Chiang Mai, Thailand: Accommodation options for visitors
Thailand is a popular destination for travellers and tourists, and within the country, the northern city of Chiang Mai is widely regarded as a place that's worth more than just a quick visit. Its relatively small size, uniquely northern Thai culture, modern amenities and close proximity to lush tropical countryside make it a place that many people want to stay in for an extended period.
This guide provides information on the various types of accommodation available. Compared to any western city, accommodation in Chiang Mai is cheap. Even Bangkok, the country's capital, can't match Chiang Mai in terms of value for money when it comes to accommodation.
Guest houses in Chiang Mai are plentiful. Some are converted family-homes that are now run as guest houses, while many others have been purpose built.
Prices range from as low as 100 baht per night ($1 = 30 baht) for very basic dormitory style accommodation to around 800 baht per night for a double room with air conditioning and cable TV, fridge, wifi Internet, toilet and hot shower, with daily maid service. Some guest houses are large and impersonal but many more are small family-run enterprises with a welcoming and homely atmosphere.
Guest houses often have travel agent facilities where trips to nearby attractions can easily be arranged. Longer distance travel is also available to many other popular locations of Thailand, such as the islands, of Koh Samui, Phuket, etc., as well as to neighbouring or nearby countries of Laos, Cambodia, and Malaysia and Burma and Vietnam.
Chiang Mai has its fair share of more expensive hotels, such as "Le Meridien", "Royal Lanna" "Imperial Mae Ping" and many others, although they're still cheaper than similar Western hotels. These are mainly filled with better off tourists on organised tours or with visiting businessmen and women. They're not really the kinds of accommodation that the average traveller would consider staying in, especially for an extended period.
Prices are around 1500 baht ($50) - 4,500 ($150) per night, more or less, with discounts being common in the rainy season (May - October).
Moderately priced hotels
There are many hotels and small 'boutique' hotels in Chiang Mai that offer comfortable accommodation for a reasonable price. They are still financially out of the reach of most long-term visitors but good for short stays at an affordable price, at least compared to the big hotels.
The picture below shows the Anodard hotel, a comfortable mid-range hotel situated in the 'old city'. The bottom of the sign shows the price of 495 baht for a twin rooms with fan (no aircon). That's not a bad deal for a hotel.
A selection of top-end HotelsClick thumbnail to view full-size
Apartments are a very popular choice among those who intend to stay in Chiang Mai for an extended period. Although some offer a daily rate for short-term visitors, most people pay monthly, which works out much cheaper than staying in a guest house. Typically, you pay a month's rent in advance and then pay extra for electricity and other services that you may want These can include such as: cable TV, Wifi Internet, fridge, microwave, and more.
What is available depends on what that particular apartment building has on offer. The cheapest apartments offer little in the way of optional extras. The more up-market apartments may also include an optional maid service for cleaning your room. The cheaper ones just leave you to it, which is exactly what most people want anyway.
Prices start from around 2000 baht per month for a room with double bed, toilet, hot shower and fan. Air-conditioned rooms cost a few hundred baht more per month. Extra charges apply if you want a fridge, cable TV and wifi Internet access. Electricity is charged per unit (kilowatt-hour) and starts from around 6 baht in the cheaper apartments - rising to 10 baht per unit or more.
In the picture below of Smith Apartments, the prices shown are the daily rates available. The monthly cost is around six or seven thousand baht, which works out at a fraction of the daily rate that short term visitors pay. However, short term visitors don't usually have to pay extra for TV, electricity and fridge and wifi. Long term residents do and it usually adds a couple of thousand baht ($60) to the monthly bill.
Long-term stayers, especially those who relocate to Thailand with their families, may choose to rent a whole house for an extended period. There's a wide range of prices, depending on the size, quality and location of the house.
Example prices for available houses in September 2012 include:
A 2 bedroom, 1 bathroom unfurnished house with garden and parking - 5,500 baht per month
A 4 bedroom, 3 bathroom fully furnished house with garden and parking -located near the airport - 19,500 baht per month
A 5 bedroom, 4 bathroom fully furnished house with large swimming pool and garden - 75,000 baht per month