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. On your next trip to Thailand, remember to save a little bit of time to head up north and visit this beautiful city.
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. 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
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.
1. Old City
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.
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.
2. Tha Phae Gate
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.
When many people ask themselves where to stay in Chiang Mai, Tha Phae Gate doesn’t usually come up, which makes it a great location for those who want to avoid the crowds and fully have a chance to soak in real Thailand.
There are plenty of hotels around Tha Phae Gate, but almost all of them are higher-end, making this spot an unsuitable place for backpackers or budget travelers. Still, it is fairly centrally located near the Old City and also the Night Bazaar, so if you care to splurge a little bit and really submerge yourself in some amazing history, consider laying your head near Tha Phae Gate.
3. Night Bazaar Area
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. Nimmanhaemin has some pretty spectacular bars too, and the nightlife scene is varied between homey pubs and sophisticated rooftop bars.
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. 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.
6. Wat Ket
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 has plenty of boutique hotels and higher-end options, but there’s not much around for backpackers. If you are on a budget, you might want to avoid this particular area of Chiang Mai. Make sure that you pop in to visit it though!
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.