Where To Stay in Chiang Mai: The Old City

Where To Stay In Chiang Mai: Our Favorite Areas & Hotels 2021

Chiang Mai, Thailand’s second-largest city, is a cultural capital and has so much to offer. From stunning and historical temples to street food with fresh ingredients that you can’t find anywhere else in the world, this destination has it all.

To make your vacation planning easier, this guide will help you decide where to stay in Chiang Mai during your Thailand vacation.

We’ll go through the areas that best suit travelers, whether you want something upscale or you want to tuck away and take in the local culture.

Table of Contents

Where To Stay In Chiang Mai, Thailand
The Old City: Overall Best Place To Stay In Chiang Mai
Doi Saket: Best Place For Yogis and Nature-Lovers
Nimmanhaemin: Best Place For Nightlife
Chang Moi: Best Place For Culture and The Night Bazaar
Chiang Dao: Best Place For Wine, Hiking, and Beautiful Landscapes
Santitham: Best Place For Foodies and Budget Travelers
Stay Near The Chiang Mai Airport
How Much Does it Cost to Stay in a Hotel In Chiang Mai?
Best Months to Travel to Chiang Mai
More Things To Do and Best Day Trips from Chiang Mai

Where to Stay in Chiang Mai, Thailand

If you’re in a hurry, let’s uncover the best place to stay in Chiang Mai. The most entertaining and convenient area to stay in Chiang Mai is the Old City.

While a lot has changed since the pandemic started, it is still the hub to enjoy the night markets and main attractions the city has to offer.

In addition, this is where most tours start and where you’ll be able to find red cards or tuk-tuk to go anywhere around Chiang Mai.

On the other hand, if you’re a digital nomad working remotely, the most convenient area for you is Nimman. With lots of cafes, coworking spaces, and condos available, it is simply the best place you can stay in Chiang Mai.


The Old City: Overall Best Place To Stay In Chiang Mai

As we mentioned here above, the Old City is the most practical and convenient district in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

Where To Stay In Chiang Mai - Old Town

It is a squared-shape surrounded by water that offers beautiful views and becomes an excellent Instagrammable spot at night full of lights. The old city is full of temples, museums, restaurants and cafes, markets, and more.

Best Hotels and Airbnbs

The selection of accommodations available in the Old Town of Chiang Mai is massive. From budget hostels to luxurious 5-star properties, there’s something for any type of traveler.

Here are the three best places to stay in the Old City of Chiang Mai for any budget:

The August Hostel – $

This stylish hostel is in the perfect location and has a friendly staff. It’s perfect for travelers with its close proximity to everything in the Old City, as well as great kitchen amenities that will make your stay even more enjoyable.

The August Hostel accommodations range from mixed dorm-style beds to private double rooms with balconies. A free breakfast is included with your stay.

U Chiang Mai – $$

U Chiang Mai hotel is a beautiful boutique resort in the heart of the Old City with stylish rooms, a swimming pool, a fitness center, and a spa. Have breakfast at this place for free before exploring ancient temples nearby; there are many popular things to do within walking distance.

You’ll especially appreciate the cleanliness of this hotel; it feels like you’re getting 5-star amenities for a 2-star price.

And everyone’s favorite part of U Chiang Mai is the employees. The staff here work hard to accommodate every guest’s needs, from information on local attractions to scheduling and booking the best tours in the area.

The Chiang Mai Old Town Hotel – $$$

At the Chiang Mai Old Town Hotel, guests can select from a variety of beautiful rooms. Choose from deluxe king rooms to extravagant suites with balconies. This is the perfect place to stay for those looking to splurge in Chiang Mai.

The hotel’s staff is very polite and accommodating to all guest’s needs. There are many amenities onsite such as an in-house bar along with a fitness center and swimming pool.

For convenience and quality, eat breakfast at the hotel; sure, it’s $15 per person, but it is some of the best breakfast you’ll find in Northern Thailand.

Things To Do In The Old City

Many tourists who visit Chiang Mai are drawn to the Old City. In the Old City, you can find amazing food, architecture, and activities. Here are a few of the best things to do in the Old City of Chiang Mai:

✔ Visit the Saturday and Sunday night markets – Wualai Walking Street is home to a popular night market just along the outside of the Old City.

✔ Explore Wat Chedi Luang, one of the most impressive temples in Chiang Mai.

✔ Take cooking classes at the Thai Farm Cooking School.

Cooking Class in Chiang Mai Thailand.

These are just a few of the many things to do in the Old City of Chiang Mai; above all, there’s something for everyone in the Old City, whether you’re planning a family vacation or a getaway with friends.


Doi Saket: Best Place To Stay In Chiang Mai For Yogis and Nature-Lovers

Doi Saket, a small village in northeastern Chiang Mai province, is an area known for its peaceful community and Buddhist temples.

Doi Saket Is One of The Best Places To Stay in Chiang Mai.

Located 40 minutes from the city center, visitors can enjoy the authentic experience of living with Thai locals while also being able to quickly travel into the city center by car or public transportation.

Best Hotels and Airbnbs

While you won’t find massive apartment buildings in Doi Saket, you will find off-the-beaten-path hotels, hostels, and resorts that will wow you.

Here are a few of our favorite places to stay in Doi Saket, Chiang Mai:

Mala Dhara Yoga Retreat Center & Organic Farm – $

You’ll have the most relaxing time at Mala Dhara Yoga Retreat Center and Organic Farm. This place is surrounded by natural beauty and feels like a truly secluded retreat; it’s the most laidback atmosphere.

The saltwater pool is just what you need after an intense yoga class or even for your daily workout routine. Bonfires are held before dinner, in which guests can chat with each other as they sip on their favorite drink.

Everything about this retreat is awesome, including the free breakfast, caring staff members, and a steam sauna.

Lake & Mountain View Villa – $$

This two-bedroom Airbnb is set in incredibly lush surroundings and offers a great open living area. It’s a short distance from Sankampaeng Hot Springs, which is the ultimate place for relaxation after exploring the immense natural beauty of northern Thailand.

The deck provides gorgeous views over the lake as you dine or relax each evening. Breathe in that fresh mountain air and enjoy the best of Chiang Mai.

Countryside Pool Villa – $$$

This private infinity pool Airbnb villa is located in Doi Saket, Chiang Mai. It provides the perfect getaway for families with children thanks to its large size; you’ll have 3 bedrooms and 3.5 bathrooms to accommodate your group.

The view from this home is breathtaking and looks out over rice terraces where you can unwind in nature. You will be well-equipped to spend some quality time here because of the many amenities.

And of course, the hosts were very attentive during our stay, which made us even more comfortable; ask them for advice on tours and restaurants nearby.

Things To Do In Doi Saket

Although you won’t find nightclubs or huge night markets in Doi Saket, you will find a tranquil setting perfect for various activities. Here are a few of our favorite things to do in Doi Saket:

✔ Visit the Pa Pong Piang Rice Terraces – Get off the beaten path and check out these traditional rice terraces that will remind you of Bali’s hidden gems.

Where. ToStay in Chiang Mai - Doi Saket Rice Terraces

✔ Practice yoga among rice terraces.

✔ Soak in the hot springs – You’ll be just a short drive away from one of the most popular attractions in the area, Sankampaeng Hot Springs.


Nimmanhaemin: Best Place To Stay In Chiang Mai For Nightlife

Officially called Nimmanhaemin, Nimman is the best place in Chiang Mai to work remotely but also for the nightlife and cafes.

Where To Stay In Chiang Mai - Nimman Road.

Its proximity to the Old City makes it an overall great spot to walk around or and party all night long. And while it’s the perfect place for youngsters, it is also a safe haven for families willing to enjoy some well-deserved quality time.

Best Hotels and Airbnb

Just like the Old City, Nimmanhaemin has all kinds of properties here, from budget hotels to fantastic resorts. Here are a few of our favorite:

Alexa Nimman – $

Located 150 feet from the popular Nimmanhaemin Road, Alexa Nimman hostel is close to shopping and nightlife. But despite the close proximity, Alexa Nimman hostel is a clean and quiet place to rest your head.

Whether you’re looking for an ultra-cheap accommodation option (dorm room style bunk beds) or a private room, you can find it at Alexa Nimman.

And the best part of this hostel? There’s an attached co-working area for guests. This is by far one of the best places to stay in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

Art Mai? Gallery Hotel Chiang Mai – $$

Nestled in Chiang Mai’s buzzing downtown, the Art Mai? Gallery Hotel is one of the best places to stay in the city. This one-of-a-kind hotel is outfitted with trendy guest rooms and a staff that will help you at any moment.

The artistic décor will truly wow you and so will the delicious breakfast they offer each morning. And to cover all of the bases when it comes to amenities, they also have a pool and an exercise room. How convenient, right?

akyra Manor Chiang Mai – $$$

Travelers can choose between a premier suite or a manor suite at akyra Manor Chiang Mai. The hotel is just a short stroll from Nimman Road and has an infinity rooftop swimming pool.. what more could someone want?

Well, on top of that, they have a rooftop bar and a high-end restaurant offering some of the most delicious food in the world. Sip on an exotic cocktail as you feast on international cuisine.

Things To Do In Nimmanhaemin

Nimman Road is a popular shopping area in Chiang Mai that draws tourists and locals alike. You’ll find plenty of trendy restaurants with both Western and Thai cuisines as well as shops selling clothes to bring back home.

Add these activities and places to see to your itinerary while staying in Nimmanhaemin in Chiang Mai:

✔ Go shopping – Nimmanhaemin is one of the best places to stay in Chiang Mai for those looking to purchase souvenirs, apparel, and more.

✔ Drink a bucket of booze – Okay, okay, so this recommendation is for travelers that like to let their hair down a little. Thailand is a great place to find cheap beer, buckets of booze, and all-night parties.

Laura Drinking a Bucket of Booze in Chiang Mai.

✔ Visit unique cafes – Our favorites are Mango Tango and Rustic & Blue.


Chang Moi: Best Place To Stay In Chiang Mai For Culture and The Night Bazaar

The Chang Moi district in Chiang Mai is a must for anyone looking to explore this city’s shopping, nightlife, and hotel options. Thanks to its endless amenities, Chang Moi is one of the best areas to stay when visiting Chiang Mai, Thailand.

Chiang Mai Night Bazaar.

Best Hotels and Airbnbs

Located near Chiang Mai’s Old Town, you can find upscale hotels here as well as budget-friendly accommodations if that better suits your needs. Check out our recommendations here:

OYO 930 Born Guest House – $

Nestled in the heart of Chang Moi, OYO 930 Born Guest House provides a perfect location for exploring all that this ancient city has to offer. In other words, if you’re looking for the best place to stay in Chiang Mai, Thailand, look no further.

Just a short drive from the Chiang Mai Airport, the Night Bazaar, and the bus station, guests can easily access major tourist attractions anywhere in the city.

You’ll also love that this guesthouse provides air-conditioned rooms that are perfect for escaping the Chiang Mai humidity and high temperatures. And before you leave your guesthouse for the day, feast on a hearty breakfast served fresh each morning.

Rimping Village – $$

Stay within walking distance of Chiang Mai’s famous Night Bazaar at Rimping Village. This hotel is one of the best places to stay in Chiang Mai as it offers clean rooms and an array of amenities like a swimming pool and an intricately designed garden.

The hotel team is wonderful; you’ll appreciate their sincerity and willingness to help. Although most hotels in northern Thailand have exceptional staff, this hotel goes above and beyond for its guests.

Away Chiang Mai Thapae Resort – $$$

For a more upscale resort in Chang Moi, check out Away Chiang Mai Thapae Resort. The hotel has an onsite swimming pool and beautifully decorated rooms.

On this property, you’ll be surrounded by ponds and gardens that will make you feel like you’re nestled in the jungles of northern Thailand. And in addition, you’ll see friendly staff members waiting to help you with whatever you need during your stay.

Keep in mind, getting to the Night Bazaar will take approximately 15 minutes by car, so keep that in mind if you’re looking for something a bit more central.

Above all, if you are looking for more than just a bed to sleep while visiting Chiang Mai, then book a room at Away Chiang Mai Thapae Resort.

Things To Do In Chang Moi

All in all, Chang Moi as a whole is the perfect place for tourists in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Let’s just say it wouldn’t be wise to miss out on these fun things to do:

✔ Go to the Night Bazaar – our favorite part of the Night Bazaar is watching live music and eating all of the delicious street food.

A Live Band at the Chiang Mai Night Bazaar.

✔ Shopping – in addition to live music and food, there are also many street vendors selling clothes and souvenirs.


Chiang Dao: Best Place To Stay In Chiang Mai For Wine, Hiking, and Beautiful Landscapes

Chiang Dao is an hour and a half north of Chiang Mai’s city center, but it is a wonderful place to stay while visiting northern Thailand.

Chiang Dao is one of the best places to stay in Chiang Mai for many reasons.

In Chiang Dao, you’ll get the best of both worlds; you’ll be close enough to the city center to make day trips and you’ll also get the authentic Thai experience in the rolling hills of the north.

Best Hotels and Airbnbs

Whether you decide on a hostel or a luxurious resort, you can find suitable accommodation among nature in Chiang Dao. Here are some options to add to your itinerary:

Wooden House in Quiet Hamlet– $

Tucked away on the mountainside, this relaxing studio Airbnb is the perfect place to get away from it all. The best part about this apartment is the patio area, which provides beautiful views of the surrounding area. We recommend spending time on this patio at night as it is a great place for stargazing thanks to its remote location.

With fiber WiFi, mosquito nets for the bed, and a local 7-eleven just five minutes away on foot, you’ll have all of the comforts of home at your fingertips. This cozy hideout is an ideal spot to enjoy some time in nature without sacrificing conveniences or comfort.

Villa in Forest Sanctuary – $$

This hidden gem of an Airbnb is perfect for those who want to escape the busy city life and chill out in nature. Located in Chiang Dao National Park, far away from Chiang Mai’s city center, you’ll be able to explore nearby lakes, mountains, and hiking trails.

The house itself boasts modern amenities like air conditioning, hot water, and a westernized kitchen with all the necessities. But, prepare to enjoy the tranquility of small village life.

Sibsan Resort & Spa Maetaeng – $$$

Sibsan Resort & Spa Maetaeng in Chiang Mai, Thailand offers luxurious villas with an outdoor swimming pool, a spa, a fitness room, and a library. This place really goes above and beyond to impress its guests.

Choose between superior villas or 4-bedroom suites at Sibsan Resort; whichever you decide, you will not be disappointed. And to top it off, the location is fantastic. You’ll be amongst the rolling hills in northern Thailand; the ideal place to practice yoga and meditation for a zen-like experience.

Things To Do In Chiang Dao

In my opinion, Chiang Dao is the most exciting district of Chiang Mai and northern Thailand as a whole. With so many things to do, it’ll be hard to fit everything into your schedule.

To help you create the perfect vacation itinerary, here are the best things to do in Chiang Dao:

✔ Taste test Thailand wine – you can find out more about wine tastings in Chiang Dao by visiting this website.

✔ Day trip to the Elephant Nature Park – Chiang Dao is just north of the famous Elephant Nature Park, making it a great place to explore during your time in Chiang Mai.

Elephant Nature Park in Chiang Mai.

✔ Hike the many nature trails in the area – if you’re an avid hiker, consider hiking Doi Chiang Dao. For more intermediate hikers, add Muang Ngai Dam Loop to your list.


Santitham: Best Place to Stay in Chiang Mai for Foodies and Budget Travelers

Santitham is a beautiful and entertaining area with fresh markets and affordable (and of course, delicious) food.

Street Food in Thailand.

Located between the Old City and Nimman Road, it is one of the most convenient places to stay for tourists, digital nomads, and expats while still being off-the-beaten-path to avoid crowds.

Best Hotels and Airbnbs

While you’ll probably find many students in the Santitham area, it is still a great area to stay, discover the local culture, and more generally, enjoy your time in Chiang Mai on a budget. Here are a few hostels and hotels to consider:

Lemonap Hostel – $

Lemonap Hostel is a wonderful, clean, and well-located hostel that offers great amenities. It’s located in the heart of Chiang Mai, within 1,000 feet of Chang Puak Market, making it one of the best places to stay in the city.

Inside this hostel, you’ll find a shared kitchen, a shared lounge, cozy beds. You’ll also receive free breakfast each morning, so if you’re on a budget, this is a great option to consider.

Viangbua Mansion – $$

You can’t go wrong with a stay at Viangbua Mansion in the heart of Chiang Mai. The staff there are so friendly and they’ll likely remember your name by the end of your stay.

At Viangbua Mansion, you’ll stay in a newly renovated and spacious room. You can also take advantage of the onsite gym because, let’s just say that exercising outside in Thailand temperatures can be utterly defeating.

Treevana Club Chiangmai – $$$

Treevana Club Chiangmai is a 3-star hotel that offers 5-star quality. This hotel is located near the airport, making it convenient for those arriving in Chiang Mai by plane.

The 24-hour reception desk will greet you upon arrival and show you to your air-conditioned room. Whether you choose from a double room or a deluxe villa, you’ll receive incredible service, snacks and treats, and top-tier amenities.

Things To Do In Santitham

For budget travelers, expats, and families, here are some of the best things to do in the Santitham area of Chiang Mai:

✔ Eat street food – We recommend pad see ew and roti (with Nutella and Oreos!).

✔ Get a massage – For as little as $5, you can get an hour-long authentic Thai massage.

Foot massage in Thailand.

✔ Go to a Muay Thai fight.


Stay Near The Chiang Mai Airport

In most cities, airports are located far from the city center and usually are a hassle to travel to. However, in Chiang Mai, it’s a whole different story.

Chiang Mai International airport is only located 2 miles from the Old City, and although there are plenty of good accommodation options, we recommend just staying in the Old City. The convenient location makes traveling so much easier.

Some travelers like to stay even closer to the airport when visiting Chiang Mai; however, the downside of staying near the airport is the noise. Keep this in mind when booking your trip.


How Much Does it Cost to Stay in a Hotel In Chiang Mai?

Chiang Mai is a popular destination for travelers, with hotels to suit all budgets.

If you’re looking for something special but don’t have deep pockets, there are plenty of options that fit the bill. On the other hand, you’ll find many options for families and luxury travelers as well.

For those who are unfamiliar with Thailand, you’ll be visiting one of the cheapest countries in the world; therefore, you can expect to save a lot of money on accommodation, even if you want to splurge a little.

Hostels can cost anywhere from $3 per night to $20 per night, depending on location and amenities. Average hotels and family accommodations typically cost between $30 and $75 per night.

For more upscale properties, expect to pay anywhere from $50 to over $200 per night.

Did you know? There are 4 and 5-star resorts in Chiang Mai that charge as little as $36 per night!

To sum up, you can find really nice hotels in Chiang Mai for $30 or less. Needless to say, it’s possible to stay on a budget in Chiang Mai without sacrificing quality.

Best Months to Travel to Chiang Mai

As one of the most popular places to visit in Thailand, it’s important to consider weather patterns and events before booking your trip.

Weather in Chiang Mai

The best time to visit Chiang Mai is when the weather and atmosphere are clear, cool, and sunny. We recommend visiting between October and February as the average temperature is around 27 degrees Celsius (80ºF). 

If you can’t make it during this time of year, we strongly suggest that you do not come to Chiang Mai during the smokey season. The smokey season in Chiang Mai lasts from February until April and locals need air purifiers inside their homes to get fresh air.

Events in Chiang Mai

You may also want to consider booking your vacation around one of Chiang Mai’s amazing festivals.

Celebrating Loy Krathong in Chiang Mai.

The popular lantern festival (Loy Krathong) happens in Chiang Mai in November. On the other hand, Songkran, Thailand’s epic water festival, happens in mid to late April.


More Things To Do and Best Day Trips from Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai is one of Thailand’s most adventurous cities. From visiting temples to checking out different markets, there are so many amazing things to do during your visit.

These are our favorite things to do and tours to take around Chiang Mai and we hope they’ll inspire you to explore this city far and wide:

Visit Chiang Mai’s Doi Suthep

One of the most famous temples in Thailand, Doi Suthep, is located in the mountains of Chiang Mai. This ancient temple is said to have been built in 1383 and it’s there that you can find astounding artifacts and authentic Thai culture.

The 300 Steps Leading Up To Doi Suthep in Chiang Mai.

Keep in mind, there are more than 300 steps to reach the temple, but once there, you can see really amazing views over Chiang Mai city and the temples below.

For a unique experience, we recommend going during sunset and taking in the romantic and spiritual vibes from the northern Thai mountains around you.

Care for Elephants

Visiting an elephant sanctuary is one of the best attractions in Chiang Mai and arguably in all of Thailand.

The Hills and Elephants In Northern Thailand.

Spend a full day learning about rescued elephants at our favorite sanctuary is called ChangChill, and you can book your tour here.

Note: Please do not ride elephants in Thailand. Riding elephants and using them like circus animals is cruel. Let’s work to end the abuse.

Take a Day Trip to Phu Chi Fa

For pure magic, take a day trip to Phu Chi Fa from Chiang Mai. Phu Chi Fa is located northeast of Chiang Mai in the Chiang Rai province.

The Sun Rising Over the Mekong Valley- Phu Chi Fa

Perched over the valley that divides Thailand and Laos, Phu Chi Fa will give you one of the best sunrise experiences of your life. The Mekong River is nestled in this valley and fog coats the sky as the sun peeks out from the other side of the world.

For even more information about visiting Phu Chi Fa, check out our detailed post here.


The Wrap Up: Where to Stay in Chiang Mai, Thailand

With so many options, it can be difficult to know where to stay in Chiang Mai. Above all, you can’t go wrong by staying in the Old City of Chiang Mai. But, if you’re looking for more unique and off-the-beaten-path experiences in the area, check out nearby districts like Doi Saket or Chiang Dao.

While most travelers limit their Thailand holiday to the many islands in the south, we recommend spending your time in the north because it is pure magic.

This amazing guide was brought to you by Stefan from Tricks and Trips. An expert in digital nomad jobs, follow Stefan around the world as he shows you how becoming a digital nomad traveler is possible, even without a large budget.