Traveling around Thailand? Since you are looking for your accommodation in the North, you are most likely also going to Bangkok and the Islands. Read here you guide to best hostels in Bangkok and the full list of all the best hostels in Thailand here.
Quick Introduction to Chiang Mai Hostels
Average price for a bed: Super cheap! Hostels in Chiang Mai are in general cheap. A bed in a dorm can be as cheap as 5€ – 15€ per night. This is a rough average to give you an idea. Prices always depend on season and holidays. Please always check exact latest rates on Hostelworld.com or Booking.com.
Hostel Quality: If you have doubts about staying in hostels, then give it a try in this city for the first time. Together with destinations like Bangkok, Lisbon, Porto and Tokyo, this city is a hostel-travelers paradise. The quality of hostels is generally high here. Of course you can also find regular, even bad and crappy hostels.
Keep reading for separating the wheat from the chaff.
Thai Beds vs Western Beds: in Thailand you will find many hostels, hotels, guesthouses and resorts offering rooms with the so-called Thai-mattress. The Thai mattress is seriously hard and in the beginning it feels like sleeping on a rock.
If you prefer hostels with western-style mattresses, keep an eye out for that.
Leave your shoes outside: In Thai Culture shoes have to remain outside. This goes for accommodations as well as many shops and other places too.
We seriously enjoyed this, because it makes the place automatically cleaner, and it gives you a feeling of home. Just be aware that is a thing.
Check-In and Check Out: The average check-in time is from 15:00 (3pm), while the Check Out time is before 11:00 (11am). Hostels usually offer luggage storage in case you arrive earlier or leave later. Make sure you check if luggage storage is free or if there is an extra cost. Usually in Thailand this is no problem.
Great Hostel Location: The Saturday and Sunday Walking street is a great place to stay near. As the name suggests, it’s closed to traffic on Weekends from 16:00 til midnight and is a wonderful option for shopping.
The Old City encompasses many of the great sights and a lot of the coolest hostels in Chiang Mai Thailand are located near here.
These are our favorite hostels in Chiang Mai. We want to make your life even easier, so we put all accommodations on a map for you. We even added our own tips for favorite restaurants, things to see, and more.
1. Hidden Garden Hostel
2. The Common Hostel
3. The Entaneer Poshtel
We have added all hostels to the map, including our top recommendations for cafés, things to do, temples, you name it.
Hidden Garden Hostel is hidden paradise just a few steps from the Old City. It feels like a very luxurious place to stay, especially when backpacking. The hostel has a beautiful architecture with clean and new facilities which all make relaxing place to stay. The building is gorgeous with the courtyard pool and plants and the communal areas are lovely as well.
The facilities and rooms were very clean. The toilets are getting cleaned multiple times a day which is good. The beds are spacious with curtains for privacy, and very clean. You get a locker and you have a shared bathroom. There is also a washing machine which is super helpful!
In the hostel they provided filtered water, tea, coffee and snacks. They also organise tours and activities.
This place is peaceful, but still social enough to meet people in the dorms and common spaces. It is not a party hostel that gets super loud at night.
We loved the small pool and garden area as well. The pool is a great plunge on a hot day! Also – check out the rooftop for some early evening sunset vibes.
Location: This hostel is ideally located in the center of Chiang Mai, and the local night market every weekend is right in front of the hostel). The local and very popular morning fresh market is only 1-minute walk (everyday), and a super yummy street food market just across the road (every night). There is also a 24-hr convenient store (7-11) just opposite the hostel. It is only a 5-minute walk to Chiang Mai Old Town/temples/famous restaurants/cafes/bars.
Bodega Social Hostel is an amazing hostel in Chiang Mai with lots of backpackers! It offers a good value for money, and has very nice rooms with comfortable beds with enough space and light.
And also we have to say this – it has 18 – 35 age limit.
There is a nice sun bathing area in front of the hostel with sun beds, and a chill area around the swimming pool. They also have a bar / restaurant. Laundry service, lockers and bathrooms in each room are helpful. This is pretty clean hostel with decent facilities and friendly staff.
They have multiple plans for you: elephants, waterfalls, cooking courses… You won’t be bored a second 🙂
Good people, good vibes and a great social experience can be had here because of…
Nightly drinking games
Waterfall + Grand Canyon tours
Message from the staff: “We go hard. Be ready for fun, loud, drunk and likely naked people”.
Our advise, stay at Bodega Hostel and have fun; but don’t tell your mom you have been here!
Location: The hostel’s prime location in the Old City provides easy access to all the major tourist attractions, such as the famous temples, night markets, and street food spots. It is located 700 m from Tha Pae Gate, around 800 m from Chiang Mai Night Bazaar, 1.6 km from Three Kings Monument, and 1.3 km from Chedi Luang Temple.
Slumber Party Chiang Mai Old Town aslo has 18-35 age limit. This hostel has a restaurant, and a bar. The facilities are top notch, with clean bathrooms and dorms, plus all day AC if you so desire.
It is a party hostel and they definitely provide an excellent vibe with free shot and night time activities. This is a great social hostel for meeting fellow travellers, especially for someone travelling solo.
Featuring dorms with a semi-private sleeping loft with either air conditioning or a fan.
Beds are equipped with two power outlets
A personal reading light and
A private curtain
This Stamps Hostel in Chiang Mai, is a great choice for those backpackers interested in Old Town exploring plus the Buddhist temples such as Wat Chiang Man, also this place it is a 650 m away from the famous Tha Pae Gate.
It’s only right that we offer you even more awesome hostels in Chiang Mai when there is over 530 to choose from. That can be complicated, but does not have to. After all, you are reading this guide and we did the leg work for you.
If you are planning to stay in Chiang Mai guesthouses, I would reconsider. The hostels offer really high-quality! Among the best guesthouses in Chiang Mai you will find Monkey Toe Guesthouse.
Yet again, the 3 budget accommodations above are the ones we know are your best bet.
Here is a list of good hostels in Chiang Mai that we created with every type of traveller in mind. This list covers everything from hostels with luxury comfort to quirky design.
And guess what? Each and every hostel mentioned has an impressive rating of 9 and above – enjoy!
We recommend booking your hostel as early as possible! All of Chiang Mai best hostels are popular; especially in high-season. To make sure you end up in those stylish and good hostels, secure your room/ bed as soon as you have your travel dates fix.
The coolest Hostel App you need comes as well from Hostelworld. It gives you super cool features like you can contact your hostel mates beforehand and make plans together. Find more details in our review of the app
Second on this list: Chiang Mai is seriously cheap.
The North of Thailand is cheaper than the South and especially the islands. Backpackers in Chiang Mai enjoy there time in the city.
The accommodation is cheap, the food is cheap, activities are cheap. Chiang Mai is a perfect destination for a budget traveler and backpacker.
Finding a cheap hostel in Chiang Mai is not difficult at all. They range from 7€ up to 15€ per night. You can also find great guesthouses in Chiang Mai with Airbnb. A simple apartment in Chiang Mai starts from 170€ per month.
On top of that, you can eat here incredible street food for as little as 1.20$ – amazing. And you know what, we actually found the most delicious street food in Chiang Mai. Scroll down for the food tips below.
As a rule of thumb: Thailand and South East Asia is cheap until you want so-called western products. Western food like Pizza, Pasta, coffee, beer etc are not as cheap.
You can pay the same for a bottle of beer and a Pad Thai in the street. Keep this in mind!
3. Foody Paradise
If you are into food, then the North of Thailand and especially Chiang Mai is your paradise.
Here you will find the best food in the whole country.
You cannot compare the food here to most likely anything you will get on the islands.
Great spots for street food are:
Chang Puak Gate (North Gate)
Chiang Mai Night Bazaar (with nightlife and live music, a bit more pricey)
Many visitors, us included, join an authentic cooking class. There is different tours. For instance, some tours are only about trying food around the city (like this Street Food Market Tour), others are actual cooking classes.
Just pick the one you would enjoy most. We certainly recommend the cooking class type.
Alright now that you have got this big list of the coolest things to do in Chiang Mai, well, here is something you should NOT do. When you travel to Thailand, you may have heard already of the Tiger Kingdom and of course the elephant tours, and other animal tours.
Thailand introduced its first animal welfare law in 2014; you see, that alone shows you the situation for animal abuse in the country.
We do not want to be a party-pooper here.
Yet, it is important to tell you the truth about the animal tours. It is up to you if you still want to have this experience or not.
This section is about animal cruelty and how you can still enjoy the Elephants and other animals without harming them.
There is a few simple rules. It is animal abuse, when…
You can touch the animals in an unnatural way e.g. petting a tiger
you can ride it
the animal shows it was trained
bad body condition
too many animals living in the cage
the animal is in chains
Keep reading, this is a very important section!
1. Enter The Cages At Tiger Kingdom
Entering the Tiger Kingdom sounds tempting, doesn’t it?
Come on, when was the last time you can actually cuddle with a real-life tiger?
Well, there is a reason why this whole idea sounds absurd in the first place. IT IS AN ACTUAL TIGER!
NEVER NEVER NEVER go to this place and stay away from it.
The tigers are actually drugged and mistreated. The tiger babies are farmed and taken away from their group. And why should the mother tiger care anyways? She’s drugged…
So, please, stay away from any animal cruelty. Tiger Kingdom is one of the most cruel things you can do in Thailand.
2. Ride an Elephant and Elephant Shows
Another romantic idea is riding an elephant. Right? We have to confess, before traveling to Thailand, this idea sounded always amazing. Same as petting a Tiger.
But, well, the truth will chance your idea of a romantic ride on a beautiful Elephant. Peta shares 9 reasons why elephant riding is animal abuse. If interested, please read the article above.
The main reason why we urge you not to ride an elephant or visit any elephant shows is the process the elephant had to survive to get to that point. The so-called “crushing of the will”. The baby elephant will be mistreated until he gives up his spirit and just gives in to the human.
A painful process. There is brutal videos on Youtube (graphic content).
We do not embed this video here on purpose; it is seriously tough to watch.
Here is your solution: Elephant Sanctuary!
Fortunately, there is a solution to have your amazing (seriously amazing!) Elephant experience.
The Elephant Nature Park and a few more projects are actual sanctuaries. Here you can feed elephants, be close to them, and support a great cause of rescuing the animals.
Good to know: For visiting the elephants sanctuaries plan a whole day. The places are usually 1-2 hours outside the city center. Many sanctuaries actually pick you up at your hostel in Chiang Mai, and bring you back too.
Conclusion on this topic: Don’t support any business that exploits animals for human entertainment.
By visiting these shows or riding an elephant, you support this industry.
You can still have your experience with great foundations, so there’s no need to skip the whole activity. Please note that the actual sanctuaries may cost more.
We experienced this first hand.
6. How to get to Chiang Mai
There is basically three ways to get to Chiang Mai.
Flights to Chiang Mai:
You can simply fly to Chiang Mai. It is super easy and well-connected from Bangkok, especially. If you are planning to fly from the islands to Chiang Mai, you will need to take a connection flight most likely i Bangkok.
Check Skyscanner.com to find flight combinations to Chiang Mai the easiest way.
However, if you are tight in time, go with the flights option.
Personally, we are not big fan of buses in general.
But of course, this is a solid option here too. The bus from Krabi in the South to the North takes you a whopping 24 hours.
With Rome2Rio you can get a better idea of the different options, including prices and duration.
Good to know: We heard from fellow travelers taking a night bus from Bangkok to Krabi, they got scammed. The bus driver stopped in the middle of nowhere and told them they have to pay $30 each more or he will leave them right there. Since they had no other option, they gave in. This is obviously not the regular case.
7. The Red Buses
When wandering around town, you will see those little red buses all over the city.
They are driving around randomly and bring people from A to B.
You can just stop them like a taxi. Tell the driver where you would like to go. If he goes in your direction, just hop in.
Good to know: Make sure you ask before how much the ride will be. The price always depends on the distance. The price is always something between 1€ and 2€.
8. Renting a Scooter
We are big fans of renting scooters.
And in Chiang Mai this is easy too. Your hostel will most likely have the rental service, or at least it working with someone.
Traffic is a big hectic here.
So stay calm and drive passively. Wait for your turn and do not assume you can apply European or Western traffic rules.
Important: Please do not the guy/ girl not wearing a helmet, because “it does not look cool”. The concrete floor in Thailand is as rigid as in your home country…….
Good to know: You need a special drivers license when riding a scooter in Thailand. There is regular controls by the police. If they stop you and you do not have an international driving license, you will pay a fine.
However, do not tell them you do not have this license. Rather tell them you forgot your license in your hotel or hostel.
Last but not least: Locals and travelers like to drink at night – and then still drive their vehicle.
It is common knowledge that driving a motorbike at night in Chiangmai is kind of dangerous and not recommended due to this issue. Be aware.
Temples and Chiang Mai, that goes hand in hand.
You will see hundreds of them. And one is more gorgeous than the next ones.
Here is a list of our favorite temples we discovered while backpacking Chiang Mai in and around:
Phra That Doi Suthep
Chedi LuangWat Suan Dok
Sri Suphan (Silver Temple)
Phra That Doi Kham
We included all temples in the map below (that is just easier, right?!).
10. Writing the cities name
When you did your research for coming here, you may have noticed the naming of the city.
No worries, it is the same city, there is no difference in this. Just so you know.
Flying to Chiang Mai is so easy and cheap. Nowadays, the city is very well connected with hubs like Hanoi Da Nang, Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok. Getting to the island is also easy, but can be pricey in high-season.
We use Skyscanner and Omio.com to find cheap flights and good connections all over the globe.
Skyscanner has a bunch of cool features like Multi-City Trip. Instead of doing this research step-by-step, Skyscanner offers this flight planning tool.
Do you have any questions left, maybe doubts? Then please leave it in the comment below. We are very keen to help you - and actually you would even do us a favor!
Your question will help us to improve this Chiang Mai guide.
Last note: Our commitment
This is a genuine article to help you travel a bit smarter, and find the best place on a budget! We will never recommend you any place we haven’t evaluated or are not convinced by. We are constantly updating all our guides to keep them as fresh and accurate as possible.
Safe travels, The Hostelgeeks
– – – pin it for later
CLOSED: Brick House Hostel
Update: Our recommendation for party hostel – Brick House Hostel – has closed its doors.
Last but not least, here is the craziest party hostel in Chiang Mai: Brick House Hostel.
If you fancy a super fun hostel with an epic nightlife and pub crawl scene, then opt-in for Brick House Hostel . Expect a fun time, a big swimming pool to play volleyball, DJ set, pub crawls.
Things you should not expect is actually remembering all details of the night and a super quiet night.
Because, well, it’s one of the coolest party hostels in all Thailand.
Oxotel Hostel (Boutique Hostel)
Update: This hostel has closed. We’ve kept this content here for your information.
Located along the Saturday Walking Street is where a small chic hostel meets an artisan cafe: welcome to Oxotel Hostel in Chiang Mai.
Nestled in a typical Thai building, this is one seriously design-conscious accommodation full of life and vintage decor. This hostel is a kind of hostel-resort in landscape design.
Oxotel opened its door back in 2015 and has been renovated from top to toe.
We stayed here for 5 days; and had an amazing time!
The location is perfect since you are close to super local street food, the Silver Temple and the Saturday Market. With the red bus you are downtown in 5 minutes only.