While Bangkok may be the official capital city of Thailand, Chiang Mai in the country’s northern region is considered to be the “traditional capital,” or cultural capital. Chiang Mai has so much to offer for travelers, ranging from grand Wats, the culture of hill tribes, and misty mountains to night markets, cute cafes, and delicious street food.
With hundreds of different hotels, hostels, and guesthouses, trying to narrow down the perfect place to stay can certainly be challenging. In this article I’ll give my recommendations of the best places to stay in Chiang Mai, including my personal choices for hotels by price range.
Old City is the most popular area to stay in Chiang Mai and probably the best place for first-time visitors. Nearly a perfect square in shape, the Old City is easily spotted due to being surrounded by a moat. This area is where you’ll find most of the city’s attractions, including numerous cafes and restaurants, markets, museums, and temples in abundance. A tour of the area usually begins at Tha Pae Gate, with some of the most notable sights being Wat Chedi Luang and Wat Phra Temple. If you want to be close to everything, Old City is where to stay in Chiang Mai.
Phra Singh Village: This outstanding four-star hotel is a place that will make you feel spoiled. Just minutes away from many of the main sights of Chiang Mai, Phra Singh Village blends traditional design and architecture with modern technology and comfort. In addition to the great guest rooms and friendly service, amenities here include free Wi-Fi, an outdoor pool, spa, and a fitness center.
Tamarind Village: Tamarind trees and beautiful wooden decor of Tamarind Village make for a memorable experience. The spacious guest rooms feature wood furnishings and tribal patterns, as well as several amenities like minibars and coffee/tea makers. The luxury hotel also has an outdoor swimming pool, a spa, and an on-site restaurant serving both Thai and international dishes.
Makkachiva: Just a five-minute walk to Wat Chedi Luang, this boutique hotel is located in the heart of Old City. With friendly staff, lovely open courtyard, and a decent free breakfast, Makkachiva offers an enjoyable stay. The hotel also offers luggage storage and a 24-hour front desk, as well as free Wi-Fi, a refrigerator, and minibar in the guest rooms.
BED Phrasingh: This three-star hotel provides great service for an affordable price. Only steps away from Wat Phra Singh, BED Phrasingh offers friendly service, free self-parking, luggage storage, 24-hour front desk, and free Wi-Fi. There’s also a pleasant garden and an outdoor swimming pool.
Arte House: A wonderful, yet quirky boutique hotel in Old City, Arte House is a charming place to stay in Chiang Mai on a budget. Designed like a B&B, each guest room has its own unique and quirky flair. Most of the rooms have either a pair of single beds or a queen-sized bed, along with home comforts like air conditioning.
Green Sleep Hostel: A beautiful hostel situated in the center of the Old City area, Green Sleep is one of the best places to stay in Chiang Mai on a budget, offering comfortable and cheap rooms, Wi-Fi, and bike rentals to help you explore the city.
While Chiang Mai may be best known for its plethora of temples, the other thing the city is famous for is its Night Bazaar, a shopping paradise stretching a kilometer long and full of countless stalls offering some of the best bargains around. This is one of the best areas for trying local dishes from numerous Thai food stalls. Most of the stalls don’t accept credit cards, so be sure to bring plenty of cash. Along with being one of the best neighborhoods to stay for foodies, the Night Bazaar area is a good place for fans of nightlife.
Le Méridien Chiang Mai: This five-star hotel is an outstanding blend of European design and Lanna Thai charm just a short distance from the Night Bazaar and the Tha Pae Gate. There’s a full-service spa, revitalizing pool, and four restaurants on site.
Na Nirand Romantic Boutique Resort: Another luxury place to stay near the Night Bazaar, the boutique resort features rooms designed in the Northern Thai style with premium amenities. The grounds also include an outdoor pool designed for next level relaxation, a restaurant overlooking the river, and well-landscaped gardens.
Yaang Come Village: This modern hotel offers guest rooms with a variety of amenities, like free toiletries, free Wi-Fi, satellite channels, minibar, and comfortable beds. Complimentary breakfast is served every day. There’s also a nice restaurant, fully-equipped spa, and an outdoor swimming pool.
Dusit Princess Chiang Mai: This is a nice, mid-range hotel with clean rooms, modern amenities, and on-point service. Its location near the Night Bazaar is one of the hotel’s best advantages. There’s also an outdoor pool and on-site restaurant.
Night Bazaar Inn: Well named, the Night Bazaar Inn lies very close to the famous night market. The hotel is a traditional-style, quaint building with balconies that overlook the market and open-air, wooden walkways. The guest rooms have a laid back style with glass-paneled bathrooms, hardwood floors, and large beds.
OYO 528 Hai Hostel: This hostel offers a good breakfast buffet every morning and is a great place to stay in Chiang Mai on a budget, particularly near the Night Bazaar. The rooms here are cozy and guests can also take advantage of the free Wi-Fi, tour desk, and room service.
Riverside is the area along the Ping River, a great choice for beautiful views from your hotel window and for travelers looking for a more laid back atmosphere. The Riverside neighborhood features a pleasant old-world type of charm with unique sights to see, green spaces, and buzzing markets. It’s an ideal place to stay in Chiang Mai if you want a more relaxing environment.
Anantara Chiang Mai Resort: This five-star luxury resort on the banks of the river is considered to be one of the best hotels in Chiang Mai. Along with the well-appointed rooms, the hotel has a blissful spa center, fitness center, yoga sessions, cooking classes, and a restaurant serving authentic Thai dishes. (Probably my favorite meal in Thailand was here.)
Ping Nakara Boutique Hotel: This luxury boutique hotel and spa is located inside a colonial-style building with guest rooms featuring handcrafted furniture, spa toiletries, and satellite television. There’s also a daily complimentary breakfast, on-site bar and restaurant, a world-class spa, and an outdoor swimming pool.
Shewe Wana Boutique Resort: Located near many shops and not too far from the Night Bazaar, this resort near the river offers rooms with a style that respects old Thai decor elements. The hotel also offers free Wi-Fi, a spa, two outdoor pools, and beautiful grounds, including tropical forests and gardens.
Aruntara Riverside Boutique Hotel: This lovely mid-range hotel offers a relaxing rooftop garden, a tour desk, a gift shop with several interesting items from throughout Thailand, car hire, and a pool with a sun deck. Each guest room includes a bathrobe, mini bar, television and DVD player, coffee and tea making facilities, and air conditioning.
Saithong House: One of the best places to stay in Chiang Mai on a budget, Saithong House is situated very close to Ping River. Rooms feature comfortable beds and free Wi-Fi and the grounds also include a peaceful garden and a tennis court.
Mapping Hostel: One of the top places to stay in the Riverside area on a tight budget, this pleasant and quiet hostel offers great service at an amazing price. While the guest rooms are on the small side, the budget hotel does provide free Wi-Fi, an on-site restaurant, and a garden.
Nimmanhaemin, or known as Nimman Road is Chiang Mai’s upscale shopping district and considered to be the city’s trendiest area. Also called “Coffee Street,” the area is home to some of Thailand’s best coffee shops, as well as galleries, restaurants, and chic bars. The main attractions in Nimmanhaemin are the Chiang Mai University and the sprawling Maya Lifestyle Shopping Center with both international and Thai brands, a digital cinema, gaming arcades, food stores, and more.
Akyra Manor Chiang Mai: Featuring a bar and infinity pool on the rooftop that overlooks the mountains, this luxury all-suite hotel is known for luxurious services. There’s also an on-site restaurant. As for the suites, guests can enjoy the outdoor spa bath, an iPod dock with Bluetooth speakers and music library, television, and comfortable beds.
U Nimman Chiang Mai: This five-star hotel is perfectly located for shoppers, with the Maya Lifestyle shopping center right outside the door. Featuring a large outdoor swimming pool, guests are able to relax and enjoy views of the mountains, as well as take advantage of other amenities like the cocktail bar, restaurant, gym, sauna, and sun terrace.
BED Nimman: BED Nimman is a great place to stay in Nimman if you want a good value. The hotel features good rooms, a garden, free Wi-Fi, a sun deck, and outdoor pool. There are also plenty of cafes, restaurants, and shops nearby.
Sanae’ Hotel Chiang Mai: This four-star hotel consists of 45 inviting guest rooms and offers a variety of amenities to help guests unwind and relax, such as the garden and the outdoor swimming pool. Rooms include tea and coffee making facilities, bottled water, flat-screen TVs, and a separate living room.
POR Santitham: Located close to Nimman Road and less than one kilometer from the city center, this budget hotel puts you within easy walking distance to most sights in Chiang Mai. The hotel offers daily housekeeping, clean guest room, 24-hour front desk, and free Wi-Fi.
Sakulchai Place: This traditional, simple hotel offers spacious rooms with tiled floors, modern bathrooms, and balconies. There is also an on-site restaurant serving a mix of Thai and international cuisine and an outdoor pool.