Destinations / Asia

Where to Stay in Chiang Mai: Nimman or Old City

Considered the most culturally significant city in Thailand’s northern region, Chiang Mai’s glittering landmarks were once the beating heart of the Lanna Kingdom. A perfect combination of picturesque mountain views and laid-back vibes, the “Land of Smiles” second biggest city is often a tranquil retreat from the hustle and bustle of Bangkok. Here visitors will find a vibrant mix of old and new with majestic 1,000-year-old temples situated next to modern shopping malls.

Full of tradition and rich culture, Chiang Mai is a city where visitors can explore bustling markets and bazaars, walk through centuries-old landmarks and dine on authentic Thai cuisine. With so many sights in the city to cover it can be a challenge to choose which area to stay in. With over 400 million visitors per year to HotelsCombined, we’ve taken the guesswork out of hotels searches in Chiang Mai by highlighting the top hotels in the two most popular areas of the city, Nimman and Old City.

While you’re in Chiang Mai, we’re confident you’ll want to explore its most interesting cultural treasures, so we’ve also highlighted the top things to do and see to ensure you get the most out of your stay. Whether you’re looking for a hotel with a relaxing ambience in the midst of the buzzing area of the city or you want to be in walking distance to the top markets, these hotels are sure to provide you with an unforgettable holiday experience in Chiang Mai.

Fast Facts

Place: NimmanPlace: Old City
Built: Early 2000Built: 1296
Why visit? Considered the chic, trendy area of Chiang MaiWhy visit? Historically significant area of Chiang Mai
Top Attractions Near Nimman:
• Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep
• Elephant Nature Park
• Maya Lifestyle Shopping Centre
Top Attractions Near Old City:
• Wat Chedi Luang
• Night Bazaar
• Warorot Market

Nimman or Old City: Staying near Nimman

Nimmanhaemin Road, or “Nimman” for short, is a rapidly growing area in Chiang Mai known for being the most modern and trendy area of the city. Located on the west side of Chiang Mai, it is a lively neighbourhood at all hours of the day. An easy area to explore on foot, here visitors will be welcomed with an abundance of quirky cafes, boutique clothing shops, and the city’s top restaurants and bars. Only a short 10-minute ride on local transportation to Tha Pae Gate in the Old City, it is also a fantastic location to explore the rest of Chiang Mai. Organised by price, read on to discover the top hotels in the Nimman area.

Nimman Hotels Under THB ฿4060

Golden pagoda wat Phra That Doi Suthep chiangmai
Photo| Golden Pagoda Wat Phra that Doi Suthep Temple | SHUTTERSTOCK – APIGUIDE

Chiangmai Chaiyo Hotel

Chiangmai Chaiyo Hotel, chiang mai nimman or old city
Photo| Chiangmai Chaiyo Hotel | Provided by BOOKING.COM

For an intimate accommodation choice, Chiangmai Chaiyo Hotel is a 5-minute walk to Maya Lifestyle Shopping Centre and 2 minutes to the action on Nimmanhaemin Rd. The hotel boasts a chic, old-world design filled with interesting artwork adorning its walls, boasting 25 rooms featuring a sitting area, balcony, in-room desk and cable television.

Chiangmai Chaiyo Hotel offers a 24-hour front desk with internet services and ticket assistance to the city’s attractions, as you’re a convenient 20-minute drive to the Chiang Mai Zoo and Chiang Mai Night Safari. You’ll also find an on-site restaurant that serves a mix of international and Thai cuisine, perfect for refuelling for another day of adventure.

Star Rating: 0*
Price: THB ฿667 – THB ฿1604
Guest Rating: 8.4
Address: 17-17/1-4 Nimmanhemin Road, Soi 5, Chiang Mai, Thailand

Lotus Hotel Pang Suan Kaew

Lotus Hotel Pang Suan Kaew, chiang mai nimman or old city
Photo| Lotus Hotel Pang Suan Kaew| Provided by BOOKING.COM

A 10-minute walk and 4-minute tuk-tuk ride to the Nimman area, Lotus Hotel Pang San Kaew is Chiang Mai’s top convention hotel ideal for business travellers. Boasting premier event venues, the hotel has 23 meeting rooms that can accommodate up to 3,000 people. Connected to a local shopping complex with traditional shops, guests can find plenty of entertainment nearby to keep their itinerary full.

Whether you choose the Junior Suite or upgrade to a luxurious Superior Room, all guests are provided with a work desk, minibar, bathrobe and slippers. Guests can also enjoy a range of benefits from its facilities that include an Olympic-size swimming pool, fitness centre, sauna and steam room, and spa with traditional Thai massages.

Star Rating: 3*
Price: THB ฿691 – THB ฿1703
Guest Rating: 6.8
Address: 21 HuayKaew Rd., Chiang Mai, Thailand

Furama Chiang Mai

Furama Chiang Mai, chiang mai nimman or old city
Photo| Furama Chiang Mai | Provided by BOOKING.COM

Overlooking the majestic Doi Suthep mountain, Furama Chiang Mai is a 17-storey 4-star hotel only 15 minutes away from the airport. A 10-minute stroll to Nimman, Furama Chiang Mai greets guests with modern conveniences and contemporary Thai designs. Ranging from Superior to Two Bedroom Suites, all rooms come equipped with LCD televisions, electronic key access and Jacuzzi bathtubs.

Guests who want to unwind will enjoy the sparkling 17th-floor outdoor pool, and for guests who want to stay fit can take advantage of the 5th-floor fitness centre. Food enthusiasts are spoiled for choice with on-site dining options, between the open-air rooftop Xanadu Pub & Restaurant to the authentic French cuisine in the Grill Room and Thai dishes at the Heritage Cafe.

Star Rating: 4*
Price: THB ฿614 – THB ฿3862
Guest Rating: 7.2
Address: 54 Huay Keaw Road Muang, Chiang Mai, Thailand

Nimman Mai Design Hotel Chiang Mai by Compass Hospitality

Nimman Mai Design Hotel Chiang Mai by Compass Hospitality, chiang mai nimman or old city
Photo| Nimman Mai Design Hotel Chiang Mai by Compass Hospitality | Provided by LEONARDO

A unique 4-star hotel, Nimman Mai Design Hotel Chiang Mai by Compass Hospitality boasts 56 rooms that are individually designed. Offering vibrant themes in addition to stylish furnishings, rooms here offer guests a stunning view of the city and the surrounding mountains. The Studio Mai and Grand Mai rooms feature relaxing tub baths and a spacious working area, while the Studio Connecting Room offers two single beds and one king-size bed, a perfect choice for those travelling in a group.

Stay on-site to dine on local Thai cuisine at the READ Restaurant or simply relax with complimentary tea and coffee, as the restaurant turns into a library for guests after breakfast. Airport transfers are a convenient feature, in addition to a business centre with internet stations, a 24-hour reception and CCTV security.

Star Rating: 4*
Price: THB ฿822 – THB ฿4060
Guest Rating: 7.8
Address: 2/1 Nimmanheamin-Sukasem Road, Chiang Mai, Thailand

Hotel Location

Nimman Hotels Over THB ฿4060

Wat Phra That Doi Suthep
Photo| Wat Phra that Doi Suthep Temple | SHUTTERSTOCK – SOUTHTOWNBOY STUDIO

Kantary Hills Chiang Mai

Kantary Hills Chiang Mai, chiang mai nimman or old city
Photo| Kantary Hills Chiang Mai | Provided by BOOKING.COM

Situated right in the trendy heart of Nimman, Kantary Hills Chiang Mai boasts contemporary and comfortable oversized suites with an extensive list of in-room amenities. Here guests can choose from rooms ranging from a studio to a two bedroom luxury suite that come equipped with a modern kitchenette, dining area and balcony in addition to a washing machine in the upgraded rooms.

Designed with traveller’s needs in mind, Kantary Hills Chiang Mai boasts a refreshing swimming pool, outdoor terrace and heated whirlpools to relax in. A fitness centre is on-site to stay fit, while the full-service business centre is perfect for getting work done. Guests can dine on delicious steaks at the on-site steakhouse Nimman Bar & Grill or nibble on pastries and cakes, while sipping coffee at Cafe Kantary.

Star Rating: 4*
Price: THB ฿1405 – THB ฿6027
Guest Rating: 8.9
Address: 44 Nimmanhaemin Road Soi 12 Suthep Muang, Chiang Mai, Thailand

Art Mai Gallery Nimman Hotel

Art Mai Gallery Nimman Hotel, chiang mai nimman or old city
Photo| Art Mai Gallery Nimman Hotel | Provided by BOOKING.COM

Referred to as an “Eight Story Masterpiece”, Art Mai Gallery Nimman is an art-focused boutique hotel only a 2-minute walk from the vibrant Nimmanhaemin Rd. Here guests are greeted with a visual feast for the eyes with inspiring art, where each of its seven floors is designed by a different contemporary Thai artist on each floor, including Romantic Art on the 8th, Impressionist Art on the 7th, and Surrealist Art on the 6th floor.

Aside from its gorgeous decor, guests will enjoy spacious rooms with a blank painting canvas and working area. Art enthusiasts can also explore and purchase local artwork at the hotel’s modern art gallery on the ground floor. Both artists and art lovers alike will enjoy soaking in the sunshine at the hotel’s rooftop pool and the authentic Thai cuisine served at Jarid, the hotel’s on-site restaurant.

Star Rating: 5*
Price: THB ฿1698 – THB ฿9835
Guest Rating: 8.6
Address: 21 Soi 3, Nimmanhaemin Road, Chiang Mai, Thailand

Akyra Manor Chiang Mai

Akyra Manor Chiang Mai, chiang mai nimman or old city
Photo| Akyra Manor Chiang Mai | Provided by LEONARDO

5-star luxury in the centre of Nimman, Akyra Manor Chiang Mai is an intimate boutique hotel with only 30 suites, allowing guests to enjoy more personalised hospitality services. From the expansive Deluxe Suites to the elegant Manor Suites, guests are spoiled with king sized beds, decadent tubs and 430-thread count Egyptian cotton sheets.

An infinity swimming pool sits atop the hotel offering guests a pristine view of the city’s skyline, while chic boutiques, bars and coffee shops are just steps from the hotel’s front door. The biggest highlight for many travellers is the on-site restaurant and bar. Italics Restaurant and Akyra Rise bar are two of the top dining and drinking spots in the entire city, offering guests cutting-edge cooking concepts and locally-sourced cuisine.

Star Rating: 5*
Price: THB ฿3106 – THB ฿12536
Guest Rating: 9.4
Address: 22/2 Nimmanhaemin Road Soi 9, T. Suthep, A. Muang, Chiang Mai, Thailand

Hotel Location

What to see in Nimman

What to see in Nimman,Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, Asian recipe and herbs, Elephant in Songkran Festival, Elephant Camp in Chian Mai
Photo| Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, Asian recipe and herbs, Elephant in Songkran Festival, Elephant Camp in Chian Mai| SHUTTERSTOCK -ROLF_52| KIATTIPONG| GNOMEANDI| JARVA JAR

A visit to Chiang Mai would not be complete without a trip to the sparkling gold Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep just a short drive from the Nimman area. It is the most popular attraction in the city for a reason, and if you’re visiting on a clear day you’ll be greeted with a stunning panoramic view over the entire city. Another popular day trip from Nimman is the Elephant Nature Park, where you can spend a day volunteering with Thailand’s gentle giants, feeding and bathing them in the river. If you’re looking for more animal attractions, visitors can observe animals from around the world during the day and at night at Chiang Mai Zoo and Chiang Mai Night Safari, both a 15-minute drive from the Nimman area.

What to see in Nimman, Songkran Festival, Chiang Mai Zoo, shopping in Chiang Mai, outdoor café in Chiang Mai
Photo| Songkran Festival, Chiang Mai Zoo, shopping in Chiang Mai, outdoor café in Chiang Mai| GETTYIMAGES – BY CHAKARIN WATTANAMONGKOL| NEOPHOTO| BONGKARN THANYAKIJ- EYEEM| KHANJOWIT

Less than a 5-minute walk from Nimman, shopping enthusiasts will enjoy browsing the glitzy Maya Lifestyle Shopping Centre, featuring a world-class shopping destination with five floors of international and Thai brand clothes and electronics. For a more intimate experience, Thai Farm Cooking School is a real treat for food lovers. Here, you’re taken to a nearby farm for fresh ingredients before learning how to cook an authentic Thai dish. In April, the streets of Nimman come alive with water pistols and garden hoses at one of Thailand’s most popular events, the Songkran Water Festival. Both locals and visitors alike join in on a city-wide water fight and embrace the annual tradition.

Nimman or Old City: Staying near Old City

Within a 2.5-kilometre radius, the Old City is a historically significant area of Chiang Mai. Dating back 700 years, Chiang Mai was once an entirely walled square surrounded by a moat and visitors are still able to see glimpses of this old-world charm in the city’s landmarks, gates and walls. Visitors can soak in views of historic temples, such as Wat Chedi Luang, and world-famous markets including the Night Bazaar, Warorot Market and Sunday Walking Street. A stay in Old City means you’ll be able to explore the area by foot, as you’ll find a wealth of hidden restaurants, shops and cultural sites down small unmarked alleyways. Organised by price, read on to discover the top hotels in the Old City area.

Old City Hotels Under THB ฿3432

Wat Chedi Luang Temple
Photo| Wat Chedi Luang Temple| SHUTTERSTOCK -SAIKO3P

Royal Panerai Hotel Chiangmai

Royal Panerai Hotel Chiangmai, chiang mai nimman or old city
Photo| Royal Panerai Hotel Chiangmai | Provided by BOOKING.COM

In a prime location of Chiang Mai, Royal Panerai Hotel Chiangmai is in the centre of the city’s nightlife and is less than a 20-minute walk from Warorot Market and Muang Mai Market. Here guests are also a 20-minute walk to the majestic Wat Chedi Luang, a 7-minute drive to the Night Bazaar and only a 15-minute drive to the Central Festival Chiang Mai mall.

A 24-hour desk awaits travellers, where they’ll find convenient features that include laundry services, tour bookings and airport transfers in addition to an on-site Rabiang Panerai Restaurant serving up local Thai cuisine. Guests can choose from 136 luxury rooms, from a Superior Studio to a Two-Bedroom Junior Suite, that offer private balconies and dressing tables.

Star Rating: 3*
Price: THB ฿264 – THB ฿1157
Guest Rating: 7.2
Address: 3/9 Assadathorn Road, Tumpon Sriphoom, Chiang Mai, Thailand

Maninarakorn Hotel Chiang Mai

Maninarakorn Hotel Chiang Mai, chiang mai nimman or old city
Photo| Maninarakorn Hotel Chiang Mai | Provided by BOOKING.COM

In walking distance to many of the Old City attractions, Maninarakorn Hotel Chiang Mai is an excellent retreat for those who want to explore the city by foot. Here guests are only a 15-minute walk to the centre of the action at Tha Phae Gate where you’ll find the Sunday Walking Street and only 10 minutes from the maze of shops at the Night Bazaar.

Guests staying at Maninarakorn Hotel Chiang Mai are welcomed with a stylish boutique with contemporary decor, boasting a range of rooms from Superior to Deluxe, Suite and Family-style. Guests can unwind in the hotel’s on-site Thai Spa and Massage with a luxurious body treatment or indulge in international cuisine at Zenza, the hotel’s fusion restaurant.

Star Rating: 4*
Price: THB ฿485 – THB ฿2514
Guest Rating: 7.2
Address: 99 Sridonchai Rd., T.Changklan, Chiang Mai, Thailand

Chiang Mai Plaza Hotel Convention & Spa

Chiang Mai Plaza Hotel Convention & Spa, chiang mai nimman or old city
Photo| Chiang Mai Plaza Hotel Convention & Spa | Provided by BOOKING.COM

Great for both business and leisure travellers alike, Chiang Mai Plaza Hotel Convention & Spa is home to 445 cosy rooms overlooking the Mae Ping River. Guests are only a 10-minute walk from the famous Night Bazaar and 15 minutes from the local Warorot Market. You’ll be treated with stunning views of the mountains while indulging in a variety of top class facilities including a pool, fitness centre, shopping arcade and on-site spa.

Combining traditional Thai hospitality with elegant design, Chiang Mai Plaza Hotel Convention & Spa is a favourite with travellers for its large venue space that seats up to 1,000 people, dazzling rooftop terrace and Fat Kum, the on-site restaurant serving a mix of Thai and international cuisine.

Star Rating: 4*
Price: THB ฿723 – THB ฿2600
Guest Rating: 7.0
Address: 92 Sridonchai Rd., Changklan, Muang, Chiang Mai, Thailand

Dusit D2 Chiang Mai

Situated across the street from the Night Bazaar and one block from the Ping River, Dusit D2 Chiang Mai is in an optimal location to take full advantage of the city’s top shopping, dining, and nightlife. Urban-chic with a modern design, rooms here come equipped with rain showers, flat-screen LCD televisions and pillow menus.

A visit to the award-winning on-site Devarana Spa is a must to explore the five spacious treatment suites and range of spa packages. Guests can also indulge in a swim in the outdoor pool, book a hands-on cooking lesson with a Thai chef and dine in the hotel’s signature restaurant, Moxie. Come evening, and the on-site Mix Bar offers guests a laid-back vibe and plenty of craft cocktails for travellers to recharge.

Star Rating: 4*
Price: THB ฿987 – THB ฿3432
Guest Rating: 8.0
Address: 112 Chang Klan Road, Chiang Mai, Thailand

Hotel Location

Old City Hotels Over THB ฿3432

Wat Phra Sing temple

Empress Hotel Chiang Mai

Empress Hotel Chiang Mai, chiang mai nimman or old city
Photo| Empress Hotel Chiang Mai | Provided by BOOKING.COM

Offering luxury accommodation in a quiet area of Old City, Empress Hotel Chiang Mai boasts 375 rooms with stunning views of the mountains. Newly renovated rooms are designed with brightly decorated touches and wood floors that include walk-in showers and complimentary toiletries. A perfect retreat in the midst of the bustling city, guests will find a large Panda Palace serving Cantonese dishes and a popular dim sum buffet during the day.

Ideal for both families and business travellers, the hotel is home to impressive conference facilities and one of the biggest pools in the city, decked with lounge chairs and a poolside bar where guests can relax. Only a 10-minute walk to the central area of Old City, those looking to be close to the city’s top markets and historical sites will find its convenient location appealing.

Star Rating: 4*
Price: THB ฿1015 – THB ฿4716
Guest Rating: 8.4
Address: 199/42 Changklan Road, Chiang Mai, Thailand

Raming Lodge Hotel & Spa

Raming Lodge Hotel & Spa, chiang mai nimman or old city
Photo| Raming Lodge Hotel & Spa | Provided by LEONARDO

Located near the east gate in Old City, Raming Lodge Hotel & Spa features 84 brightly decorated rooms with writing desks, a free mini-bar and a Lanna style shower. History enthusiasts will enjoy being near the dazzling temples of the city, including Wat Chedi Luang and Wat Phra Singh, while those looking for local crafts will find the Sunday Walking Street an appealing destination only a 9-minute walk away.

An award-winning hotel, Raming Lodge Hotel & Spa offers travellers a luxury spa where they can indulge in a traditional Thai or Aromatherapy massage or spend time in the sauna. Guests can also unwind at the on-site pool, dine on delicious burgers at Rock Me Burger or book a sightseeing tour at the Travel Service counter.

Star Rating: 4*
Price: THB ฿953 – THB ฿5662
Guest Rating: 7.8
Address: 17-19 Loikroh T.Changklan, Chiang Mai, Thailand

Rarin Jinda Wellness Spa Resort

Located east of the Ping River in a less touristy area of the city, Rarin Jinda Wellness Spa Resort is still only a 10-minute walk into Old City. Offering guests 5-star luxury with lush landscape surroundings, Rarin Jinda Wellness Spa Resort is a tranquil retreat. Boasting one of Thailand’s leading fully equipped spas, it features a unique onset-style hot spring pool. The hotel is also home to Deck 1, a high-end restaurant that serves a well-dressed crowd delicious cuisine from an Asian fusion menu.

Housed in a 140-year-old antique teak wood home, 35 modern deluxe rooms and suites have private verandas and views overlooking the on-site pool and Doi Suthep mountain. Guests can choose from a range of packages for their stay, including the Honeymoon Package with a Hydrotherapy Pool Treatment and the Wellness Package that focuses on strength and flexibility with Yoga classes.

Star Rating: 5*
Price: THB ฿2688 – THB ฿8071
Guest Rating: 9.0
Address: 1, 14 Chareonraj Rd., T. Wat Kate, Chiang Mai, Thailand

Hotel Location

What to see in Old City

Wat Chedi Luang Varavihara, Wat Phra Singh, woman at a night market in Chiang Mai, sushi stand in Chiang Mai night market
Photo| Wat Chedi Luang Varavihara, Wat Phra Singh, woman at a night market in Chiang Mai, sushi stand in Chiang Mai night market| SHUTTERSTOCK – THANAPATH| SAIKO3P| FIFTYOCTOBER| DEMAMIEL62

There are several shopping opportunities in walking distance of Old City. Local handicrafts can be found at the bustling 1-mile length Sunday Walking Street, while a 10-minute walk will land you in the bargain-laden Night Bazaar. A must-see attraction for food enthusiasts, Muang Mai Market is one of the freshest and most colourful produce markets in Thailand. For something different, hop on local transportation for a 10-minute ride to Chiang Mai’s flashiest shopping centre, Central Festival Chiang Mai, where you can roam through five floors of international brand name shops.

Wat Phan Tao Temple Visakha Puja day in Chiang Mai, floats at Loy Krathong, night market and stalls in Chiang Mai
Photo| Wat Phan Tao Temple Visakha Puja day in Chiang Mai, floats at Loy Krathong, night market and stalls in Chiang Mai| GETTYIMAGES – ALONGKOT SUMRITJEARAPOL| SUBSTANCEP| HTTPS://WWW.JAPANIBACKPACKER.COM| DANUPAN KWANGCHAI – EYEEM

A stay in the Old City means you’re also in a prime location to explore the city’s oldest temples on foot. Wat Chedi Luang is an impressive 14th-century temple with a prominent pagoda and massive elephant carvings adorning its ruins. Only a 15-minute walk away is the equally as majestic Wat Phra Singh, the largest Buddhist Temple in the city with sacred shrines and lavish adornments. If you’re lucky, a stay in the Old City at the end of the year might coincide with two of the most famous festivals in Thailand, Loi Krathong and Yi Peng. During these colourful celebrations, Thai’s launch handmade baskets into the river and the streets of Old City are filled with thousands of beautifully illuminated floating lanterns that are launched into the night’s sky.

Which area do you prefer to stay, Nimman or Old City?

An alluring destination that boasts a combination of dazzling temples, natural beauty, and world-famous markets, Chiang Mai is where visitors go to find a vibrant mix of culture and tradition. A quiet retreat from the buzzing capital, Chiang Mai offers laid-back vibes perfect for soaking in the forested foothills and historical landmarks.

Yee Peng festival in Chiang Mai
Photo| Yee Peng Lantern Festival | GETTYIMAGES _ PRACHANART

With 400 million visitors per year to HotelsCombined, we see a lot of travellers opting for Nimman accommodation that provides an intimate ambience, modern amenities like an on-site pool and a convenient driving distance to the holiest shrine in northern Thailand, Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep. We’re also seeing visitors choosing accommodation in Old City, selecting hotels with stunning views of Doi Suthep and Mae Ping River, while still within walking distance to the world-famous markets including the Night Bazaar, Warorot Market and Sunday Walking Street.

Which area do you prefer to stay, Nimman or Old City? Let us know if you’ve visited Chiang Mai and which accommodation you can’t pass up when staying in the city.

More readings about Thailand

Thailand Full Moon Party: Where to Stay
16 Cheapest Beach Hotels & Resorts for Families in Hua Hin Thailand
Experience Thailand’s Best-Kept Secret Islands at These Magical Beachfront Hotels



  1. Tourism Authority of Thailand
  2. Chiang Mai Thailand Travel & Tourist Guide
  3. Elephant Nature Park
  4. Sacred Destinations

Author: Charity De Souza

Born and raised in Orlando, Florida, I have been travelling with my battered backpack full-time for over a decade. My favourite travel memories include skydiving in Switzerland, wine tasting in Portugal, road tripping through Iceland, snorkelling in Indonesia and watching a sunset in the Sahara Desert.

Charity De Souza
Born and raised in Orlando, Florida, I have been travelling with my battered backpack full-time for over a decade. My favourite travel memories include skydiving in Switzerland, wine tasting in Portugal, road tripping through Iceland, snorkelling in Indonesia and watching a sunset in the Sahara Desert.
Posted on Categories Asia, DestinationsTags ,


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4 thoughts on “Where to Stay in Chiang Mai: Nimman or Old City”

  1. Good article. Chiang Mai is a great city, I’ve been about 4 times. I usually stay in or within walking distance of the old city as I love to wander the temples, markets and coffee shops within the moat. Last time I splashed out and stayed at a small lodge within the old city called Chiang Mai Summer Resort – a lovely little enclosed guest house with three seperate wooden lodgings tastefully decked out in the middle of a nice little garden. It was only minutes walk to the major temples and tourist attractions and had very friendly staff. Recommended!

    There is tons of stuff to do in Chiang Mai, this article has covered some of them but I wanted to highlight some of the activities I particularly recommend in addition to these. Chiang Mai is famous for its cooking classes, there are a lot of highly rated ones (just check Trip Advisor). It’s a fun experience especially visiting the local markets and the food is amazingly tasty. Try to skip breakfast beforehand because believe me you will be in a food coma after eating about 5 meals during your class! I did Zab E Lee’s class which was fun and the owner is a fun and inspiring young lady.

    There are loads of elephant based attractions around Chiang Mai. Do your research beforehand because some of them mistreat the elephants, and always check out reviews and the ethical background to any animal attractions you visit in Thailand as there are plenty of horror stories. I did an elephant camp with Elepephant Retirement Camp: – it’s a nice one because although it’s fairly basic you just get to hang out with the elephants and go in the mud bath with them, and there are a couple of cute baby elephants – the owners really care about them and are sometimes present to chat with and they like to play with the elephants too!

    If you want to have some more adventures in the jungle, the Flight of the Gibbon zipline is fun – it’s cool to zip around in the canopy and the trees are huge. The drive out there (shuttle is included in the price) is a few hours. There’s also a bunch of obstacles and zipline styles I haven’t seen in other ziplines I’ve done in other countries. It is quite pricey and you can do it in other places in the world, but a good activity if you want to do something a bit more energetic and fun.

    For Thai boxing, instead of the very touristy Thaphae stadium, check out the Kalare boxing ring instead – right next to the night markets east of the old city. This is a small “stadium” (just an open room basically) with plastic chairs and attracts plenty of locals and tourists – and is a much more authentic experience. Not for the faint hearted, these guys don’t hold back and you will see some brutal knockouts! It’s also cheap with cheap beer also on sale, and in an ideal location to bar hop or check out the night market before and after.

    The ladyboy cabaret nearby is also a great laugh and the fully dressed up ladyboys prowl the streets beforehand giving out promo discounts and fliers. It’s really fun with lots of funny moments and amazing costumes. Beware, if you sit near the front as a guy – you may be singled out for attention in the show! The price although cheap does come with a caveat, staff (all ladyboys of course) do table service and constantly beg for tips, so factor that in too.

    For nightlife be aware that due to new city regulations most of the nightclubs must close fairly early, most are closed by 1 or 2am most days of the week. The most lively area is in the old city where there’s a heap of bars and restaurants clustered together. There are a few later night clubs which stay open later for both locals and tourists but they are a bit of a walk or taxi ride away. Be aware that the more tourist ones are often brimming with prostitutes but they are not aggressive about it so you can ignore them and have fun!

    Finally I am into photography and did a couple of good photo workshops here. They are quite pricey but not by western standards. Both are led by westerners with lots of photography experience and take you to nice parts of Chiang Mai where you can observe the locals a bit more. with Kevin had me concentrating on some technical skills at some massive local markets where we didn’t see any tourists, and I got some great shots. I spent a day with Alan from A Day of Photography Chiang Mai which was great, we rode around on bikes doing a mixture of fine art and people photography with both randoms and local people Alan knows including a monk and some great characters. Alan has a great life philosophy and made me think about my approach to the subject a lot more. Both courses were very good.

    I could say so much more but I have waffled enough already – enjoy Chiang Mai!

  2. Thanks for an inspiring post. I can’t wait to go back to Thailand this year!

    Chang Mai has so much to offer: golden temples, bustling markets, jungle adventures, luxurious spas, traditional dance performances, rejuvenating Thai massage…Oh! and let’s not forget the incredible food.

    I think you’d be hard-pressed to find a more intoxicating and enjoyable way to experience Thai culture than through your stomach. Cooking classes are a must-do in Thailand (with notice, my teacher had no problem adapting the class for a vegetarian) and, if you can work a Sunday into your itinerary, the Sunday night Walking Street Market in the Old Town offers a brilliant opportunity to sample the colourful tastes of Northern Thailand.

    Chang Mai has become a bit of a hub for digital nomads, so don’t be surprised if you spy a few laptops while you’re sipping your coffee (about 30-50THB) at one of the Nimman’s numerous trendy cafes.

    The city has a healthy nightlife too, with plenty of opportunities to enjoy live music and join the locals for a drink as they kick back beside the Ping River. A large beer costs around 70-110THB.

    I think Chang Mai is significantly easier to get around than Bangkok. A songtheaw (essentially a ute/pickup with a roof and benches on the back) should only cost you about 20THB to get from one side of town to the other. The iconic (and fun!) tuk-tuks are an experience in themselves, but you should always make sure to negotiate the price before jumping in. It shouldn’t more than about 50-100THB anywhere within the city.

    Thailand is a truly magical place and definitely one for your bucket list. I hope you’ll love the place as much as I do!

  3. Ahh, Chiang Mai! I miss it every day. Loved the overview in this blog and I think the writer did well comparing the two areas of the city. I’ve visited the city a few times and my favourite place to stay was the Furama Chiang Mai hotel on Huay Keaw Road. You’re only a quick songthaew ride away from the Old City (like 10-15 minutes) and pretty much every other major point in the city. By the way, to clarify for travellers new to the city, you can either take private tuk-tuks (2 person rides) or songthaews (red trucks), the songthaews are a lot cheaper, but you might be squeezed in with a few other passengers. I don’t really think anyone should leave without visiting Phrathat Doi Suthep or the Elephant Nature Park. They are always the highlight of anyone’s itinerary when visiting the city. Also, Thai people really appreciate when you greet them in Thai Sawatdee Khrap (pronounced Sa-What-Dee Krap) for men and Sawatdee Khun Kha (pronounced Sa-What-Dee Ka) for women in combination with the Wai bow greeting. Trust me, it goes a long way in showing your respect to their culture. Other than that, make sure to indulge in some spicy Khao Soi, fresh smoothies, and the city also has so many great coffee shops to enjoy. I can’t wait for my next trip!

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