Up in the mountainous north, Chiang Mai has a more relaxed and traditional vibe than the buzzy capital, Bangkok. Visits often centre around exploring heritage sites and temples, along with adventures in nature and elephant encounters on the city’s fringes.
Considered the cultural capital of Thailand – and once the capital of the ancient, independent Lanna Kingdom – Chiang Mai has a growing contemporary art scene. There are plenty of regional specialities to sample, too, at both fine restaurants and market stalls.
Whatever brings you here, you can find a place to stay that suits your travel style. Start with our recommendations for the best Chiang Mai hotels.
Note: Thailand is currently offering a Special Tourist Visa (STV) that allows entry for long-stay tourists for between 90 and 270 days, so long as 14 days quarantine is first completed at a State Quarantine or Alternative State Quarantine (ASQ) facility (or seven days for tourists who can show proof of vaccination).
Best Hotel for Foodies
137 Pillars House
This restored 19th-century teak house in the sleepy Wat Ket area of Chiang Mai has 30 handsome, spacious suites and plenty to please foodies. For a wonderfully indulgent evening, begin with cocktails in the colonial-era throwback bar Jain Bain’s, decked out with wood panels and leather and velvet seating. Continue on to The Dining Room for Thai and Lanna cuisine using organic, farm-fresh ingredients – or Palette for a sampling of dishes from around the world. Then take a 15-minute stroll to the Chiang Mai Night Bazaar, where stalls sling cheap bowls of khao soi (northern Thai noodle soup), fragrant sai oua (pork sausages), mango sticky rice and more street food favourites.
2 Soi 1, Nawatgate Road, Tambon Watgate, Muang Chiang Mai; +66 53 247 788
Best Hotel for a Luxe Escape
Anantara Chiang Mai Resort
Built around the former 1920s British consulate, this tropical resort lives up to Anantara’s reputation for laidback luxury. Breezy open-air courtyards make the most of its stunning location on the banks of the Mae Ping River, and the 109 rooms and suites come with expansive balconies and daybeds for soaking up the views. The Kasara Suites double the footprint of regular rooms, providing 1,130 square feet of space to stretch out in, plus access to a dedicated lounge for breakfast, evening cocktails and snacks. All guests can enjoy the 34-metre pool, a world-class spa and impeccable service. Staff handle myriad requests, including arrangements for guided tours of historic sites and hot-air balloon rides.
Don’t miss: Make the most of the riverfront location with a private sunset sail down the Mae Ping aboard the hotel’s boat – champagne and nibbles included.
123-123/1 Charoen Prathet Road, Changklan, Muang Chiang Mai; +66 53 253 333
Best Hotel for a Boutique Stay
Meaning ‘villa of great pleasure’, Villa Mahabhirom stands out among Chiang Mai hotels for its collection of 14 restored teakwood houses on stilts (sourced from central Thailand). These accommodations include one-, two- and three-bedroom villas with classic peaked rooftops and private plunge pools. They’re full of antiques and dark wood furnishings, yet feel fresh and stylish thanks to the playful patterned wallpaper, taxidermy peacocks and modern art. A generous pool surrounded by bamboo groves is a central hangout spot.
Don’t miss: Tour Wat Umong, a 700-year-old underground Buddhist temple complex down the road, and pick up charming souvenirs at Baan Kang Wat artist village.
62 Moo 10, T. Suthep A. Muang Chiang Mai; +66 53 271 200
Best Hotel for Bleisure Travellers
Le Méridien Chiang Mai
The five-star Le Méridien Chiang Mai puts you right next to the lively night market, street food hawkers and restaurants – and it’s only 15 minutes to the airport by taxi. There’s an efficiency to the hotel as well. Rooms feature a sizable table for working and free speedy Wi-Fi while the event space includes one of the city’s largest convention halls. Favola’s unfussy menu of Italian classics and wines makes entertaining easy, while ground-floor restaurant Latest Recipe offers a wide choice of international and Thai dishes. In your downtime, take advantage of the infinity pool, 24-hour gym and free shuttle buses to major shopping centres.
Don’t miss: Ask for a room or suite with views across to Doi Suthep mountain. If you do book a suite, know that it comes with free access to the spa and sauna.
108 Chang Klan Road, Tambol Chang Klan, Amphur Muang, Chiang Mai; +66 53 253 666
Best Hotel for a Couple’s Getaway
Four Seasons Resort Chiang Mai
This fabulous five-star resort, 30 minutes north of downtown Chiang Mai, is a secluded haven for honeymooners and anyone in need of a romantic escape. Scattered across 12 lush hectares of lakes, tropical gardens and a working rice paddy, the 99 bungalows blend modern luxurious comforts with nods to local Lanna art and architecture. Each comes with a private plunge pool and jet tub, plus there’s a main pool split over two levels, where you can linger over cocktails and complimentary snacks in the evenings.
Don’t miss: Try a biking tour through the Mae Rim valley, followed by a soothing couples’ treatment in the Four Seasons spa.
502 Moo 1, Mae Rim-Samoeng Old Road, Chiang Mai; +66 53 298 181
Best Hotel for Exploring Local Culture
Despite being in the heart of the old city, this homely Chiang Mai hotel feels remarkably sheltered, given its greenery, notably a towering 200-year-old tamarind tree. The 41 rooms and five plush suites have white plaster walls, dark wood furniture and rugs and cushions with fabrics made by local hill tribes (also available in the hotel shop). Get a feel for Lanna heritage by browsing the artworks in the hotel’s open-air gallery. For a deeper understanding, speak to the staff about arranging traditional activities like basket weaving or a guided excursion into the hills to visit with local tribes.
Don’t miss: Spectacular Buddhist temples like Wat Phra Singh and Wat Pan Tao are just a few minutes’ stroll away.
50/1 Rajdamnoen Road, Tambon Sri Pum, Amphoe Muang; +66 53 418 896