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For being so small, Chiang Mai has a lot of different areas and about a million hotel options. If you’re visiting Chiang Mai for the first time, I usually suggest staying in the Old City (find hotel recommendations here), but the riverside is great for people who have spent some time in Chiang Mai before and want a different atmosphere or who have something special to celebrate – all of these riverside hotels in Chiang Mai are so charming and romantic!
Several of the hotels listed below, including sala lanna and Hotel des Artists Ping Silhouette, are in the the Wat Ket neighborhood which is located on the east side of the river right across from Tha Pae Road and Wororot Market (due east from Chiang Mai’s Old City). One of the oldest established neighborhoods in Chiang Mai, the district used to be a bustling, multi-cultural where merchants would bring their wares via boat. Today, the part right on the river area along Charoenrat Road still has a unique feel with a lot of older, Chinese-influenced buildings and plenty of boutiques, cafes (see some of my favorites in the area here), riverside restaurants and galleries, and is less than a ten-minute drive to the Old City.
A couple of the hotels, like the Anantara, are located on the west side of the river across from the Wat Ket neighborhood and closer to the center of town, and a couple are further north up the river a little further from town.
Click on the bold hotel names to be taken to where you can look up current rates and book rooms on Agoda, a hotel booking engine that is especially good for finding hotel deals in Asia. All prices below are based on what Agoda is currently listing as the starting rates in the low season in Thai baht but they always change so please just use them as a rough starting point. (In fact, the day of posting this Agoda had a deal for a room at sala lanna for 87% off the usual listing price!)The spa is also one of the best in town and a real treat.
I stayed in sala lanna years ago and loved it. On the east side of the Mae Ping River, you could easily pass this simple, minimal-looking hotel but once you find it and pass through the entrance you’ll notice a ton of subtle Lanna (northern Thai) and Thai touches.
The onsite riverside restaurant, On the Ping, and rooftop pool bar are good riverside options to visit for a special evening or simply a change of scenery whether or not you’re a guest at the hotel.
I love, love, love the look and feel of this hotel (see my full post here). Almost right next to sala lanna on the east side of the river, Hotel des Artists Ping Silhouette is simply charming. Tastefully decorated with a mix of Thai, Chinese and Sino Portuguese details, the boutique hotel is beautiful, in a good location and also serves a great breakfast.
The X2 Chiang Mai Riverside recently opened up at the end of 2017 and has four different spacious suite types. I’ve been in them all and each offers a ton of space and facilities – great for a working holiday or staycation! The two aspects of the hotel I like the most are the rooftop pool and bar facing west toward Doi Suthep and the sunset (open only to hotel guests), and gorgeous restaurant, Oxygen Dining Room. Housed in a glass house right on the edge of the river, the restaurant is helmed by two Michelin-starred chefs who create unique twists on both European and Thai dishes. (Their version of khao soi, Chiang Mai’s famous curry noodle dish, looks nothing like regular khao soi but still tastes just right and is really fun to eat!)
Though not a heritage building, Ping Nakara gracefully recreates the era of the early 1900s when Chiang Mai was the centre of a booming teak industry and saw an influx of foreigners come to the city working for companies like the Borneo Trading Company. On the west side of the river close to the Anantara, the property isn’t in the most convenient place for walking around to explore the rest of Chiang Mai, but still is close to the center of town.
Maraya Resort is a good choice for those who have spent a lot of time in Chiang Mai or are coming for a quick getaway from Bangkok. The small, family-owned hotel isn’t within walking distance to much but you can easily get transportation and the view across the river to a beautiful temple frame by palm trees is dreamy! (See more photos and read the full post here.)
Note: This post contains Agoda affiliate links. You get the best rate and I get a small commission at no extra charge to you – win win!