Chiang Mai is an unmissable stop on a trip to Thailand, surrounded by the great mountains of the north and particularly known for its many temples.
However, it is a rather large city that in addition to cultural visits has a lot to offer, which is why it is important choose the best area to stay in Chiang Mai.
I was lucky enough to spend more than 10 days in Chiang Mai and I decided to write a complete article to help you choose the neighborhood that best suits your needs and to experience an unforgettable stay in beautiful Chiang Mai.
In this guide I will shed some light on the various areas, I will explain which are the best areas for every need: for a first trip to Chiang Mai, for those looking for a bit of evening life or for those who want to stay in a quiet but convenient place for getting around.
Find out with me where to sleep in Chiang Mai!
Where to Stay in Chiang Mai
The Old Town it is certainly the best choice for those who decide to visit the city for the first time and want to be close to the main historical and cultural attractions.
It is in fact the cultural heart of the city, enclosed between the ancient walls and delimited by 4 gates: Tha Phae Gate, Chang Phuak Gate, Suan Dok Gate and Chiang Mai Gate.
The real attraction of Chiang Mai is there Old Town, in addition to the two most famous temples, Wat Phra Singh and Wat Chedi Luang, inside the quadrilateral there are many other temples, about 200 only in the old city.
If you love taking long walks and getting lost in the narrow streets dotted with Buddhist temples and shrines, there is no doubt, the Old Town is for you!
The Old City is also the cheapest area to stay in Chiang Mai, there are in fact several hostels and guest houses with very advantageous prices.
Keep in mind that the Old Town occupies an area of about 1,5 square kilometers, where you will find busier areas and quieter spots. Generally the area around the Porta Tha Phae and the main streets that cut the city from east to west are more lively and busy. While the southwestern part is quieter.
The Old Town is also good for those looking for a bit of evening life, in fact the Night Bazar, particularly popular in the evening, it is close and easily reachable on foot from any point of the quadrilateral.
As I mentioned, the Night Bazar area, located about 700 meters from the east of the Old Town is one of the most popular places at sunset, the market is open from 17:00 until midnight.
Here there are mainly large chain hotels, boutique hotels and prices tend to be higher.
The area, however, is perfect for those who love shopping and in particular for local crafts and products, for clothes and jewelry. In addition, the Night Bazar is a street food paradise with many stalls where you can try delicious typical Thai dishes at great prices!
If you want to stay in a lively place a stone's throw from the night market but at the same time convenient to reach the old city on foot and perhaps you are looking for a hotel with a swimming pool, then the Night Bazar area is the best choice to stay overnight in Chiang Mai.
Tha phae gate
The Tha Phae Gate is the main entrance to the quadrilateral, the real hub of the city and a reference point for everyone. It is the perfect base for exploring the city, convenient for visiting the Old Town and a stone's throw from the Night Bazar.
It is one of the busiest areas with many tourists and street artists, full of restaurants, pubs and clubs.
The Nimman Road area is completely different from the Chiang Mai Old Town. Nimman is the modern area, full of trendy clubs, exclusive cafes and restaurants, very popular with students from the nearby University and Expats.
Nimman Road is in fact the perfect area for those who decide to stop in Chiang Mai for a longer period, especially for "Digital Nomads", there are in fact several coworking spaces and many internet cafes where you can work.
And it is precisely the neighborhood where I decided to stop during my stay in Chiang Mai.
Nimman's point of reference is the large Mayan mall, which in addition to the many shops of the most prestigious brands offers floors entirely dedicated to food, in particular I suggest the basement with local food at very competitive prices.
If it is not the first time you go to Chiang Mai or if you are Digital Nomads and work online, Nimman is the right choice. Keep in mind that you can reach the Old Town by tuk tuk, red taxis or even on foot walking for about 30/40 minutes.
If, on the other hand, you are looking for a quieter place, away from the hustle and bustle of the city, but not too far from the Night Bazar and the Old Town, you might consider the neighborhood known as Riverside.
It is located east of the quadrangle and most of the hotels are located along the river. There is no shortage of restaurants, cafes and clubs with live music.
Note that some hotels also offer free shuttle to the old town.
Finally, north of the old city is the area known as Chang Phuak, a few minutes walk from the namesake Chang Phuak Gate, or better known as the Elephant Gate.
Just outside the northern gateway to the quadrilateral is the lively night market which offers excellent street food. The area occupies the northwestern area between the Old Town and the Mayan shopping center, it is a rather quiet place but comfortable enough to visit the city.
Just evaluate the location of the accommodation because some structures are more secluded and distant from the center.
These were the main areas recommended for a stay in Chiang Mai, in summary we can say:
Old Town: the best choice for the first time in Chiang Mai and for visiting temples;
Night Bazar: perfect for shopping lovers, for evening life and street food;
Thapae Gate: great location between Old Town and Night Bazar;
Riverside: quiet area east of the Old Town;
Nimman: modern clubs, lots of coworking, perfect for Digital Nomads;
Chang Phuak: not far from the northern gate of the Old Town, an area not too noisy.
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