Cinemas in Chiang Mai
Vista Chiang MaiIndigenous Chiang Mai cinema chain used to be all over town and currently still has several international standard cinemas. The ones playing movies in English with Thai subtitles are located at the Kaad Suan Kaew Shopping Centre ("Central" or "Centran" should be understood by most taxi drivers).
You'll have to make your way up to the fourth floor by escalator or elevator. Sadly, the number of English soundtrack movies has declined in recent years. Most movies shown at the Vista are now dubbed in Thai.
So it's now even more important to check their website at Chiang Mai Vista Cinema. The Vista cinemas are truly Thai with very friendly staff, interesting decoration, occasional quirks with the equipment, occasional free admission for children, and overall a very positive and cheap experience with great sound and picture quality. Admission prices have recently gone over a hundred Baht but are still a bargain compared with "rich country" cinemas.
Update: Sadly, the Vista Chiang Mai has not been playing movies with English sound for a long while now. It appears that the cinema now caters only to a Thai clientele or those foreigners seeking to learn Thai. Licensing issues may be the culprit here.
Major Cineplex at Airport Plaza
Around the beginning of the millenium Bangkok-based operator Major Cineplex opened an extensive cinema complex at the Central Airport Plaza shopping mall. The format is very American with thick carpets, garish curtains draped on the walls and huge theaters. Sound and projection equipment are positively state-of-the-art. Prices for movies, drinks and snacks are much higher than at the much more charming Vista cinemas. However, due to their corporate privilege, Major will have some Hollywood blockbusters that Vista doesn't yet have the right to show, as well as products of the recent 3D fad.
You can get an impression at Major Cineplex Chiang Mai.