Bus Bar Chiang Mai (บัสบาร์เชียงใหม่)

There is an unassuming little bar that is nestled between the Iron Bridge, the Ping River and a high-rise hotel building. Bus Bar is an outdoor place with soft lighting, cheap drinks, and nostalgic 90's music. The atmosphere encourages long conversations with friends while watching tourists ride their bicycles across the bridge, or the groups of Thai students chatting, eating takeaways and taking photos of each other. The view of the river by night calls for photo-taking, as do the massive lights from the bridge which constantly drift from pink to blue to green to purple. And did I mention the bar itself is an old red bus? That's another reason to spend a relaxing evening at this little gem of a place.

Bus Bar Breakdown:

Drinks: All the drinks at Bus Bar are well-priced. You can expect large beers to start at ฿70 for Chang Draft, and ฿75 for Leos. Buckets of ice are ฿20.
Food: The food ranges between ฿50 - ฿100 per dish, and is typical Thai fare with plenty of seafood dishes thrown in. The usual dishes are authentically spicy, which is a welcome change from the dulled-down-for-foreigners food you find at many Thai bars or nightclubs.
Pros: - Excellent ambiance. The coloured lighting in the area is beautiful, and it's hard to keep from zoning out at the views of the calm river and night-scenes on the bridge.
- Service is laidback and not bothersome at all. It's nice to be in control of your table for once, and feels more intimate when you get to pour your own drinks at your own pace.
- The bathrooms are clean and functional.
- Location. Sometimes you just don't feel like going to the other side of the city for drinks. It's close to the river and the old city, but at the same time it's tucked away from the tourists and bustle.
- Music. At times it can be on the cheesy side, but at other times you and your Western friends will be crooning along to old school tunes you haven't heard in ages. It's also a great opportunity for your Thai friends to make fun of you and question your music taste.
- Mix of people. Some nights will oddly feature more falangs than other nights, when there might only be a few other tables with Thai couples or a few friends sharing food and drinks, like we usually do.
Cons: - The location. If it rains, Bus Bar is a very unpleasant place to be. Also on the more chilly nights it can feel a bit miserable shivering at a metal table next to the river.
- No drinks specials or promotions. 
- Mosquitoes. Lots of them! However, the staff do provide mosquito coils.

Bus Bar Chiang Mai บัสบาร์เชียงใหม่
Bus Bar, facing the Iron Bridge.
บัสบาร์เชียงใหม่ Bus Bar Chiang Mai
A view of the Iron Bridge and the river from our table.
บัสบาร์เชียงใหม่ Bus Bar Chiang Mai
Purple! So pretty.
บัสบาร์เชียงใหม่ Bus Bar Chiang Mai
The bar and its drinks trailer.
บัสบาร์เชียงใหม่ Bus Bar Chiang Mai
Another little drinks trailer.
บัสบาร์เชียงใหม่ Bus Bar Chiang Mai
Bus Bar.
A band playing outside the bus.
บัสบาร์เชียงใหม่ Bus Bar Chiang Mai
People with a tower of beer and some blue lighting. Lovely.
A busy night at the bar.

The Story of the Deranged and Drunken Dingo Dave:

One night at Bus Bar, a situation arose that involved a very intoxicated Australian man, his two Thai friends, and his British caretaker. The Australian man stumbled into the place while his three friends scurried after him, and us and a few other tables turned our attention towards the events that were about to unfold.

This is the part where I'll clear things up a bit. The Australian man had not only stumbled into the place, but had half-undressed himself in the process. He had also been confidently exclaiming how he had "battled deadly snakes" before and that "this Thai piss-water" doesn't phase him. On top of that, everyone in the vicinity had to hear multiple times that he was "****ing Australian", followed by a lot of indecipherable swearing.

I'm sure you can guess by now that this unsavoury character was intent on getting into the river, and had chosen the grassy banks of Bus Bar to trample through in order to do so. By this time, he was down to his flesh-coloured underpants, and was still shouting at the top of his voice about conquering the river, being Australian and afraid of nothing, and a whole lot of other nonsensical ranting. We discovered that his idiotic urge to jump in the river had arisen when his rather nonchalant British friend had bet him ฿1000 that he wouldn't. Of course, anyone could tell that making a bet like that with this Steve Irwin wannabe was rather cruel, if not plain sadistic.

So now we had the Australian man weaving his way down to the water, a Thai woman yelling at him to stop being stupid, a Thai man taking photos and giggling uncontrollably, and a British man sitting at our table drinking our beer. Here are the photos I managed to capture, which show how the story unfolded. And no, I don't feel any shame for chronicling the actions of a poor drunkard - in fact, seeing disrespectful foreigners make fools of themselves is one of my pet peeves, and I, along with Thai people, have no problem having a laugh at their moronic antics.

The Australian culprit. Notice how he is not at all focused on the Thai woman expressing her concern for him.
I actually find this shot quite graceful.
One last chance to change your mind. No? Okay then, carry on!
Like a calmly bobbing swan, in the murky waters of the polluted river. Lovely.
At least he had great lighting.
Clearly this Thai man should work for the paparazzi.
And lastly, the expression on my boyfriend's face once the culprit returned to land.

The story doesn't end in rainbows, however, as shortly after the man arrived back at the bar, he started yelling about his phone being missing, casually accused us of taking it, and was then dragged off by his friends to go back to the hole they had come from.

The End!

Anyway, here's my map of Bus Bar in Chiang Mai. If you're on Google Streetview, note that the green construction barriers are where Bus Bar is now.

View Bus Bar Chiang Mai in a larger map


  1. It seems fitting to me that this sozzled man is Australian as he has clarified to all at the bar the meaning of 'Down Under' - when I see that huge belly hiding what ever may or may not be 'under', the water of course.

  2. Haha, shame. He gives a bad names to all the lovely Australians I've met over here. He was just very sozzled, and perhaps just had very grand dreams of being Steve Erwin!

  3. haha what a great story! I want Dingo Dave to make random appearances in my nights out. I'll definitely go check out bus bar now, looks fun!

  4. Love this place. Hope to see you around there one day ;)