The Backpacker’s Guide to Art Galleries in Chiang Mai
Chiang Mai is a visual treat. Golden-roofed temples line the streets and an army of museums showcase the best of northern Thailand. There’s another type of cultural attraction that also shouldn’t be missed: the art galleries of Chiang Mai.
With a cultural heritage as rich as Chiang Mai’s, it’s unsurprising that the city has produced some amazing home-grown artists whose work is frequently on display around the city. It’s not just about local art though, as some galleries play host to some major international exhibitions and you can often find European and American work on display here. Check out our pick of the best galleries that Chiang Mai has to offer.
Sangdee’s mission is to champion the work of Asian artists from across the region alongside some of the big international names. It offers the chance to see a cross-section of paintings from countries like Malaysia, Cambodia and Vietnam displayed next to paintings focused on the people and landscapes of Africa. It’s an eclectic mix! If you fancy a bit of music with your art then there’s a buzzing café attached to the gallery where you can grab a cold Chang beer and hang out for some evening entertainment. Open mic nights are well-attended and great fun.
Hours of Operation: 16:00pm-00:00am Tuesday to Saturday
Location: 5 Soi 5 Siri Mankhalajarn Road, Chiang Mai 50200
Contact: 05 322 1308
This gallery is a bit different. Opened in 2014, its main focus is the work of local visionary artist Chumpol Taksapornchai. His calming and soothing pieces evoke the spirit of the rural north and are a great introduction to Thai art. The gallery often brings in ‘guest’ exhibitions to enhance Taksapornchai’s pieces so you may well get lucky and see work from some other contemporary Asian artists while you’re there. A relaxing place that’s well worth a visit.
Hours of Operation: 10:30am – 8:00pm daily, closed on Wednesdays
Location: 136/4 Ratchapakinai Rd, T. Prasign A Muang, Chiang Mai
Contact: 089 998 8055
Our next pick is a gallery dedicated to the rich artistic tradition of Myanmar. It features oil paintings, watercolor canvases and sculptures from a range of Burmese artists spanning from the early 20th century all the way up to the present day. The pieces are presented in a way that allows visitors to understand the evolution of the artistic tradition in the country as well as experiencing changes in Myanmar society which are reflected in the subject matter chosen. A unique gallery that will have you booking a flight to Yangon!
Hours of Operation: 10:00am – 19:00pm daily
Location: 116 Chareonrat Rd, Watgate, A. Muang, Chiang Mai 50000
Contact: 081 031 5309
The Ne’na Art Space is more than just a gallery, it’s a lifestyle choice. Instead of just a room full of paintings, this is a collection of traditional Lanna buildings that play home to a community of artists-in-residence who live and work on local and international projects. A visit here is an immersion in the artistic lifestyle and it’s easy to pop in for an hour but stay for the whole day.
Hours of Operation: 10:00am – 7:00pm daily
Location: Monfai Cultural Center, Living Museum 6 Soi 7 Khor, Sukasem Road, A. Muang, Chiang Mai
Contact: 089 266 6547
We finish with an unusual place that centers on all things wooden. Sculptures, carvings and statues created by both Thai and Western artists fill the space. It’s been running since 1989 and is a well-respected part of the Chiang Mai arts scene. Check out the huge painted altar created by Baniya, a local Thai artist who creates pieces in a colorful, modernist style. The wooden pieces are supplemented with textiles and tapestries and the whole place has a wonderfully relaxed vibe, and the attached shop means you can take a little piece of Gongdee home with you!
Hours of Operation: 8:00am – 8:00pm daily
Location: 12 Soi 1 Nimmanhaemin Rd, A. Muang, Chiang Mai
Contact: 053 225 032
With such a vibrant and expanding art scene, art galleries in Chiang Mai are a wonderful place to get to grips with Thai art. Set out early, wander round a few and soak up the scene. You won’t be disappointed!