My Trip

Chiang Mai Guide

Chiang Mai Old City: How to decide...

Chiang Mai Old City: How to decide..." data-alt="Hotels in Chiang Mai Old City" class="listing-img lazyload" />

One glance at a map and it’s easy to spot Chiang Mai’s Old City quarter, with its crumbling 700-year-old fortress wall and pretty moat forming a perfect square right in the heart of the city. This historical centre contains much of what people come to Chiang Mai for: ancient temples, bustling markets, cheap guesthouses, cute boutiques and a never-ending supply of spas and Thai massage shops. The most popular place here is around ThaePae Gate on the western side of the city, and this spot has the best access out to the highway circling the city too.

Who is it For:

  • Travellers on a budget and backpackers
  • Families
  • Anybody wanting to be in the centre of Chiang Mai and close to the action

What's Good:

  • Huge range of cheap guesthouses, hotels, restaurants, bars, markets, spas – you name it, it’s here
  • Easy access to most parts of the city
  • Many temples, museums and galleries

What's Not So Good:

  • The roads around the moat often see traffic jams during rush hour
  • Most commercialised area of the city
  • Hardly any large resort-style accommodation

Chiang Mai Riverside: How to decide...

Chiang Mai Riverside: How to decide..." data-alt="Hotels in Chiang Mai Riverside" class="listing-img lazyload" />

If you like a good view a slice of tranquility with your hotel, then Chiang Mai’s Riverside might just be for you. Located slightly outside the main city centre (about 10 minutes’ drive) the Ping River boasts a far more laidback vibe compared to the Old City or Night Bazaar areas, yet still enjoys plenty of great waterside restaurants, bars and cafes. Although there are some cheap stays around here to be had, most of Chiang Mai’s Riverside hotels are more towards the luxury-resort side of things – but don’t forget that this is Thailand, and luxury doesn’t always mean expensive.

Who is it For:

  • Families looking for more spacious resorts
  • Older guests with a little more cash to splash on a high end room
  • Anyone looking for a relaxed, picturesque vacation

What's Good:

  • Good choice of inexpensive luxury resorts and hotels
  • Pretty views up the River Ping
  • Decent access to the highway, which links to the airport, bus and train stations
  • Lots of picturesque riverside restaurants

What's not so good:

  • Can feel like you’re missing out on the city’s main action
  • Limited in the way of shopping and nightlife
  • Few budget options

Chiang Mai Night Bazaar: How to decide...

Chiang Mai Night Bazaar: How to decide..." data-alt="Hotels in Chiang Mai Night Bazaar" class="listing-img lazyload" />

Situated a little outside the Old City, Chiang Mai's lively 'Night Bazaar' area is the place to stay for shoppers, being home to the city’s largest night market which runs daily. The nightlife scene in these parts – whilst not as hip and happening as across town at Niman – draws in a steady crowd, with plenty of foreigner friendly beer bars, as well as some naughty late night disco and go-gos around LoiKhroh Road. Accommodation wise, the choice is as eclectic as the souvenirs on sale at the bazaar itself: think everything from budget guesthouses to big-name luxury resorts which tower over the northern capital.

Who is it For:

  • Shoppers
  • Those wanting to be located between Chiang Mai’s Riverside and Old City areas
  • Families and large groups

What's Good:

  • The night bazaar is a Chiang Mai 'must do'
  • Easy to reach both the Riverside and Old City
  • Lots of fun beer bars, most of which stay on the cleaner side of things
  • A few late night discos and clubs are good for Chiang Mai's night owls

What's not so good:

  • Not many cultural attractions
  • Crowded
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