Are you wondering where to stay in Chiang Mai? Each area in Chiang Mai has its own unique feel and vibe, its downsides and advantages. Check out this guide for the best places to stay in Chiang Mai and find out their pros and cons.
Chiang Mai is one of Thailand’s most popular cities and it is really easy to understand why. This mountainous jewel of the Land of Smiles has amazing cuisine, incredible temples and some of the most breathtaking Lanna architecture in the entire kingdom.
Although it’s becoming more and more on the radar for tourists, Chiang Mai is still not as popular as Bangkok or some of the islands. The result is a vibrant city that has all of the amenities you would want, without throngs of tourists in your way.
On your next trip to Thailand, remember to save a little bit of time to head up north and visit this beautiful city. You will not regret it.
Chiang Mai has something for just about everyone; from luxury travelers to weary backpackers who want to explore the north.
The best places to stay in Chiang Mai are ones that are a little bit off the beaten path, but still popular enough to ensure that you will have an amazing time in this spectacular city to the north.
Check out some of the best areas to stay in Chiang Mai.
Where to stay in Chiang Mai: Best areas to stay in Chiang Mai
1. Old City, where to stay in Chiang Mai for first timers
Like many older Thai cities, Chiang Mai is home to a fascinating ancient area where you can truly step back into the past and experience what it was like in the Lanna empire so long ago.
Chiang Mai’s Old City is one of the best places to stay in Chiang Mai because it is steeped in history. It’s merely 2.5 kilometers long, but this ancient area dates back well over 500 years. Old City is a place that history buffs want to put on their Chiang Mai to-do list!
You don’t need a car or motorbike to travel around Chiang Mai’s Old City. It’s completely walkable, and as a touristic destination, fairly safe. This makes it one of the favorite areas to stay in Chiang Mai for those without transportation.
Everything that you could want; restaurants, bars and ample opportunities for shopping are right at your fingertips. Alternately, you can simply grab a cold Thai Iced Tea and wander through the ancient streets, getting lost.
The Tha Phae Gate was one of the Old City’s main entrances and remains a prominent landmark. It’s a great place to start exploring the area.
In the Old City, you’ll find centuries-old temple like Wat Phra Singh, one of the city’s most revered temples, Wat Chedi Luang, a majestic temple with a huge and partially collapsed chedi (stupa), Wat Pan Tao, known for its unique wooden architecture and the large, brass Buddha image within its main hall, or Wat Chiang Man, the oldest temple in Chiang Mai.
In Chiang Mai Old City, there are several museums worth a visit, such as the Lanna Folklife Museum, where you can discover the unique traditions, lifestyle, and culture of the Lanna Kingdom, which once ruled this region.
Visit also the Chiang Mai City Arts and Cultural Center and learn about the history and culture of Chiang Mai through interactive exhibits, artefacts, and multimedia presentations.
Three Kings Monument is a statue commemorating the three kings who founded Chiang Mai, located near the center of the Old City.
On Sunday evenings, Rachadamnoen Road transforms into a bustling market, the Sunday Walking Street Market, offering a variety of handicrafts, street food, and live performances.
There is plenty of dining options in Old City, from higher-end restaurants to street stalls. You will also be able to locate a ton of different types of accommodations. Old City has luxury offerings, boutique hotels, and hostels for backpackers.
BEST PLACES TO STAY IN CHIANG MAI IN THE OLD CITY
2. Tha Phae Gate, where to stay in Chiang Mai next to the Old City and close to the Night Bazaar
Tha Phae Gate takes Old City to a whole new level. This gate is a standing relic of ancient times; the barrier that shielded old Chiang Mai from the rest of the world. Even if you opt not to stay in this area, you should really make a point to check it out.
This area is probably the best place to stay in Chiang Mai as it is very centrally located near the Old City and also the Night Bazaar, so if you want to submerge yourself in the city´s history and be close to the night action of the Night Bazaar consider laying your head near Tha Phae Gate.
The convenience of proximity to Chiang Mai’s historic heart and the vibrant atmosphere of the Night Bazaar makes Tha Phae Gate an excellent base for experiencing the city’s cultural treasures and nightlife.
A diverse range of accommodations awaits near Tha Phae Gate, catering to every traveler’s preference and budget. From boutique hotels exuding Lanna charm and mid-range options boasting modern amenities to budget-friendly hostels and luxurious resorts providing top-tier comfort, the area offers a rich tapestry of choices.
BEST PLACES TO STAY IN THA PHAE GATE AREA
See also: Best things to do in Chiang Mai
3. Night Bazaar, where to stay in Chiang Mai for shopping, street food, and nightlife
The Night Bazaar is Chiang Mai’s premier tourist attraction. This sprawling bazaar is so much more than just your standard Thai night market- although those are admittedly very impressive also!
The Night Bazaar is a massive affair that covers several city blocks and is full of anything and everything you could ever want. If you’re looking for good souvenirs to bring home, make sure that you pay a visit to the Night Bazaar.
If you’re after some of the most iconic and delicious Thai food around, head to the Night Bazaar for a steaming bowl of northern curry noodles or some traditional sausage.
One of my favourite places to enjoy street food is the Ploen Ruedee Night Market.
You could easily spend hours wandering through the bazaar, so many people prefer just to stay there for a few nights. Luckily, there is a mixture of hostels and hotels right near the edges of the Night Bazaar.
For many people, the proximity of accommodation to the bustling fun and live music of the Night Bazaar is a true selling point. You don’t have to go too far to find the best party, and you can always head right on home afterward. That’s why the Night Bazaar area is considered to be one of the best places to stay in Chiang Mai.
BEST PLACES TO STAY IN CHIANG MAI IN THE NIGHT BAZAAR
4. Riverside, where to stay in Chiang Mai for families and luxury stays
Riverside is one of the higher-end areas to stay in Chiang Mai, and it is filled with sophisticated coffee shops, boutique hotels, and pricier shops where you can buy good-quality items that you will cherish for a lifetime.
It’s also home to the lovely and fragrant Ton Lamyai Flower Market, a beautiful place where you can purchase fresh blooms of all shapes and sizes, the Warorot Market, and temples such as Wat Ket Karam, Wat Bupparam or Namdhari Sikh Temple,
There are plenty of spas and resorts in this area, so if you are in the market for a traditional Thai massage, you could not have picked a better spot. Chiang Mai is famous for its beauty industry, specializing in Tumeric face masks that will leave your skin feeling dewy and restored.
This part of Chiang Mai doesn’t have as much of a party vibe as some of the others, so if you’re looking for an inexpensive place to stay and a location to party, you might want to look elsewhere.
Riverside is chilled out, higher-end and classic. This area is a suitable place to stay in Chiang May for luxury stays and for families.
BEST PLACES TO STAY IN CHIANG MAI IN THE RIVERSIDE
5. Nimmanhaemin, where to stay in Chiang Mai for nightlife
If you ask someone where to stay in Chiang Mai, there’s a good chance that they will say Nimmanhaemin. This part of the city is famous for its digital nomad culture and is full of Avant-garde coffee shops and galleries.
There is a very artistic vibe in this part of town, so if you’re looking for out of the box shops, organic food, and eclectic music, Nimmanhaemin is where it’s at.
The neighborhood has some pretty spectacular bars too, and the nightlife scene is varied between homey pubs and sophisticated rooftop bars.
Nimman offers a diverse shopping experience with boutique shops, concept stores, fashion boutiques, and shopping malls like One Nimman or Maya Lifestyle Shopping Center. It’s a great place to discover independent designers and one-of-a-kind items.
The real beauty of this spot is that is has all sorts of people mingling in it, so you’ll never be without something to do or someone to talk to.
The accommodation is varied also. You can stay in Nimmanhaemin for a few hundred baht per night, or splurge on a higher-end boutique hotel.
BEST PLACES TO STAY IN CHIANG MAI IN NIMMANHAEMIN
6. Wat Ket, where to stay in Chiang Mai on a budget
Wat Ket hasn’t quite hit the map as a Chiang Mai destination hot spot, so you’ll be able to enjoy this cool part of town without worrying about the throngs of tourists that usually flood places like Old Town or Nimmanhaemin.
It’s right on the river, so expect some fabulous views and great seafood dining options.
Animal lovers will want to visit the Elephant Parade House where they can learn about elephant conservation and even paint a souvenir to take home. Chiang Mai is home to many elephant sanctuaries, so it’s no surprise that they are celebrated within the city itself.
You can also check out Wat Ket Karam, a well-preserved temple that dates back all the way to the 1400s.
Wat Ket offers affordable accommodation (and some high-end resorts in the Riverside area) within a reasonable distance of town. A short walk or an even shorter songthaew or GRAB ride will get you back to the Night Bazaar area in no time.
BEST PLACES TO STAY IN WAT KET
No trip to Thailand is complete without a visit to Chiang Mai. This city is easily accessible both by plane and by train from Bangkok. With the abundance of options for accommodation and dining, there’s bound to be something for you in the magical city of Chiang Mai.