Chiang Mai hotels
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Set along the Ping River, the northern Thai city of Chiang Mai is home to more than 300 Buddhist temples, stunning landscapes and the bargain shopper’s paradise in the form of the Night Bazaar. A hefty dose of colourful festivals and fetes add to the city’s traditional allure and Chiang Mai’s recent growth and development has boutique hotels and hip hang-outs popping up left, right and centre.
To the west lies the Doi Suthep Mountain, a lush eruption of life that is often referred to as ‘Chiang Mai’s lungs’. In the bowels of the region you’ll discover the Chiang Dao Caves, both ancient and spiritual. It has to be said, however, that if the caves are Chiang Mai’s bowels and Doi Suthep is its lungs, development and modernisation is a nasty smoking habit that could put both organs in danger. While the increased development has brought many positive changes and an updated identity to the city, it has also increased pollution and traffic to an alarming extent.
If conservation is your thing (or if you ever watched Dumbo as a child), the Patara Elephant Farm is a must-see. With a focus on replenishing the fading Thai elephant population and establishing a sustainable tourist model, this is where you can bathe, feed and play with baby elephants. You won’t want to leave.
Chiang Mai offers a similar buzz to Bangkok but with a much more authentic feel (and far fewer lady-boys), so it’s no surprise that it is shooting to the top of the itinerary for many travellers heading to Thailand.
Chiang Mai Top 10:
10. Chiang Mai City Arts & Cultural Centre Learn about the city’s history and culture at this interactive centre.
5. Wat Phra Singh Dating back to the 1300s, this is just one of the intricate and architecturally amazing temples in the city.
9. Mae Ram Orchid and Butterfly Farm Due to forestation, many orchid species are becoming extinct and this farm’s goal is to protect the ones that are left. Come and discover some of the world’s rarest orchids.
4. Night Safari Jump on a tram and discover what the animals get up to at night. Definitely take your camera with you for this one.
8. Chiang Mai Zoo Set on attractive grounds, this zoo takes pride in the fact that animals are relaxed in their natural habitat rather than cooped up in tiny enclosures.
3. Chiang Mai National Museum Highlighting the history of the area, this is a must if you want to give your exploration some historical context.
7. Chiang Dao Caves Go on a lantern-lit journey through these ancient and culturally significant caves.
2. Night Bazaar Known worldwide, this night market has everything on offer and more.
6. Baanchang Elephant Park This peaceful elephant sanctuary allows visitors to interact with elephants and is against the abuse of elephants (a big issue in Thailand).
1. Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep The city’s most famous temple happens to be one of the most beautiful. A must-see.
Chiang Mai History
- Wat Chedi Luang – This 600-year-old temple is one of the most stunning in all of Chiang Mai.
- Wat Phra That Doi Suthep – This hillside temple features a large staircase.
- Wat Umong – This temple is located near Chiang Mai and was built in the 14th century.
- Wat Suan Dok – Built in the 14th century on the garden of a monarch.
- Phu Phing Ratchanivej Palace – This palace features one of the most beautiful flower gardens in Chiang Mai.
Chiang Mai Art & Culture
- Chiang Mai Women’s Correctional Institution – Offering a unique massage experience.
- Old Chiang Mai Cultural Centre – Offering a night of food and traditional dancing in Chiang Mai.
- Wat Chet Yot – This 15th-century Chiang Mai temple features the Temple of the Seven Spires.
- Tha Phae Gate – This part of the ancient wall of Chiang Mai is a great place to hang out.
- Wiang Kum Kam – This ancient capital predates Chiang Mai and makes for a great day trip.
Chiang Mai Shopping
- Central Airport Plaza – This ultra-modern shopping mall has everything from designer products to local handicrafts.
- Sankampaeng Craft Street – The best place in Chiang Mai to purchase authentic Thai silk.
- Ban Tawai – If you are looking for wooden furniture in Chiang Mai, this is the best place to go.
- Chiang Mai Night Bazaar – Mostly catering to Chiang Mai tourists.
- JJ Market – This open-air market combines the traditional and contemporary.
Gay & Lesbian Chiang Mai
- Soho Bar and Guesthouse – This Chiang Mai gay bar has a large garden bar and trendy environment.
- Caesar Club and Disco – This late-night Chiang Mai hotspot is known for its dance floor.
- Playhouse Entertainment Complex – Featuring gay and ladyboy cabaret, this has become a favourite spot for tourists.
- Long Yang Club – A social club in Chiang Mai that holds regular events for gays and lesbians.
- Lotus Garden bar – An open-air bamboo hut in Chiang Mai open to all.
Chiang Mai Outdoor
- Mae Rim Bungee Jumping – For those who want to feel a rush on their holiday in Chiang Mai.
- Thai Army Calvary – A great place for experienced horse riders to take a ride.
- Mae Sa Elephant Camp – For those who want to jump aboard an elephant.
- Chiang Mai Speedway – A 600m racetrack for all ages.
- Thapae Gate – For those interested in biking while in Chiang Mai, this area features a nightly gathering of bike enthusiasts.
Chiang Mai Sport
- Play a round at one of Chiang Mai's best clubs, the Gymkhana Golf Club.
- Beat your lowest score at The Royal Chiang Mai Golf Club.
- Watch some of the best boxers in the world at the Chiang Mai Provincial Boxing Stadium.
- Work out in Chiang Mai's premier sports complex, the Sport for Health and Physical Fitness Center.
- Relax in the spa at the Imperial Chiang Mai Sport Club.
Chiang Mai Local
Also known as the Old City, this is often touted as one of the most interesting areas of Chiang Mai because of its history. The narrow, temple-strewn walkways are juxtaposed with high-end boutiques, restaurants and bars taking pride of place along the main streets. Close by, you’ll find the famous Night Bazaar, a night market filled with everything from souvenirs to clothing. Put your haggling hat on and resist the temptation to buy a taser. Trust us, it always ends in tears.
Doi Inthanon National Park
With mountains, parks, waterfalls and spectacular views just outside the city, it’s hardly surprising this is a popular attraction. Doi Inthanon National Park is home to the highest mountain in Thailand (Doi Inthanon – 2565 metres), as well as gorgeous flora, waterfalls and native wildlife. Here’s the place to get your adrenaline pumping with elephant treks, rafting and free weekly hikes organised by the Chiang Mai Hiking Group. A gaggle of great restaurants and luxe resorts inhabit the area as well, so when you’re ready to hang up the hiking shoes and wash the nature off your face, relaxation awaits.
Bo Sang & San Kamphaeng
Get ready to stock up on souvenirs in Chiang Mai’s satellite villages. You’ll find hand-painted silk and cotton umbrellas, silverware, ceramics, embroidery and a bunch of other crafty bits and bobs at next to nothing at the various markets and stores in the area. The San Kamphaeng Road (also known as ‘handicrafts highway’) is lined with vendors selling hand-woven treasures and Thai antiques. The Cotton and Silk Weaving Village is the place for handmade shawls and scarves made from the finest silks at cheap-as-chips prices. After you’ve bought up big, hit the San Kamphaeng Hot Springs for some natural relaxation.
Chiang Mai Eat & Drink
Anusarn Market This market gets crazy-busy and is packed with food stalls serving up cheap and mouth-watering Thai treats.
Spicy Trashy and fun. Show the locals some of your moves on the dance floor and wake up to a nasty hangover. Mueang
The Fillmore East If you want a fix of Western food (i.e. big steaks and burgers), this is the place to be. Juicy Black Angus beef served alongside a frosty beer. Kind of tacky considering you’re in Thailand, but still… Mmm… Loi Kroa Road
Galae Gardens This upscale outdoor dining venue will see you eating fine Thai cuisine amongst beds of colourful flowers. Suthep Road
Arcobaleno This place happily welcomes the masses of Italian food lovers beating down their doors. Keaw Nawarat Road
Funky Dog Café This is a chilled little café with a casual, friendly vibe and yummy food on the menu. Don’t let the name put you off – there are no canine items on the menu! Soi 6
Huen Phen Hugely popular with locals and tourists alike for its comfortable, homey atmosphere and fab northern Thai cuisine. Rachamankha Road
Warm-Up The cool kids dress to impress at this club. Grab a cocktail and sit outside to people-watch, or head in and dance into the wee hours. Mueang
Gekko Garden Get a hefty meat fix at this place. Their burgers are famous and cheap as chips – as are their chips. Kamphangdin Road
Khum Khantoke Dinner and a show! This elegant venue plates up Thai delicacies and entertains patrons with various cultural shows. Mueang
Chiang Mai Events
Exotic flora and lush greenery are the highlights of the Chiang Mai Flower Festival every February. A lengthy procession showcases the incredible talents of Thailand’s big flower-biz names. Expect floats made from masses of flowers as well as other growing art. This festival is sure to please the eyes and the nose.
Early April welcomes Chiang Mai Fest, a fiesta of culture and entertainment. Enjoy the dance and music performances, art exhibits and talent shows scattered at different venues around the city.
Songkran is a water festival lasting four days during the month of April, and marks the official start of the Thai New Year. Expect costumes, music, beauty contests, dancing, markets and, of course, plenty of water. If you’re in the city, expect to be doused by hoses, water guns and water balloons. Seriously, total strangers will have no qualms about attacking you with water, so leave your fancy pants at home and join in the fun!
The Loi Krathong Festival in November sees thousands of people gather by the water’s edge to release handmade floats made from banana leaves and flowers that carry candles and incense. Fireworks follow this beautiful tradition honouring the Goddess of Water.
When To Go
It’s pretty hot and humid all year round but to bypass the extreme heat, avoid visiting from March to May, when temps rise to nearly 40°C (104°F).
If you’re not a fan of rain, skip out on visiting during August and September, when the city sees a helluva lot of water.
Late November to January is very warm but pleasant, averaging around 27°C (81°F).
What To Miss
Tap water should be avoided unless you’re into bacterial viruses. Keep to the bottled variety unless you want to include giardia in your list of carry-on items on the way home.
While a lot of tuk-tuk drivers are wonderful ambassadors for Chiang Mai, others can be a real pain in the… tuk. The shifty ones will try to scam you and may offer to take you for a ‘sightseeing tour’ for a certain amount of baht that will almost certainly come to a close at a shop his brother owns. It’s a good idea to refuse their offers as they can become pushy if you don’t then buy something from their brother/cousin/uncle. If they make you really uncomfortable, simply get off.
Hire a scooter or bike to explore on your own, but remember that you may not be as good as you think you are. Remember those battered and bruised Aussies you saw at the airport? Ten to one has it their scars are the result of an over-inflated estimation of their scooter-riding abilities. Be careful!
Jump on one of the many songthaews and tuk-tuks zooming up and down the streets and marvel at their ability to weave in and out of traffic without batting an eyelid.
As one of the most culturally relevant destinations in Southeast Asia, let alone Thailand, Chiang Mai offers superlative tourist value to those in search of a break from the occasionally oppressive crush of Bangkok. With ancient temples, wildlife preserves and splendid natural vistas, the city with a metro population of just under one million people is a rich holiday target.
Cultural festivals and attractions comprise a healthy portion of Chiang Mai’s allure, even in comparison to vast Bangkok. A famous night bazaar offers some of the best street food and traditional crafts in the country, in addition to wonderful local charm. With over 300 Buddhist temples and shrines, the city is awash with tremendous spiritual attractions. Accessible and affordable tours of hillside villages serve as unique treks outside the urban heart of Chiang Mai and display for visitors a slice of traditional Thai life in purely authentic and unadultered environs.
Attractions & Activities
- Patara Elephant Farm
- Wat Phra That Doi Suthep
- Night Bazaar
- Sunday Market
- Chiang Dao Cave
- Siam River Adventures
- AKA Spa
- Thai Elephant Day
- Songkarn Festival
- Chiang Mai Food Festival
Restaurants & Nightlife
- Galare Food Court
- Kitchen Hush
- Whole Earth
- The Antique House
- Heuan Phen
- Peppermint Coffee House
- Mai Place
- Mix Bar
- Horizon Club
- Rasta Bar
- THC Rooftop Bar
- Warm Up
The weather in Chiang Mai is rather predictable, with a dry and wet season that bring steady temperatures variation. June to late October is the period for heavy rains and occasional monsoon storms, while March to May heralds intense humidity and heat. As a whole, the temperature seldom dips below 13°C and peaks 30°C (or in the case of March, April and May, 35°C) on average throughout the year.
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112 hotels in Chiang Mai
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Eastin Tan Hotel Chiang Mai is located on the main road of Huay Kaew and just right on the corner of the Nimanhemin Road Shopping and entertainment area, the most popular area to visit when you are... More
U Chiang Mai is a deluxe hotel in Chiang Mai, the largest and culturally important city of Thailand. This hotel provides excellent facilities and an the ideal base for guests wanting to enjoy... More
104/1 Charoen Muang Soi 2 Charoen Muang Road Map
Whether travelling for business or pleasure, the Puripunn Baby Grand Boutique Hotel offers relaxing accommodation, convenient location and impeccable friendly customer service for a enjoyable... More
With a unique atmosphere, special hospitality and convenient facilities, Anantara Chiang Mai Resort and Spa offers excellent accommodation that makes you to feel at home. GeneralAnantara Chiang... More
Designed with the certain style that perfectly suits the architectures around the area, the Rimping Village is a boutique hotel that delivers comfort and community feel while still offering... More
An ideal place in the city of Chiang Mai, this beautiful hotel offers a warm welcome, pleasant ambience and convenient facilities to make your stay an unforgettable one. GeneralConference... More