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About Chiang Mai
Chiang Mai exists in a bubble of calm beauty. This is Thailand’s northern capital and it’s very different to Bangkok in the south. Its layout accommodates the numerous medieval teak monasteries and temples, but in between are the houses and hotels which make this a very residential historic centre. All arranged around the towering wát. Some of the best places to stay in Chiang Mai can be found in amongst the homes of the locals in the historic heart of town, but if your idea of the best places to stay in Chiang Mai involves modern design or decor then you should probably look to the modern city which has sprung up in a ring around the historic heart.
Wherever you choose to stay you’re just a short drive, in almost any direction, from the wonderful rainforest reserves, quiet country villages and remote wát of northern Thailand. After all, Chiang Mai is located in the Himalayas. But before you head out of town make sure you enjoy the excellent local cuisine and learn something about Chiang Mai’s incredible history, dating from its founding in the 13th century as the capital of the ancient Lanna Kingdom.
One of the things which has kept Chiang Mai so special and peaceful is its remote location. Until the 1920s the only way you could get here was by trekking on the back of an elephant or up the river, which was a long and often arduous journey. Once you reach the walled city you come upon around thirty painstakingly decorated temples, dating from the founding of the kingdom. The old city is only about a mile square so it’s easy to get between them. Wat Phan Tao is probably the one of the highlights of the old city, sitting just in the shadow of War Chedi Luang, which is probably another highlight. And if you had to choose to see just three of the old city’s temples then Was Phra Singh should definitely be the third. It’s Chiang Mai’s most revered temple and has an amazing ‘lion Buddha and an enormous sanctuary decorated with a mosaic of tiles.
Outside the walls of the old city are another 250 or so temples, most of them within the modern ring, but the Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep, with its gold-plated chedi, is about 18kms from town. While you’re out here you might want to visit the lush Royal Palace Gardens which are about 4kms down the road.
As well as the temples many visitors head for the museums, galleries and cultural centres. And Chiang Mai also has some wonderfully ornate gardens and peaceful, shady parks.
Chiang Mai’s famous Night Bazaar is to the east of the historic city, closer to the nightlife of Loi Korh Road. You’ll find Chiang Mai’s oldest market by the river, Warorot is an amazing place of converted walkways and tiny statues. It’s right next to the flower market.
The other thing a lot of people do when they visit Chiang Mai is take an elephant tour or visit an elephant park or sanctuary. But there are loads of weird and wonderful tours and activities offered to visitors.
The city is a fascinating destination and our pick of the best places to stay in Chiang Mai are all perfect bases from which to start exploring.
For modern chic
Akyra Manor Chiang Mai is a reasonably priced five star hotel with 30 stylish, edgy suites and rooms, decorated in somewhat moody tones, with an amazing rooftop bar and pool and a gourmet Italian restaurant. Perfect for a city break.
For a central location
- If you’re looking for peace and elegance, Rachamankha might be a good choice for you. It has just 24 rooms, arranged around a series of shady courtyards, plenty of art and a wonderful fusion restaurant. There are restrictions on children under 12.
For a riverside location
- 137 Pillars House is a 30 room boutique hotel right on the river, yet feeling a world away from Chiang Mai’s busy streets. The facilities are first class and there’s an atmosphere of old world charm.
Best Hotels in Chiang Mai
akyra Manor Chiang Mai 30 rooms from $130Mueang Chiang Mai District,
Deserving of its five-star rating for the bathtub feature alone, akyra Manor Chiang Mai brings edge to Chiang Mai’s hotel scene. Stylish suites decorated in moody tones feature all the mod cons. Plus there is a rooftop bar and pool with city views. Gourmet Italian dishes can be enjoyed at Italics.Swimming Pool - Stylish rooftop poolViews - Great views from hotelDesigner - Uniquely designed interiors.Romantic - Good for couples.
North Hill City Resort 42 rooms from $142Chiang Mai (Baanwan, Hangdong)
A smart luxury property set within lush green surrounds. Contemporary rooms are as sophisticated as they are functional. A spa offers excellent Thai massages and the restaurant lives up to expectations too. Ideally situated to access Chiang Mai and its rural surrounds. A fine stay.Local exploring - A luxury base to explore the temples and countryside of Chiang Mai and its surrounds.Cooking classes - Take a 'farm to table' cooking class.SpaSwimming Pool - Indoor/outdoor
Rachamankha 24 rooms from $178Chiang Mai
The elegance of Rachamankha is underpinned by the architectural vision of its owner. Expect simplicity, style and serenity. Surrounding a series of cool courtyards you could be forgiven for getting lost amidst the property's art strewn walls. A fusion of Thai and Western dishes is served.Sights nearby - Just a three minute walk from Wat Phra Singh templeRestrictions on children - Over 12s onlyRomantic - Good for couples.Four poster beds - For romantics.Recommended by - Mr & Mrs Smith
137 Pillars House 30 rooms from $376Chiang Mai
Centrally located yet a world away from Chiang Mai’s busy streets. This boutique hotel promises first-class facilities and old-world charm for a discerning crowd. Suites are simply made for couples with big baths and bigger beds but interconnecting rooms mean it's great for families too.Local markets - Just across the river Warorot Market sells clothing and homewares.Great walks - Embark on a walking tour of The Old City.Swimming Pool - Outdoor.Romantic - Good for couples.Recommended by - Mr & Mrs Smith
The Dhara Dhevi Chiang Mai 123 rooms from $503Chiang Mai (T. Tasala, A. Muang,)
Inspired by the region’s cultural and architectural heritage, Dhara Dhevi is a magical 60 acre sanctuary complete with spa, swimming pools and an agenda of activities to entertain guests each day. Rooms are decorated in a blend of colonial and Thai decor, plus some feature private pools.Sights nearby - The sights of Chiang Mai are within easy reach. Even more so thanks to a daily shuttle service.Swimming Pool - Outdoor.Kids Club - Fully staffed.Romantic - Good for couples.