As one of the most visited countries in Southeast Asia, Thailand is a big country that is overflowing with incredible things to do and see. From tropical beaches to opulent royal palaces, to giant buddha statues, to crazy Bangkok streets… there is something for everyone in Thailand.
Given that Thailand is such a huge tourist destination, and such a huge country in general, figuring out where to stay can be intimidating, to say the least. However, local accommodation in Thailand can be pure magic. There are so many friendly hosts and unique Thailand hotels that will beckon you from across the continents. Just wait to see what I dug up for you.
That’s right, I have traveled to Thailand extensively and am thrilled to share the best cities to stay in when visiting Thailand, as well as all the best lodging in Thailand you can find.
Sit back and relax, because I’m about to unveil the top places to stay in Thailand. Our choices will truly make staying in Thailand a dream come true for you and for your travel companions! Ready to be dazzled? Let’s get to it!
Quick Answers: Where is the Best Place to Stay in Thailand?
- Chiang Mai – Overall Best Place to Stay in Thailand
- Chiang Mai – Best Place to Stay in Thailand For Families
- Koh Lanta – Where to Stay in Thailand for Couples
- Pai – Coolest Place to Stay in Thailand
- Bangkok – Where to Stay in Thailand on a Budget
- Chiang Rai – One of the Most Unique Places to Stay in Thailand
- Koh Samui – Where to Stay in Thailand for Adventure
- Phuket – Best Place to Stay in Thailand for Beach Life
Map of Where to Stay in Thailand
Chaing Mai is a fairly large city in Northern Thailand. Since it was actually the capital of the Lanna Kingdom of Thailand from 1296 to 1558, there are still plenty of opulent and elaborate historical buildings, structures, and relics left behind. There are even fortified walls around the city center and even moats too! Not to mention that there just happens to be hundreds of Buddhist temples to gawk at.
You can spend a whole day wandering from temple to temple, being dazzled by all the gold, stones, statues, and artwork. It’s well worth a day or two doing just that!
Make sure you don’t miss out on visiting Wat Phra Singh and Wat Chedi Luang (“Wat” is simply the Thai word for temple) Also, make sure to dress appropriately or to travel with a scarf so you can wrap it around your exposed shoulders or around your waist if you’re wearing shorts – do note that some temples have stricter policies than others. And, as a heads up, some of the bigger temples also have an entrance fee but most do not have any fees whatsoever.
What makes Chiang Mai one of the best areas to stay in Thailand is the sheer density of temples along with the city generally being easily walkable and not too overwhelming. There’s plenty to do and see inside the city’s own fortified walls. But, if you’re feeling more adventurous, there are ethical elephant sanctuaries and conservation centers to visit and even white water rafting day-trips or bicycling trips to take part in.
Since Chiang Mai is in the mountainous northern part of Thailand, it’s the perfect mix of nature and city life!
Best Places to Stay in Chiang Mai
Chiang Mai accommodation offers loads of options both inside and outside of the fortified walls that outline the city center. Even if you stay outside of the city walls, you’ll usually be just a few short minutes walk to the walls themselves. Everything is pretty compact in Chiang Mai, which makes staying there as easy as pie.
Best Guest House in Chiang Mai – Lai Thai Guest House
Lai Thai Guest House right near the Thapae Gate, which is just a quick five-minute drive to the vibrant Night Market. The pool is fabulous, with plenty of sunbeds next to it to enjoy. Trust me, this pool was perfect for relaxing in after a long day of exploring the city!VIEW ON HOSTELWORLD
Best Airbnb in Chiang Mai – Cozy Private Apartment
This private apartment Airbnb is a one bedroom and one bathroom studio apartment. It is bright, airy, and positively adorably decorated! With traditional Thai bamboo mats, silk patterned pillows, and lots of thoughtful Thai touches you’ll love snuggling up in your comfy Chiang Mai Airbnb.VIEW ON AIRBNB
Best Hotel in Chiang Mai – Nordwind Hotel
Nordwind Hotel is just a 15-minute walk away from the Tha Pae Gate, or a quick ten minute walk to the night market. This hotel even offers free shuttle service on the weekend to the Tha Pae Gate, too! We love the delectable Thai restaurant right inside of this hotel and the complimentary breakfast is a thoughtful thing to offer.VIEW ON BOOKING.COM
Chiang Mai is also the best city to stay in Thailand when traveling as a family. The pretty city of the pretty city of Chiang Mai lacks the insane hustle and bustle of Bangkok and the college party vibes of some of the islands. Chiang Mai is the perfect mix of culture, history, and nature, all while coming in at a size that feels big enough to explore, yet small enough to not be too worried about the kids getting super lost or getting swept up in the crowds.
Your kids will love exploring Chiang Mai’s numerous sights, raiding temples (respectfully) and unleashing their inner Indiana Jones. Plus, there are tons of kid-friendly activities like the Chiang Mai Night Safari, the Flight of the Gibbon zipline course, and the Art in Paradise museum with interactive murals. There is also the X-Centre which has everything from ATVs to paintball course to giant Zorb balls!
Best Places to Stay in Chiang Mai
Chiang Mai has some beautiful hotels, guest houses, and Airbnbs, that will make you and your family feel right at home. With Western standards being upheld at these three choices below, you won’t be sacrificing any comfort or convenience.
Best Guest House in Chiang Mai – Lanna Boutique Resort
The Lanna Boutique Resort comes with all the bells and whistles of a fancy guesthouse. You and your family can enjoy a sauna and steam room. Also, there are 24-hour front desk and CCTV in place for added security. Plus the complimentary breakfast is an added perk— one less thing for you to stress about!VIEW ON HOSTELWORLD
Best Airbnb in Chiang Mai – The Hipster Townhome
This Chiang Mai Airbnb is perfect for those who want to be inside the Old City but also want a more quaint and quiet experience. There’s also two bedrooms, two bathrooms, and a total of three beds. There is plenty of space to move around and to breathe! Plus, Wat Susan Dok temple is just a quick walk away.VIEW ON AIRBNB
Best Hotel in Chiang Mai – Thapae Gate Lodge
The Thapae Gate Lodge has a beautiful family room with a private bathroom that has a total of three beds inside. With strong air conditioning, a flat-screen TV, and an on-site restaurant, you’ll love cozying up with your family in this beautiful hotel. You’ll be close to all the main points of interest, so it will help keep achy feet and whining down to a minimum!VIEW ON BOOKING.COM
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Koh Lanta is a 131 square mile big island in the Krabi province area, off the coast of Thailand and renowned as one of the most romantic islands in all of Thailand. With a bevy of coral-filled beaches and an enormous rainforest, you and your significant other won’t be lacking romantic vibes on this island!
Snorkeling is a must-do on Koh Lanta and we absolutely have to recommend sea kayaking and exploring the caves and Talabeng islands Also, definitely make sure you stop by the Atalanta Organic Teahouse that is close to the Khao Mai Kaew cave. Expect delicious smoothies and plenty of vegan and vegetarian options. Plus, if you feel like a little hike, go ahead and hike to the Mu Ko Lanta National Park’s lighthouse.
As you can see, there are plenty of cute things to do for couples and tons of cool Koh Lanta areas to stay in. Even if you want to help with a beach clean up, or volunteer walking rescued street dogs, there’s something for every couple on Koh Lanta!
Best Places to Stay in Koh Lanta
We want to make sure we keep the romantic factor turned on high when staying in Koh Lanta. That’s why I chose the crème de la crème of Koh Lanta accommodation options for y’all! Enjoy!
Best Hostel in Koh Lanta – Best Stay Hostel at Lanta
Best Stay Hostel at Lanta is a modern hostel close to Long Beach. It’s only a 300-meter walk away! There are backpacker dorms as well as private rooms, so you don’t have to fret about sharing a room with six other people if you can swing it! The complimentary breakfast is awesome, too!VIEW ON HOSTELWORLD
Best Airbnb in Koh Lanta – Family Suite with Pool
While this is a family room, it’s definitely the perfect place for couples who don’t want to be in a cramped tiny room. There’s a living room, bedroom, and private bathroom. It’s so spacious that you’ll love the extra legroom. With plenty of restaurants and cafes nearby, plus the turquoise waters of the pool to enjoy, you and your honey will feel right at home.VIEW ON AIRBNB
Best Hotel in Koh Lanta – Eco Lanta Hideaway Beach Resort
Okay, while there are certainly beautiful resorts in Koh Lanta, I am simply in love with this Eco Resort. I didn’t want to stay at another tourist-filled mega-hotel and instead wanted something a little more intimate and personal. This is the spot! It’s right along Long Beach in Koh Lanta, and these wooden Thai-style bungalows are adorable.VIEW ON BOOKING.COM
Be careful when you’re visiting Pai because you just might get stuck there. I ended up visiting Pai two different times in two months because I simply couldn’t stay away! Pai has that wonderful, magical, sticky quality that so many traveler hubs do: the one that sends the itineraries of backpackers in Thailand out the window.
Pai is a small mountain village in the North of Thailand. If you’re wondering where to stay in Thailand to relax, refresh and rejuvenate skip the beaches and head to the mountains of Pai! Okay, don’t skip the beaches, but definitely don’t skip Pai either!
Also, Pai has my absolute favorite night market each and every night of the week! The Pai night market has the best food and best local products to purchase. You could often find me at the empanada stand, or scarfing down handfuls of gyoza for dinner each night.
Plus, Pai is the perfect place to rent a scooter and go exploring. There’s caves, waterfalls, hot springs, and everything in between waiting for you to explore. There’s also a great yoga scene there, if you’re looking to nama-stay in Pai!
Best Places to Stay in Pai
While a lot of people like to stay close to the walking street in town, to be closer to all the eateries and late-night action, I love choosing somewhere to stay in Pai that’s a little further out of the city— just about a 10-minute scooter right away. You can stay on either side of the Pai River, nestled in the hills outside of town. That way, you’ll enjoy more privacy, and get to be surrounded by the beautiful natural scenery.
Best Hostel in Pai – Deejai Pai Backpackers
Deejai Pai Backpackers Hostel is an absolutely gorgeous hostel, situated on the edge of beautiful rice fields that offer panoramic sunset views! I loved all the fun activities Deejai Pai has planned for their guests, from fire shows to free daily yoga classes. There’s also a slackline set up, a ping pong table, and a basketball court to take advantage of!VIEW ON HOSTELWORLD
Best Guesthouse in Pai – Pai Village Farm Homestay
The Pai Village Farm Homestay is less than a mile away from the city center, and from the bus station. We love this homestay that is packed with cuteness. There’s a shared garden to enjoy, as well as animals on the farm to make friends with! These cute bamboo bungalows are nice and quiet. It is a lovely place all around.
Best Hotel in Pai – Pail Love & Baan Chonphao Resort
Now this is one beautiful resort that won’t break the bank! We love the extra offerings like the free roundtrip airport shuttle service, plus the awesome BBQ facilities. Plus, since this hotel is tucked a little farther away from town in nature, there’s even a free shuttle to the Pai walking street.VIEW ON BOOKING.COM
If you’re looking to pinch pennies, then where you need to stay in Thailand is Bangkok. You can find tons of cheap flights to fly in and out of the main international airport, or if you’re traveling around traveling around Southeast Asia by bus, most countries will route you through Bangkok too.
Bangkok doesn’t have to be expensive – it’s the home of cheap street food, backpacker hostels, and a great public transportation system, from the BTS metro, to the khlong boats, to the bus system. Plus, it’s packed with amazing things to do. Everything from touring the Grand Palace at Wat Pho, home to the enormous reclining Buddha, to hiking the Golden Mount Wat Saket, to checking out the floating markets!
If you are looking for free things to do, there are great options for you in Bangkok. I recommend exploring Chinatown and walking down Khao San Road, wandering through the Chatuchak Weekend Market, and visiting Lumpini Park.
Wondering how your Thailand travel budget should look like? We’ve got the right tips and tricks to make your Thailand trip affordable AND enjoyable. No need to dive deep into your pockets!
Best Places to Stay in Bangkok
Bangkok is a huge, sprawling city and it can feel overwhelming. With over 8 million people and 1600 square kilometers, Bangkok has countless neighborhoods and countless places to stay!
If you’re staying for a short visit, Khao San Road in the Banglamphu area as it will put you closest to the nightlife and action. But if you have a little more time to enjoy soaking up the vibrant city energy, I recommend staying in the Riverside area. It’s more scenic and is filled with unique hotels and old traditional houses, and you’ll be closer to the Grand Palace and Wat Pho!
All in all, some of the cheapest and best hostels in Thailand are located in Bangkok. Not only is it budget-friendly, but the backpacking scene is huge! Meeting a fellow companion to travel Thailand with after staying in Bangkok will be a breeze.
Best Hostel in Bangkok – Bodega Khao San Party Hostel
If you’re looking for hostels in Bangkok that really make the party happen— this is the place for you! There are free cocktail shots offered every night, as well as drinking games and enormous pub crawls. And the dorm room rates come in at bottom dollar prices.VIEW ON HOSTELWORLD
Best Airbnb in Bangkok – Sabay at Historic Old Town
This private room in a townhouse Airbnb is for a one-bedroom and private bathroom. It’s located close to the river and is perfect for feeling like you are a part of local Thai life. It’s a beautifully styled room with plush pillows and pristine clean walls— it simply oozes charm! Plus, it certainly won’t break the bank at these budget-friendly prices!VIEW ON AIRBNB
Best Hotel in Bangkok – Rambuttri Village Plaza
Rambuttri Village Plaza is just a quick five-minute walk from Khao San Road, and is home to two beautiful rooftop pools. This budget hotel offers so much bang for its buck! With the fully air-conditioned rooms with hot shower facilities, you won’t be sacrificing any comforts to pinch your pennies here!VIEW ON BOOKING.COM
Thailand is a very fun place and one could easily get carried away while visiting. It's important to remember that no country is perfect though.
Read our safety report on Thailand travel before planning your trip so you will be extra prepared when you arrive.
Chiang Rai is in the north of Thailand, near the board of Laos and Myanmar. Chiang Rai is sometimes referred to as the “mini Chiang Mai,” as it’s a smaller and somewhat sleepier version of its sister city. What Chiang Rai has that no other city in the world has is the infamous White Temple, Wat Rong Kuhn. This bizarre, entirely white temple makes for an incredibly unique visit.
Besides the White Temple, there are still tons of other temples to wander around in Chiang Rai. My second favorite Chiang Rai temple is the Blue Temple, called Wat Rong Suea Ten. It’s a beautiful, royal blue temple that almost feels psychedelic inside! Then there is the Chiang Rai Black Museum, Baan Dam, which is actually not a temple but is a museum and art gallery, known for the artwork made out of animal skin and bones! How about that for unique?
Of course, Chiang Rai also has its own night market, walking street, and a fun jazz festival to try to make it to!
Best Places To Stay in Chiang Rai
Since Chiang Rai is much smaller than its sister city of Chiang Mai, there aren’t a ton of neighborhoods to choose from. Staying close to the city center and the night market is the way to go to make your stay more budget-friendly and overall just plain ol’ easier!
Best Hostel in Chiang Rai – Mercy Hostel
Mercy Hostel is located right in the heart of Chiang Mai and is surrounded by plenty of restaurants and bars. It’s a one-floor hostel, so there are no worries of stairs or noisy upstairs neighbors! There are a total of ten dormitories that are filled with hotel quality bed and blankets.VIEW ON HOSTELWORLD
Best Airbnb in Chiang Rai – Baanbua Guest House
Baanbua Guest House is a bed and breakfast that operates through Airbnb that is positively delightful. Tucked away in a beautiful garden area, while still being centrally located, Baanbua is a real treat. You’ll be within walking distance of everything and will love your simple, clean, and affordable stay!VIEW ON AIRBNB
Best Hotel in Chiang Rai – Blue Lagoon Hotel
The Blue Lagoon Hotel is right in the center of town. It’s a beautiful and modern hotel that’s filled with windows, hanging plants, and stylish furniture. It also had a sizable outdoor swimming pool that was perfect for relaxing next too. There’s also a complimentary breakfast buffet to enjoy!VIEW ON BOOKING.COM
Koh Samui is packed with things to do! How does stand up paddle-boarding at sunset sound? How about swimming in the Namuang Waterfall? Or hiking around the untouched jungle? You can also do an ATV Tour around the island if you’re not in the mood to trek through the jungles on foot! Koh Samui won’t disappoint your adrenaline needs!
Now let’s talk about beaches. When it’s finally time to sit down and relax for a while, we want to make sure you know where to go! Close to the airport, on the Northeast side of the island is Chaweng. Chaweng is the main beach on Koh Samui. The second biggest beach is Lamai, and is known for being quite a bit more chill than Chaweng.
Plus, it is perfect for swimming as it has warm, calm waters. Koh Samui is also a great place to try scuba diving or to get scuba certified! Make sure you visit one of the most popular landmarks on the island, the Big Buddha at Wat Phra Yai temple. It’s actually situated on a teeny tiny island in the Northeast.
Best Places to Stay in Koh Samui
Since you’re staying on a beautiful island, you’re not going to want to be far from the beach. I selected only the best waterfront accommodation options to make sure you get your dose of Thai island beachside heaven in! There are plenty of other areas to base yourself, but when it comes to where to stay in Koh Samui, it’s gotta be the beach.
Best Hostel in Koh Samui – Lub d Koh Samui Chaweng Beach
This hostel is located almost dead center on Chaweng Beach. Plus, it has an infinity pool that overlooks the Gulf of Thailand. Yeah, you got that right! It’s a social hostel that has luxury vibes. You’re sure to love the high-end comfort plus the sweeping ocean views!VIEW ON HOSTELWORLD
Best Airbnb in Koh Samui – Oceanfront Villa
This one bedroom and one and a half bathroom house in Koh Samui is just steps from the beach. It is a beautiful retreat from everyday life. Watch the fireflies at night from the hammock or walk just a few steps into the crystal clear waters. There’s also a plunge pool that overlooks the ocean. Moreover, it has a deck that wraps around the whole house, and an outdoor shower. This beautiful property is waiting for you in Koh Samui!VIEW ON AIRBNB
Best Hotel in Koh Samui – Coco Palm Beach Resort
Coco Palm Beach Resort is located right on Maenam Beach. It’s beautifully landscaped, and is a little slice of paradise inside of Thai paradise! The bungalows are set right in the middle of tropical greenery and offer beautiful seaside views. There’s also a delicious onsite restaurant and a poolside bar.VIEW ON BOOKING.COM
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Phuket is the largest island in Thailand. It’s actually almost the size of Singapore! That being said, the island of Phuket is absolutely the best city to stay in Thailand if you’re looking to experience true Thai beach life. You deserve some quality beach time and I’m here to help show you how to get it in Phuket.
First things first when planning a trip to Phuket, definitely take a trip to Kata Noi Beach. It’s a breathtaking beach that is perfect for relaxing along the sands. After taking in the magic of that beach, head to the south of the island to Nai Harn Beach. This beach is super popular with tourists, and has super soft sand and crystalline waters. If you’re wanting to do some celebrity spotting, then head over to “Millionaire’s Row” Surin Beach. Who knows what famous people you might see!
If you’re looking to take a trip to a truly magical spot, then head over to Phang Nga Bay, which is where 40 small islands come right out of the sea. Trust me, it’s beyond beautiful.
Best Places to Stay in Phuket
While Patong is party central, there are more chill areas of Phuket to stay in like Rawai or Nai Yang or Kata Beach. Even if you choose the more relaxed options, you will still have markets and restaurants within easy walking distance! Phuket Old Town is also a great choice of where to stay when you’re on a budget. You will be in the center of the island, so a drive away from the beaches, so that’s not where I’d recommend staying if you want a big dose of beach life!
Best Hostel in Phuket – Fin Hostel Kata
Fin Hostel is located near Kata Beach and is known to have an epic party atmosphere. You’ll be just a five-minute walk from Kata beach and a ten-minute walk from Karon Beach. You’re sure to love chilling out at the rooftop pool too. This modern, surfer style hostel is more than welcoming!VIEW ON HOSTELWORLD
Best Airbnb in Phuket – Lovely Condominium at Surin and Bang Tao Beach
This condominium is a one bedroom and one bathroom rental that is perfect for two guests. It’s in a tranquil environment that is located right between the two beautiful beaches of Surin and Bang Tao. You’re just 650 meters away! What’s more is that you’ll have access to the buildings rooftop infinity pool, the air-conditioned gym, and a rooftop restaurant. This place is posh, folks!VIEW ON AIRBNB
Best Hotel in Phuket – Kata White Villas
The Kata White Villas Hotel is right on the corner of Kata Beach, just a two-minute walk by foot. The white, clear, airy rooms are beautiful, and the overall ambiance is positively idyllic! You can hear the birds sing, the crickets chirp, and live music will waft right up to your own terrace from nearby cafes.VIEW ON BOOKING.COM
Best Places to Stay in Thailand
Best Hostel in Thailand – Fin Hostel – Phuket
Fin Hostel sits close to Kata Beach and is a surfer styled party hostel. This hostel’s facilities are truly superior. They offer a large, shared American kitchen, air conditioning, hot showers, and a large rooftop pool. Plus, the weekly BBQs and cocktail parties are a blast! This surfer hostel is one for the books.VIEW ON HOSTELWORLD
Best Airbnb in Thailand – Oceanfront Villa – Koh Samui
This house in Koh Samui is mere steps away from the beach, and comes with a plunge pool that offers sweeping views of the oceans. This immaculate home is perfect for honeymooners or for couples looking to indulge in the finer things of life.VIEW ON AIRBNB
Best Hotel in Thailand – Eco Lanta Hideaway Beach Resort – Koh Lanta
The Eco Lanta Hideaway Beach Resort is a truly special hotel. It’s not a touristy, cut-and-dry hotel that feels like it could be located anywhere in the world… this hotel is truly special. The wooden Thai bungalows are nestled right alongside Long Beach and promise and unforgettable stay in Koh Lanta!VIEW ON BOOKING.COM
Books to read while Travelling in Thailand
The Backpacker Bible – Get it for free! Learn how to ditch your desk and travel the world on just $10 a day whilst building a life of long-term travel with an online income. To inspire and help the next generation of Broke Backpackers, you can now grab ‘How to Travel the World on $10 a Day’ for free! Get your copy here.
Lonely Planet Thailand Travel Guide – It’s always worth having a Lonely Planet packed away, plenty of useful info on bus routes and where to go.
A Thailand’s Best Street Food: The Complete Guide to Streetside Dining – Thailand is known all over the world for its brilliantly spicy and whacked out cuisine. Carry this guide along to find the most bizarre and the yummiest food Thai street markets have to offer.
A History of Thailand – A great insight into Thailand’s rich cultural and political history.
The King Never Smiles – This is the Biography of Thailand’s Bhumibol Adulyadej, a Western born king who deftly shaped Thailand’s political history.
Final Thoughts on Where to Stay in Thailand
Ah, Thailand. Writing this article makes me want to catch the next flight and head back over there! I loved my time traveling through Thailand, and exploring all the best spots Thailand has to offer. I hope that my recommendations for hostels, Airbnbs, and hotels in Thailand were useful to you and make your stay in Thailand truly memorable.
Do you own or run a kick-ass hostel? Want to be featured on this list? Get in touch at [email protected]
Don’t Forget Travel Insurance for Thailand
Shoutout from Will – The OG Broke Backpacker: Have fun on your backpacking adventure, but please do get insurance – take it from someone who has racked up tens of thousands of bucks on an insurance claim before: you need it.
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.
Getting an estimate from World Nomads is simple – just click the button or image below, fill out the necessary info, and you’re on your way!
Yay for transparency! Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. This means that if you book your accommodation through the site, The Broke Backpacker will earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. Your support helps keep the site going.
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