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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 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 accommodation 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.
What not to Miss
- People come here for the temple complexes, and one of the things which has kept Chiang Mai so special is its peaceful, 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 Wat 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.
The Best Places to Stay in Chiang Mai
For Resort Charm
- The Dhara Dhevi Chiang Mai is a magical, 60 acre sanctuary complete with pools and spa and a timetable of activities which encourages you to experience this region’s cultural and architectural heritage as well as the resort’s charms. The 123 rooms and suites are decorated with a blend of colonial and Thai styles and there are some seriously luxurious features if you’re looking for a real treat.
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.
- The North Hill City Resort is a smart property set within lush ground just to the south of Chiang Mai town. The contemporary decor is sophisticated and functional and there’s a great spa and restaurant. A comfortable place to stay if you’re not quite ready to be within the visitor-bustle of town.
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. The suites, wth their big baths and huge beds are fantastic, but families will probably be more interested in their interconnecting rooms.
For an Apartment or private Villa
- If you’d prefer to stay in an apartment or private villa we recommend you visit our online partner, booking.com.
- Chiang Mai International Airport is just 10minutes drive from the centre of town, and a 70 minute flight from Bangkok. But many airlines fly here direct, or at least with a Bangkok stopover. You can also arrive by train from Bangkok or by bus.
- If you’re thinking about hiring a car we recommend checking what our online partners, Rentalcars have to offer.
- Peak season for visitors to Chiang Mai coincides with the region’s best weather, which is between October and April. Cooler, with light breezes, this is also when the town and region holds some of its most spectacular festivals.
Still not sure which to book?
Best Hotels in Chiang Mai
North Hill City Resort 42 rooms from £95Chiang Mai (Baanwan, Hangdong)
A sophisticated quiet retreat on the outskirts of Chiang Mai. Perfect for a couple or family looking to counter-balance their holiday with golf, archery, cooking classes and a trip to the spa! Contemporary rooms are as sophisticated as they are functional.Golf - Play a round on the 18-hole course with spectacular views of panoramic view of Doi Suthep.Local exploring - A luxury base to explore the temples and countryside of Chiang Mai and its surrounds.Spa - Traditional Thai massages, special facials and body treatmentsCooking classes - Take a 'farm to table' cooking class.
Akyra Manor Chiang Mai 30 rooms from £140Mueang 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.
Rachamankha 24 rooms from £145Chiang 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
Tamarind Village 42 rooms from £146Chiang Mai (Tambon Sri Pum)
A leafy and charming hotel built around an ancient Tamarind tree in Chiang Mai. The comfortable and sleek rooms offer laid back elegance and splashes of traditional design. The breakfast is excellent and the dinner menu doesn't disappoint. In the heart of a buzzing city but the vibe is almost rural.Local exploring - A quiet haven from which to explore the buzzing city of Chiang Mai- within easy reach of nightmarkets, temples and bazaarsHotel Entertainment - A gentleman plays his ranad ek (1-string fiddle) by the pool every evening, well worth a listenCooking classes - Learn to cook your favoutire Thai dishes from the excellent on site cookery schoolLocal markets - The nearby night market is a good spot to pick up all the usual tourist gearRecommended by - I Escape, Tablet
Ping Nakara Hotel & Spa 19 rooms from £188Chiang Mai (T. Changklan)
A stunning new boutique hotel on the peaceful end of the Ping River, yet just minutes from the Chiang Mai old town. Each detail, both architectural and design, has been carefully crafted to represent an eclectic mix of tradition and modernity. Think hand carved teak and private jacuzzis. Sublime.Local exploring - Perfectly located- just far enough out of the hustle and bustle to allow one to unwind, yet just a few blocks from the actionCity Style - The handcarved teak details in this new build hotel are a tasteful nod to traditional methods, as are the wooden furnishingsOther Activities - The hotels central pool is a lovely spot to spend the morning catching up on your emails or relaxing with a bookHotel Entertainment - The on site spa is a total winner, run by two Indian ayurvedic doctors trained in every art of pamperingRecommended by - I Escape, Great Small Hotels
Na Nirand 39 rooms from £158Chiang Mai (Tambon Changklan, Amphoe Muang,)
A peaceful haven in the heart of downtown Chiang Mai, right on the river. Contemporary and traditional styles have been merged with teak furniture and beamed ceilings set alongside modern art. Featuring a pampering spa and lovely tranquil gardens. A romantic spot to come and unwind.Local exploring - The night market is a five-minute walk away and the old city centre can be reached by a 10-minute tuk-tuk rideHideaway - On the banks of the Ping River, this is a tranquil, quiet garden property right in the heart of the cityWeddings - A small amphitheatre used for weddings and other events spreads by the water’s edgeSights nearby - Art in Paradise Chiang Mai is a 15-minute walk from the property, while Chiang Mai Night Bazaar is just a 12-minute walk away
Raya Heritage 33 rooms from £264Chiang Mai (Tambol Donkaew)
A peaceful hideaway on the Ping river, 20 minutes from the city centre. Leafy gardens, chic interiors and fantastic authentic food. A magnificent example of how a modern Thai hotel should look- proper emphasis on traditional crafts by local people and none of the over-the-top kitsch tat. Faultless.City Style - A suave boutique that epitomises Chiang Mai’s rich heritage in craft and artisan design- from ceramic tiles to hand-dyed fabricsHotel Entertainment - The hotel spa is top notch- they use traditional Lanna techniques to massage you back to your more sprightly selfClose to nightlife - For those looking for some nightime action head down to the vibrant Think Park- filled with bars and cafesHideaway - Just twenty minutes from the city centre, yet it feels like a remote riverside retreatRecommended by - Mr & Mrs Smith, Tablet
Villa Mahabhirom 11 rooms from £281Chiang Mai
A superb 5 star, breaming with charm in the ancient city of Chiang Mai. The remarkable and unique villas are filled with antiques and Jim Thompson silks, and many offer fabulous views and private pools. The home-cooked Thai fusion food is aromatic and unforgettable, as are the poolside cocktails.Romantic Break - The Villa Doi Suthep offers a deep enough for two copper bath and picturesque views of the gold-domed Doi Suthep templeAntiques - Each room has been individually decorated with the owners extensive range of antiques and artworksGroups - For groups travelling together rent the two or three bed villas each with their own private poolSights nearby - Check out Wat Umong Suan Phutthatham, a series of 13th-century tunnels just five minutes down the roadRecommended by - Mr & Mrs Smith
137 Pillars House 30 rooms from £307Chiang 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 £411Chiang 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.
Four Seasons Chiang Mai 99 rooms from £643Chiang Mai
Set amongst lush leafy gardens in the pretty Mae Rim Valley. The design has a colonial air with teak and rattan furniture and antiques; but modern luxuries are also abound. Featuring a well equipped spa and an in-house yogi. A spoiling spot ideal for unwinding in stunning rural surrounds.Back to Nature - Set in landscaped gardens with romantic views of terraced rice paddies, lakes, lily ponds and mountains in Mae Rim ValleyHideaway - A magical bolthole best suited for honeymooning couples and guests looking to escapeSights nearby - There are many temples to visit in the surrounding area, and tours can be organised by the resortCooking classes - On-site cooking academy where guests can learn how to cook Thai cuisine