Listening to the sound of the stream tumbling through the village, I feel like I’ve travelled back in time to a Thailand before tourism took root, where life is lived at a gentler, slower pace. The clean mountain air refreshes your body and mind. The smiles on the locals’ faces make you feel most welcome, even if you don’t understand their words. By writing about this village, am I jeopardising the chances that it will remain this way, unspoilt by mass tourism? Even now, or so I’ve heard, it can get busy on the weekends and it’s better to come on a weekday if you can. Better still, stay overnight in one of the many homestays available here.
What would be my ideal holiday in Chiang Mai?
The answer would be a city break combined with a more rural retreat – the best of both worlds.
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Here are my top 4 suggestions of where to stay in Chiang Mai. Two of these are in the city, where you can discover fabulous restaurants and visit stunning Lanna temples, and the other two are in the countryside, where you can reconnect with nature and discover a Thailand from days gone by.
Stylish boutique hotel, an elegant oasis in the city
Na Nirand Romantic Boutique Hotel, Chiang Mai City
1/1 Soi 9, Charoenprathet Road, Tambon Changklan, Amphoe Muang, Chiang Mai 50100, Thailand
This beautiful half-wood Lanna-Colonial style hotel on the banks of the Ping River is wonderfully located in the heart of Chiang Mai. It is a stunning oasis to retreat to after a day spent exploring the city. The hotel’s focal point is a giant 100-year-old Rain Tree overlooking the river and a stunning swimming pool. The staff are extremely helpful and speak good English.
Rooms are arranged around the pool while the suites look out over the river. Each room or suite is beautifully decorated using local arts and crafts including colourful Lanna textiles, dark wood and rattan furnishings.
Breakfast is served in the hotel’s restaurant overlooking the river – a great spot from where to watch the passing fishing boats while sipping your morning coffee. The restaurant, which serves Thai and international cuisine, has a lovely rooftop terrace, perfect for a pre- or post-dinner drink.
Read my review of Na Nirand Romantic Boutique Hotel on Boutique Travel Blog.
See what others are saying about Na Nirand on Tripadvsior.
Location: 15-minute drive from Chiang Mai International Airport, 25-minute walk to the old city and a 10-minute walk to the Night Bazaar.
Recommended reading: Discovering the Lanna Kingdom and the Wat Phra Singh Temple in Chiang Mai
The ultimate in luxury in the heart of Chiang Mai’s Night Bazaar
108 Chang Klan Road, Tambol Chang Klan, Amphur Muang, Chiang Mai, 50100, Thailand
Possibly the most spacious suite I’ve ever stayed in was at Le Méridian in the midst of the city’s famous Night Bazaar. The hotel is in a wonderful location for shopaholics with the stalls of the bazaar right on your doorstep. My photographs really don’t do it justice.
The view from my Executive Suite across the city as the sun set behind the Suthep mountain was fabulous. The lounge was separated from the bedroom by a large pillar and both rooms were very spacious and elegantly decorated in pale understated tones, each with a 40” flat screen TV, DVD player and all the high-tech features you could dream of. There was a separate dressing room but best of all, in the twin-sink bathroom, there was a large square bath with two floor-to-ceiling windows offering the same stunning view of the mountain and city streets.
Frustratingly, I didn’t have the chance to use the rooftop pool but it looked fabulous. The hotel also has its own spa, fitness centre and business centre.
The staff are excellent and can’t do enough for you. My only criticism is that, on arrival, it took a long time for my bags to be brought up and I really wished I’d just carried them myself. Breakfast was included and was extremely good, leaving you really spoilt for choice.
Location: 10-minute drive to Chiang Mai International Airport, 15-minute walk to the old city, and just a few steps to the Night Bazaar.
Check out what others are saying about Le Méridian Chiang Mai on TripAdvisor.
A rural home stay in an eco-tourism village
Kampong Coffee and Homestay
Baan Mae Kampong Village, Huay Keaw, Mae On, Chiang Mai, Thailand
We visited this lovely village in the hills of Chiang Mai province, 31 miles northeast of Chiang Mai city, and drank the local coffee in the charming Lung Pud Pa Peng Coffee House before heading uphill to visit the Kampong homestay.
At 1,300 metres above sea level, it is cooler than in the city and tea plants thrive in the highland forests here. We learned how to make aromatherapy tealeaf-stuffed pillows, and heard how the village had been classified as an eco-tourism village, serving as a role model for other villages wishing to be more ecologically minded.
I can’t imagine a better way to get to know the local culture than as a guest in someone’s home in this rural village that tumbles down the hillside with a pretty stream running through the middle of it. The village makes a fabulous base for hiking in the forests and for learning about the local culture and traditional crafts. You can even zip line through the forest. Most guests in the homestays, however, are Thai and come here to escape their hectic city lives.
Location: 1-hour drive from Chiang Mai International Airport.
See what others are saying about Kampong village on TripAdvisor.
Recommended reading: A mini guide to Chiang Mai’s street food
Wooden cabins in the jungle
Teen Tok Royal Project Development Centre
Huay Kaew, Mae On, Chiang Mai, 50130, Thailand
In a beautiful garden, by a lovely stream surrounded by the jungle, these wooden cabins at the Teen Tok Royal Project Development Center must be a great place to stay. They are simply furnished, but comfortable, and you can fall asleep to the sounds of the forest and the babbling stream. There are just three cabins and booking well in advance is essential. Guests can visit the coffee and tea gardens here and learn about the local way of life by visiting nearby Ban Mae Kampong, which is just a 5-minute drive away.
The Teen Tok Project was established in 1981 by the King of Thailand in the Mae Ta Krai National Park. It encompasses 17 villages and was formed to improve the quality of life of the villagers by enhancing their earning potential, to preserve and revive the natural environment and to research agricultural methods.
I had lunch in the Centre’s restaurant (across the stream from the cabins) and was blown away by the wonderful food on offer. All the vegetables used are grown at the project. It’s a delightful setting that’s well worth visiting and must be a joy to stay in.
For more information and to book visit Amazing Thailand’s website.
Location: 1-hour drive from Chiang Mai International Airport.
Check out what others are saying about Teen Took on Trip Advisor.
Family-friendly hotel in Chiang Mai city
Shangri-La Chiang Mai
If on the other hand you are looking for a family-friendly hotel in the city, Mumpack Travel recommends the Shangri-La. You can read Evie’s review of the hotel in her blog post, Best Family Hotel in Chiang Mai.
What area of Chiang Mai to stay in?
If you are uncertain about which area in Chiang Mai would be right for you or you’d simply like the low down on more hotel options, check out this post about Where to Stay in Chiang Mai?
Would you like to combine a city break with a rural stay in Chiang Mai? Perhaps you already have. I’d love to hear your thoughts and accommodation recommendations.
Disclosure: I travelled to Thailand as a guest of Amazing Thailand, the country’s tourism board. As always I will only share with you my honest opinions. Please note that this post contains affiliate links. If you click on a link I may make a small commission at no cost to you. This goes towards the cost of running of this website which I much appreciate, thank you.
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