Bangkok may be the capital of Thailand, but in all honesty, Chiang Mai, a beautiful city in the northern region of Thailand, is regarded as the “traditional capital,” and how can it not. The former capital of Lan Na kingdom, Chiang Mai is home to countless significant Thai Temples, also known as Wats, and is nestled among the highest mountains in the country.
Formed in 1296 by King Manrai, the first Lanna king, Chiang Mai is a paradise for travelers. Be it the misty mountains that engulf the city, the vibrant hill tribes, the majestic Wats, the abundance of street food or the many weekend flea markets, visitors to this city are guaranteed to be bowled over by Chiang Mai’s diversity and liveliness. Despite being considerably small as compared to Bangkok and Nonthaburi, the place literally has it all and so much more.
With hundreds of hotels and guesthouses, narrowing down to that one perfect property could be challenging even for the best of us. So, let us explore some of the most popular neighborhoods and their attractions to help you decide where to stay in Chiang Mai during your trip.
Old City/Tha Pae Gate
Often regarded as the most significant attraction in Chiang Mai, the Old City is essentially the beating heart of the area. Located within the ancient, semi-ruined moat walls, the neighborhood is home to endless cafes, restaurants, hotels, and nightclubs. A tour of the neighborhood almost always starts at Tha Pae Gate and covers the significant sights in the city, including Doi Suthep, Wat Phra Singh, and of course, Sunday Walking Street. The Old City area is also home to Chiang Mai National Museum – more than 700 years old, this museum is dedicated to the city’s history, nature, and culture. Wat Chiang Man, another highly-distinguished temple attraction, is the oldest temple in Chiang Mai and was established in 1296, at the time when the city was founded and served as the residence of King Mengrai. You can’t leave the city without hopping on and off at one the colored songthaews, but if you prefer walking, grab a free map from your hotel reception and explore the area on your own.
Good for: All kinds of travelers.
Other Highlights: Lanna Folklife Museum, Three Kings Monument, Chiang Mai City Art and Cultural Centre, Saturday Market, Wat Chedi Luang, Wat Chedi Luang, and Sompet Market.
- Thai Akara – Lanna Boutique Hotel – Within a few hundred meters of one of the most significant attractions in the city, Wat Chedi Luang, this gorgeous boutique hotel is one of the best in the area. Spacious guestrooms with latest amenities ensure a comfortable stay while the outdoor pool and the fitness center gives guests a chance to stay in shape and stay refreshed. Guests can relish a delicious complimentary breakfast and delightful lunch and dinner menu at the on-site restaurant. Great for solo travelers, couples, and small families.
- Pingviman Hotel – Boasting a beautiful traditional Thai décor and wooden furnishings across the property, Pingviman Hotel offers luxurious guestrooms equipped with 48-inch flat-screen TV with cable channels and a DVD Player, free Wi-Fi, and ensuite bathrooms with spacious bathtubs. Outdoor lovers can spend their time at the outdoor pool with lounge chairs or take the complimentary shuttle to Chiang Mai Night Bazaar. Fitness lovers can sweat it out at the on-site fitness center while business travelers can make use of the business facilities. A complimentary breakfast is served daily. Perfect for all kinds of travelers.
- Tamarind Village – Tamarind Village’s outstanding wooden décor and surrounding Tamarind trees makes staying here one of the best experiences you would ever have. Decorated with tribal patterns and wooden furnishings, the spacious guestrooms feature tea/coffee makers, minibars, and exclusive amenities. Guests can get a relaxing massage treatment at the on-site spa or take a dip in the outdoor pool. Thai and International dishes are served at the in-house restaurant. Adventure lovers can ask the hotel’s tour desk to organize jungle trips, temple tours, and rock climbing activities. Suitable for solo travelers and couples.
Nimmanhaemin Road, simply referred to as Nimman Road, is the upscale shopping district of Chiang Mai and is considered the trendiest part of the city. Located west of the moat, this area was once home to noodle shops and modest abodes, but today, the streets here are lined with chic bars and restaurants, interesting galleries, and some of the best coffee shops in the country. Maya Lifestyle Shopping Center, the biggest attraction in the area, is an enormous shopping mall that easily competes with those of Bangkok and Singapore. Featuring countless Thai and International brands, food stores, gaming arcades, and a multi-screen digital cinema, the mall can easily keep you busy for an entire day. Nimman Road is also home to the revered Chiang Mai University, an important attraction in itself. What this neighborhood lacks in temples and traditions, it makes up for it with green spaces and vibrancy.
Good for: All kinds of travelers.
Other Highlights: Museum of World Insects and Natural Wonders, Wat Suan Dok, Wat Umong, Huay Kaew Arboretum, Monkchat Meditation Retreat, Ang Kaew Reservoir, and Minimal Gallery.
- Kantary Hills Hotel, Chiang Mai – Featuring modern, self-serviced suites and apartment units, Kantary Hills Hotel is known for its world-class service and the luxurious amenities and services it offers, including the massive outdoor pool, the well-equipped fitness center, and the Jacuzzi. The on-site Bar and Grill serves a varied menu and drinks from early morning till late at night. A hearty complimentary breakfast is served daily. Great for solo travelers and couples.
- De Chai the Oriental – This wonderful boutique hotel, located a short drive from Chiang Mai International Airport, offers classy oriental-style designed modern guestrooms, an outdoor pool, an in-house restaurant, and free parking facility. The biggest draw of this gorgeous property is its fully-equipped fitness center with views of the surrounding Doi Suthep – this will make even the non-enthusiasts spend a considerable amount of their holiday time at the gym. A sumptuous complimentary American breakfast is served daily. Perfect for all kinds of travelers.
- Akyra Manor Chiang Mai – Boasting a rooftop infinity pool overlooking the stunning mountains, Akyra Manor Chiang Mai is an opulent all-suite hotel property known for its luxurious services. The state-of-the-art suites come with extra-comfortable beds, LCD TV, an iPod dock with Bluetooth speakers and a massive music library, and an outdoor spa bath on the balcony. Guests can start their day with the fabulous complimentary American breakfast and later enjoy Italian cuisine for lunch and dinner. Sipping a delicious cocktail at the rooftop bar while admiring the night sky is the perfect way to end your day here. Perfect for solo travelers and couples.
Starting from Doi Chiang Dao, Mae Ping River is celebrated as the lifeline of the city of Chiang Mai. The lack of urbanization and gleaming gives the riverside an authentic atmosphere, as compared to that of Bangkok’s Chao Phraya River. Sporting a nice old-world charm, the Riverside neighborhood features buzzing markets and green spaces along with intriguing museums and unique landmarks. Warorot Market, also known as Kad Luang, is one such market near the Riverside neighborhood that is a must-visit for all the food lovers in the world. Local snacks, fresh produce, and a variety of ready-to-go meals can be relished while you shop for inexpensive clothes, personal care products, and accessories. Another fascinating market in the area is the Ton Lamyai Market – an exquisite flower market, this place stays open 24 hours a day and is your only option if you wanted fresh flowers in central Chiang Mai.
Good for: All kinds of travelers.
Other Highlights: Art in Paradise, Comedara Art Gallery, Elephant Parade House, Iron Bridge (Sapaan Lek), Uncle Jack’s History Museum (Wat Ket Karam Museum), Chiang Mai Philatelic Museum, and Kawila Monument and Park.
- Ping Nakara Boutique Hotel And Spa – Located within the white-washed walls of a colonial-style building, this lavish boutique hotel and spa features rooms with satellite TV, hand-crafted furniture, and ensuite bathroom with spa toiletries. Guests can enjoy a swim in the outdoor pool or arrange for a relaxing spa treatment at the world-class spa. An on-site restaurant and bar take care of all your wining and dining needs. A complimentary breakfast is served daily. Great for all kinds of travelers.
- Anantara Chiang Mai Resort – Set on the banks of the striking Mae Ping River, Anantara Chiang Mai Resort is regarded as one of the best five-star resort properties in the city and is known for its top facilities and services. Besides the well-appointed premium guestrooms, the resort offers a soothing retreat overlooking Doi Suthep. A well-equipped fitness center and yoga and aerobics sessions keep you fit and healthy while the blissful spa center takes away all your stress and worries. Guests can enjoy authentic Thai delicacies at the on-site restaurant and even join a Thai cooking class. Perfect for all kinds of luxury travelers.
- Na Nirand Romantic Boutique Resort – Featuring well-manicured gardens and a vast on-site restaurant sporting wooden furnishings and overlooking Mae Ping River, this fascinating boutique resort offers modern guestrooms designed in Northern Thai style with bathtubs, premium amenities, and a living room in selected rooms. The outdoor swimming pool is specifically designed to take relaxation to a different level. A delectable complimentary breakfast is served daily. Perfect for couples.
If there is one thing the city of Chiang Mai is most known for (except the many impressive Wats), it is the Night Bazaar – a 1-kilometer-long paradise for shoppers that is known all over the world for its countless stalls and ultimate bargains. Open throughout the year from dusk till midnight, the Night Bazaar also has a wide range of western food chain outlets, including Burger King, Starbucks, and the city’s very first McDonalds. But you haven’t come all the way to Thailand to eat burgers so make sure to try some local dishes at one of the hundreds of Thai food stalls. However, be warned, even if you have no intentions of buying anything and simply wish to browse, you will want to make a purchase once you are here. So, load up on cash (or withdraw at one of the many ATMs within the area) because the stalls don’t accept cards.
Good for: All kinds of travelers.
Other Highlights: Kalare Night Bazaar, Anusarn Market, Hilal Town, Iron Bridge, Wat Sri Don Chai, Pantip Plaza, and Loi Kroh Entertainment Complex (adult-only).
- Le Meridien Chiang Mai – Sporting a marvelous combination of Lanna Thai charm and European design, Le Meridien Chiang Mai is a lush hotel set in the buzzing district of Changklan and within a short walking distance from the iconic Tha Pae Gate. Pamper yourself at the full-service spa and the revitalizing outdoor pool and replenish your appetite at one of the four dining facilities at the property. This 5-star hotel is a stone’s throw away from Chiang Mai Night Market. Suitable for all kinds of travelers.
- Yaang Come Village Hotel – With a modern Thai-style décor, an outdoor pool, a fully-equipped spa with spa bath, and a splendid restaurant, Yaang Come Village Hotel features well-furnished guestrooms fitted with comfy beds, free Wi-Fi, TV with satellite channels and DVD Player, seating area, minibar, and ensuite bathroom with free toiletries. The property is located in the heart of central Chiang Mai a short distance from the famous Sunday Walking Street. A delicious complimentary breakfast is served daily. Great for all kinds of travelers.
- Duangtawan Hotel Chiang Mai – Within a 10 minutes’ walking distance from the popular Night Bazaar and a 15 minutes’ drive from Chiang Mai International Airport, this elegant hotel features well-appointed guestrooms with free Wi-Fi, tea/coffee maker, minibar, and an ensuite bathroom. Additional features at the property include a fully-functional fitness center, a remarkable swimming pool with superb views, and a sauna. An exceptional breakfast is served daily. Perfect for all kinds of travelers.
Chang Puak Gate Area
Also known as the Elephant Gate, Chang Puak Gate is one of the ancient gates that overlook the Old City. A not-so-touristy area, Chang Puak Gate is home to the buzzing Chang Puak food market that sets up right outside the gate every evening and sports a number of vendors selling authentic northern-Thai street food and other cheap, tasty meals. Noodles, seafood salads, Pad Thai, fresh juice, crepes, and of course, Mango Sticky Rice – you name it and you shall have it. Where else can you feast on a stick of pork balls for just 10 Baht. Another significant attraction in the area is it’s easy access to the Old Town and all its attractions. There’s also plenty of opportunities to relax around here at one of the many spas and massage shops.
Good for: All kinds of travelers.
Other Highlights: Siri Wattana Market, Chang Puak Fresh Market, Wat Lok Molee, and Hat Yai Municipal Park.
- Roseate Chiang Mai – Featuring modernly decorated, comfortable guestrooms with free Wi-Fi, TV with cable channels, wardrobe/closet, safety deposit box, minibar, and private bathroom, Roseate Chiang Mai is an elegant hotel located within a short drive from Tha Pae Gate and Chiang Mai International Airport and a 5 minutes’ walking distance from Sunday Walking Street. A complimentary breakfast is served daily. Great for all kinds of travelers.
- The White Elephant Home – A stylish property located within close proximity of the main bus stand and the Chang Phuak gate, the White Elephant Home hosts guests in their lavish guestrooms fitted with flat-screen TV, refrigerator, free Wi-Fi, and seating area with outdoor furniture. Most rooms also feature brilliant views of the city. Guests can socialize at the communal lounge or enjoy peace and calm in the garden. A fabulous complimentary breakfast is served daily. Suitable for all kinds of travelers.
- Yellow Pillow – Featuring spacious, non-smoking guestrooms fitted with a range of latest facilities, Yellow Pillow is only 500 meters from the revered Wat Chiang Man. Multiple attractions keep guests busy during the day while a well-manicured garden enables them to relax after a long day of exploration. Selected guestrooms come with a balcony that overlooks the wonderful gardens. A delectable breakfast is served every morning. Perfect for all kinds of travelers.
A quaint village within the Chiang Mai province, Hang Dong is home to a large expat population and local residents who prefer to stay slightly away from the lively streets of the Old City and its surrounding neighborhoods but still be close enough for easy access. Known primarily for its wood carvings, furniture stores, and antique stores, Hang Dong is home to several gated housing communities (also known as Moo Baan) with private swimming pools, tennis courts, and other such premium facilities. Aside from its close proximity to Doi Suthep-Doi Pui National Park, the neighborhood comprises the Grand Canyon Hang Dong, an artificial canyon that offers a beautiful lake apt for a cool swim on a humid day and a local eatery that serves yummy Thai cuisines with a view of the canyon. For outdoor lovers, the area offers plenty of mountain biking opportunities, especially around the canyon.
Good for: All kinds of travelers.
Other Highlights: Hangdong Market, Kad Farang Village, Hongthong Muay Thai, Baan Muang Kung – Pottery Village, Wat Phra Singh, and Dokmai Garden.
- North Hill City Resort – Boasting a year-round terrace with outdoor pool and world-class services/activities, including yoga, golfing, and cooking classes, North Hill City Resort offers wonderfully-decorated guestrooms fitted with amenities such as flat-screen TV with satellite channels, iPod docking station, seating area, and an ensuite bathroom. Some rooms offer exclusive views of the neighboring mountains or the lake. A 24-hour front desk takes care of all your special needs. A superb complimentary breakfast is served daily. Suitable for solo travelers, couples, and small families.
- Corner Spa Resort – Encircled by beautiful rice fields and fruit gardens, Corner Spa Resort is set in the heart of Hang Dong area, a neighborhood in Chiang Mai known for its tranquil atmosphere. Each luxurious suite features oriental décor, a separate lounge area, a minibar, and a private garden with an outdoor spa. Additionally, guests can enjoy a dip in the outdoor pool, relaxing yoga sessions, Thai cooking classes, and a romantic time watching movies at the open-air starry sky theatre. Perfect for all kinds of travelers.
- Flora Creek Chiang Mai – Nestled in the mountains and engulfed by plush greenery, Flora Creek Chiang Mai provides an exclusive experience to all its guests. Boasting an outdoor pool, a fully-functional fitness center, and a 24-hour front desk, the property is a short distance from Chiang Mai Night Safari. Guests can ask the on-site tour desk to arrange for day tours in and around the city as well as shuttle service to the airport. A complimentary buffet breakfast is served daily. Great for all kinds of travelers.