Chiang Mai, with endless rice fields and rainforests, meandering rivers, and ornate temples, is reminiscent of a picturesque countryside hamlet. It is also Thailand’s cultural capital and is known for its outdoor adventures and activities, gorgeous historic sights, and an amazing variety of vegan food. Chiang Mai is also the former seat of the Lanna dynasty, the remnants of whose heritage lie throughout the region. Chiang Mai’s best hotels incorporate elements of Thailand’s wonderful Lanna architecture, transforming them into nothing short of architectural gems. With so many excellent places to pick from, it can be hard to choose where to make a base in Chiang Mai.
A great way to make your selection is to choose the neighborhood, which comes down to what kind of vacation you want. If you’re a culture and history buff, the traditional Old City with more than 300 temples shrines will leave you captivated. Nightlife enthusiasts will love Nimmanhemin, which is the trendiest and most dazzling area in the city. Shoppers will find a haven in the bustling Night Bazaar and its surrounding streets. The Riverside, on the other hand, is a peaceful and romantic hideaway on the banks of the blue-green Ping River.
Moreover, there is a hotel for every budget and to suit every kind of pocket in Chiang Mai. So, what’s your choice going to be? Here’s solving part of your conundrum by listing the 11 best hotels in Chiang Mai, Thailand. We also have picked the best gay friendly hotels in Chiang Mai.
137 Pillars House
At Chiang Mai’s most exclusive hotel address sits the 137 Pillars House, a 19th-century teak habitat surrounded by 30 luxuriant, colonial-inspired suites. The quiet, serene hotel might lie on the eastern banks of the Ping River, but is a stone’s throw from the Wat Ket Karam temple complex and Old City.
The hotel is housed in the opulent, restored late 19th-century Anglo-Malay Baan Borneo House. It is known to have housed Chiang Mai’s first foreigners and now sits regally at the end of a lush foliage-encrusted stone path. Guests read in the library or work up an appetite in the beautiful glass-walled gym. A small museum that details the property’s history will surely interest culture buffs. However, the hotel’s beating heart is the languorous blue swimming pool with a bar and loungers. However, it’s the striking three-story grassy vined wall that steals the show. Two restaurants satiate any hunger pangs you might have, but the breakfast deserves special mention. It is amongst Chiang Mai’s very best, complete with Chinese, Thai, and Western fare.
‘Spacious’ is a bit of an understatement to describe the 30 suites, for they are nothing short of enormous. Each of the teal/red-accented suites features an outdoor patio with rocking chairs and a daybed for enjoying the surroundings sans leaving the comfort of the suite. Comfy beds, lavish bathrooms, sleek mod-cons, fruit baskets, pillow menus, and a minibar cart are just some perks. For the ultimate in luxury, go in for the suites with private plunge pools.
Na Nirand Romantic Boutique Resort
Romance is in the air at Na Nirand Boutique Resort, one of Chiang Mai’s most spectacular hotels on the Ping river. A legendary 100-year-old giant kernel of a Raintree towers over the riverside garden property, making this the perfect getaway right within Chiang Mai.
A wonderfully restored teak Lanna-style structure, which is now the library and lounge, serves as the center point of the property. It is also home to a small spa which is ideal for a massage session after a day of walking around the city. A gym is great for working off all those calories put on by digging into delish Thai fare. However, the most fetching and tempting part of the property is undoubtedly the pool that is peppered with sun-loungers. A riverfront restaurant/bar whips up an excellent fusion of Western and northern Thai food. What’s more, the hotel even arranges for cooking classes, picnic river cruises, and also has bicycles for rent for exploring around on your own.
Beautiful two/three-story villas that are the spacious ‘rooms’ lie around the delightful swimming pool. They’re decked out with dark Lanna-style rattan and teak furnishings, Lanna textiles for wall art, and stylish bathrooms. The best rooms are the four colonial-era suites right by the water’s edge and with their own small pool!
Rachamankha Boutique Hotel
It’s hard to imagine that you’d find a tranquil getaway right in the heart of Old City, but Rachamankha does the impossible with great elan. The garden retreat of a hotel lies right neat the Wat Phra Singh temple and is a mere 10-minute walk to all other Old City attractions.
What’s even better is that the graceful, modern property has the feel and look of an old-world heritage hotel. The near-silent courtyard is peppered with lush foliage and a common seating area. Contemporary and antique artwork from Asia, Africa, and Europe lend a unique aesthetic to the property. Even though it’s a heritage property, Rachamankha doesn’t skimp on perks. It has a lovely pool in its own courtyard as well as a one-room spa. Moreover, it even has a library with a collection that is partly antique! On winter evenings, guests can dine on a selection of Thai and western dishes in the enchanting courtyard with a fireplace. Wrapping up the elegant offerings is a small museum that showcases a selection of 19th-century Burmese and Thai statues and swords.
The comfy, compact, and elegant rows of rooms feature antique trunks by the front, separated by neatly manicured lawns. Apart from mod-cons, they feature priceless antiques, high ceilings, and immaculate bathrooms.
There’s no better way to explore Chiang Mai than to stay at the charming, peaceful Tamarind Village that lies right in the center of Old City. Some of Chiang Mai’s best attractions are a mere five-minute walk, including the Wat Chedi Luang and the bustling Night Market.
Clearly, the hotel is smack dab in the middle of all action. What makes it so serene and tranquil is a perimeter of thick shrubberies and trees that absorbs all the urban din of Old City. The romantic boutique hotel itself is a name to reckon with and celebrates local Lanna heritage like no other. A tunnel of arched bamboo trees leads to a Thai-style compound, where sits the massive, two-century-old, eponymous tamarind tree. The entire place is peppered with white and purple orchids, while the gilded spire of a neighboring temple makes for a striking background. Apart from a pool and a terrace restaurant overlooking the river, the aromatic and reinvigorating spa treatments are perhaps the highlight of Tamarind Village. Likewise, don’t miss out on the complimentary Village Walk Tour of the city’s cultural sites and temples.
Rooms are fashioned as separate cottages with tiled clay roods and feature sumptuous bathrooms and a slew of mod-cons. However, it is the personal touches like handmade lacquer boxes and the gorgeous Thai decor that makes your stay memorable.
The fairytale Makkachiva Hotel beautifully combines contemporary designs with traditional Lanna style to create a welcoming and luxurious accommodation. A temple-shaped entrance welcomes guests into an ivy-ensconced courtyard sanctuary. Vibrant art-lined corridors and elegant Thai furnishings dot the entire space. Apart from a cozy reading room, the hotel also provides a killer breakfast!
Rooms have a Buddhist-zen design, along with extended desks, rocking chairs, and balconies with amazing views. For the best ones, choose the rooms on the top floor, which feature raised arched ceilings.
Even though Makkachiva lies right in the center of Old City, the double-glazed windows keep the hubbub to the minimum. What’s more, the hotel is close to most of Old City’s attractions, including temples, shrines, and museums.
Mad Monkey Hostel
Formerly Brick House Hostel, the Mad Monkey Hostel ticks all boxes when it comes to creating a fabulous hostel. Guests at the Mad Monkey can stay either in 4/6/8/10/12-bed dorm rooms or private ensuites with all mod-cons for comfort. What’s more, all dorm rooms come with storage lockers, power outlets, and even a towel.
However, where the hostel scores brownie points are its mad socials! You can live it up at the swish hostel bar and even chill out or read a book in the common lounge area. Activities take place on a regular basis, whether it is New Year’s Eve, Christmas, movie nights, or major sporting events and matches. There’s even a well-equipped workout area and even an amazing swimming pool for chilling out with your new pals. If that wasn’t enough, it’s even heated in the winter!
To top it all, Mad Monkey lies right in the heart of Chiang Mai’s Old City and is within stone’s throw of all its attractions. So, it’s the perfect budget place to explore the cultural capital of Thailand!
U Chiang Mai
It’s not uncommon to find budget hotels in Old City, but to find one with luxurious charm? Now that’s something to talk about. Welcome to the U Chiang Mai, a heritage hotel located right next to Wat Chedi Luang and within walking distance of most of Old City’s attractions.
A late 19th-century former governor’s mansion sits right in the center, with many chic apartment-style buildings packed around it. The handsome heritage structure houses the hotel’s entrance and a lovely spa. Two small yet inviting pools lie amidst the structures, which sport a modern look with Lanna aesthetics. A small but well-equipped gym also doubles as a bike storage place (free to use), while the bibliophiles will find the library an escape of sorts. There’s even a restaurant serving western and Thai dishes on-site, while the modest breakfast is delectable, to say the least. Furthermore, the hotel even arranges for day trips to popular destinations close to Chiang Mai.
The balconies of all rooms face the pools and the 19th-century structure. Rooms are done up in brown-and-grey hues, with antique lamps and local art adorning the walls. Additionally, the rooms have comfy beds, chic bathrooms, and a slew of hi-tech mod-cons as well.
Veranda Chiang Mai
One of Chiang Mai’s most unusual hotels is Veranda that overlooks Thailand’s famous tea and rice fields. Literally meaning ‘balcony’, the luxurious resort lies around half-an-hour from Chiang Mai is an escape in the true sense. Moreover, it lies on the edge of Doi Suthep Pui National Park that makes it excellent for hikers as well as those wanting to indulge in night safaris.
Several modern and Lanna structures make up the hotel, which is also peppered with mini rice fields, hedges, trees, and shrubbery. An open-walled lobby with ornamental ponds and massive day beds makes for a very languorous hangout zone. Two infinity pools and a sensual spa make up the relaxation factor, while the fitness room with views of the surrounding hills should goad you enough to work out a bit. The open-air atmospheric restaurant is the perfect setting to dig into some amazing food. Apart from bicycles for hire, the hotel also offers a host of other activities like rice planting, cooking, and even yoga. If you want to get into town quickly, just hop on to one of the complimentary shuttle buses.
Since the rooms are spread out and don’t face each other, they almost feel like villa-like, private residences. Most feature traditional hill-tribe artwork, Thai-style decor, lavish bathrooms, and even daybeds! If you’re looking for a dash of indulgence, try the Pavilion rooms that have private plunge pools.
Dhara Dhevi Boutique Resort
No list of best hotels in Chiang Mai is complete without mentioning the spectacle that is the Dhara Dhevi Boutique Resort. Sitting on the outskirts of the city, this hotel is one of Chiang Mai’s oldest, most stunning, and most fascinating hotels. What’s even better is that the hotel lies merely 15 minutes away from the Old City.
Dhara Dhevi is stunning teak villas set amongst an expanse of ancient palaces and gardens full of blooming flowers. Gleaming mosaic walls and ornate, gilded pagodas dot the resort’s landscape. Flowers, lotus ponds, rice paddies, and moats linked by stone paths and wooden bridges dot the entire resort. Traditional Southeast Asian art and handcrafted furnishings dot the interiors. Moreover, the hotel has plenty of activities to keep the guests engaged, right fro a culinary school to fitness classes. Begin your day with an excellent breakfast while What’s more, the hotel even has a library, yoga shala, gym, and a heavenly-looking freeform swimming pool that overlooks the rice fields. However, it is the Dheva Spa that is the resort’s highlight.
All of Dhara Devi’s villas are huge with oriental furnishings and fabrics and private terraces. For even more extravagance, the Grand Deluxe Villas have stilted balconies, steam rooms, and plunge pools! It’s no wonder that Dhara Dhevi is considered one of the most unusually different hotels in the world.
Ping Nakara Boutique Hotel and Spa
Culture buffs looking for characterful accommodations will love the intimate Ping Nakara Boutique Hotel & Spa. It is one of Thailand’s loveliest hotels and pays homage to Chiang Mai’s heydays as a colonial hotspot.
The resort features exquisite gingerbread architecture with teak lattices along with added contemporary comforts and conveniences. Delve into a different spin on traditional Thai fare in one restaurant, and savor French savories in the other. Indulge in Ayurvedic treatments at the spa after a long day of exploring Chaing Mai. Enjoy a heavenly swim in the pool that sits in a chic, sunny courtyard. What’s more, bibliophiles will love the charming library that’s stocked with games and books. The icing on the cake is the complimentary breakfasts can be enjoyed by the pool and on the veranda.
The colonially-styled rooms are decked out with Thai silks, Persian carpets, exquisite bathrooms, and handcrafted furniture like writing desks and French doors that lead to the terraces. Plus, most of the rooms have decks that overlook the pool.
Four Seasons Resort Chiang Mai
There’s no better a luxurious escape in Chiang Mai than the decadent Four Seasons Resort. Nestled amidst lush gardens, the resort boasts romantic views of the lily ponds, lakes, and terraced rice paddies. Whether you’re looking for an escape or the perfect honeymoon hideaway, the Four Seasons is your ultimate destination.
The resort beautifully blends its proud Lanna heritage with a modern Thai aesthetic. With wellness as its focus, Four Seasons has carved out some excellent activities for its guests, right from temple visits to river rafting. What’s more, there’s even a scenic open-air yoga deck overlooking the rice paddies that’s as good as it gets. If you’re a cooking aficionado, don’t miss the rice-plating or cooking activities. Food is a serious business at the Four Seasons which, apart from a hearty breakfast, even arranges for private meals in the rice paddies. Furthermore, you can also enjoy sundowners by the pool and dine on Thai fare for dinner.
The ‘pavilions’ that are the rooms at the Four Seasons are all singular in their offerings, whether it is their views or their perks. Some look over the tropical gardens, while others enjoy panoramas of the terraced rice paddies. However, each room has a plush bathroom, a bevy of hi-tech mod-cons, and even an outdoor Thai sala with a swing sofa. Talk about indulgence!
If that wasn’t enough, the resort is half-an-hour away from the Old City via its complimentary bus. So, it’s quite near to all the action and yet far away from the maddening bustle.
Recommended Restaurants / Bars in Chiang Mai:
- Dinner Cruise on the Ping River: Dig into delish Thai cuisine while gliding down the calm waters of the gorgeous Ping River at night.
- Good View Bar & Restaurant: This long-running place by the Ping River is known for serving simple but lip-smacking local fare.
- The Writers’ Club & Wine Bar: From Burmese artists to English authors, you can find them all here, along with a lovely selection of wines.
Recommended Activities In Chiang Mai:
- Chiang Mai Night Tour: As striking it is during the day, Chiang Mai is an entirely different and dazzling world at night. This unconventional experience takes you to its magnificent temples and markets at night, while stopping for some delish Thai food and dessert.
- Chiang Mai Temples and Culture Tour: Chiang Mai has a 700-year-old rich history and more than 300 temples and shrines. Explore its rich culture by visiting three of its major temples on this half-day tour.