Where to Stay in Chiang Mai, Thailand 🇹🇭: My guide to the best areas 

Updated on June 6, 2024
by Alex Miller

Choosing the best area to stay in Chiang Mai is crucial for an enjoyable visit. This guide covers the top neighborhoods and hotels catering to different interests and budgets. Explore the historic Chiang Mai Old City with cultural sites and best hotels. The trendy Nimman area offers a vibrant cafe and nightlife scene. For a relaxed stay, consider the serene Riverside district with luxury resorts – ideal for families. Those seeking local experiences should check out the up-and-coming Santitham neighborhood. Whether visiting Chiang Mai for 5 days or longer, as a first-timer or digital nomad, you’ll find the perfect area and accommodation in this comprehensive guide.

Our Pick of the Best Hotels in Chiang Mai 💎 :

Quick Guide to the Best Places to Stay in the Chiang Mai 📋

  • 👀 For the First Time: Old City
  • 👪 For Families: Riverside
  • 🛍️For Shopping: Night Bazaar
  • 🌿 For Day Trips Saraphi
  • 🕊 For Nightlife: Nimman
  • 🏯 For Culture: Old City, Mae Rim

1. Chiang Mai, Old City – The Best Place to Stay for the First Time 👀

📍 Location and Accessibility: Chiang Mai Old Town is the historic heart of the city, encircled by remnants of the ancient moat and crumbling brick walls. This central area puts you within walking distance of top cultural attractions, markets and restaurants.

Getting around is easy on foot or by tuk-tuk, songthaew (red truck taxi), or bicycle. The Old Town is also well-connected to other areas by local buses and close to Chiang Mai International Airport.

🏯 Cultural Treasures: As one of the most historic places in Thailand, Chiang Mai’s Old Town is brimming with cultural riches waiting to be discovered:

  • Wat Phra Singh – This stunning 14th century Buddhist temple showcases classic Lanna architecture
  • Wat Chedi Luang – The ruins of an ancient massive chedi (stupa)
  • Wat Chiang Man – The oldest temple in Chiang Mai dating back to 1296
  • Three Kings Monument – Commemorating the founders of the former Lanna kingdom

🍽️ Dining and Nightlife: Chiang Mai’s Old Town is a foodie paradise, with an incredible array of local street food stalls, night markets, and restaurants serving authentic Northern Thai cuisine. It’s also one of the best places in Chiang Mai for nightlife, with lively bars and clubs around the Night Bazaar area.

Where to stay in the Old City?

⭐ Best Luxury Hotels in Chiang Mai Old City

  • The Chiang Mai Old Town – A stunning 5-star hotel located in the most beautiful corner of Chiang Mai’s old city gate, offering excellent customer service and accommodations.
  • Smile Lanna Hotel – An upscale 5-star hotel ideally situated in the center of Chiang Mai’s Old Town.
  • Phra Singh Village – An elegant 4-star hotel located in the Old City near Wat Phra Singh temple, offering spacious rooms, a great breakfast, and friendly staff.

🏨 Best Mid-Range Hotels 

  • Pingviman Hotel – A charming 3-star hotel situated in the Old City near popular attractions.
  • Marigold Lan Hotel – A cozy 3-star hotel located in the Old City near Tha Phae Gate.
  • De Sripoom Hotel – A modern 3-star hotel situated in the Old City near Sunday Walking Street.

🛏️ Best Budget Hotels 

  • Rich Garden House – An affordable 2-star hotel located in the Old City near Wat Chedi Luang temple.
  • Cozytel Chiangmai – A budget-friendly 2-star hotel situated in the Old City near Tha Phae Gate.
  • Wing Bed Lanna – An economical 2-star hotel located in the Old City near Wat Phra Singh temple.

2. Nimmanhaemin (Nimman) – The Best Area in Chiang Mai for Nightlife 🍹

📍 Location and Accessibility: The trendy Nimmanhaemin area, often referred to as “Nimman”, is located just northwest of Chiang Mai’s Old City walls. This hip neighborhood is within walking distance or a short tuk-tuk/songthaew ride from the historic city center.

Nimmanhaemin, Chiang Mai
Nimmanhaemin, Chiang Mai
Nimmanhaemin, Chiang Mai
Nimmanhaemin, Chiang Mai
Nimmanhaemin, Chiang Mai
Nimmanhaemin, Chiang Mai
Nimmanhaemin, Chiang Mai
Nimmanhaemin, Chiang Mai
Nimmanhaemin, Chiang Mai
Nimmanhaemin, Chiang Mai
Nimmanhaemin, Chiang Mai
Nimmanhaemin, Chiang Mai

Despite being close to top attractions like Wat Chiang Man and Wat Phra Singh, Nimman has a distinctly modern, almost bohemian vibe compared to the Old Town.

🍹 Nightlife Hub: Nimman is the beating heart of Chiang Mai’s nightlife scene, lined with stylish bars, pubs, live music venues and nightclubs that stay open until the early hours. Some of the best places for nightlife include:

  • Warm Up Cafe – A longtime institution with nightly live music
  • Nimman Bar Strip – A collection of bars and brewpubs along Nimmanhaemin Road
  • Infinity Club – A massive multi-level nightclub complex

The area really comes alive at night with a lively, youthful energy perfect for bar-hopping.

🛍️ Shopping and Dining: By day, Nimman is a great place for shopping, dining and cafe-hopping. You’ll find funky boutiques, handicraft shops, art galleries like Art Mai Gallery, and an array of hip cafes, bakeries and restaurants.

Staying in Nimman puts you in the heart of Chiang Mai’s most happening neighborhood, surrounded by nightlife, dining and shopping. It’s one of the best areas for those looking to experience the city’s modern, cosmopolitan side while still being close to the Old City’s historical attractions.

Where to stay in Nimmanhaemin?

⭐ Best Luxury Hotels

  • Hotel Sensai Nimman Chiang Mai – A luxurious 5-star hotel located in the trendy Nimman area, just a short walk from popular attractions. It offers an outdoor pool, free private parking, a restaurant, bar, and modern air-conditioned rooms with amenities like desks, electric kettles, fridges, and private bathrooms.
  • Akyra Manor Chiang Mai SHA Extra Plus – An upscale all-suite hotel situated near Nimman Hemin Road, boasting a rooftop infinity pool, free WiFi, an Italian restaurant, and spacious urban suites with balconies and outdoor spa baths.
  • U Nimman Chiang Mai – A modern 5-star hotel located on Nimmanhaemin Road, offering an outdoor pool, sun terrace, sauna, and contemporary rooms and suites.

🏨 Best Mid-Range Hotels

🛏️ Best Budget Hotels

  • Buri Siri Boutique Hotel – An affordable 2-star boutique hotel located near Chiang Mai’s Old City, Wat Chedi Luang, and Sunday Walking Street.
  • At Pingnakorn Hotel – A budget-friendly 2-star hotel situated in the Nimman area, close to various temples and markets.
  • L Nimman Chiang Mai – An economical 2-star hotel located right in the trendy Nimman area, near shops, cafes, and restaurants.

3. Riverside – A Great Area to Stay in Chiang Mai for Families 👪

📍 Location and Accessibility: The Riverside area stretches along the east side of the Ping River, just outside Old City walls. While not right in the heart of the action, it’s still conveniently located near many top attractions like Wat Chiang Man and the Night Bazaar. Getting around is easy via songthaew, tuk-tuk or taxi.

Riverside, Chiang Mai
Riverside, Chiang Mai
Riverside, Chiang Mai
Riverside, Chiang Mai
Riverside, Chiang Mai
Riverside, Chiang Mai
Riverside, Chiang Mai
Riverside, Chiang Mai
Riverside, Chiang Mai
Riverside, Chiang Mai

👨‍👩‍👧‍👦 Family-Friendly Accommodation: Riverside is home to many family-friendly hotels, resorts and serviced apartments that cater well to those traveling with children. You’ll find larger rooms/suites, kid’s clubs, playgrounds and pools at properties like the Anantara Chiang Mai Resort & Spa. There are also plenty of budget-friendly options.

🌿 Peaceful Atmosphere: One of the biggest draws of staying in the Riverside area is the peaceful, laid-back vibe compared to the Old City. The riverfront promenade offers a nice escape for strolls, picnics and letting kids run around away from traffic. Many hotels have beautiful garden settings.

🦒 Attractions Nearby: While Riverside itself is relatively quiet, you’ll find plenty of family-friendly attractions just a short drive away. The Chiang Mai Zoo and expansive Buak Hat Park are great for kids. You’re also not far from Wat Umong, Wat Suan Dok temple and the 3D Art Museum.

🍽️ Dining and Shopping: The Riverside area has a good selection of casual restaurants, cafes and street food options for families. You’ll also find convenience stores and small local markets. For more choices, it’s just a quick hop to the Night Bazaar.

Where to stay in Riverside?

⭐ Best Luxury Hotels

  • The Chiang Mai Riverside – A luxurious 5-star hotel located right on the banks of the Ping River, featuring stunning Lanna-Thai style architecture and breathtaking river views.
  • The Empress Premier Chiang Mai - SHA Extra Plus – An upscale 5-star hotel situated near the Night Bazaar, offering concierge services, a terrace, free WiFi, an outdoor pool, fitness center, and sauna.
  • Ping Nakara Boutique Hotel & Spa – An elegant 5-star boutique hotel located in the heart of Chiang Mai near the Ping River, offering an outdoor pool, spa and wellness center, restaurant, and free WiFi.

🏨 Best Mid-Range Hotels

  • Rimping Village – A charming 4-star hotel situated along the Ping River, featuring an outdoor pool, garden, and terrace for a peaceful and relaxing atmosphere.
  • Buri Siri Ping Riverside Resort & Spa – A delightful 3-star resort located right on the banks of the Ping River, offering a tranquil escape with an outdoor pool, spa and wellness center, and restaurant.
  • Puripunn Baby Grand Boutique Hotel – A stylish 4-star boutique hotel situated in the heart of Chiang Mai near the Ping River and Night Bazaar, with an outdoor pool, spa, restaurant, and free WiFi.

🛏️ Best Budget Hotels

  • Celosia Chiang Mai – An affordable 3-star hotel located near the Ping River and Chiang Mai Night Bazaar, providing an outdoor pool, garden, and terrace.
  • Amata Lanna Village – A budget-friendly 3-star hotel situated in the center of Chiang Mai near the Ping River and Night Bazaar, offering an outdoor pool, garden, and shared lounge.

4. Mae Rim – A Best Neighborhoods Near Chiang Mai for Nature and Culture 🏯

📍 Location and Accessibility: Mae Rim is conveniently located just a 30-minute drive north of Chiang Mai’s old city gates, making it an ideal area for a relaxed stay or day trip from the heart of Chiang Mai. While feeling worlds away from downtown, getting to this scenic neighborhood is easy – rent a car/motorbike, hire a taxi/songthaew from the city center, or join a guided tour.

Mae Rim, Chiang Mai
Mae Rim, Chiang Mai
Mae Rim, Chiang Mai
Mae Rim, Chiang Mai
Mae Rim, Chiang Mai
Mae Rim, Chiang Mai
Mae Rim, Chiang Mai
Mae Rim, Chiang Mai
Mae Rim, Chiang Mai
Mae Rim, Chiang Mai
Mae Rim Market
Mae Rim Market

Once in Mae Rim, rent a motorbike or hire a local driver to explore this spread out area at your own pace during your Chiang Mai vacation.

🌿 Natural Attractions: Mae Rim’s stunning natural landscapes provide ample opportunities for nature lovers. Must-visit places include:

  • Sprawling Queen Sirikit Botanic Garden
  • Beautiful Mae Sa Waterfall hikes
  • Eco-adventures at Pongyang Adventure Park.

🏯 Cultural Experiences: Immerse yourself in Northern Thailand’s rich cultural heritage by visiting the Hmong Doi Pui Village to learn about indigenous hill tribes, exploring the ancient Wiang Tha Kan ruins, and experiencing life as a mahout at Elephant Poo Poo Paper Park. For an authentic Chiang Mai stay, consider a local homestay or eco-lodge with activities like cooking classes.

🍽️ Food Scene: No visit to Mae Rim is complete without sampling iconic Northern Thai dishes like khao soi curry noodles, sai oua sausages, and nam prik ong dips. Immerse yourself in the local food culture at the vibrant Mae Rim Market, also shopping for souvenirs and handicrafts.

Where to stay in Mae Rim?

⭐ Best Luxury Hotels

  • Panviman Chiang Mai Spa Resort – A luxurious 5-star resort located in Mae Rim, offering stunning views of the surrounding mountains and lush landscapes. It features a spa, outdoor pool, and elegant rooms/villas with private balconies or terraces.
  • Four Seasons Resort Chiang Mai – An opulent 5-star resort situated in the heart of the Mae Rim Valley, surrounded by rice fields and mountains. It offers luxurious villas, multiple dining options, a spa, and outdoor pools.
  • Onsen at Moncham – An upscale 5-star hotel located in Mae Rim, known for its hot spring baths and Japanese-inspired onsen experience. It features a garden, terrace, restaurant, bar, and guest rooms with modern amenities.

🏨 Best Mid-Range Hotels

  • Proud Phu Fah – A charming 4-star resort situated in the mountains of Mae Rim, offering a peaceful and serene atmosphere.
  • Mae Rim Grace – A delightful 3-star hotel located in the heart of Mae Rim, surrounded by lush gardens and natural beauty.
  • Lamtam Maesa Resort – A pleasant 3-star resort situated in Mae Rim, offering a tranquil escape from the city.

🛏️ Best Budget Hotels

  • Fueng Fah Riverside Gardens Resort – An affordable 3-star resort located along the river in Mae Rim, offering a peaceful and relaxing atmosphere.
  • Monoceros Resort – A budget-friendly 3-star resort situated in the mountains of Mae Rim, surrounded by nature and stunning views.

5. Night Bazaar – Accommodation in Chiang Mai for Shopping & Street Food 🛍️

📍 Location and Accessibility: The famous Chiang Mai Night Bazaar area is situated just east of Old City walls, within walking distance of top attractions like Wat Chiang Man and Tha Phae Gate. This central location makes it one of the best neighborhoods to stay in Chiang Mai for first-time visitors.

You can easily access the Night Bazaar area by songthaew, tuk-tuk or even on foot from the Old Town. It’s also close to Chiang Mai International Airport and the iconic Night Bazaar itself – one of the largest night markets in Thailand.

🛍️ Shopping Haven: As the name suggests, the Night Bazaar area is a shopper’s paradise. The iconic covered market and surrounding streets are packed with stalls selling handicrafts, clothing, accessories, antiques and more at bargain prices. Even if you’re not a shopaholic, just wandering the lively, colorful market alleys is an experience in itself. Nearby you’ll also find modern malls like Maya Lifestyle Shopping Center.

🍽️ Street Food Galore: The Night Bazaar zone is one of the best areas of Chiang Mai to sample an incredible array of delicious and affordable Thai street food. From sizzling pork skewers to savory khao soi noodles, you’ll find it all here. Don’t miss the legendary crispy fried insects at Anusarn Market!

Night Bazaar, Chiang Mai
Night Bazaar, Chiang Mai
Night Bazaar, Chiang Mai

🍹 Nightlife Options: After dark, the Night Bazaar area truly comes alive with its buzzing nightlife scene. Lively beer bars, live music venues and nightclubs line the streets. The area has a fun, raucous atmosphere perfect for bar-hopping and partying into the early hours.

Where to stay in Night Bazaar?

⭐ Best Hotels

  • Chiang Mai Marriott Hotel – An upscale 5-star hotel located in the heart of Chiang Mai, near the Night Bazaar and other popular attractions.
  • Melia Chiang Mai – A luxurious 5-star hotel situated in the city center, close to the Night Bazaar and other landmarks. It offers an outdoor pool, fitness center, spa facilities, restaurants, and a kids’ club.
  • InterContinental Chiang Mai Mae Ping – An elegant 5-star hotel located in the heart of Chiang Mai, near the Night Bazaar and Ping River.

🛏️ Best Budget Hotels in Chiang Mai

  • H·Flora Hotel – An affordable 3-star hotel located just a short walk from the Chiang Mai Night Bazaar.
  • Nap in Chiangmai – A budget-friendly hostel situated near the Night Bazaar, offering both private rooms and dormitory-style accommodations.
  • Yaang Come Village – A charming 3-star hotel located in the city center, just a short walk from the Night Bazaar.

6. Saraphi – Best Place to Stay in Chiang Mai for Day Trips 🐘

📍 Location and Accessibility: Saraphi is a district located about 16 km outside Chiang Mai old city, making it a convenient base for exploring attractions outside the city center. This area is well-connected by major roads and highways, allowing easy access by car or motorbike rental.

Saraphi, Chiang Mai
Saraphi, Chiang Mai
Saraphi, Chiang Mai
Saraphi, Chiang Mai
Saraphi, Chiang Mai
Saraphi, Chiang Mai
Saraphi, Chiang Mai
Saraphi, Chiang Mai
Saraphi, Chiang Mai
Saraphi, Chiang Mai

🏞️ Day Trip: Saraphi’s strategic location puts you within easy driving distance of some of Northern Thailand’s top attractions perfect for day trips around Chiang Mai city:

  • Doi Inthanon National Park (60 km) – Home to Thailand’s highest mountain and stunning nature trails
  • Ob Khan National Park (70 km) – Known for its beautiful waterfalls and hot springs
  • Elephant Nature Park (60 km) – A sanctuary where you can ethically interact with rescued elephants
  • Bua Tong Sticky Waterfalls (80 km) – Unique mineral waterfalls you can actually walk up

There are also several temples, markets, and lesser-known natural attractions in the surrounding countryside to discover.

Saraphi, Chiang Mai
Saraphi, Chiang Mai
Saraphi, Chiang Mai

🚗 Getting Around: Having your own vehicle is recommended for maximizing your time in Saraphi. However, you can also hire a local driver, join tours, or use ride-sharing apps like Grab to get around.

Where to stay in Saraphi?

⭐ Best Hotels in Saraphi

  • Ken's Pool Villa – A spacious villa located in Saraphi, offering an outdoor pool, shared lounge, terrace, and free Wi-Fi.
  • The Vet Boutique – An upscale boutique hotel situated in Saraphi, offering an outdoor pool and fitness center.
  • Le Baan Thai Boutique Villa – A luxurious boutique villa located in Saraphi, offering an outdoor pool, garden, and villas beautifully appointed with traditional Thai decor.

🏨 Best Mid-Range Hotels

  • Matana Hotel – A comfortable hotel situated in Saraphi, offering an outdoor pool, fitness center, restaurant, bar, and 24-hour front desk.
  • Golden Teak Home Resort – A resort-style hotel located in Saraphi, offering free bicycles, an outdoor pool, garden, and terrace.
  • De Wiang Kum Kam – A charming hotel located in Saraphi, offering an outdoor pool, garden, restaurant, shared lounge, and free parking.

🛏️ Best Budget Hotels

  • Saku Boutique Homestay – An affordable homestay located in Chiang Mai, offering an outdoor pool, restaurant, bar, laundry service, and free airport shuttle.
  • Donchan Residence – A budget-friendly hotel situated in Saraphi, featuring a 24-hour front desk and luggage storage.

FAQs about Trip to Chiang Mai ❔

Which part of Chiang Mai is best to stay in?

The Old City is generally considered the best area for first-time visitors to stay in Chiang Mai. It’s brimming with cultural attractions, ancient temples, and has a wide range of accommodation options.

How many days should I spend in Chiang Mai?

Most travelers recommend spending 3-5 days in Chiang Mai to see the major sights in the city as well as take a day trip or two to nearby areas like Doi Inthanon or Chiang Rai.

What is the trendy area in Chiang Mai?

The Nimmanhaemin (Nimman) area is considered the trendiest neighborhood in Chiang Mai, filled with stylish cafes, boutiques, art galleries and nightlife spots.

What kind of shopping can I expect at the Night Bazaar?

The Night Bazaar and surrounding streets are a shopper’s paradise with hundreds of stalls selling handicrafts, clothing, accessories, antiques and more at bargain prices. Even non-shoppers enjoy wandering the lively, colorful market alleys.

What the best months to visit Chiang Mai?

The best time to visit Chiang Mai is during the cool, dry season from November to February. This period offers ideal weather conditions – sunny skies, low humidity, and temperatures ranging from 25°C during the day to 13°C at night. It’s also peak tourist season when major festivals like Loy Krathong and Yi Peng take place.