Where to Stay in Chiang Mai (2019): The Only Guide You Need

This insider guide to where to stay in Chiang Mai was written by travelers and nomads for travelers and nomads. There is so much to do in Chiang Mai it can be difficult to know where to stay! Our guide breaks down the neighborhoods by interests and atmosphere with accommodation reviews!If you are wondering where to stay in Chiang Mai – look no further.

We’ve all spent quite a bit of time in Chiang Mai throughout the years, and this is the only guide you’ll ever need to know exactly the best neighborhoods, coolest areas, and the overall best places to stay in Chiang Mai.

Written for travelers, and by travelers, we’ve analyzed the entire amazing city of Chiang Mai, creating an epic guide for every type of traveler.

Because Chiang Mai has so much to offer, knowing where to stay can be overwhelming.

That’s why we’ve analyzed the entire city of Chiang Mai, and created an epic guide for every type of traveler in the process.

We’ve covered the best and most popular attractions Chiang Mai has to offer, as well as some of the lesser known areas to make your stay much more authentic, and in touch with Thai culture (and food!).

Whether you are traveling as a couple, a family, a backpacker or anything in between, our guide for where to stay in Chiang Mai, Thailand will shed some light on what each neighborhood has to offer.

Let’s dive into the best places to stay in Chiang Mai!

Quick Summary: The Best Places to Stay in Chiang Mai

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Old City

  • The Old City is often the cheapest place to stay in Chiang Mai, with a plethora of backpackers’ hostels and budget guesthouses.
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Nimmanheamin

  • The best neighbourhood in Chiang Mai for nightlife and the digital nomad expat scene, you’ll also find plentiful restaurants and terrific places to shop.
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Santitham

  • Get a taste of Thai life and escape some of the tourist crowds while still being within easy reach of Nimman’s night scene and the Old City’s attractions.
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Mountainside

  • Within easy reach of the city centre, Mountainside offers a more peaceful place to stay and closer access to Chiang Mai’s countryside and natural attractions.
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Quick Tips

  • Where to stay in Chiang Mai first time – Old City
  • Where to stay in Chiang Mai on a budget – Old City
  • Best area to stay in Chiang Mai for nightlife – Nimman
  • Coolest place to stay in Chiang Mai – Santitham
  • Best neighborhood in Chiang Mai for families – Mountainside

Our definitive guide of where to stay in Chiang Mai will show you the best places for YOUR style of travel

 

Where to Stay in Chiang Mai (Our Top Insider Picks!)

Our recommendations for every type of traveler of every type of budget. Whether you are looking for the best hostels in Chiang Mai with a fun backpacker vibe, or a relaxing hotel or apartment, we’ve got you covered in the next sections!

Looking for a specific place to stay in Chiang Mai? We’ve listed our top 3 picks for places to stay in all of Chiang Mai below!

 

Best Hostel in Chiang Mai: A Little Bird 2 Guest House

There are mixed and female-only ten-bed dorms and the comfortable hostel has a large rooftop terrace where you can chat with other travellers. There’s free Wi-Fi throughout the hostel.

Access is by key card and there are lockers. The tour desk helps you make the most of your time in Chiang Mai.

View on HostelWorld

 

Best Hotel in Chiang Mai: Chinda Boutique Hotel

Located in Chiang Mai’s Old City, Chinda Boutique Hotel has various rooms for one and two, each with a private bathroom, a fridge, and a TV. Access is by keycard, making the hotel secure.

Breakfast and Wi-Fi are free and the hotel has laundry services and bike rentals.

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Best Airbnb in Chiang Mai – Beautiful Thai Home @ Old City Moat

A gorgeous traditional wooden house with all modern comforts and conveniences, this house is situated near the moat. There’s one king-sized bedroom, another bedroom with bunk beds and a single bed, and an air bed in the living room if required. Bedrooms have air conditioning. The bathroom is new and there’s an open-air kitchen, living room, and dining area. The home has Wi-Fi. There’s secure parking.

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Chiang Mai Neighborhood Guide

Although Thailand’s province of Chiang Mai is pretty big, the downtown area is fairly small and easy to move around.

Each area has its own vibe and offers something new for visitors. Many first-time visitors to Chiang Mai tend to focus their attention on the historic Old City and the trendy Nimmanheamin (often shortened to Nimman) area.

Both of these areas offer easy access to major city sites and a wide range of accommodations, restaurants, bars, and shops. The Old City offers more culture and history, while Nimman offers a more modern experience, where a lot of digital nomads and expats reside. The Old City is also the backpackers’ hub of Chiang Mai.

Santitham is an up-and-coming area between the Old City and Nimman Road. There’s a large fresh market as well as many places to eat. Wualai is close to the weekend market. Riverside is a bit more laid-back than the city’s major hubs, but within easy reach of key tourist attractions.

The area around the Night Bazaar has many boutique hotels and well-known luxury hotels. Prices here tend to be expensive for accommodation, though you do get what you pay for. It’s a popular area for people who love shopping. There are good bars and restaurants in the area too.

Jed Yot is mainly a residential area. Staying here can offer more of an authentic vibe away from the tourist crowds, though transportation can be a bit of a nuisance. Wat Get is another historic area with a lot of residential properties. Beyond a few art galleries, restaurants, and romantic accommodations, however, there probably isn’t much here to keep tourists interested for long.

Wiang Phing Village offers easy access to the airport and the large shopping mall of Central Plaza Chiang Mai.

The neighbourhoods around Wat Umong and Wat Pong Noi have a village-like vibe. Calm and quiet, they are ideal places for people who want to immerse themselves in traditional Thai life and aren’t too concerned about easy access to and from the heart of the city.

Lang Mor and Naa Mor are student-focused neighbourhoods close to Chiang Mai University. Each has many budget restaurants and food stalls as well as a range of local entertainment options.

The northern suburbs of Doi Saket, Sansai, and Mae Rim are popular with Thai and expat families who want to live away from the city’s hustle and bustle. On the edges of the city, Mountainside offers easy access to both nature and the city. There are high-class resorts in scenic settings.

Editor’s Note: For more inspiration and information on Thailand, check out our backpacking guide!

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Chiang Mai’s 4 Best Neighborhoods to Stay in

With much of Chiang Mai’s focus on two particular areas, many people don’t think outside of the box when it comes to considering other places to stay in Chiang Mai.

There are other areas, however, that may be more suited to your preferences and requirements. Here are the best Chiang Mai neighbourhoods to stay in.

 

1. Chiang Mai’s Old City – Where to Stay in Chiang Mai for First-Timers

Literally, walled-in, if you are wondering where to stay in Chiang Mai -this is the most popular option.

The Old City is often the cheapest place to stay in Chiang Mai, with a plethora of backpackers’ hostels and budget guesthouses, so this is also our pick for where to stay in Chiang Mai on a budget.

It’s also one of the most convenient places to stay because you can walk to many places of interest, thus saving on transportation costs too, and there’s heaps of street food to push costs down even further.

The fact that the Old City is a major starting point for people exploring the northern Thai city also makes it the ideal base for first-time visitors to Chiang Mai.

It’s easy to arrange trips to other parts of the province at the many travel agencies and there are plenty of facilities and amenities to make you feel at home.

 

Where to stay in Chiang Mai Old City

 

Top Things to Do in Old City

– Visit the scenic remains of Wat Chedi Luang, an ancient temple that dates back to the late 1300s / early 1400s and once houses the revered Emerald Buddha (now located in Bangkok).

– See contemporary religious art and admire traditional Lanna architecture at Wat Bupparam.

– Admire one of the city’s few remaining wooden buildings at the old monastery of Wat Phan Tao.

– Marvel at the gleaming Wat Phra Sing, one of Chiang Mai’s most revered temples and a colourful and ornate place of worship.

– Learn more about local life from the past and the present at the Lanna Folklife Museum and Chiang Mai Historical Centre.

– Relax and feed the pigeons at Suan Buak Hat Park.

– Visit Chiang Mai’s oldest temple: Wat Chiang Man.

– Stroll around the outer defensive walls and enter the city through Thapae Gate.

– Snap a picture of the Three Kings Monument that depicts the kings that were prominent in the founding of Chiang Mai.

– Go offbeat at the Thai Coin Museum and Mengrai Kilns.

– See how Chiang Mai has grown and developed over the years at the Chiang Mai City Art and Cultural Centre.

– Learn how to replicate your favourite dishes from Northern Thailand at one of the many cooking schools.

– Be pampered in a spa or have an invigorating traditional Thai massage.

– Shop like a local at Somboon Market.

 

Best Hostels in the Old City:

Eden Walking Street Hostel

Eden Walking Street Hostel is a new hostel close to the famous Sunday Market. The rooms are clean and colourful and there’s a choice of mixed or female-only dorms in various sizes.

There are bathrooms on every floor. Housekeeping services keep everywhere spick and span and there are lockers for peace of mind. Rent a bike to explore Chiang Mai or book a range of tours onsite.

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Heuan Pak Dee Hostel @ Gallery

This hostel mixed and female-only eight-bed dorms and private ensuite rooms for two. Some rooms have a seating area, though there is also a common room where you can meet other travellers and chill.

You can prepare basic meals in the kitchen. Lockers, free Wi-Fi, bike rentals, and a tour desk add to the appeal.

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Best Hotels in the Old City:

Nawa Sheeva

If you want to treat yourself to some luxury in Chiang Mai’s Old City, Nawa Sheeva is ideal. There’s a sunny terrace, a pool, and an onsite bar, and massages can be arranged for an extra charge.

Wi-Fi is free and breakfast is included. All rooms are en-suite and have a TV, free toiletries and air conditioning. Luggage storage and laundry services are available.

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Koko Palm Inn

In the heart of the Old City, Koko Palm Inn is decorated in a traditional Thai style. All rooms come with a private bathroom, cable TV, and a fridge. The garden is a pleasant place to relax. Laundry services are available and there’s an onsite tour desk.

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Best Airbnbs in the Old City:

[V-HOME] private house for 2-5 people in old city

With two bedrooms and a sofa bed in the spacious living room, this lovely bungalow can comfortably accommodate up to five people without feeling overcrowded.

There’s a basic kitchen and a dining table and you can relax outdoors too. The property has Wi-Fi and private parking.

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J Yim’S house No.3

With two bedrooms and a sofa bed in the spacious living room, this lovely bungalow can comfortably accommodate up to five people without feeling overcrowded.

There’s a basic kitchen and a dining table and you can relax outdoors too. The property has Wi-Fi and private parking.

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2. Nimmanhaemin – Where to Stay in Chiang Mai for Nightlife

Offering a complete contrast to Chiang Mai’s Old City, Nimmanhaemin is modern, youthful, trendy, and upbeat.

The best neighbourhood in Chiang Mai for nightlife and the digital nomad expat scene, you’ll also find plentiful restaurants and terrific places to shop. There are several quirky attractions and cultural sites too.

That said, however, the nightlife in the Old City is good too. You’ll find more of a backpacker vibe there; whereas, Thais go out in the Nimman area.

Where to stay in Chiang Mai’s Nimmanhaemin neighborhood

 

Top Things to Do in Nimman

– Browse bargain fashions, catch a movie and chill in a rooftop bar at the hip Maya mall.

– Discover more about some of the animal kingdom’s smallest and most misunderstood creatures at the offbeat Museum of World Insects and Natural Wonders.

– Chat with a monk and admire the gleaming white chedis at Wat Suan Dok, join free meditation classes, and stroll through the pretty gardens.

– Enjoy a sense of tranquillity, nice views, lots of greenery, and rare flowers at the scenic Huay Kaew Arboretum.

– Stroll through the Princess Mother’s Health Garden.

– Take a peek at the beautifully landscaped grounds of Chiang Mai University; bicycles are available to rent for easier explorations. Don’t miss the picturesque Ang Kaew Reservoir within the university complex.

– Check out Minimal Gallery and Jojo Kobe Art Gallery for interesting collections of artwork.

– Take a break in one the area’s cute cafes.

– Buy unusual fashions in the quirky boutiques.

– Feast on an array of fare from around the world and step down the small side streets for authentic Thai cuisine in small family-run restaurants.

– Spend fun evenings hopping from bar to bar and enjoying the local nightlife.

 

Best Hostel in Nimmanhaemin: Alexa Hostel

A top place for travellers who want to meet other cool folk, socialise, and enjoy a comfortable Chiang Mai base, Alexa Hostel has mixed and female-only dorms and private doubles with shared bathrooms.

Freebies include breakfast, drinking water, and fast Wi-Fi and facilities include an onsite restaurant-bar, comfy common areas, a terrace, laundry facilities, a book exchange, tour desk, and bike rentals.

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Best Hotel in Nimmanhaemin: Yesterday Hotel

With an enchanting combination of Thai and European styles, the charming Yesterday Hotel has rooms for two and four, suites, and a luxurious penthouse.

All rooms are en-suite and each has air conditioning, a TV, a fridge, tea and coffee making facilities, a safe, a wardrobe, free Wi-Fi, and free toiletries. Start each day with an included breakfast and rent a bike to get out and discover the area.

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Best Airbnb in Nimmanhaemin: HS11 Luxury condo in Super location

This stunning condo has two bedrooms, each with a queen-sized bed, a full-sized dining table and chairs, a comfy living area with a TV, and a western-style kitchen, complete with an oven, hob, and washing machine. Large windows fill the condo with light.

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3. Santitham Neighborhood – The Coolest Place to Stay in Chiang Mai

If you want a taste of Thai life and to escape some of the tourist crowds while still being within easy reach of Nimman’s night scene and the Old City’s attractions, Santitham is the coolest neighbourhood in Chiang Mai.

The large student population helps the area to keep a somewhat youthful vibe and there’s enough in the way of local nightlife and dining spots to keep anyone happy.

Santitham district is one of the coolest and most authentic areas of where to stay in Chiang Mai

 

Top Things to do in Santitham

– Have a night out in Chiang Mai’s main gay area.

– Visit Wat Santitham Temple, a lesser-visited temple with more of a local feel.

– Peruse the artworks in Three Owls Gallery.

– Pick up fresh goods and a range of meals cooked in front of you at the bustling Thanin Market.

– Find your own favourite street stalls—there are many!

– Relax in one of the area’s chilled-out cafes.

– Stroll through Chiang Mai’s red light district.

– Take a trip to the nearby Chiang Mai National Museum where you can learn more about Northern Thailand’s history, heritage, and culture.

– Train hard and do various sports at Muang Chiang Mai Stadium.

 

Best Hostel in Santitham: SpicyThai Backpackers

This award-winning hostel has eight-bed dorms, some mixed and some just for females. There’s a kitchen, a minibar, a café, and a common room where you can mingle and chill. Wi-Fi is fast and free, and parking is available.

Other plus points include luggage storage, a book exchange, bike parking, a tour desk, a terrace, and 24-hour security.

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Best Hotel in Santitham: Ma Vieng Chiangmai

This boutique property has stylish rooms, studios, and suites, all with a private bathroom. Each room also has cable TV and ample storage space, Guests can make full use of the shared kitchen. There’s an outdoor seating area and the vibe is relaxed and intimate.

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Best Airbnb in Santitham: Modern Cozy Townhouse w/ short drive to Old City

Sleeping up to four guests in a double bedroom and on a fold-down sofa bed in the lounge, this townhouse also has basic cooking facilities, a TV, a work desk, and outdoor space. The home has Wi-Fi and free parking is available.

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4. Mountainside – Where to Stay in Chiang Mai for Families

Within easy reach of the city centre, Mountainside offers a more peaceful place to stay and closer access to Chiang Mai’s beautiful countryside and natural attractions.

The Mountainside area includes several neighbourhoods between the city and the mountains, such as Siwari Village, Iceland View Place, Su Thep, and Chang Phueak. The calm atmosphere makes Mountainside a top choice for many families, and there are plenty of places for kids to run, play, and have fun in the great outdoors.

While you won’t find as many dining options as you would in, for example, the Old City, there are still enough choices to keep everyone happy.

Epic mountains make this area one of the most beautiful areas of where to stay in Chiang Mai, Thailand

 

Top Things to Do in Mountainside

– Soak up the historical vibe at the ancient temple of Wat Umong.

– Observe an array of fascinating creatures at Chiang Mai Zoo and see nocturnal animals at nighttime at the Night Safari.

– Play a round of golf at Lanna Golf Course.

– Enjoy the nature and architecture of Royal Park Rajapruek.

– Soak up the views from the hillside Wat Phra That Doi Kham and see the large seated Buddha image.

– Climb the steps to Doi Suthep Temple, one of the most beautiful temples in Northern Thailand.

– Explore national parks and waterfalls and see an assortment of flora and fauna.

– Visit Doi Inthanon, the highest point in Thailand.

 

Best Hostel in Mountainside: Fullrich Lanna Suite

With en-suite twin and four-person family rooms, this is a top hostel in nature for families, couples, and friends. All rooms have a TV and free Wi-Fi and a free breakfast is provided each morning.

There’s onsite parking and you can rent bikes. Relax in the swimming pool and enjoy a tasty meal from the onsite restaurant.

View on HostelWorld

 

Best Hotel in Mountainside: Doi Kham Resort and Spa Chiang Mai

A top-class hotel in peaceful surroundings, you’ll find an outdoor pool, a spa, and a restaurant here. There are double and twin rooms and family suites for four or six.

All rooms have a private bathroom, beautiful teak furnishings, cable TV, and tea and coffee making facilities. Breakfast and Wi-Fi are free.

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Best Airbnb in Mountainside: Modern treehouse homestay in Doi Suthep foothill

This accommodation makes for a unique family stay in Chiang Mai. Sleep surrounded by nature in a wooden house on stilts.

There are two bedrooms plus a mezzanine level with a single bed, a bathroom, a kitchenette, and a shared balcony. It’s right next to a café too, where you can enjoy free tea and coffee.

View on Airbnb

 

Final Thoughts on Where to Stay in Chiang Mai, Thailand

Chiang Mai has so much to offer, both within the city limits and on the outskirts. From visiting elephant sanctuaries and Buddhist temples to hiking and eating street food at the nightly markets, there is plenty to keep you busy in Chiang Mai.

To recap, the Old City is our pick for where to stay in Chiang Mai on a budget and for your first-time. There is plenty to do, eat, and see to keep you busy for weeks, and Chinda Boutique Hotel in the Old City is our top pick for the best hotel in Chiang Mai.

Our top pick for the best hostel in Chiang Mai is A Little Bird 2 Guest House for its lovely atmosphere!

And if you need a bit more inspiration, and you’re short on time, check out this luxurious weekend itinerary for Chiang Mai!

Let us know if we missed anything in the comments below! Cheers!

Don’t forget to sort your travel insurance! We’ve put together a roundup of the best travel insurance for backpackers – check it out here, or if you’re low on time, get a quote from World Nomads now, our favourite travel insurance provider.

 

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This insider guide to where to stay in Chiang Mai was written by travelers and nomads for travelers and nomads. There is so much to do in Chiang Mai it can be difficult to know where to stay! Our guide breaks down the neighborhoods by interests and atmosphere with accommodation reviews!