In the early eighties, Chiang Mai lived at a less hectic pace. The tourist boom was just beginning and the entertainment on offer mostly catered to local tastes and was located on the west side of the Ping River. There was virtually no live Western music venues then.
Sharing a similar frustration about the lack of a cool place to “hang out”, John Vloet, the late K. Ana Manmontri (Pee Pong), Peter Buckland (and later K. Nirun and Judith Vloet), all bi-cultural friends and musicians, rebuilt an old wooden house on the east bank of the river and in February of 1984 The Riverside Restaurant was born.
Western music and an extensive menu made it an immediate hit with visitors who came to dine, drink, and enjoy the folk, rock, and bluegrass music in a homey ambiance. Soon word spread of listening to the songs of the Eagles, Neil Young and Bob Dylan while enjoying steaks, burgers, and sandwiches and fabulous Thai food. Popularity increased amongst Thais as well when Thai language magazines in Bangkok began printing reviews.
Within a few years, The Riverside expanded next door to the former Kay's Kitchen. With a harmonious mix of architectural styling, wooden walkways, and multi-level seating areas, 'The Riverside Two', as it came to be called, extended capacity to over one hundred tables. The new bandstand added some Thai pop music and was a favorite gathering spot for foreigners and Thais, upscale and bohemian alike. With the new space, a vibrant clientele, and a desirable location for holidays such as Loy Kratong, The Riverside became the focus of local and foreign nightlife and dining. The addition of a nightly dinner cruise on the River Ping little later was yet another attraction.
When after 20 great years of operation the lease of “The Riverside Two” was not renewed, an eighty year old mansion just across the road was transformed from a “sleeping beauty” into a lively venue now known as “The Riverside by the waterfall”. It features 2 open air decks with amazing waterfalls, lush gardens, classy indoors on two floors and a full bar with bandstand. While The Riverside now offers an even wider spectrum of atmospheres its original identity has very much been retained.
Then, in late 2014, the year The Riverside celebrated its 30th anniversary, yet another new feature was added. The bar area of the extension was transformed into The Craft Beer Factory, a cool place to hang out and enjoy non pasteurized imported craft beers from over the world and a new range of finger foods. The lounge style set up is a perfect way to enjoy the amazing beers while listening to great acoustic live acts.
The Riverside continues to support charitable, civic, and environmental causes. We have built our own waste water facility that treats and then returns waste to the city system, thus isolating any contact with the river itself. The Riverside is delighted to be able to contribute to the city that has nurtured its success and looks forward to providing you a most memorable visit in the future.