Where to Stay in Chiang Mai: Best Areas & Hotels

Martina Rosado
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Map of Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai has a great night life scene with a lot of things to do and places to go (which includes good accommodation). Where you stay and what you choose to do is a question of money and time.

One of the best ways to make the most of a short time in Chiang Mai is to stay in the most popular areas. There, you get the most out of the city, and wherever you stay with you’re pretty much near where you want to be.

We have already mentioned the famous Chang Puak are as a place to stay on our “Things to do in Chiang Mai” page. We do not recommend staying in any other area besides these popular areas and most hotels in Chiang Mai are located in these areas. Here, you will find the list of our favorite hotels in these areas.

Old City

The Old City is one of the most beautiful areas in Chiang Mai. It’s the historical part of the city, full of temples, the infamous Night Bazaar and delicious food.

The Nimmanhaemin Rd Area

The street area just south of the old city is full of bars, clubs, shops and restaurant.

Wat Phra Singh

Wat Phra Singh is a beautiful temple in the Old City close to the Night Bazaar.

Mo Chit Alley

The narrow alley between sets of shops that lets into the highway is a popular hangout for travelers and local Thais.

Piazza Shopping Area

The Piazza Shopping Area in the Old City is an outdoor complex with many shops, restaurants and a cinema.

Mae Ping River

The Mae Ping River that flows through downtown Chiang Mai is often bustling with day trippers that take boats to see the nearby Golden Triangle.

Fishermen on both sides of the river leave fishing lines out overnight and this attracts a variety of creatures. It’s a great place to watch the night life while enjoying street snacks.

Where to Stay in the Old City

The area around the historical city walls is the heart of Chiang Mai life. If you are here to see the city’s most famous temples and cultural sites, this is the neighborhood to stay in. Everything is within walking distance, directly to the northeast of the city walls. The area eventually gives way to the residential neighborhoods beyond the walls, but the Old City’s streets are lively and full of life.

There are several good options for accommodations in the area. The best area hotels are located slightly north of the walled city’s eastern gate, about a 10-minute walk away.

The Northern Hotel is a basic if a little dated hotel in an area well-known for its well-kept budget hotels. They have all the amenities that most guests will be looking for, with a convenient location away from the noise and bustle of the Old City.

Opened just three years ago, the Almsan Hillside House is a charming place to stay. They offer comfortable, well-furnished rooms and a friendly staff. The Hillside House is the closest establishment to the confines of the walls, so if you want to spend the evening in this area, you’ll be close to the best restaurants and bars.

Nimmanhaemin

The Nimmanhaemin area of the Old City of Chiang Mai makes a great home base for exploring the city. You’ll be just a few minutes from the city’s most popular attractions, yet it’s just far enough from the craziness of the streets to give you some peace and quiet.

Nimmanhaemin is a large neighborhood that can serve as a base for anything you like to do. From the upscale Nimmanhaemin Plaza shopping and dining to the coffee shops, restaurants and bars of Nimmanhaemin Road, you’ll never be rushing to find a place to eat.

When you get tired of food, there’s plenty of retail shopping to keep you occupied. There are many ATMs to make the easy cash for your shopping spree, and plenty of banks to exchange your Thai Baht for dollars.

Nimmanhaemin is one of the city’s most centrally located neighborhoods. If you’re traveling in a group, this area could serve as a base for your Chiang Mai explorations. From its central location, you can easily find everything, yet you’ll be far removed from the crowds.

On Sundays during the winter, the market at Nimmanhaemin Plaza makes for a quite a colorful scene.

Where to Stay in Nimmanhaemin

If you are looking for a nice, cool and quiet area to stay, or really want to have a great view, stay at a place in Nimmanhaemin. This area is just north of Old Town and is very popular with Couchsurfing, hostels and hotels.

It’s also a great place to stay if you are not interested in spending a large amount of money for hotel accommodations as you can find some incredible bargains, so don’t forget to check out Happy Travel.

Santitham

Laem Suea Chalok Hotel
ON the main road there are 2 Hotels, just follow the sign to the one on the right hand side.

Pai Area

L & C Chiang Mai

Try to stay on the 1st floor and in the back.

The Night Bazaar Area

If on a tight budget don’t stay here unless you are okay with noise! The place is dirty

Phra Sing Haw Hotel, just follow the signs to your left.

TAT Tha Makham, (Pahulsan Road) on the corner there is a small street, it’s turn left.

The Entertainment Triangle

The area is a mix of business and residential. The cottages are spaced out with a lot of space between them. There are large trees which block the noise from the main road. It’s the area where I’d say you can experience a bit of being a local.

Mayfair Hotel

20 min walk to Sky Train from the Night Bazaar.

Where to Stay in Santitham

Santitham is a small village in northern Thailand surrounded by green, hills and mountains. Villagers here are friendly and helpful since you can encounter them out in the streets. The town location is very good.

The village is close to the Chiang Mai historical site, and it’s only an hour’s drive to the international airport with plenty of cheap motorbike taxis to take you. Santitham town is surrounded by wonderful and genuine people, and we’ve heard that the scenery is beautiful.

Cost of living is low, and the tempo is a bit slower than other parts of Chiang Mai; it’s a great area to vacation. Many tourists come to Santitham to visit the breed of chickens; people believe that the chickens are healthy, and that they can withstand the cold a lot better than other breeds. The chickens in Santitham are very popular among children, and others who have heard the legend of the chickens.

There is a famous white elephant temple nearby called Chiang Dao’s White Elephant Palace. The area is also well known as an excellent elephant-watching destination, especially for watching the mother and baby elephants in November and December.

Riverside

This area is known as the center of business and tourism as well as the center of the city. This part of town is where most travelers, visitors, and tourists stay when they come here. A lot of the hotels have spas, restaurants, and even fitness centers.

Where to Stay in Riverside

Looking to save some money while you’re here? There are things to do in Chiang Mai that are free. One great example is the stunning view and scenery that you can find walking around the Thapae Gate. You can book a tuk-tuk tour that takes you here, but you’d be better off with your own transportation to get here. If you’d like to skip the long walk by going by boat, there are tours available for rent.

The Thai people call Riverside, a recently developed township that has been rebuilt in the midst of the city and one of the most popular souvenir destinations of the city.

The area is very scenic with many European-style buildings and people walking around enjoying the views. There are several interesting temples here, but the area is most popular among citizens and tourists for the Sak Yant.

The Sak Yant is similar to tattoos in many ways, but the only difference is that the tattoo, which is a drawing of the practitioner’s wishes, is created using a needle from a sak yant symbol with the root put in the area where you make a tattoo.

The best part about this would be that the sak yant symbol can be found in nearly all temples and some practitioners will charge a bit of fee to draw on your skin.

Night Bazaar Area

The Night Bazaar area is the place to go when it comes to shopping. It is busy, noisy, and full of shops.

Your trip to Chiang Mai would not be complete without shopping at Chatuchak Weekend Market in the afternoon.

If shopping is not your thing, there are plenty of other things to do; however, the Night Bazaar is a must-do.

Where to Stay in Night Bazaar Area

High Quality Hostels & Budget Hotels In Night Bazaar Area:

Safe Hotels In Night Bazaar Area

Many tourists from the western world go to Chiang Mai because of its historic and cultural significance. However, a great deal of the city’s major attractions are located near the city’s Night Bazaar (Ratchadamnoen) area.

The Night Bazaar area is located very close to the city’s tourist center. The area consists of the city’s high-end hotels, luxury resorts, and top restaurants.

For backpackers who would like to experience the nightlife of the city, stay in this area. Aside from the well-known Wat Doi Suthep Temple and the more subdued Wat Phra Singh, the Night Bazaar area offers a variety of interesting sights.

Wanaraj Hotel & Chatrium Hotel

For those who wish to stay close to the temple, there are many options in the Night Bazaar. Wanaraj Hotel and the Chatrium Hotel are excellent choices.

Both of these hotels are great for leisure travelers and backpackers alike. These hotels are located near the main hub of the city’s market activity, the streets adjacent to the temple, and all shopping and attractions.

Wat Ket

As the name implies, the hill tribes are some of the original inhabitants of northern Thailand. Chiang Mai houses many who still live in the traditional manner. Chiang Mai is the perfect place to visit to get a glimpse of these people, their culture, and way of life. The hill tribes are undoubtedly one of the reasons why Chiang Mai is an excellent place to live.

Wat Ket is a temple located on the outskirts of Chiang Mai. This temple is most famous for being the headquarters of the tribal people. As the name suggests, most of the villagers are hill-tribe people, which is an interesting experience. The hill tribes greet the visitors with a smile, which is a great feeling. This temple is a great place to go for a fun day.

The hill-tribe people are one of the best parts of Wat Ket. You will get a chance to take photos with them. They have a variety of traditional costumes that are cool to see. In addition, you can participate in traditional Jao Jao dancing.

The hill-tribe people are fun to talk to and a great experience. You can get some great photos here too.

Where to Stay in Wat Ket

On the outskirts of the old city, the temples surrounding Wat Ket Hop are perfect for a casual day trip.

You will feel the peaceful influence of the temple grounds. There will be a sense of tranquility and calm that you can enjoy at any time of the day, even at five in the morning when you are waking up.

It’s only about a ten-minute walk to the temples if you stay outside, but if you get back to the hotel late at night, you may want to take a tuk-tuk to see the city…or for the brave, take a zipline tour from the roof of the hotel. The majority of temples can be reached by temple shuttle buses or on foot.

Motorbike taxis from the city center to the hotel are also available if you don’t mind sharing a seat. If you have more than two people in your party, it can be a good idea to share a taxi when you get back to town.

At Wat Ket Hop, there are a few things that are worth visiting while you are there. The gardens surround the temple and offer a beautiful view of the scenery around you. There are a number of statues, temples, and gardens that are also open to the public. Many of these are only open on certain days, but it will be a nice trip to see them all.