Cinemas in Chiang Mai

The cinema landscape in Chiang Mai has changed vastly in recent year. Every shopping mall has a cinema to draw visitors, operated by one of the Bangkok-based chains SF Cinema City and Major Cineplex. Erstwhile local favorite Vista used to operate about half a dozen cinemas around Chiang Mai and over the years tried many updates to their offerings. Alas, they have relegated their showings to Thai movies and foreign movies dubbed in Thai. There are no more foreign soundtrack movies at the Vista cinemas.

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.

The cinema as well as the mall used to be very busy but with the onslaught of new shopping malls and limited parking this has since alleviated.

You can get an impression at Major Cineplex.

Major Cineplex Central Festival

This new high-tech cinema boasts I-Max as well as 4D and Ultra Screens (whatever that is). If anyone had told me a few years ago that Chiang Mai would have an I-Max screen, I would have been incredulous. And now there's at least two!

Ticket prices are currently (early 2015) a reasonable 130 Baht for regular 2D movies and 250 Baht for I-Max.

SFX Cinema Maya

Just opposite of Nimmanhaemin Road, the bold new Maya Shopping Mall has a cinema, of course. The central location of this mall and many other activities offered (such as co-working spaces and roof beer garden) make this mall the smartest contender of the CM mall boom.

Reserve tickets on their unnavigatable web site: SF Cinema City

SF Cinema City Promenda

Quite far from town, this mall and cinema are quiet but brand new and the cinema is in order as well.

Reserve tickets on their unnavigatable web site: SF Cinema City

Vista Chiang Mai

Indigenous 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).

Chiang Mai Vista

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.

French Cinema

For francophiles there are the long-running screenings of French movies at the Alliance Fran├žaise every Friday. The movies are shown in French with English subtitles. Starting time is 8 p.m. See their web page for details.

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