WHERE TO STAY In Chiang Mai: Top 5 Areas Guide For Newbies

The Best Areas To Stay In Chiang Mai

Where to stay in Chiang Mai pretty much depends on what’s on your bucket list and the areas to book your hotel. 

Although not the biggest city in Thailand, it’s still one of the most popular and beautiful locale that has something to deliver to all types of travelers. 

You’ll also find out hidden gems on the best Chiang Mai hotels together with all the best areas near top attractions.

You may be wondering where to stay in Chiang Mai if you are a first time visitor planning a vacation here!

The best Chiang Mai hotels are not judge by it’s standard but rather by average price and reviews.

Chiang Mai hotel’s average price:

  • 3 star USD 45
  • 4 star USD 102
  • 5 star USD 136    

   Source: Tripadvisor

So yeah, most travelers prefers small to medium size hotels due to it’s excellent personal service. 

Some of these class of hotels in Chiang Mai do not provide full board meals because there are tons of restaurants and cafes nearby.

Also, not much travelers are aware about low-cost food delivery and ride service app such as Grab Food, which is similar to UBER.


  • GRAB FOOD and FOODPANDA DELIVERY provides tons of restaurants and street food vendors in their apps.
  • Prices are super cheap as low as 80baht for a sumptuous meal and approx 75baht for a cup (5oz) of delightful coffee latte. 
  • Your orders will be delivered directly to your location in due time. Pick up at mostly lobby of hotel.
  • GRAB RIDES cost approx 100baht from your pickup point to anywhere in the city limit.

As a long term visitor to Chiang, here’s my best suggestions on where to stay in Chiang Mai for any occasions.  

Note: Some shops & restaurants might be temporary closed due to tourist travel restrictions. Please check links provided. 


What is the best time of year to visit Chiang Mai?

The best time to visit Chiang Mai is from May to February. March to April is the season when farmers burn their crops.

Most probably, there will be hazy air condition in most parts of Chiang Mai. Not suitable for visitors with breathing issues.

November is best time to visit as the air is cooler and end of rainy season. Doi Ithanon and Sunflower Bloom are the top attractions on this timeline.

On the flip side, November to end February is peak season whereby hotel’s prices are higher and tourists arrive by the numbers.     

How many days should I stay in Chiang Mai?

Google feedback recommends 3 days tops, but that’s only if you are in a hurry or on transit. It’s a bit too rush to enjoy your perfect vacation.

If your bucket list include trips to mountain attractions and breathtaking temples n neighboring Chiang Rai then you need atleast a week.

Trips to these locations takes 4-12 hours including sightseeing. Easily one day affair for Mae Hong Son and neighbouring Chiang Rai, for example.   

Where To Stay In Chiang Mai For Newbies

1. City Center

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city centre
Source: hotel.com

There is the giant square that you can see on the map. It’s the oldest and the most historical locality of Chiang Mai.

This is a great place to stay for first time visitor with ancient sites, nightlife, beautiful temples and notable attractions in the city area.

While being a vibrant cosmopolitan city, you can even take a journey back in time through its rich culture and fascinating history.

Chiang Mai old town is also the best launching pad for road trips to most of the top sightseeing and places of interest which mostly takes a day to complete.

Recommended 3-4star Chiang Mai Hotels in City


where to stay in chiang mai
Not your usual fancy hotel: They are nice and clean, with everything you need “no frills”

There are lots of hostels as well as boutique hotels, available throughout this area. COZYTEL in the heart of old town is one of the hidden gems that we totally recommend. 

Cozytel lies smack in the center of major attractions and tons of restaurants, cafes, bars etc amidst walking distance.

All you ever need is Google Map app on your smartphone for easy route planning. You’ll never get lost exploring nearby area and back to the hotel.

Cozytel is like a cross between a small-size and a boutique hotel. It has all the amenities such as swimming pool with a cute balcony.

Only Ala Carte America in-house breakfast set are available. But why pay more when you can order inexpensive food delivery for dine-in meals.

Cozytel is ideally suited for small groups of friends and couples as it’s targeted for travelers who enjoy independent, freedom and economical savings.

Easy access to pick up/drop off point for tour van and GRAB cab. Cheaper than same category of nearby hotels is a bonus.

Where To Stay In Chiang Mai For Relaxing

2. Wua Lai

Not many travelers know where to stay in Chiang mai for a super peaceful, unhurried and low-key area.

Wua Lai is a sleepy town, if you are looking for R&R and nearest to the most popular Saturday Walking Street.

Totally cool location where you can just laze around with lots of nature and greenery.

Super awesome cafes with beautiful gardens and friendly travelers having their morning breakfast.

Near to my favorite local eatery and entertainment market – Kad Manee, surrounded by a cooling water fountain.


  • With estimate Grab cab ride costing aprox 100baht to Chinatown for example, it make sense to book one.
  • Rather than walking to the main road for red truck taxi or tuk tuk which may cost you double.
  • Perhaps, you might even get scam on way back to hotel due to language barrier or pretentious route.
  • Don’t be anxious if you find the streets a little dimly lighted at night. I’ve been safely walking there numerous times.

Hotel De Wualai

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Hotel De Wualai is located in a tiny slip road amidst a peaceful residential area. Hard to locate as it’s hidden from the main road.

Even for Tuk Tuk and Red truck taxi drivers. Small issue if you utilize Grab cab service. Easy for pickup/drop off to hotel.

Situated in a quaint neighborhood overlooking rows of private terrace houses, the hotel offers garden and mountain view.

This makes Hotel De Wualai a unique place to stay because there are no higher building around for miles.

From the outside, this nondescript hotel does not look fancy, but walk into the rooms and you will find it clean and spacious.

The standard room’s balcony is a bit quirky. It’s located outside the corridor. But you have another big patio area with exclusivity.

The suite rooms at the corner of the hotel has private balcony and mountain view, perfect for newly weds.

Best for solo travelers who like to spend some time rejuvenating from the huzzle and buzzle of city life.

Best for honeymooners for it’s exotic and quiet area. Waking up to a relaxing morning with birds chirping away.

Where To Stay In Chiang Mai For Touring

3. Pai District

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Pai, Thailand

In the far north, up the Mae Hong Son loop is a town that has been a backpacker’s favorite for decades. The best area for sightseeing

Pai is about 80km from Chiang Mai with a laid back vibe. A relaxing mountain paradise as well as a party town at night.

This quant mountain town is great for solo, couples, backpackers and party goers, depending on the season.

With most of the attractions outside of town, the most popular way of getting around Pai is by renting a scooter.

I don’t recommend doing that in Chiang Mai city, but not much an issue here, just ensure your rental bike is insured and in good condition.


  • There are only 3 ways to visit Pai. By daily minibus, rental vehicles including bikes and air service from Chiang Mai airport.
  • If you travel by road, bring along motion sickness pills for those not use to winding roads on most of the mountainous trip.

Best 4Star Hotels In Pai

Family House Zen Boutique Resort

best hotels in chiang mai

Family House Zen Boutique Resort is pretty much like chalets with a terrace amidst peaceful surroundings.

Free from all the noise and yet walking distance to F&B, Pai Walking Street and 300m from Bus Station.

Getting to the resort, you will experience a bumpy ride but upon arrival it pretty much looks like the real deal.

Super attentive staffs to help with all your needs. Rooms are kept fresh when you arrive from the winding road trip.

The rooms doesn’t look fancy but importantly, beds are always kept clean and comfortable as well.

Room size is suitable for couples while it’s a bit cramp for 3 persons, although 3 bedded rooms are available.

Bathroom is a little cramp though and the floor area might get wet. It’s a common thing in Chiang Mai for similar hotel class.

With a minor bathroom flaw, Family House Zen is totally worth every dollar that meets guest’s requirements and expectations.

Where To Stay In Chiang Mai For Romantics

4. Ping River


ping river
Source: hotel.com


  • Further away from the city
  • Lack of nightlife
  • Diversity of luxury resorts and hotels
  • Quaint riverside restaurants

Strolling along Mae Ping riverside, you can find locals fishing, street food vendors selling barbecued chicken along the banks.

You are more likely to see locals and visitors eating out together, unlike at Chao Phraya in Bangkok, where it’s more elitist.

The Riverside area is a great place if you are coming as a couple for a romantic retreat. Mae Ping is a perfect reflection of a casual approach in an endearingly relaxed atmosphere.

You can’t, get any more romantic than having dinner and watching the sunset next to the river.

Top-Notch 4Star Hotels In Ping River

The Empress Premier Chiang Mai

Best hotel in chiang mai

The Empress Premier hotel is like you’ re paying for a 5star hotel at a big discount. Perfect for couples or to create an impression.

Super outstanding guest relation service starting with welcome drink, delightful fruit plate and the whole works.

At this time of posting, the property is newly built with top quality furnishings and high standard customer service.

Luxurious spacious rooms with city, pool and mountain views. There’s even an ATM machine if you’re in need of cash.

You’re paying for a standard 5star hotel at 4star cost. Tons of freebies including bouquet of flower, gifts etc.

Free upgrade to suite if your request is accepted. Nevertheless, you’ll still be treated like a Rockstar.

Professional managed staffs from front office to bell hop. No flaws except there’re little to no activities near hotel.

Where To Stay In Chiang Mai For Long Term

5. Nimman Road (Nimmanhemin)

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Source: hotel.com

Nimman Road is the most hip place to stay in Chiang Mai and one of the most expensive as well.

If you are a foodie, you could devote the whole day embracing gluttony and still won’t cover the endless chow on offer.

Millennial travelers love to stay in this area because it’s close to the city, shopping malls, airports, market and everything else.

The area is a bit more on the high scale, great for those into arts & crafts. Good hangout at tons of cafes and a vibrant expat-friendly community.

There’re not much places of interests or top attractions for holiday makers here. Good for digital nomads and long term visitors.

The best type of accommodations to stay here to escape winter in Europe are condominiums and apartments.

So yeah, I would recommend you take a pass on this area if you get bored easily.

These are the best areas and recommended hotels based on my first-hand experiences in Chiang Mai.

If you need a more personalized and unforgettable vacation with activities included, check out my other post here.

Or perhaps, a tailor-made privatized trip, curated by Mr. Nai, our friendly local guide and driver.

Hope there’s enough information to guide you on making the most of where to stay in Chiang Mai and it’s amazing attractions.

WHERE TO STAY In Chiang Mai: Top 5 Areas Guide For Newbies