Where To Stay in Chiang Mai [4 BEST Neighborhoods!]

Often considered the gateway to northern Thailand, Chiang Mai is a hugely popular destination with visitors heading to the Southeast Asian country!

Nestled among mountains, Chiang Mai is known for its gorgeous temples – and for those looking to discover Thai culture, this is the perfect destination. It also offers a variety of culinary delights and has a thriving digital nomad population.

Whilst Chiang Mai is truly the city that has everything, many visitors can be overwhelmed trying to narrow down their options.

Though considerably smaller than Bangkok, Chiang Mai still has a somewhat hectic atmosphere (especially in the city centre), so it’s important to gather your bearings before you arrive.

That’s where we come in! We’ve figured out the four best neighborhoods in Chiang Mai, and categorised them based on who they are best for. By consulting locals and travel experts, we have figured out the best places for culture, nightlife and more.

So let’s get started!

Quick Tips – Where to Stay in Chiang Mai

At A Glance: Where To Stay In CHIANG MAI

Where to Stay in Chiang Mai

Looking for a specific place to stay? These are our highest recommendations for places to stay in Chiang Mai.

htjltbl-table__image Best AirBnBBest AirBnBStylish and Bright
  • Laptop-friendly workspace
  • Free parking on premises
  • Air conditioning
Book on Air BnB →

htjltbl-table__image Best Budget HotelBest Budget HotelOYO 240 Hotel Chiang Mai
  • Non-smoking rooms
  • Free parking
  • 1 swimming pool
Book on Booking.com →
htjltbl-table__image Best HotelBest HotelPhra Singh Village
  • 1 swimming pool
  • Family rooms
  • Non-smoking rooms
Book on Booking.com →

Best AirBnB in Chiang Mai: Stylish and Bright

Stylish and Bright

Stylish and Bright is the best AirBnB in Chiang Mai

AirBnB Plus apartments have been hand selected by staff for their stylish interiors and great reviews – meaning you are sure to get the most Instagrammable properties in every city! This gorgeous apartment has minimalist interiors, with a large balcony where you can enjoy views of the city.


Best Budget Hotel in Chiang Mai: OYO 240 Hotel Chiang Mai

OYO 240 Hotel Chiang Mai

OYO 240 Hotel Chiang Mai is the best hotel in Chiang Mai

OYO are a hugely popular budget hotel chain across Thailand, and their Chiang Mai offering is located in Riverside – our top pick for those on a budget! Rooms are slick and modern, and come with gorgeous views of either the city or the river. (https://tjc.org) They offer massages, as well as free parking.


Best Hotel in Chiang Mai: Phra Singh Village

Phra Singh Village

Phra Singh Village is the best hotel in Chiang Mai

This five star hotel is truly the pinnacle of luxury in Chiang Mai! Despite its upmarket status, it still maintains a traditional feel – giving you a more authentic experience. Located right in the heart of the Old Town, it is only a short walk from Wat Phra Singh as well as many other major city centre attractions.


Chiang Mai Neighborhood Guide

Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai might only be the fifth biggest city in Thailand, but it has so much to offer! In many ways, it is a microcosm of everything that makes Bangkok a world famous destination.

With delicious street food, dazzling temples and delectable cocktail bars around every corner, there’s truly something for everyone in Chiang Mai.

The Old City is where many tourists base themselves, and is by far your best option if you are interested in temple hopping! As the oldest part of the city, this is where you will find some of the most magnificent architecture. It is also well connected to the rest of the city, and is home to the largest number of hotels and hostels.

With a completely different atmosphere to the Old City, Nimmanhaemin is one of the most modern neighborhoods in the city. This is where you will find contemporary apartment blocks, modern cafes and a rich dining scene.

Nimmanhaemin is a popular neighborhood with digital nomads, and this youthful atmosphere makes it a great area for experiencing the best of Chiang Mai’s nightlife!

Just north of Nimmanhaemin is the area surrounding the Night Bazaar! Though the bazaar itself is partially in Nimmanhaemin, heading a little bit further north will reveal some great restaurants with a more local atmosphere.

This area is also popular with digital nomads, but has a bit of a grittier atmosphere. It’s still entirely safe, but you get the best of both worlds when it comes to local culture and tourism infrastructure.

Over on the opposite side of the city centre, Riverside is a peaceful neighborhood that lets you get away from the bustling atmosphere of the Old City! This area is packed with markets and museums, however, these tend to have a more local atmosphere. It is also a gateway into some of Thailand’s natural attractions, with many tour companies based in this area.

Still undecided? Don’t worry – we have some more tips on what to do and where to stay in each neighborhood below!

Chiang Mai 4 Best Neighborhoods to Stay in:

Let’s take a look, in more detail, at the four best neighbourhoods in Chiang Mai. Each caters to different interests, so be sure to pick the neighbourhood that’s right for you.

Neighborhood #1 – Old City

(Where to stay in Chiang Mai for your first time)

Old City

Old City is our pick for where to stay in Chiang Mai for your first time

Boxed in with the city walls, the Old City is right in the heart of Chiang Mai and is the perfect place to gather your bearings in the city! This is where you will find the most famous temples, as well as plenty of excellent tours discussing the history and culture of Northern Thailand.

Surprisingly, Old City is also a great option for budget travellers! Thailand is a notoriously cheap country – with Chiang Mai being one of the cheapest destinations – so the Old City capitalises on this by offering some great deals to visitors. This is where you will find most of the hostels in the city, as well as some great budget restaurants.

More awesome things to see and do in Old City

  • Dating back to the 14th Century, Wat Chedi Luang is easily the most famous temple in the city and a must see if you are interested in history and culture
  • The Chiang Mai City Art and Cultural Centre has some great exhibits about the history of the city, as well as contemporary examples of local creativity
  • Head to the Somboon Market where you can pick up some great food – both prepared street food and fresh ingredients for your own meals
  • Thai Farm Cooking School offer some great classes about Northern Thai cuisine – and they use fresh ingredients from the nearby region

Best AirBnB in Old City: Mango Tree Apartment

Mango Tree Apartment

Mango Tree Apartment is the best AirBnB in Old City

Another great AirBnB Plus property, Mango Tree Apartment is a stone’s throw away from all the major attractions in the Old City! Despite being in the busiest area, its unique location off a side street means you can enjoy a peaceful oasis away from the bustling tourist strips. The interior design is stylish and practical.


Best Budget Hotel in Old City: POR Thapae Gate

POR Thapae Gate

POR Thapae Gate is the best hotel in Old City

Only a short walk from the city walls, POR Thapae Gate is an excellent budget option for those only staying in the city for a few days! It has a great outdoor pool area, and they provide free bike hire to all guests. A breakfast buffet is provided every morning – with vegetarian options on offer.


Best Hotel in Old City: Phra Singh Village

Phra Singh Village

Phra Singh Village is the best hotel in Old City

This luxurious five star hotel will have you feeling pampered throughout your stay! Alongside the outdoor pool, they also have free bike hire and a large fitness centre. A complimentary breakfast is offered every morning – with multiple options available, including gluten free and vegan. Rooms are spacious, and a few come with balconies.


Neighborhood #2 – Riverside

(Where to stay in Chiang Mai on a budget)


Riverside is our pick for where to stay in Chiang Mai on a budget

Whilst the Old City is a great option for budget travellers, Riverside easily provides the best value for money in Chiang Mai! This sleepy neighborhood has some excellent budget friendly hostels that come with some added extras to increase your comfort. It is also one of the best neighborhoods for visitors looking for a laid back getaway.

Flanking the river, there are plenty of natural attractions in the area – as well as some boat tours providing a unique way to take in the city! The markets here can get busy, but usually with locals, giving it a more authentic atmosphere.

More awesome things to see and do in Riverside

  • Head to Comedara Art Gallery where you can check out the latest from Thailand’s up and coming artists
  • Take a walk along the river to take in the atmosphere of the city, as well as enjoy one of the most popular green spaces in the area
  • The River Market offers a great selection of local food and goods – and the nearby Tom Lamyai Market is a great place to pick up some flowers

Best AirBnB in Riverside: River Duplex

River Duplex

River Duplex is the best AirBnB in Riverside

This two bedroom apartment is only a short walk from the Ping River – and about five minutes from the Old Town by tuk tuk! For groups and families visiting on a budget, this is an inexpensive yet stylish option. The hosts also have superhost status thanks to the excellent reviews.


Best Budget Hotel in Riverside: OYO 240 Hotel Chiang Mai

OYO 240 Hotel Chiang Mai

OYO 240 Hotel Chiang Mai is the best hotel in Riverside

This simple but modern three star hotel is a great option if you are on a tight budget but want the added privacy of a hotel! Rooms are surprisingly spacious, and many of them come with views of the river. There is a roof garden on top of the hotel, and they also provide Thai massages for a small fee.


Best Hotel in Riverside: 137 Pillars House

137 Pillars House

137 Pillars House is the best hotel in Riverside

Riverside might be our budget friendly pick, but there are still some great luxury options in the area – including this five star gem right by the banks of the river! Surrounded by greenery, this is a great pick for anyone that loves nature and wants somewhere calm to kick back and relax.


Neighborhood #3 – Nimmanhaemin

(Where to stay in Chiang Mai for nightlife)


Nimmanhaemin is our pick for where to stay in Chiang Mai for nightlife

Whilst the Old City has some decent nightlife options in its own right, Nimmanhaemin Road is the place to be if you want to party with locals! Both Thais and long-term guests prefer this ultra-modern neighborhood that has some contemporary bars and nightclubs on offer along the main strip.

During the day, this neighborhood is popular with digital nomads! If you are planning a longer stay in Chiang Mai, this is a great neighborhood to base yourself until you find a more permanent accommodation choice. Aside from nightlife, there are also some excellent shopping destinations and entertainment attractions.

More awesome things to see and do in Nimmanhaemin

  • Infinity Club is one of the most popular nightlife venues in the area offering reasonable prices and a varied playlist
  • If you want something a bit more laid back, head to Rise Rooftop Bar where you can enjoy gorgeous views of the mountain alongside your drinks
  • The MAYA Lifestyle Shopping Centre is packed with international brands, as well as some local boutiques where you can grab souvenirs
  • The digital nomad population makes this quite a creative and cosmopolitan neighbourhood – with Jojo Kobe Art Gallery being one of our favourite exhibitions

Best AirBnB in Nimmanhaemin: Stylish and Bright

Stylish and Bright

Stylish and Bright is the best AirBnB in Nimmanhaemin

This gorgeous apartment comes with excellent reviews thanks to its prime location, elegant design and impeccable attention to detail! The balcony has a small seating area and is well positioned to catch the sun throughout most of the day. Small plants also add to the bright and airy atmosphere.


Best Budget Hotel in Nimmanhaemin: Yesterday Hotel

Yesterday Hotel

Yesterday Hotel is the best hotel in Nimmanhaemin

Right on Nimmanhaemin Road, the Yesterday Hotel comes with excellent reviews thanks to its proximity to the best of the city’s nightlife! It is housed within a traditional building, showcasing some of the best of Thai architecture. It is bright and airy, and they offer an American style breakfast.


Best Hotel in Nimmanhaemin: Sanae Hotel

Sanae Hotel

Sanae Hotel is the best hotel in Nimmanhaemin

This four star hotel is a great compromise between price and luxury – and is located right on Nimmanhaemin Road! Rooms have separate bedrooms and living rooms, as well as balconies overlooking the city. The MAYA Lifestyle shopping centre is a short walk away – perfect for getting your retail fix.


Neighborhood #4 – Night Bazaar

(Coolest place to stay in Chiang Mai)

Night Bazaar

Night Bazaar is our pick for coolest place to stay in Chiang Mai

The Night Bazaar is the place to be in Chiang Mai if you want to sample some of the best street food on offer! Whether you are staying nearby or not, you need to take some time out of your trip to visit this vast market. Aside from food, you can also find cheap electronics and souvenirs on offer at the various stalls.

During the day, the area north of the Night Bazaar is similar to Nimmanhaemin – though it is a little bit more peaceful! It also has a more local atmosphere, giving you a slightly more authentic insight into modern life in the city for the local population.

More awesome things to see and do in Night Bazaar

  • Head to the Night Bazaar where you can sample some of the best food in the city as well as pick up bargains on shopping
  • Loi Kroh Entertainment Complex is an adult only entertainment space – and a great way to waste away a day
  • The Wat Santitham Temple is well worth a visit if you want to check out a typical temple without the big tourist crowds
  • If you’re an LGBTQ+ visitor, nearby Santitham is the main gay district in Chiang Mai with a variety of nightlife venues on offer

Best AirBnB in Night Bazaar: Sleek High-Rise

Sleek High-Rise

Sleek High-Rise is the best AirBnB in Night Bazaar

This towering apartment is another stunning AirBnB Plus property – but comes with excellent prices! With a discount for long term stays, this is an excellent option for digital nomads wanting something quick and easy. The interiors are sleek and modern, and there are views of the mountain.


Best Budget Hotel in Night Bazaar: Hotel MAYU

Hotel MAYU

Hotel MAYU is the best hotel in Night Bazaar

This hotel is located in a calm neighborhood – giving you some peace and quiet whilst staying close to one of the coolest neighborhoods in the city! Though it is only a three star hotel, it comes with excellent design – both inside and outside – that will add a sense of luxury to your stay.


Best Hotel in Night Bazaar: U Nimman Chiang Mai

U Nimman Chiang Mai

U Nimman Chiang Mai is the best hotel in Night Bazaar

This towering five star hotel is located on the intersection where the Night Bazaar meets Nimmanhaemin Road, giving you easy access to both areas! It has a large outdoor pool where you can unwind after a day of exploring the city, and many rooms come with views of the nearby mountain.


Final Thoughts on Where to Stay in Chiang Mai

It’s easy to see why Chiang Mai is one of the most popular destinations in the world! Whilst it has plenty of temples, culinary delights and cultural highlights within its limits, it is not as overwhelming as the larger Thai cities. This creates an easy-going city that allows visitors to take a more authentic dive into Thai culture.

In terms of our favourite area, we are going to go with the area surrounding the Night Bazaar! This area is not only well connected to both Nimmanhaemin and the Old City, but it also has some great attractions in its own right and is the perfect destination to live like a local.

That being said, wherever is best for you depends on your individual needs. We hope this guide has helped you narrow down your options for your upcoming trip to the gateway to Northern Thailand!

Did we miss anything? Let us know in the comments!

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About the Author Nicola Smart

Gin lover. Coffee addict. Nicola has traveled the world for 7 years and is a staff writer for Hotel Jules. Born in London, Nicola first got the taste of travel studying abroad in Barcelona. Since then she's been hooked - traveling the world non-stop. Passionate about green travel and vegan lifestyle, Nicola spends more of her free time staring at maps wondering where she will head to next!