Where to Stay in Chiang Mai: Best Areas & Hotels

By Olly Gaspar, full-time traveler for 6 years. I visit every place I write about & share real tips, photos, & advice from my trips.

Discover the best places to stay in Chiang Mai! Explore great hotels for all budgets across areas like Old Town, Nimmanhaemin, Riverside, and more.

While not quite the sprawling metropolis of Bangkok, Chiang Mai is by no means a small city– it’s the second largest in the country, with a population of over 1.7 million. As you plan your trip to Thailand’s cultural capital, you might be wondering exactly where to stay in Chiang Mai.

If it’s your first trip to Chiang Mai, don’t end up by the seafood market like I did! Find the perfect Chiang Mai neighborhoods in the heart of the action with my accommodation guide and discover the best hotels, unique boutique hotels, and epic budget backpacker hostels.

Infographic map showing the different areas to stay in chiang mai in thailandInfographic map showing the different areas to stay in chiang mai in thailandInfographic map showing the different areas to stay in chiang mai in thailand
Map showing the different areas to stay in Chiang Mai Thailand

My Top Chiang Mai Accommodation Picks

I’ve visited Chiang Mai several times and recently spent a few months living there. Over the years I’ve stayed in many Chiang Mai hotels across several neighborhoods. Below are my current top picks with different budgets and travel styles in mind.

4 Best Areas to Stay in Chiang Mai

Temples at your doorstep or trendy cafes down the street? Chiang Mai has it all. But, the neighborhood you stay in will shape your experience. Below are the top four areas– read on for hotel recommendations.

  • Old City: Chiang Mai’s walled old town area is at the heart of the city, and it’s where you’ll find the highest concentration of temples and historic attractions. This is a great place to base yourself if you want to be able to explore on foot and be surrounded by great places to eat and drink. 
  • Nimmanhaemin: the trendy Nimman district is Chiang Mai’s university area, and is packed with hipster coffee shops, restaurants, and bars. If you want to get some work done while you’re in Chiang Mai, Nimman is a great area to stay in. 
  • Night Bazaar/Riverside Area: this part of Chiang Mai feels like a hidden gem– it’s got a lively atmosphere and is packed with places to eat, drink, and shop– without the crowds of the old town. 
  • Santitham: this is a quiet neighborhood just north of the old town, and it’s the place to stay if you’re seeking an authentically Thai area. You’ll find virtually no crowds of travelers here and there’s a really laid-back vibe, as well as some brilliant local food joints.

Old Town Chiang Mai: the Best Area For First-Time Visitors 

If it’s your first visit to Chiang Mai, staying somewhere in a central location within Chang Mai’s Old City walls is a great idea. This is where you’ll find some of the city’s most famous ancient temples like Wat Chedi Luang, Wat Chiang Man, and Wat Phra Singh, as well as bustling markets and tons of other things to do. 

It’s a really scenic area to explore and is made up of green streets and ancient buildings. Certain areas can get pretty crowded, like the weekend night markets, but for the most part, it’s a very walkable area. One thing I appreciate when staying within the old town is not having to cross the busy major roads that run through much of Chiang Mai, as this can be quite annoying!

Tip: Don’t miss my favorite restaurant in Thailand when staying in the Old City, Aroon Rai!

Traveler in chiang mai old townTraveler in chiang mai old townTraveler in chiang mai old town
The old town is a great place to stay to explore temples on foot!

Green Sleep Hostel

  • Best for: Backpackers and budget travelers 
  • Price: $

If you want a comfortable stay in a great location at a bargain price– look no further than Green Sleep Hostel. It’s located right in the heart of the old town, a few hundred meters from Wat Phra Singh, and is within walking distance from the night markets and Tha Pae Gate. 

Guests can choose from a range of different dorms and private rooms, all of which are kept spotlessly clean and have very comfortable beds, plus the staff help you get the most out of the area with their helpful local recommendations. It’s the perfect choice for a budget stay.

Nimmanhaemin: the Best Area for Digital Nomads 

If you’re planning on staying in Chiang Mai for more than a couple of days and want to get some work done during your time in the city, you’ll love staying in Nimmanhaemin. The area along Nimmanhaemin Road is one of the most popular remote work locations in Asia and a hotspot for students, digital nomads, and young professionals.

As well as being home to some unique places to eat and drink, it’s also a great shopping destination with malls like Maya Lifestyle and One Nimman containing a range of boutiques and chain stores. You’ll find a selection of gyms and coworking spaces here as well, making it one of the best places in Chiang Mai to stay longer term.

Read: 3 Day Chiang Mai Itinerary

Nord Studio 

  • Best for: digital nomads 
  • Price: $$

Nord Studio is my top hotel pick in Nimman for digital nomads and long-term travelers. There are lots of things that make this a great base for longer stays– the air-conditioned studio rooms are all generous in size, and feature flat-screen TVs, private kitchens, and workspaces. 

The aparthotel is located in the center of Nimman with plenty of places to eat within a short walk, including a brilliant burger joint called Beast Burger next door, and one of Nimmans best coffee shops, Roast8ry, which is a few meters away.

Santitham: the Best Area for an Authentic Chiang Mai Experience  

Santitham is a relatively small neighborhood located to the north of Chiang Mai’s old town, and it’s my top recommendation for anyone wanting a taste of local life in Chiang Mai. It’s much less touristy than the other areas on this list, and hotels and restaurants here are cheaper as well, making it a great choice for budget travelers. 

Although it’s quieter and less touristy than other areas– there’s still plenty to do in Santitham. The Chiang Mai Boxing Stadium is located here, so you can spend an evening watching a Muay Thai fight, and there’s also a huge market (Siri Wattana) in the area.

POR Santitham

  • Best for: budget travelers
  • Price:

Ran by the same company as the Thapae Gate Hotel, POR Santitham is modern and sleek and has such a luxurious feel to it. It’s got a pretty large outdoor pool within its grounds, and the minimalist rooms come complete with everything you could need during your stay, including a flat-screen TV. 

It’s within walking distance to the Chang Puak Gate Night Market and Wat Lok Moli, as well as other attractions within the northern end of the old town. The hotel is also just a stone’s throw away from my favorite Khao Soi restaurant, Khao Soi Maesai!

D’Vieng Santitham Condo   

  • Best for: digital nomads and long-term travelers 
  • Price: $

This is an apartment complex rather than a hotel, but it can be booked online and is a great place to stay if you’re visiting Chiang Mai for a longer period of time. The one-bedroom apartments are spacious and even feature kitchens with washing facilities.

The facilities on site are great too, with a large outdoor swimming pool and a fitness center. There’s a full dining table setup and great wifi, so this would be a brilliant place to base yourself and get some work done.

Hi Chiang Mai Hotel

  • Best for: stylish travelers 
  • Price: $

Hi Chiang Mai is a relatively new addition to Santitham, and it’s been built to a very high standard. The large beds are comfortable and rooms are tastefully designed, and the communal areas within the hotel include a swimming pool and 24-hour front desk. 

Location wise, Hi Chiang Mai is in a great position with lots to do nearby. Wat Santitham is a few blocks away and is much less crowded than the Buddhist Temples you’ll find in the old town. In addition to all the places to eat and drink in Santitham, the coffee shops and bars of Nimman are within walking distance as well.

My Chiang Mai Hotel Selection Process

  • Accommodation Criteria: I’ve selected hotels in Chiang Mai based on location, price, current traveler reviews, and unique facilities and offerings.
  • My Experience: I’ve visited Chiang Mai several times and stayed in several neighborhoods including the Old Town, Nimman, and Suthep. On my recent trip, I lived in Chiang Mai for two months and really got to know the city.
  • Top Reviews: I constantly check, research, and compare hotel reviews across several booking sites including Booking.com, Expedia, TripAdvisor, and HostelWorld. I update my recommendations yearly to ensure they are still the best options.
  • Local Insights: As a professional travel blogger and photographer, I work closely with tour companies and tourism boards across Northern Thailand. Many recommendations come from friends, local colleagues, and other travelers I meet on the road.

Read more about how I review & select hotels & accommodations.

More Places to Stay in Chiang Mai

Location is one of the most important factors for me when I’m planning a city trip. The last thing you want is to realize you’re stuck on the opposite end of town to where everything is. I made this mistake years ago on my first trip to Chiang Mai; I had seen pictures of the old town and assumed the whole city would be like that, so I booked the cheapest accommodation I could find.

I soon found out it was cheap for a reason. I spent a small fortune getting from A to B, as the only things within walking distance from my hotel were a live seafood market and a petrol station. I recommend staying in one of the above areas to avoid making the same mistake I did, especially on your first trip to Chiang Mai.

However, if you want to get off the beaten path, here are some more areas to stay in Chiang Mai.

  • Hang Dong: Suited for nature lovers and those seeking tranquility. Home to stunning landscapes and luxurious resorts, it’s a great base for exploring the natural beauty around Chiang Mai, including nearby waterfalls, hiking trails, and close proximity to Grand Canyon Water Park (a good choice for families).
  • Mae Rim: Offers a rural escape with a focus on outdoor adventures and luxury stays. Known for its elephant sanctuaries, botanical gardens, and the scenic Mae Sa Valley, Mae Rim is perfect for an upscale retreat into nature. It’s also close to Queen Sirikit Botanic Garden.
  • Chang Phueak: A preferred area for students and budget travelers, thanks to its proximity to Chiang Mai University. It’s filled with affordable accommodations, street food, and local markets, offering a lively yet affordable stay.
  • Wua Lai: Famous for its Saturday Walking Street Market, this area provides a quieter alternative to the Old City while still being rich in culture and crafts, especially silverware. It’s ideal for those who appreciate art and local craftsmanship. Wua Lai also has a smaller Sunday Walking Street which is less crowded and in my opinion, just as authentic in its offerings.
  • Suthep: Offers a blend of local life and natural attractions, including the Wat Phra That Doi Suthep temple. The temple is important, but in my opinion, it’s the natural surroundings that make Suthep unique. Its location near the mountains provides cooler temperatures and is suitable for travelers seeking peace away from the city center.
  • Tha Sala: Known for its residential feel and access to local life, Tha Sala is perfect for those seeking a local experience. It’s close to large shopping centers and provides a more authentic Thai living experience, with fewer tourists and more local interactions.
Girl walking through market street area of chiang maiGirl walking through market street area of chiang maiGirl walking through market street area of chiang mai

Hopefully, this guide to the best places to stay in Chiang Mai will help you find the perfect accommodation for your trip. From the bustling streets of the old town to the peaceful banks of the river, there’s a perfect area in Chiang Mai for whichever type of traveler you are.

Find more helpful travel guides below.