but closed again in December, whilst Qmas put in an even briefer appearance at the Night Bazaar. Somewhere in the year we also said goodbye to Yokka dok.

Orion Bar opened int he Kalare Night Bazaar
Orion Bar opened in the Kalare Night Bazaar

In April, Secrets Bar and CU Bar were forced into a hasty move to a new location along the moat from Thapae gate. The newly built bars were a great improvement, being much more spacious and enticing than previously. The close proximity of the two bars also give a communal feel. The bathrooms were initially a major improvement too but that quickly turned sour, partly because they are shared with some adjacent “straight Bars” that perhaps don’t have such fabulous patrons as the gay bars. However, we are pleased to report that the bathrooms have now had a partial makeover returning them to acceptability.

The new location for Secrets and CU has resulted in the bar scene around the tourist part of town being more spread out with less focus on one area. Ram bar is off by the river, Orion and Mango at the Kalare Night Bazaar and Secrets/CU on the moat.

In contrast, little has changed in the Chang Puek area with all the go-go bars remaining the same, along with the main karaoke bars, and the very popular club G-Star vintage. Other bars in the area have remained the same too including Soho Bar, The Garden bar (at Lotus Hotel), Radchada Garden Café, Sabai Dee Santitham and the new R&A Bar.

Khun Run Serving beer at R&A Bar
New Arrival R&A Bar in Santitham Plaza

Gay Restaurants

It has not been a good year for gay restaurants in Chiang Mai and gay restaurants here can no longer rely on a gay clientèle as their sole source of business.

The Edge Chiang Mai
over the edge

The most hyped venue of the last year was “the edge” which tried in vain to re-invent itself from hi-so English, to we’re not sure quite what, to sadly going over the edge, in several exasperating attempts. A salutary lesson perhaps that marketing skills and social media doesn’t over-ride the need to provide the right product offering. Despite having created an interesting menu in a beautiful modern space right on the river bank, 32,000 + Facebook likes don’t translate into many customers if you have no parking and limited shelter for customers to retreat from the elements. Whilst the target market wasn’t exclusively gay, straight customers having to run the gauntlet of a gay bar and a rub and tug brothel to get there is a big negative point too.

Other casualties included “Spirit House” which never made it back after Songkran and “So Be It” which answered “not to be” to that famous Shakespearean question. Another loss was suffered by Compass with the sad death of well-known restauranteur David Sampson back in July

Gay Hotels

Another much promoted Chiang Mai venue was the Mansfield City Resort in Santitham. Owned by a self-proclaimed expert in the hospitality business, this high specification guest house was billed as the epitome of luxury accommodation for gay visitors to Chiang Mai. It was staffed with some handsome young gentlemen, several already experienced in offering another type of hospitality at the New My Way bar. Sadly it seems the execution of the project was rather flawed when it came to service, with perhaps the laundry being the only part of the business that functioned as intended. Earlier this year the reclusive owner was made an offer he couldn’t refuse and is now allegedly enjoying the best of Thai hospitality in the Bangkok Hilton.

Mansfield Hot Male sexy boys
Sexy Laundry boys at Mansfield

For other gay accommodation options in Chiang Mai read this recent article.

Gay Saunas

Whilst Chiang Mai’s two existing gay saunas House of Male and Club One Seven continue to be as popular as ever (read our article – Getting hot and steamy in the cool season – here), the new kid on the block didn’t make it.

crusingpluss_map

Initially called Cruising Plus a new Sauna opened near G-Star, but after prophetically changing it name to “Out Sauna” during the year it was not long before it had cruised out of business. The business model was to attract the after club crowd, but with limited facilities, and G-Star already having some dark corners of its own this didn’t fly

Gay Massage

For a full update on gay or male massage in Chiang Mai read our recent article. The following is a quick summary of this year’s updates to the scene.

In 2014 we said goodbye to Spatacus and Victory massage. In Chiang Mai Land, The moaning whores didn’t last long at Hormone Massage which already shut up shop and even being born again as New Heaven couldn’t save Heaven massage from extinction. Instead 333 Club M, which opened earlier this year, are trying their luck on the strip.

After going to the Wall earlier this year, we’re please to report The Wall has now re-opened with a French twist as De Lamur Massage. One of Chiang Mai’s oldest massage shops, the amusingly named one 2 come has come under new management and is now called Top To Toe. Mystic orient also changed owners and is now called Paradise Massage.

boys at Heaven Massage
Cute Thai Massage Boys at the now defunct Heaven Massage

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