Where to Stay in Chiang Mai
Chiang Mai, Northern Thailand's largest city, serves as a cultural hub of the country and is popular with every type of traveller from families to couples and backpackers. Located 700 km north of Bangkok in the foothills of the Himalayan Mountains, the city has existed since 1296 making it historically significant and culturally interesting to everyone who visits. In the northern Thai dialect, Chiang Mai means New City. The city's centre is the walled city and sections of the wall and a moat remains. Inside the walls are over 30 ancient temples in styles influenced by the Burmese, Sri Lankan, and Lanna Thai architecture. They feature beautiful wood carvings, pagodas with gold filigree, and gilded umbrellas.
Chiang Mai is more than old temples and history. The lush landscape and warm year-round climate make it well-suited for exploring Northern Thailand's flora and fauna. Outdoor adventures abound and include golfing, zip lining, mountain biking, and visiting national parks. Experience the city's unique culture at cafes, street markets, galleries, and nightspots. Knowing where to stay in this exciting city can be daunting. This article describes the city's most popular neighbourhoods for travellers and includes hostels, budget hotels, family-friendly, and luxury hotels in each along with the best things to see and do.
Old City - Where to Stay in Chiang Mai
The walled-in Old City is a popular neighbourhood for first-time Thai visitors, backpackers, and those looking for budget accommodations. Travellers can also find family-friendly and luxury accommodations in the Old City. It's convenient to places of interest helping save on travel costs, and street food can be found on every corner. Travel agencies in the Old City are available to help travellers arrange for visits to other parts of the province.
Where to Stay
Sabai Hotel & Hostel
The Sabai is a 3-star hotel and an ideal base for visiting Chiang Mai. Amenities include free wi-fi, luggage storage, and a tour desk with ticket service. There are 20 comfortable rooms, a terrace, and onsite restaurant. Located at 189/1 Rachamankha Rd., the hotel is praised for its great staff and clean rooms.
This budget hotel located at 5/1 Soi 6 Rachamanka Rd. in Old Town is in the city centre and convenient to the Wat Phra Singh, Buak Hard Public Park, and other attractions. Amenities include free onsite parking and free wireless internet. The Velvet Orchid is a 20-minute walk away from the Minibus Que to Doi Suthep Station for convenient transportation in and around Chiang Mai.
Jomkitti Boutique Hotel
Located in the heart of Old Town, this 4-star hotel is in a great location and features a stunning pool. Located at 100,102,104 Rachamanka Road, the hotel has 22 family-friendly rooms and includes all the amenities for a comfortable stay. With free wi-fi and an onsite restaurant, it's also within walking distance of the Minibus Que to Doi Suthep Station.
For luxury rooms, an outdoor pool, sun terrace, and onsite bar, book a stay at this highly-rated hotel on Ratchapakhinai Rd. All rooms are air-conditioned and include a flat-screen TV with cable and a private bath that includes luxury amenities like slippers, toiletries, and a hairdryer. The Nawa Sheeva is near the Three Kings Monument and Sunday Walking Street.
What to See and Do
Travellers interested in the arts, culture, and religion of Northern Thailand will be overwhelmed by Old City's ancient walls and more than 300 Buddhist temples dating back a few hundred years. Must-sees include the remains of Wat Chedi Luang, a temple from the 1300s. Visit Wat Bupparam to admire contemporary religious art and Lanna Architecture. Don't miss the old monastery of Wat Phan Tao, one of the city's few remaining wooden structures, and Wat Chiang Man, its oldest temple. Be sure to see the Three Kings Monument which depicts prominent founding kings. Wat Phra Sing is an especially colourful and ornate temple. Investigate the local life from the past and present at the Lanna Folklife Museum and Chiang Mai Historical Centre. Experience the Old City's present by shopping among the locals at Somboon Market and checking into a local spa for a traditional Thai massage.
Old City Information:
Riverside - Where to Stay in Chiang Mai
Although the neighbourhood on the east side of the Mai Ping is more renowned for its entertainment offerings than history, the riverside cafes, shops, and boutique hotels emit the old world charm of Chiang Mai. The river gives the area a laid-back attitude. The development of high-end hotels is shunned in favour of more affordable dining and entertainment. A mixture of tourists and locals are more likely to be seen shopping and dining together than an elite crowd, yet this side of the river has its own element of luxury. On the right bank of the river, the locals can be seen fishing and vendors sell street food, fruit, cheap textiles, and other wares. Across the bridge on the north side of the Ping, the sidewalks are lined with galleries, boutiques, antiques, crafts, textiles, and furniture.
Where to Stay
Rustic River Boutique
Rustic River Boutique at 84 1 Taiwang Road provides a comfortable stay in Chiang Mai Riverside. Amenities include free wi-fi, a ticket service, and luggage storage. Relax on the outdoor terrace and enjoy unique cuisine at the onsite restaurant. All rooms include a refrigerator with bottled water and a sitting area. Breakfast is delivered to rooms each morning. The surrounding area is great for shopping.
The recently refurbished guesthouse at Vanilla Place at 73/2-3 Charoenprated Rd. has 16 comfortable rooms, a tour desk, ticket service, and luggage storage. The air-conditioned rooms have wireless internet access and a ceiling fan. There are plenty of dining and entertainment options nearby.
Yaang Come Village Hotel
This 4-star property at 90/3 Sridonchai Rd.is both contemporary and peaceful. Guests can enjoy a Jacuzzi, an outdoor pool, a fitness center, and a sauna. The hotel also offers massage treatments at the in-house spa. The room layouts and services are family-friendly and include babysitting services and a kids pool. Eat at the Yaang Come Restaurant and relax in the lounge and bar.
Rati Lanna Riverside Spa Resort
This modern 5-star accommodation at 33 Chang Klan Road features a swimming pool, Jacuzzi, an infinity pool, and a sauna. The rooms have a luxurious feel complimented by in-room movies and a garden tub. Other amenities include bottled water, a rooftop terrace, and a free shuttle service. A friendly staff is available to book tours.
What to See and Do
The main attraction in this part of Chiang Mai is the river itself. A lack of luxury hotels and intricate temples is made up for with a lot of boutique shopping, galleries, and entertainment venues. Shops and galleries have an inviting atmosphere. For example, the Elephant Parade House lets visitors paint a souvenier elephant while displaying elephants painted by celebrities and artists from around the world. The area's temples, churches, and mosques reflect an eclectic mixture of Buddhism, Catholicism, and Islam. Built in the 1400s, the Buddist Temple Wat Ket Karam is the most decorative. Beyond the churches are educational sites to learn about old Chiang Mai and the culture of a bye-gone era. It's a good area to get to know Northern Thailand.
Night Bazaar - Where to Stay in Chiang Mai
A walk through the famous Night Bazaar is a must-do while in Chiang Mai. Chang Klan Road is an ordinary street lined with hotels, stores, and restaurants. After dusk, it transforms into a lively market that stretches nearly one mile. The Night Bazaar is one of the oldest night markets in Thailand. People come here for the party atmosphere as much as the bargains they find in handicrafts, clothing, jewellery, art and more. There's always the great street food of course, and the food and bargain stalls go on for several blocks. Whether buying or simply browsing, the Night Bazaar makes for an exciting evening.
Where to Stay
Duangtawan Hotel Chiang Mai
Located at 132 Loykroh Rd., the Duangtawan Hotel Chiang Mai provides 4-star accommodations a short walk from the Night Bazaar. All the rooms are equipped with a minibar and a refrigerator. Other amenities include complimentary wi-fi. Start the day at Varee Spa and later enjoy an outdoor pool, Jacuzzi, and sauna. End the day at the hotel's restaurant and lounge. On-site parking is free.
Nap in Chiang Mai
Comfortable 3-star accommodations can be found at Nap in Chiangmai at 99/8 - 99/9 LoiKroh Road near the Night Bazaar. Services available to guests include an airport shuttle, a ticket service, and a tour desk available 24 hours a day. All 28 rooms are air-conditioned and equipped with supplies to brew coffee and tea.
This family-friendly 4-star resort is located at 0/1 Rajdamnoen Road. Guests will have easy access to all of Chiang Mai's main tourist attractions. The hotel features a spa and wellness centre, outdoor pool, and babysitting services. Upon inquiring, a wake-up service, laundry service, dry cleaning service, and airport transfers are available. Rooms include a refrigerator and a mini bar. Bathrooms feature a bathtub, bathrobe, and slippers. A restaurant and bar are onsite.
Ping Nakara Boutique Hotel And Spa
Ping Nakara at 135/9 Charoenprathet Road is an elegant hotel and spa that features an outdoor pool, a Jacuzzi, a rooftop terrace, and well-equipped gym. The luxurious rooms have minibars and complimentary wi-fi. For couples, special honeymoon suites are available. Enjoy daily breakfast in the dining room and wind down at night in the lounge bar. Book and organise activities at the tour desk.
What to See and Do
A walk through the famous Night Bazaar is easy to squeeze in since it's open every day of the year. Go after 6 p.m. to see the market in full swing. Vendors are loaded by sunset. Go early for breathing room to browse or late if crowds are no bother. Buying options are seemingly endless, but it's not the place to shop for high-end goods. If looking for a particular item, don't grab the first one available. It's likely that similar items will be found cheaper moving on down through the stalls. Bargains to look for include T-shirts, dresses, housewares, art, elephant pants, shoes, bags, jewellery, Muay Thai shorts, toys, antiques, and knock-off sunglasses. More culturally influenced merchandise can be found by browsing for items like Thai silks, bamboo rice boxes, and hand-carved soaps and candles. Be sure to sample some street food, or drop in a restaurant for dinner and drinks between shopping.
Additional Area Information:
Nimmanhaemin - Where to Stay in Chiang Mai
Nimmanhaemin is a modern, trendy neighbourhood compared to the Old City. It's less frequented by backpackers and more so by digital nomad expats. Fashionable cafes, bars, shopping, and boutique hotels characterise the neighbourhood. Several attractions and cultural sites are also in the neighbourhood. Students from nearby Chiang Mai University like to party in Nimman, as the locals call it. Pumping bars and fusion restaurants offer a good counterbalance to a day spent in the Old City.
Where to Stay
This comfortable hostel at 2/8 Soi 3 Nimmanhaemin Road is well-liked for its ultra-clean beds and commons area. It serves a diverse group of travellers from backpackers to business professionals. Complimentary wi-fi is available in the common areas. Bottled water is plentiful and a hot complimentary breakfast is served each morning. A friendly staff is available to help make travel plans.
What used to be a family home at 24 Nimmanhaemin Road is now called the Yesterday Hotel. The charming accommodations feature contemporary Thai and Colonial architecture with antique furnishings. The hotel features a 24-hour front desk and free wi-fi. All rooms are air-conditioned and have minibars and cable/satellite TV, a seating area, and private bathrooms with a tub. An onsite cafe serves daily breakfast.
Akyra Manor Chiang Mai
The akyra Manor Chiang Mai Hotel is an intimate and exclusive all-suite luxury hotel, each suite created around a courtyard-within-a-room concept. It's the hip downtown hotel Chiang Mai never had.
What to See and Do
Besides trendy shopping and sipping drinks at rooftop bars, travellers will find some interesting places to visit in Nimmanhaemin. The quirky Museum of World Insects and Natural Wonders is a fun option. Stroll the gardens at Wat Sun Dok, admire the glistening chedis, and perhaps have a chat with a monk. Visit the scenic Huay Kaew Arboretum to enjoy the greenery and rare flowers. Rent a bike near Chiang Mai University and explore the beautifully landscaped grounds and the picturesque Ang Kaew Reservoir. Browse the Minimal Gallery and Jojo Kobe Art Gallery for interesting artwork.
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Final Thoughts On Chiang Mai Travel
Experiencing Northern Thailand is best done in Chiang Mai. The country's ancient history and culture are displayed in a fun and modern setting that still retains its old world charm. The accommodations are more than plentiful and can fit every travelling situation and every budget. Consider travelling to the surrounding outer neighbourhoods such as Mountainside and Santitham for quieter, peaceful places, nature sites like the elephant sanctuaries, and great family-friendly outdoor adventures.
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