Accommodation in Chiang Mai
Chiang Mai is well stocked with all kinds of accommodation; usually there are plenty of beds to go around but many places fill up from December to February and at the festival time, particularly during Songkran on April and Loy Krathong on November. At these times, you need to book to stay at one of the expensive hotels and for guest houses it's a good idea to phone ahead-even if you can't book a place, you can save yourself a journey if the place is full.
Many touts at the bus and train stations offer a free ride if you stay at a particular guest house, but you'll probably find that the price of a room is bumped up to pay for your ride. For much of the year there's little need for air-con in Chiang Mai, though the more expensive air-conditioned rooms are usually more spacious and come with hot-water bathroom, which is a plus in cooler weather. Some places can arrange to switch the air-con option off and charge you the fan-room rate.
Though many guest houses offer use of their safes as a free service, some charge up to 30-50 Baht per day. Be sure that you can trust the proprietor before you leave valuables in one of the safes or excess baggage in one of the left-luggage rooms while you go off trekking (choose one of the more well-established guest houses, as they're more conscious of the need to maintain their reputation), make a detailed inventory to be signed by both parties, because the hair-raising stories of theft and credit-card abuse are often true.
In all ways that matter, the choice of budget guest houses is better in Chiang Mai than in Bangkok, they're generally friendlier, quieter, more atmospheric,comfortable and often have their own outdoor cafés. In most budget places you can now get a hot shower, even if it's just a shared bathroom, while a lot of the more successful places below have developed a few fancier rooms with air-con. Many of the least expensive places make their money from hill-tribe trekking, which can be convenient as a trek often needs a lot of organizing beforehand but equally can be annoying if you're in Chiang Mai for other reasons and are put under pressure to trek, as can happen at some guest houses. Most of the places listed below can arrange trekking, but at none of them should you get this kind of undue hassle.
Most low-cost places are gathered on the surprisingly quite soi around the eastern side of the old moat and Tha Pae Gate. This put you between the old town and the new town, in the middle of a larder of Thai and travellers' restaurents.
Chiang Mai Youth Hostel
2/8 Thanon Chang Klan Tel. 053-276737 www.chiangmaiyha.com About 1500m south of the night bazaar. Very clean, quite and reliable; room have en-suite hot showers and fans or air-con.
Julie Guest House
7/1 Soi 5, Thanon Phra Pokklao Tel. 053-274355 www.julieguesthouse.com Relaxing, laid-way-back place with a variety of rooms with shared or en-suite hot showers and a dorm, in a concrete block. Part canopied roof terrace with hammocks for hanging out and downstairs a shady garden café with a pool table.
Pun Pun Guest House
321 Thanon Charoenrat Tel. 053-243362 www.armms.com On the east side of the river, near the Rama IX Bridge. A choice of wooden rooms in a house with hot water bathrooms, or bungalows with a shared bath. Under American management, it has a small garden and popular restaurant serving back-home favorite.
Sarah Guest House
20 Soi 4, Thanon Tha Pae Tel. 053-208271 www.sarahguesthouse.com A very clean, peaceful establishment 200m from Tha Pae Gate, named for its English owner. Most rooms have ceiling fans and bathrooms, either with hot waters; a few large, nicely furnished air-con rooms with hot-water bathrooms are available too. There's a pleasant garden with a daytime courtyard café serving Western breakfasts, Thai food, sandwiches and snacks, including plenty of veggie options.
8 Soi 2, Thanon Ratchawithi Tel. 053-217492 www.yourhouseguesthouse.com A lovely old-town teak house with a suitably welcoming atmosphere. Big, airy, clean rooms shared hot-water bathrooms; in the modern annexe across the road, there are small rooms with their own hot-water bathrooms, some with air-con. The courtyard restaurant area serves good Thai and French food, with buffalo steak and chips a specialty. Free pick-ups from train station, bus station and airport.
For around 600 Baht a double and upwards, you can buy yourself considerably more comfort than the bottom-bracket accommodation provides. By far the best of these moderate places are the upmarket guest houses and lodges, which as well as good facilities (hot-water and air-con) often offer decent décor and atmosphere. Chiang Mai also has dozens of bland, no frills hotels in the same price range. Here is 5 listed, that you can take a look in Chiang Mai.
Baan Jong Come Guest House
47 Soi 4, Thanon Tha Pae Tel. 053-274823, This family-run place combines modern motel/hotel-style rooms, fan or air-con, with a guest house atmosphere. The rooms, which are upstairs, are very clean and spacious, with cool tiled floors and big comfortable beds made up with sheets and blankets; bathrooms with hot shower are attached. Below there's a pleasant courtyard with a café.
Galare Guest house
7 Soi 2, Thanon Charoen Prathet Tel. 053-818887 or 053-821011 www.galare.com Near Narawat Bridge, a long-standing, well run upmarket guest house that's justly popular. Air-con rooms, each with hot-water bathroom, TV and fridge, overlook a shady lawn which gives way to a riverside terrace.
3 Soi 4, Thanon Ratchadamnoen Tel. 053-278140, Set around a relaxing, leafy compound strewn with antiques are plush air-con, rooms with hot showers. The room price includes a simple breakfast and vegetarian buffet is served in the evening; one or two cookery courses available.
Lai Thai Guesthouse
111/4-5 Thanon Kotchasan Tel. 053-271725 www.laithai.com On the southeast corner of the moat. Frenetic place, very popular with families, who are no doubt attracted by the courtyard swimming pool around which the three floors of this attractive 120 rooms modern Thai-style building are arranged. Besides hot-water, en-suite bathrooms, the small but clean rooms boast traditional wooden floors, bamboo walls and air-con.
9 Soi 8, Thanon Charoen Prathet Tel. 053-282487 www.infothai.com/people. A compact modern building just a few steps from the night bazaar, with spacious, comfy rooms with en-suite hot-water bathrooms and air-con.
Clustered around the night bazaar and along Thanon Huai Kaeo, Chiang Mai's expensive hotels aren't quite up to Bangkok's very high standards, though room rates are generally more reasonable here; the best hotel lay on all the expected luxuries plus traditional Lanna architectural touches and breakfast is included at most places. Worth considering in this price range is the Regent Resort, out in the Mae Sa valley; they'll collect you from the airport and lay on a shuttle bus service into Chiang Mai for guests.
Amari Rincome Hotel
1 Thanon Nimmanheimin Tel. 053-221130 www.amari.com Popular with tour groups, this hotel has an elegant lobby. Tastefully furnished rooms, a tennis court and an excellent swimming pool. It's La Gritta restaurant does a blow-out buffet lunch. Though it's a bit far from the centre, there are lots of restaurants and shops nearby.
Chiang Mai Orchid
23 Thanon Huai Kaeo Tel. 053-222091 www.chiangmaiorchid.com Grand, tasteful hotel with efficient service, a swimming pool and a health club, inconveniently located on the northwest side of town.
Sheraton Chiang Mai Hotel
318/1 Thanon Chiang Mai-Lamphun Tel. 053-275300 www.starwood.com The most luxurious hotel with the most spacious bedrooms in the city is located in one of its tallest buildings, a few kilometers south of town by the river. Facilities include a pool, steam room, business centre and health club as well as several top-class restaurants.
Imperial Mae Ping Hotel
153 Thanon Sri Donchai Tel. 053-283900 www.imperialhotels.com Central luxury hotel in a fifteen-stories high-rise, with two outdoor pools, a gym, Japanese and Chinese restaurants, and a pleasant beer garden; very convenient for the night bazaar.
111 Thanon Chang Klan Tel. 053-281033-40 www.royalprincess.com Tidy, centrally located hotel close to night bazaar, with elegant rooms, a swimming pool and fitness centre, fine restaurants and impeccable service.