The Coffee Shop Culture of Chiang Mai

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The Coffee Shop Culture of Chiang Mai – Guest Posting by Ryan Gibson

Chiang Mai is one of Thailand’s most popular destinations for tourists, due to the range of unique cultural experiences and stunning scenery on offer to visitors.  This fabulous city has even made it onto TripAdvisor’s “25 Best Destinations in the World” list, which considering the sheer volume of competition is a commendable achievement (there are a lot of amazing locations on this planet!)

In addition to the picturesque landscapes, colossal temples, boutique hotels and bohemian art galleries that have all put this city on the map, Chiang Mai is renowned for its warm and friendly coffee shop culture, making this a really sought after destination for digital nomads and perpetual travelers alike.

Coffee shop culture

You’ll find Chiang Mai teaming with coffee shops along the city’s streets and you’d need to stay in the city over two months just to work through them all (though we don’t recommend the huge volume of caffeine you’d need to drink to do that!)

So, who visits these cafes?

Off the beaten track, down some of the less touristy side streets you’ll find local hipsters from the city’s nearby University.  However, in the areas where English is spoken a little more fluently, you’ll find the coffee shops full of tourists, travelers and digital nomads, all of whom need somewhere to sit down and relax with a coffee as they re-connect with those back home and check their emails.

The café owners all take advantage of our desire to constantly be connected, allowing patrons to connect to the Wi-Fi for free, knowing we’re likely to buy a coffee and a slice of cake during our all-important game of Candy Crush or Facebook catch-up session.

As such, the café trade in Chiang Mai is booming, as tourists who want to escape data roaming charges flock to the nearest shop that offers free internet and a great cup of coffee!

There’s another group who enjoy this great coffee shop culture too:  the self-employed and freelancers.  It’s hard to find any time off when you work for yourself, and if you can work independent of location, Chiang Mai gives you the opportunity to go on vacation, but complete important tasks and answer clients’ emails throughout the day and during the evening, there’s still time to relax and immerse yourself in the city’s colorful nightlife.

Finally, let’s not forget travel bloggers!  The coffee shop culture also allows travel bloggers to update their websites, upload pictures and respond to their community in real time, and meet other like minded travelers during their stay in the city too.

Variety of Cafes in Chiang Mai:

Visitors enjoy the eclectic mix cafes in the city, which vary in style and ambiance, as you would imagine.   Along with a few notable chains (Starbucks for one) you’ll find plenty of smaller, independent coffee shops too.  These offer tourists a host of choices when it comes to watering holes for their caffeine fixes.  There are the sleek, modern cafes with baristas who know their trade inside out, and there are plenty of cafes that embrace a more ‘rustic’ feel too.  You might even chance upon a novelty themed cafe, perfect if you’re looking for something a little unique.

A few notable mentions:

free bird cafeRustic charm: Free Bird Cafe  -  Moon Muang, Soi 7.
This cafe is set in a wooden home inside Chiang Mai’s old city and is a center for support for many worthy causes, complete with a little charity shop. Plus very healthy foods.


Themed: Coffee Rider – Inthawarowat Road.

Coffee Rider, Chiang Mai

This coffeehouse is cycling themed, complete with wheel logo and cycling helmets on the walls!




Baan ped



Unique Baan Ped Coffee – Nimmanhaemin Road, Soi 6.
This is a rustic, duck themed cafe!

Nineth Street Cafe



Sleek and modern:  9th Street Cafe -  Nimmanhaemin Road, Soi 6.  This is a modern and sleek cafe bar.


Novel:  Roastniyom Coffee – Sirimangkalajarn Road.
If you fancy something a little different, this coffee shop is built around a tree!


 FamiliarStarbucks – Various locations all over Chiang Mai
If you just can’t pass up the opportunity to visit a Starbucks wherever you are in the world, never fear, Chiang Mai has several different outlets.  Don’t forget your loyalty card!



Fresh Cup Magazine– here you’ll find a fascinating history of Chiang Mai and its cafe culture, plus the article discusses how coffee was introduced and grown in the region.

Nomadic Notes has written an article detailing thirty different cafes visited during a trip to Chiang Mai, with a little review of each (including those excerpted above). has an gallery of unmissable art houses and coffee shops, perfect if you’re due to visit and you want advice/info of where to go.Image Credits:


About the Author:
is the resident blogger at AsiaRooms. When Ryan is not working he spends his time traveling the globe, drawing on his travel experience and passion for travel to spread the good word. Ryan is also a social monkey and can be found lounging around on Twitter & Google+ and loves to interact with other travel bloggers.

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One thought on “The Coffee Shop Culture of Chiang Mai

  1. Hi Ryan,

    A few weeks ago (at the time of your writing this blog, actually) I was with my family visiting Chiang Mai and other more remote regions in Mae Hon Song.

    I wanted to give you a heads up on some wonderful coffee that we recently discovered, that is grown in Northern Thailand. We met the people ‘behind’ this great coffee, and saw the operation in its various forms; the equipment that husks the beans etc., bags of some of the green beans, ready to be roasted, coffee plants in their early stages of growth . . . a week or so before our arrival, the owners had just traveled to Singapore for a “fine coffee” expo (like us going to Vegas for a trade show.) We asked whether the coffee had been rated. And I think they said it had received a rating of “86.”

    I’ve been ordering it in large quantities for us, friends and family since we’ve arrived back in California. is the website where you can read about and order it.

    I’m heading to Nashville next week to record my 3rd CD ~ I just ordered a box of Mai Thai Coffee for my friends in whose home I will stay for a few days. I figure they are saving me hundreds through their hospitality, and I just want to spread the word about this amazing coffee wherever I go!


    Linda Geleris

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