This year, instead of watching the ball drop from Times Square I’ll be seeing thousands of flaming lanterns rise up and fill the sky as a symbol for new hopes and dreams. I could not be more excited to spend New Years Eve in Chiang Mai for the countdown to 2016.

After talking to some fellow travelers and doing research of my own, I thought it would be helpful to provide some tips on what do in Chiang Mai this year. After all, this is one of the most popular spots for backpackers and digital nomads to pass through so let’s face it, we’re all here to party!

5 Fun Things to Do in Chiang Mai for New Years 2016

    1. Catch Live Music at the North Gate for New Years Eve: 

This is a top spot to go if you’re looking for live music. You can expect excellent jazz performances along with a mix of other genres throughout the night. Whether you want to sing, dance or drink the night away; you will not be disappointed with the North Gate. I plan to kick my evening off here with some cocktails and jazz.

north gate chiang mai thailand

    2. Watch the Lantern Festival on New Years Eve in Chiang, Mai: 

Some consider this the finale of the night even though it preceeds the fireworks. To be honest, this is what I am looking forward to the most. Thousands of candle lit lanterns floating graciously up into the night sky carrying the dreams of all those gleaming below. You can participate and launch a lantern of your own or simply look up and watch as they all light up the sky.

chiang mai new years eve

    3. Meditate with Monks in Chiang Mai on New Years Eve: 

This may not be your traditional way of spending New Years Eve but I guarantee you it will be one that you’ll never forget. If you want to try something new this year then why not chill out and meditate with some monks in this ancient medieval city. Read a personal experience and find out how you can do it too! I found this blog that tells us all about it. Our New Years Eve with Buddhist Monks in Chiang Mai. 

monks in chiang mai

    4. Hit the Clubs and Pubs in Chiang Mai on New Years Eve: 

If you want to do the exact opposite of meditating with the monks then check out the fun party scene in the Nimmanhaeman neighborhood, northwest of the old city. You’ll find everything from hipster joints to modern bars and even upscale dining. There will be music, plenty of people and lots of fun. There are so many good spots to check out so I’d recommend jumping around and trying a bunch!

night club thailand

Here are four personal recommendations from a very talented solo female travel blogger that I’ve been following the past two years. Her name is Adventurous Kate.

  • Monkey Club — trendy place in Nimmanhaeman that feels like a posh restaurant in a resort town in California.  You can come for dinner or drinks and enjoy live music in two rooms.
  • Warm Up — The front is similar to Monkey Club with dinner, drinks and live music, though it’s not quite as posh.  The back, however, turns into a giant dance club!
  • Fabrique — hot after-hours club with both live music and a DJ.  Pricey 300 baht cover, but it includes a few drinks.
  • “The Hipster Bar” — Not sure what it’s called.  After you pass Monkey Club, it’s a bit further down on the left.  Look for the open-air building and street vendors.  Cheap whiskey and quite a crowd.

   5. Watch the Extravagant Fireworks in Chiang Mai on New Years Eve: 

After the lanterns are all released into the sky you will have the pleasure of experiencing even more magic in the air. Find a good spot to see both because once the fireworks end, the night is over the party continues!

fireworks chiang mai new years

Final Quick Travel Tips for New Years Eve in Chiang Mai

  1. Tha Pae Gate and Tha Pae Road will be closed to traffic from 6 pm on New Year’s Eve.
  2. Enjoy a bowl of savory kao soi and buy a Bo Sang umbrella as it is their cultural icon.
  3. Check out the view from Doi Suthep on New Years Eve, you’ll see the best of the best!