Chiang Mai is the largest city in Northern Thailand and is the country’s cultural hub. Chiang Mai has created its own unique culture complete with a distinct dialect, architecture and food. Parts of the Chiang Mai province have been around since the 8th century and remnants of this ancient period are still visible throughout the city.
However, although Chiang Mai is rich in history, it offers much more than the ancient ruins of Old City and Wiang Kum Kam. There is a popular area of the city for everyone, whether you’re interested in shopping, youth culture or experiencing life as a local. This where to stay guide will cover off the best places to stay in Chiang Mai for families, best budget places to stay in Chiang Mai, backpacking hostels in Chiang Mai and of course luxury hotels in Chiang Mai
Quick note: Prices will obviously vary from high season to low season, in some cases by almost 50%! Low tourist season is from May to October and high tourist season is November to April.
We will cover off all types of Chiang Mai accommodation options from Hostels to luxury Chiang Mai hotels as well as how to decide where to stay in Chiang Mai, the best hotels in Chiang Mai, best places in Chiang Mai to visit, the best places to stay in Chiang Mai, hotels near Chiang Mai attractions, Chiang Mai neighborhoods guide and many more.
This post contains some affiliate links for your convenience. Click here to read my full disclosure policy.
Chiang Mai Riverside – Best area to stay in Chiang Mai
The Ping River originates at Doi Thuai in Chiang Dao and flows all the way down through Chiang Mai city. Staying around the riverside will be perfect if you’re looking for an upscale area and scenic surrounding without the craziness of the city. You will find allot of Chiang Mai restaurants among the river banks, serving both, international and Thai cuisine. For a unique and romantic experience: try the dinner cruise, slowly cruising down the Ping River enjoying a buffet or set menu dinner.
Best Places to Stay near Chiang Mai Riverside
Old City – Popular with tourists (but quiet at night)
Old City is undoubtedly the cultural epicentre of Chiang Mai. This area of Chiang Mai is known as “Old City” because it was built in the late 13th century by King Mengrai and was where Chiang Mai originated. In fact, pieces of the ancient city walls are still visible throughout Old City. Old City is the best place in Chiang Mai to visit if you are interested in culture, arts or religion.
This area has the highest concentration of temples in all of Thailand- Old City alone has more than 200 Buddhist temples, all of which date back a few hundred years. Much of the culture and aesthetics of Old City is preserved under conservation laws, which state that no major construction can be done in the area and that the creation of high-rise skyscrapers that restructure the skyline are forbidden close to temples.
Where to stay in Chiang Mai old city
Nimmanhemin Road – Where to stay in Chiang Mai backpackers
Nimmanhaeminda, called Nimman Road by locals, is a primarily student area that boasts a hipster scene by day and bustling nightlife by night. It’s become the alternative tourist hotspot in Chiang Mai as it has quite a young and vibrant energy. Located just behind Chiang Mai University (CMU), Nimman is the place to visit if you’re interested in finding the best cup of coffee in Chiang Mai. Although Nimman doesn’t have as many backpacker hostels as other areas of Chiang Mai, it’s where you will find the most affordable hotels in the city. If you’re looking to visit an area of Chiang Mai with a prominent youth culture, Nimman is it.
Best places to stay near Nimmanhemin Road
Chiang Mai Night Bazaar (quiet during the day busy at night)
This family-friendly area is the centre of Chiang Mai’s main shopping district and is considered the “downtown” of Chiang Mai. The market is open from 6pm until late and sees hundreds upon hundreds of visitors every night. It’s hands down the best location in the city to find street food, handmade crafts and Thai products for a super cheap price. Whether you’re on the hunt for something specific or just want to browse, the Night Bazaar area is a lively market area that will more than likely have what you need.