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Chiang Mai Gay Travel

Chiang Mai gay travel guide to the best hotels, hostels, experiences, gay bars & more.

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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. 

Chiang Mai things to do
restaurants in Koh Phangan
Chiang Mai things to do

Locals greet you with the largest smiles. They are authentically happy to meet travelers from so many regions of the world.

LGBT thailand

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!

Chiang Mai gay bars

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.

Chiang Mai gay travel attractions

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.

gay hotel Chiang Mai Club One Seven
Chiang Mai gay travel stay
gay hotel Chiang Mai Club One Seven

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.

Chiang Mai gay travel stay

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.

Chiang Mai private airbnb with pool
Chiang Mai private airbnb with pool

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.

Chiang Mai gay travel attractions

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.

For even more options of places to stay, check out these highly rated Chiang Mai hotels

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.
Chiang Mai gay travel experience
feed elephants chiang mai
ride elephants Chiang Mai

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.

ride elephants Chiang Mai

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.

feed elephants chiang mai

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.

Chiang Mai gay travel experience

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.

Chiang Mai gay travel experience
gay Chiang Mai LGBT
gay Chiang Mai LGBT

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.

Chiang Mai night markets
Chiang Mai night markets
LGBT safety Chiang Mai
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

Ram Bar is the best place for gay travelers to party in Chiang Mai. I love how they brand themselves as a “straight-friendly” gay bar in Chiang Mai. This spot opened after my trip, so I didn’t get a chance to visit.

Chiang Mai gay bar
Chiang Mai gay bar
Secrets gay bar Chiang Mai

Secrets Bar is another local gay bar you should try in Chiang Mai. They host weekly drag and cabaret shows which are frequented by both locals and travelers.

With a visit to New My Way Bar, you’ll mostly find gay locals. If you stop by this gay bar, let me know what it’s like!

Secrets gay bar Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai has dozens of small bars in the city. Many of them line the four streets that bound the old city. While I found that many of these bars were low quality, this was several years ago. The experience now may be completely different.

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.

Chiang Mai gay cruising spot

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 gay sauna
Chiang Mai gay cruising spot
Club one seven gay sauna

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.

LGBT safety Chiang Mai

Don’t forget breathable shorts, lots of strong sunscreen and an insulated water bottle so you stay comfortable.

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!

LGBT thailand
thai flowers

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.

restaurants Chiang Mai
restaurants Chiang Mai
Chiang Mai gay bars

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.

best thailand photos
outdoor Thai flower market
best thailand photos

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.

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Headed to the Thai Islands? If so, check out the wolfyy gay travel guides to Koh Lipe and Koh Phangan.

For additional resources, visit the official Chiang Mai Tourism website.

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