I have stayed in Chiang Mai over 3 times already, and it’s a bliss. Chiang Mai is one of the most popular cities in South East Asia. Why? many reasons, but in short because of a great combination of culture, cheap cost living and interesting things to do. If you want to cut to the chase, my hidden hotel gem in CM is Banthai Village Hotel. You can read further reasons below.
Chiang Mai is an awesome place. I have been there alone or with friends, and many people visit with family too. It has something for everybody and it never fails to disappoint. Just can’t wait to go back. I think, in a nutshell, this is why I love Chiang Mai:
- Chiang Mai has an oversupply of hotels and housing options making hotels are even extra-cheap.
- Becuase of that some people can afford to live in hotels all the month without breaking the bank.
- The northern Thai-food in awesome. Some say the best in Thailand, and it might as well be. The food is incredible.
- The place is quiet and lovely, more laid-back than Bangkok, while still keeping a more sort of “city” feel.
- The temples and numerous and great to explore, most of them are free too.
- Chiang Mai is a digital-nomad hub and a tourist hub as well. There are many things tourists can do here.
- Chiang Mai has some nightlife scene that can be enjoyed. Not as huge as Bangkok or Pattaya’s, but it still exists there and can be enjoyed.
- Shopping areas and massage are numerous, after all, this is Thailand 🙂 CM caters all tourist services that can be expected.
Chiang Mai temple in the evening. If you ainto to ancient Thai temples, rejoice. CM is your place.
Best Area to stay in Chiang Mai?
Easy!. The best area to stay in Chiang Mai as a tourist is the Old city. Hands down. Period. Believe me!. Stay in the old city. The old city is the area enclosed by a square of water. I would choose to stay inside this square or as near to it as possible.
The east bank of the old city is the other ideal spot to stay. Why?, because is not far from Night Bazaar, it’s a quiet zone, filled with temples, houses, and hotels.
West and north bank, not so much, and there not many hotels there.
Chiang Mai map of the city center. Squared by water is the city center. Eastside is good too.
Again, do not stay far from here. One time I did, and I was forced to take tuk-tuk rides x4 daily. Not a great idea, because Chiang Mai is very walkable, and that is one of the unique charms of this Thai city.
My favorite hotel in Chiang Mai
Ok, so to answer my initial question. My favorite hotel in Chiang Mai is Banthai Village Hotel. Reasons:
- Banthai, is a hotel with a front desk, but I had a stand-alone villa or house if you will, with direct access to a quiet alley that connected to a small street, then connected to an avenue. Or in other words, I didn’t need to cross the main desk before going to my villa.
- The room was huge, not only spacious but the ceiling was huge too, adding to the feeling of huge space.
- Cheap. A 4* for less than 60 bucks a night. It was a steal.
- The food was great, breakfast was included.
- There was a pool.
- I had a shower with a separate spacious bath tub.
- Everything felt super new and it was decorated in a way that made sense. Thai style.
This reasons maybe don’t make sense for others. But they all added for me, to complete an awesome staying experience.
To this, I will add these good hotel choices to stay in Chiang Mai:
- Banthai Village Hotel. 4* 50$ . Best bang for the buck, luxurious villa in CM city center.
- Chala Number 6. 5* 250$ upwards. A splurge option that has it all. Rated 9.1 in Agoda, this place is huge, well located and luxurious.
- De Naga Hotel Chang Mai. 4* 70$. Centrally located in Thapae.
- Amora Tapae Hotel. 4* 35~. An even cheaper alternative. Still 4 stars.
- Le Canal Boutique House. 3* 25$~ The cheapest I would go, located north of CM. Still inside of the old city.
My Banthai Village villa.
Chala 6 hotel crazy luxury. Now we’re talking.
I respect backpackers, but Chiang Mai is probably the cheapest bang for buck destination in all Asia. If you can’t afford a proper hotel here, probably you cannot afford it anywhere. If for whatever reason you still need a homestay:
3 bucks a night won’t get you much. And IMO is a waste to stay in a hostel in a city where comfortable accommodation is so cheap, but to each is own. Also located in the old city. Which again proofs my previous point. Should stay around the city center.
Is also not rare to find around the city advertisements of establishments renting for whole months.
In short, I believe Chiang Mai deserves its hype. There is hype around Chiang Mai because the place is great and it deserves it. People have been visiting Chiang Mai and leaving happy for years. The temples are surreal, and the place is just peaceful and lovely. A must visit place.
Chiang Mai also equals bang for the buck, and that’s why it attracts many people who want to live there permanently. When you do, make sure to stay centrally located. 🙂
You can also read my Krabi hotel recommendations here.