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. You might be wondering is Chiang Mai walkable? The old city itself is onloy 1.5km and most of the attractions are fairly close together.
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 2023, 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.
Wondering where is the best place to stay in Chiang Mai? Below are 4 of the best neighborhoods in Chiang Mai to help you make the right decision when trying to work out best area to stay in Chiang Mai for you. We have tried to make the guide as easy to follow as possible.
We have also included some things to do or places to visit as well as some eatery suggestions of either our favourite places or some funky places to eat at within the areas in Chiang Mai so you can use this as a go to guide.
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Chiang Mai Riverside – Best area to stay in Chiang Mai on a Budget
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 a lot 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.
There are a number of food, souvenir, clothing and household markets around Chang moi Road including locally known as Kad Luang, Warorot Market is a popular tourist destination in Chiang Mai Province and is thought to be the biggest and most well-known market in Thailand’s north. Wat Ket Karam or Wat Sa Ket is a Buddhist temple in Chiang Mai across the river from Chang Moi Road markets.
Ton Lamyai Market Public Park i a great spot to grab some food and head to to enjoy your meal by the Ping River. If you’re feeling adventurous you can also take a river cruise with Mae Ping River.
We will be focusing on attractions and accommodation near Nawarat Bridge and Nakhon Phing Bridge, as “riverside” could be 100s of miles of riverland in Chiang Mai. Riverside is the best part of Chiang Mai to stay in if you’re on a budget, there are a lot of cheaper options for accommodation in Chiang Mai.
Best Places to Stay near Chiang Mai Riverside
Old City – Where to stay in Chiang Mai for First Timers
Old City of Chiang Mai is approximately 1.5km square, it’s also known as Chiang Mai city center. The walled and moated Old City is where Chiang Mai’s cultural centre is located. Here, you’ll find centuries-old temple complexes like Wat Phra Singh, famous for its Lion Buddha statue, and Wat Chedi Luang, home to a massive pagoda that has been meticulously restored.
Pratu Tha Phae, also called the Tha Phae Gate, is an old city gate that has been preserved. The city’s easternmost gate, known as Tha Phae, is constructed of red brick and stone.
The ancient old city walls still encircle it, just like they do for the other gates. The Old City is the best part of Chiang Mai to stay in for first time visitors as it’s a super central area.
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.
In Chiang Mai Old City, there is a museum called Lanna Folklife Museum. The museum is devoted to the culture of Northern Thailand and displays Lanna people’s way of life as well as Buddhist art, including ritual implements.
The Three Kings, Chiang Mai’s previous monarchs, built their palaces in the area known as Three Kings Monument. In front of the former administrative building, which is now the Chiang Mai City Art and Cultural Centre, is a sculpture of the Three Kings.
A Buddhist temple called Wat Chedi Luang is located in Chiang Mai’s old city. Wat Chedi Luang, Wat Ho Tham, and Wat Sukmin were the initial three temples that formed up the current temple grounds. Daily monk conversations take place at Wat Chedi Luang. Always remember to dress appropriately and follow proper temple protocol to demonstrate respect.
Every evening from 4 p.m. to midnight, the well-known Sunday Walking Street Market is open. There are a lot of food stalls, as well as shops selling sculptures, clothes, jewellery, and souvenirs.
The entire night, there will probably be several street performers entertaining the public. To allow visitors to enjoy the Sunday Market without having to worry about traffic, Ratchadamnoen Road is closed to traffic.
Walking Street Market in Wualai (Saturday Market). While touring the market, you will see various traditional silver workshops on Wulai Rd. It shouldn’t surprise you that Chiang Mai’s historic silver manufacturing district is Wulai Rd.
Similar to the Sunday Market, you may buy goods like handcrafted statues and ornaments here and of course there are food stands too. Even though it’s smaller than the Sunday Market, you’ll still have fun. It begins at about 4:30 pm and ends at 10:00 pm.
Where to stay in Chiang Mai old city
Nimmanhaemin – Where to stay in Chiang Mai for Nightlife
Chic Nimmanhaemin is renowned for its vibrant dining and nightlife district, which is focused on its namesake road and features hip cafés, live music venues, and casual northern Thai cuisine.
Independent clothing stores and a weekend artisan fair can be found at Think Park mall. An outdoor attraction, the Lanna Traditional House Museum, showcases wooden stilt homes. The Chiang Mai University Art Center exhibits contemporary artwork.
Nimmanhaemin Road, also known as Nimman or “Coffee Street, is a retail district that includes clothing stores, silk and handicraft stores, antique stores, and art galleries. Nimmanhaemin Road is best location to stay in Chiang Mai for nightlife.
The nine homes and four rice granaries that make up the Lanna Traditional House Museum are traditional dwellings that have been collected as a museum.
The Center for the Promotion of Arts and Culture is now being upgraded to become a living museum that will showcase Lanna architecture, handicrafts, and way of life in addition to serving as a hub for cultural events and academic Lanna studies.
Although Nimmanhaemin doesn’t have as many backpacker hostels as other areas of Chiang Mai, it is where you will find the most affordable hotels and hostels in the city. If you’re looking to visit an area of Chiang Mai with a prominent youth culture, Nimmanhaemin is it.
Where to stay in Nimman Chiang Mai
Chiang Mai Night Bazaar – Where to stay in Chiang Mai for Family
Chiang Mai Night Bazaar is the best area in Chiang Mai to stay with family as it’s a family-friendly area, in 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.
The Chiang Mai Night Bazaar, also known as the Night Bazaar, is located on Chang Khlan Road between Tha Phae and Sridonchai Roads, directly east of the city moat and between it and the Ping River. It is known for its portrait paintings and handicrafts.
There are also high-tech things like CDs and DVDs, jewellery, toys, and apparel. Visitors can browse endless aisles of handicrafts, including sparkling jewellery and purses. Just keep an eye on your wallet because there might be pickpockets.