Chaing Mai is the perfect destination to visit for temples, street food, interesting cafes and the famous night markets. Chiang Mai is a cultural hotspot in Northern Thailand which combines spirituality and fun.
Now that you decided to visit, you are naturally wondering where to stay in Chiang Mai. At first, it may seem confusing to understand where to find the best accommodation and how the city itself is structured. But that's why we did deep research for you, to highlight the best neighbourhoods and the best areas to stay in, especially for tourists.
In this article, we go into great details about the areas to stay in Chiang Mai and give you our recommendations with carefully handpicked hotels to help you with your individual needs and budgets.
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Tips for finding the best place to stay in Chiang Mai
We believe that most first time visitors should stay in the Old City because that's a great accommodation choice for those who want to be close to Chiang Mai's top touristic points of interest like ancient temples, bustling markets and Thai spas.
Although Chiang Mai is a fairly big city overall, most of the accommodation spots are very centrally located, making it very easy to visit the main touristic spots around. After all, you are visiting Chiang Mai so you can experience all its landmarks and famous areas like the Wat Phra Singh (Gold Temple), the Wat Chiang Man, the Chiang Mai Night Bazaar and more.
First-time visitors may prefer to stay in Old City where the history really comes to life around you. You can get lost in the throng of people exploring the many temples and markets while knowing that your accommodation is just walking distance away.
If you want a quieter stay then one of the surrounding areas will offer more local experience and an abundance of nightlife or nature-based options.
The area to stay in Chiang Mai comes down to what kind of a traveller you are: The deeper into the Old City you stay, the more incredible history and architecture you’ll find, but the further you’ll be from hikes and natural adventure.
If you are an explorer at heart, worry not, because there are heaps of great hotel options outside of the city too. The areas surrounding the city are also intact, having repelled the growing cosmopolitan culture of Thailand’s central areas, meaning you can visit local tribes and learn of their traditions first-hand.
It’s worth noting that you should book your accommodation as early as possible if you’re heading to Chiang Mai during a festival period, particularly the November Lantern Festival since it books up incredibly quickly.
In a hurry? Here's our personalised recommendation for the best areas to pick in Chiang Mai based on your interests.
- Where to stay in Chiang Mai for the first time - Old City
- Where to stay in Chiang Mai for families: Riverside
- Where to stay in Chiang Mai for shopping: Night Bazaar
- Where to stay in Chiang Mai for trendy travellers: Nimman Road
- Where to stay in Chiang Mai for relaxation: Mountainside
- Where to stay in Chiang Mai for nightlife: Santitham
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Chiang Mai accommodation area map
For your ease, we created an accommodation map of all the 6 areas in Chiang Mai we are talking about in the article.
Old City - Where to stay in Chiang Mai for the first time
The most popular and best area to stay in Chiang Mai for first-time visitors is the Old Town. This area has everything you imagine when you picture a trip to Thailand, the Old City is packed with temples, markets, and galleries and is surrounded by the remains of a 700-year old fortress - you’re literally walled in with the most historic aspects of the city.
A truly picturesque neighbourhood, the moat forms a perfect square at the heart of the city. There’s a wide range of accommodation here and you’ll have no problem finding somewhere to stay.
The Old City is particularly suited to those looking for budget or mid-range accommodation as it has far fewer up-market or resort-style stays on offer. Ideal for first-time visitors to Chiang Mai who want to be absorbed by the history and bustling life in Thailand.
Here are our carefully selected accommodation options for when you stay in the Old City.
Chiang Mai Riverside - Where To Stay In Chiang Mai For Families
If you are travelling with your family, you will want to stay in a calmer up-market stay with trendy riverside dining. Just ten minutes outside of the city centre, Riverside feels like a different world offering a laid-back alternative to the busy streets of Old Town, but with fancier, luxurious accommodation options.
With beautiful views of the River Ping and waterside restaurants, bars, and cafes to enjoy, this is the easiest way to have a tranquil up-market holiday in Chiang Mai. Here, the accommodation is luxury-resort style while still being within walking distance of all the attractions and Night Bazaar area.
The Chiang Mai Riverside is by far the best area for those travelling with families who want to be less than 30 minutes walk to the Old Town's hustle and bustle but return to a quiet hotel room with views to remember.
It can feel a little quiet here if you’re used to being in the centre of the action but the Riverside does provide an elegant stay that still very much preserved the Thai charm.
Here are our carefully selected accommodation options for when you stay in the Riverside.
Chiang Mai Night Bazaar - Where To Stay In Chiang Mai For Shopping
If you’re looking for a never-ending party or a shopping spree during your stay in Thailand, this is one of the liveliest areas in the city. Accommodation in the Night Bazaar is for those tourists who want to be close to the soul of the party, as the Night Bazaar provides exciting evenings full of food, live music and street vendors.
Late-night discos, bars, and of course, the must-visit Night Bazaar are just a handful of the reasons to stay in this area of Chiang Mai. The famed Night Bazaar market in this city is full of delicious street food, souvenirs, and drinks and it is one of the most famous in the whole of Thailand.
It’s also the oldest market, stretched for over a mile, including side streets that are also packed with stands and stalls. It can take several hours to explore the whole market so this will keep you busy for most of your evening, therefore being based in a hotel in this area means you can visit at your leisure.
The neighbourhood is also a great location to stay if you need easy access to both the Old Town and the Riverside area. It gets very crowded at times and has few cultural attractions of its own but provides a great base for a fun evening after a day sight-seeing. Don’t forget to haggle!
Nimman Road - Where To Stay In Chiang Mai For Trendy Travellers
For a more sophisticated and modern slice of Thai life, stay in the small Nimman Road area just to the West of the Old City. This is the best accommodation spot for trendy travellers who want an upbeat location in Chiang Mai.
Nimman Road couldn’t be more different from the historical centre, being full of funky boutique stores, shopping malls, fine dining, and a buzzing nightlife scene including some of the city’s biggest and most famous clubs.
Home to The University of Chiang Mai, there’s a youthful and upbeat vibe here which makes for a very exciting stay if you’re a younger person looking to blow off steam and make the most of your nights as well as your days.
Staying in Nimman Road is convenient for those who want to be close to the airport. It can get noisy and does lack some of the old charms which many will be interested in, particularly for first-time visitors to Chiang Mai.
Here are our carefully selected accommodation options for when you stay in Nimman Road.
Mountainside - Where To Stay In Chiang Mai For Relaxation
The mountainside in Chiang Mai is an ideal location for nature enthusiasts - the real rugged and wild green nature that so abounds in Thailand, more than anywhere else on Earth. The mountainside is a natural paradise for a relaxing getaway, so tranquil and lush, with plenty of natural attractions to visit, including national parks, waterfalls, and dense forest.
There are enough restaurants, cafes, and marts that you won’t be struggling to find a good place to sample the local cuisine, even whilst being slightly removed from the city.
It takes roughly thirty-minutes by car or bus to get to the centre of the city, which is worth bearing in mind if you’d like to spend a lot of time visiting the various attractions the city has to offer.
Staying here is a great way to experience life with the local people - whose culture is so rich in food, fashion, and natural beauty - and to be able to enjoy the perfectly balanced mix of nature and city that makes a holiday in Thailand so special.
Here are our carefully selected accommodation options for when you stay in the Mountainside area.
Santitham - Where To Stay In Chiang Mai For Nightlife
Known as the party and fun area of Chiang Mai and with a huge student population, Saintitham is in a perfect location to stay if you want to explore the Old City’s historical attractions and enjoy the buzzing nightlife of Nimman.
There’s also a thriving LGBTQ community-based in Santitham and a gay bar and club scene that draws a lot of people to the area. It’s the place to be if you want a more positive and progressive clubbing environment (and who doesn’t?).
You will be located where there's a real café culture here as well, so it’s certainly one of the best areas in the city for simply sitting back with a coffee, reading a book and people-watching.
With an abundance of accommodation options, mostly budget and mid-range, and plenty of local dining options to top it all off, this is a great way to be right in the heart of the action but escape the main throng of tourists in Old City.
If you’re looking to have fun and relax, feel like one of the young locals, and avoid the at-times suffocating touristy areas, Santitham is the perfect area to stay in.
Here are our carefully selected accommodation options for when you stay in the Santitham area.
Now that you read our complete guide about where to stay in Chiang Mai you are ready to go and enjoy one of the greatest cities in Thailand. We described in detail all the best areas of the city and all the things to keep in mind when picking your accommodation in Chiang Mai. We know that when we visit a new city, it's very important to fully understand the differences in locations as getting the right accommodation can really make the holiday a wonderful experience.
We offered our handpicked hotel options and selected them based on a variety of factors to match the location they are in. All hotels have great reviews from tourists just like you and that's something we truly considered when recommending an establishment. We also took into account the price comparisons to suggest the best for the price, whether you are visiting Chiang Mai for a weekend or a full week.
Still need a little more planning? Check out this Chiang Mai itinerary for even more adventures.
Enjoy your stay in Ching Mai and don't forget to let us know how it went in the comments section below.