Chiang Mai Gay Travel
Chiang Mai gay travel guide to the best hotels, hostels, experiences, gay bars & more.
The Gay Travel Experience: Chiang Mai, Thailand
Chiang Mai is known for local elephant safaris and nature parks. The locals love their elephant buddies! Chiang Mai warmly welcomes the gay community as open-minded backpackers seek harmony with nature and local Thai people.
In the north of Thailand, away from the bustle of Bangkok, Chiang Mai has the feel of a very big village. A sense of peace and serenity blankets the streets. I felt so at home here even though I was on the other side of the planet.
Locals greet you with the largest smiles. They are authentically happy to meet travelers from so many regions of the world.
Many gay travelers stop in Chiang Mai on their routes through Thailand because the town is popular for elephant safaris and serenity. It is common to find other gay travelers along your journey here!
Sharing beer each evening with our hostel host and my group of friends was one of my fondest memories of Chiang Mai. Mixed in with some other travelers, we certainly had one of those true “backpacker” experiences.
Gay Chiang Mai: Hostels & Where to Stay
Crashing in a hostel is most common when visiting Chiang Mai. It’s all about serenity. Overly standard hotels can make it more difficult to connect with nature, at least in my opinion.
There are lots of options for Chiang Mai hostels on Hostelworld. Many offer private rooms and even private bathrooms. You can definitely stay in a hostel without a shared bedroom situation.
I stayed at the Counting Sheeps Hostel in Chiang Mai and it was wonderful. I didn’t look for luxury accommodations because I was more interested in meeting with some other travelers in a communal setting. There was still plenty of privacy though.
The best part of Counting Sheeps Hostel was the staff. They were so welcoming and fun! Our host sat outside with us each night on the front porch to share some beer and snacks.
If hostels are not your thing, you’ll still have plenty of choices. You can find some stunning private Chiang Mai vacation rentals on VRBO, many with gorgeous pools. I recommend staying either in the center of town or within a short walking distance of it.
Looking for a gay-only accommodation? Club One Seven Gay Hotel is Chiang Mai’s only dedicated gay hotel.
This facility also has a fitness center, sauna, and a large pool. Club One Seven is also the most popular gay sauna in the area. See more of in the video below.
To learn more about the different areas of Chiang Mai, check out The Crazy Tourist’s Chiang Mai neighborhood guide.
Chiang Mai Gay Travel Experiences
Chiang Mai is famous for elephant safaris. However, keep in mind that there are various types of safaris and each of them treats the elephants differently. Many establishments do not provide optimal conditions for the elephants, so there is a moral component to your choice.
Many gay travelers in Chiang Mai tend to seek out places where they can get in their bathing suits and get dirty with the elephants, but please don’t do this at the expense of the elephant. Riding on an elephant’s back is uncomfortable for the elephant and can hurt them.
I personally would not support a park that chains elephants by the leg all day long. These creatures are beautiful and extremely intelligent, and so we should only support those who treat them fairly.
Seeing them run free and interact with each other in the open fields of Thailand will be much better than climbing on top of an elephant for ten minutes, anyway.
Elephant Nature Parks & Sanctuaries
Elephant sanctuary day tours are the main attraction of Chiang Mai. Feed, hug, and hang with the big guys. Then. watch the locals give them a bath in the river.
At Chiang Mai Elephant Nature Park, the admission fee goes toward rescuing endangered elephants. My friends and I took a 30-minute bus ride to this park from central Chiang Mai.
Watching the elephant herd run from their hangout by the mud piles into the river for a bath was captivating. Seeing such wildlife in a natural habitat, which to me seems exotic, was so beautiful. It was something I had only seen on television.
Tour guides walk you from elephant to elephant and tell each one’s story. A few elephants had casts on one of their legs due to stepping on remnant land mines in places they were originally roaming. The workers help to feed the elephants and to extend their lives by taking care of them in many ways.
There just aren’t words to describe the beauty of these earthly creatures and the relationships they have with the Thai people who work with them. It’s a humbling experience I will never forget.
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Things to Do in Chiang Mai at Night
Head to the glowing Chiang Mai night markets after sunset. Vendor stands that sell food and gifts continue down the streets for what seems like forever! It is best to wander the night markets after dinner since they are in full swing after dark.
I found some adorable souvenirs to bring back home to my family and friends at the night market. I bought the cutest miniature pink stuffed elephant and my mom is obsessed with it! It reminds her of a stuffed elephant she had when she was a girl.
Chiang Mai Gay Bars & Clubs
Chiang Mai has a handful of gay bars that have opened in recent years. In fact, when I went to Chiang Mai back in 2016, most of these didn’t even exist (and so I hadn’t had a chance to visit). But, here are the most notable Chiang Mai gay bars and clubs to check out!
Adam's Apple Club
Adam’s Apple Club is without a doubt the best gay bar in Chiang Mai. Also known as Host Club Chiang Mai, they’re well-known for their Ladyboy show.
The club has a cute ambiance with colorful lighting all around as well as plenty of space to enjoy the show. They open each night at 9 PM and showtime is 10:30 PM.
Ram Bar brands themselves as a “straight-friendly” gay bar and definitely atttracts a mixed crowd. It’s still a fantastic spot for fun live entertainment. Ram Bar’s cabaret shows are super popular!
New My Way Bar
With a visit to New My Way Bar, you’ll mostly find gay locals. Similar to most other gay bars in Chiang Mai, they have a nightly live performance at 10:30 PM. The staff is friendly and drinks here are super cheap!
Circle Pub is one other local Chiang Mai gay bar worth mentioning. They’re not the most popular (some have said the go-go boy show is boring) but it might be worth checking out if you’ve already been to the other gay venues.
If you want to experience some of Thailand’s best gay nightlife on your trip, make sure you spend a weekend in Bangkok!
Chiang Mai Gay Saunas
There are two known Chiang Mai gay saunas you should know about. These spots opened up after my visit though, so I can offer only some general information about them.
The first is House of Male, a gay sauna and gym just for men. They have a small fitness room and a large pool area that seems to be a great area for cruising comfortably.
Club One Seven is a newer gay cruising facility in Chiang Mai. They have guest houses, massage services, a sauna, and an amazingly phallic-shaped pool and lounge area.
Chiang Mai Gay Travel Tips
Chiang Mai can be extremely hot and humid depending on when you visit. It can easily reach 100 degrees Fahrenheit (38 degrees Celsius), so prepare accordingly. I visited in mid-March and it was sunny, humid, and very hot.
Plan accordingly because hikes and walking in the hot sun can take a toll on those not used to it. For the gays who hike, you will love Chiang Mai!
You’ll also need a ton of bug spray. There are so many mosquitos in Chiang Mai, so bring repellent even if you normally don’t use it. Bug spray is sold everywhere in Thailand too, so you can get more as needed.
Are you on a long journey through Southeast Asia? Here are some tips on how to refresh yourself for continued long-term travel.
Thailand Gay Rights
Thailand attracts many LGBT travelers given its reputation as a very tolerant nation. Same-sex relations were legalized back in 1956.
Thailand passed the Gender Equality Act in 2015. Banning discrimination based on gender and sexual orientation was a huge leap for Thailand. It was the first law mentioning homosexual persons for the nation.
Same-sex marriage is not legal in Thailand. However, the progressive country is making great strides toward its legalization. As exemplified in Bangkok, there are vibrant gay communities throughout the country.