Did you know this mountainous city is home to over 530 hostels?! The hostel game is on here in the North of Thailand.
As you can imagine, we had our work cut out to find you the best places to stay in Chiang Mai. We spend more than 2 months here; partially to bring you the most epic hostel guide and to really dive into the food scene.
This guide is perfect for YOU, when …
- tired of bad and crappy hostels
- want to avoid the “young party kids”
- happy to spend 1-2€ for a better experience
We condensed it all to the 3 coolest hostels in Chiang Mai.
We’re pretty confident that solo travellers, social butterflies and party animals will be excited by this collection.
In this article we cover:
- Best Party Hostels in Chiang Mai
- Best places in Chiang Mai for Solo Travellers
- A collection of more awesome hostels
- Things to know about Chiang Mai (before you go!)
- Elephant Sanctuary
- Useful map with main sights + hostels
- More hostels in Thailand
If you’re taking time to explore Thailand check out:
- Full list of all the best hostels in Thailand
- Mini Boxtel in AoNang
- 3 best hostels in Bangkok
- 3 best hostels in Phuket
All of our 5 Star Hostels in Asia have something awesome to offer, too.
Quick Introduction to Chiang Mai Hostels
Average price for a bed: The hostels in Chiang Mai are in general cheap.
A bed in a dorm can be as cheap as 7€ up to 15€ per night. This is a rough average to give you an idea. Prices always depend on season and holidays.
Quality of Hostels in Chiang Mai: If you have doubts about staying in hostels, well, then make Chiang Mai your first hostel destination.
Together with destinations like Bangkok, Lisbon, Porto and Tokyo, this city is a hostel-travelers paradise.
The quality is generally high here. Of course you can also find regular hostels.
Keep reading for separating the wheat from the chaff.
Thai Beds vs Western Beds: in Thailand you will find many hostels, hotels 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.
Cool locations in Chiang Mai: 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 of Chiang Mai encompasses many of the great sights and a lot of the coolest hostels in Chiang Mai Thailand are located near here.
Read more on our section Things to know about Chiang Mai.
Visiting Elephant Sanctuaries: There are many opportunities to get close and personal with elephants in Chiang Mai. Before visiting, do your research and make sure you support those that really want the best for their animals.
Many elephants are still mistreated – you have the power to help abused elephants enjoy a safe retirement by choosing a respectable sanctuary. Don’t ride them!
Read more on Elephants Sanctuary here.
New to Hostels? Read our full hostel starter guide here. We especially recommend to read:
- How to book hostels (and websites to use)
- 23 items for the hostel packing list
- Are hostels safe? 13 safety tips for hostels
These articles will give you so much insight information about hostels.
3 Top Hostels in Chiang Mai, Thailand
There’s no time to waste when there are so many awesome hostels to discover.
The 3 top hostels in Chiang Mai to make this list are:
- HOSTEL by BED – great for digital nomads
- The Entaneer Poshtel – one for couples
- Oxotel Hostel – top pick for couples and female solo-travellers
1. HOSTEL by BED (queen beds, hotel comfort)
Let’s kick start with a contemporary traveller’s hub that is better than a hotel, cheaper than a hotel: HOSTEL by BED.
This is actually a hostel adapted version of the famous BED hotels in Chiang Mai.
Find here hotel inspired modern accommodation for a fraction of the price, without losing any of the comforts.
This is a great choice for digital nomads looking for somewhere to stay long term.
As expected, there are dorm and private rooms available here.
But there’s a lovely twist that no doubt you’ll love…
It’s possible to sleep in a queen sized bed in both the mixed and female-only dorms!
Not only that, there are wonderful inclusions in each room including:
- Privacy curtains
- Reading light
- Built-in lockers
- Linen + towel
When you’re not relaxing on your huge bed, make time for the chill out areas.
There’s a large, open common space that is split into several thematic areas.
Relax on a bean chair and in the hammock, work comfortably at the table and chat to fellow travellers in the garden area.
The complimentary breakfast looks delicious and can be washed down nicely with a cup of tea or coffee.
Worried about drinking the water? You needn’t be as you’ll be given a free bottle of water.
Remember: save on plastic and take advantage of the free re-fill water tank.
HOSTEL is situated in the Old Town Square close to many restaurants and bars. The backpacker area in Chiang Mai.
If you prefer to cook, there is a 24hr kitchen on-site. A large number of attractions are also close by.
HOSTEL by BED is the best hostel in Chiang Mai for:
- Digital Nomads
- Female Solo-Travellers
2. The Entaneer Poshtel (no bunks to be seen)
Next up is a beautifully designed family run hostel named The Entaneer Poshtel.
This is one for the sociable couples and solo travellers out there, no doubt.
That’s because the staff go above and beyond to make you feel welcome, and they host a number of events to get the conversation between guests flowing.
This includes great dinner parties and live music in the bar, yet it maintains a homely, family vibe instead of matching that of a party hostel.
Couples will love the king size bed in the luxury private room!
Choose also from mixed dorms ranging from 10-28 beds and triple and quadruple rooms.
What’s cool about them?
- Pod-style beds w/ privacy curtains
- Double beds in dorms
- Freshly made beds on our arrival + towel
- Free WiFi
It’s the stunning design of the large, bright common areas and the spacious garden that really give this hostel the wow factor.
See if it’s possible not to drift off whilst you chill out with a movie on one of the bean bags.
The included breakfast really has to be mentioned as it isn’t the standard toast and tea. Expect smashed avo and the best fried eggs in Thailand!
Stay here and you’ll be a 2-minute walk from Chiang Mai Old Town.
The Entaneer Poshtel is the best hostel in Chiang Mai for:
- Solo Travellers
3. Oxotel Hostel (a Resort-Hostel)
Located along the Saturday Walking Street is where a small chic hostel meets an artisan cafe: welcome to Oxotel Hostel.
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.
It opened its door back in 2015 and has been renovated from top to toe.
Let’s take a look at the rooms:
- 6-bed mixed dorm
- 6-bed female dorm
- Standard twin
- Standard double
- Superior double w/ balcony
- Private caravan w/ private bathroom
The budget-friendly dorms include linen, towel, reading lamp, sockets and privacy curtain.
On the ground floor, there is a stylish Artisan cafe that can rustle you up a delicious coffee and great food throughout the day.
What’s lovely is the semi-outdoor common area available on each floor for all to use.
There’s actually a lot to get excited about when it comes to Oxotel Hostel…
- FREE toiletries + hairdryers
- FREE tea, coffee + breakfast for everyone
- FREE lockers in the room (don’t forget your padlock)
- 24-hour reception
- Vending machines on 1st floor
Important to know: inform the hostel is you’re arrival is after 10 pm otherwise your booking will be cancelled.
The Old Town is only 1km away and it’s a 10-minute walk to the night food markets. So the location is not the best location in Chiang Mai, many travelers claim.
But, we have actually stayed here quite some while. It is perfectly located since you are downtown in as little as 5 minutes and to the night market area in around 10 minutes. The best part however is their local area offers AMAZING street food.
In the section Things to know about Chiang Mai we share the best street food near Oxotel. We are still dreaming of that foody experience….scroll down, thank us later!
Oxotel Hostel is the best hostel in Chiang Mai for:
- Luxury for Female Solo-Travellers
Best Party Hostels in Chiang Mai
For those of you in search of a great party atmosphere and the chance to meet like-minded party people; you’re in luck!
Out of the +500 hostels in the city, we’ve handpicked the three best party hostels in Chiang Mai especially for you.
The first option is the aptly named Bodega Chiang Mai Party Hostel.
Good people, good vibes and a great social experience can be had here because of…
- Pub crawls
- Market crawls
- Nightly drinking games
- Waterfall + Grand Canyon tours
Message from the staff: “We go hard. Be ready for fun, loud, drunk and likely naked people”.
Your second option for an fun party time in Chiang Mai is Hug Hostel Rooftop.
Here you can enjoy the wonderful rooftop bar where regular parties take place. Enjoy drinks, music and the company of fellow travellers.
There are also day activities on offer including cooking classes and trips to the Elephant Sanctuary.
The balance is kept between party and activities that party guests do not disturb those opting for an early night.
Last but not least, here is the craziest party hostel in Chiang Mai: Mad Monkey Hostel.
If you fancy a super fun hostel with an epic nightlife and pub crawl scene, then opt-in for Mad Monkey 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 Thailand.
Best places in Chiang Mai for Solo Travellers
Hopefully, it has already become apparent that there are many, many social hostels in Chiang Mai.
If you’re travelling solo you may well be looking for the best hostels to meet people in Chiang Mai. This is where we’ve done the hard work for you!
First off is The Cabin Backpackers Hostel is one of the best Backpackers hostel in Chiang Mai– a chilled, social environment created with solo travellers in mind.
This activity-based hostel wants to include everyone with the genuine warmth and interest of the staff.
There’s an on-site bar, games and plenty of social space for mingling.
If you’d prefer a low-key, quiet and intimate hostel consider staying at Potae’s House.
Potae has so much time for her guests but will allow you the space to chill if that’s all you wish to do.
The hostel is decorated with bright colours and simple design. It’s a great choice to solo travellers in need of time to their selves, whilst staying nearby to attractions of the city.
More gorgeous hostels worth a mention
It’s only right that we offer you even more awesome hostels in Chiang Mai when there is over 530 to choose from. Where is best to stay in Chiang Mai can get complicated with so many options right?
Yet again, the 3 top hostels above are the ones we think 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, all are great backpacker hostels in Chiang Mai.
And guess what?
Each and every hostel mentioned has an impressive rating of 9 and above – enjoy!
- Chill/small hostel: Monkey Toe Guesthouse
- Great activities: The Living Place 2
- No bunks in dorms: Fav Hostel Chiang Mai
- Luxury for couples: Suneta Hostel Chiang Mai
- Homely vibe: Spicythai Backpackers
- Chiang Mai Old Town: Hostel Lullaby
- Bright, very spacious dorms: Inndigo Chiang Mai
- Traditional Thai house for small families: Swiss-Lanna Lodge
- Thai wooden houses with shared rooms: Tanita House
- Hostel housing a purely vegetarian restaurant: Green Tiger Hostel ( also known as the vegetarian hostel Chiang Mai)
- Clean, crisp and modern design: Thunder Bird Hostel
- No frills, friendly staff: Thailandwow Hostel
- Digital nomads (pod beds + hammock cafe): Muan Hostel
- Super social: Stamps Backpackers
- Cool hostel with café: Funwahn Hostel and Cafe
Seriously, after all these best backpacker hostels in Chiang Mai, if you have not found your place where to stay we are running out of options here…
Currently, we have no special hostel discounts in Chiang Mai.
You can subscribe to our newsletter to receive our newest hostel discounts always to your inbox.
We do also have a 35€ discount for Airbnb here.
Things to know about Chiang Mai (before you go!)
Alright, so we covered the question of where to stay in Chiang Mai on a budget. Now it is time to get out of the accommodation and explore the city and the surroundings.
After 2 months staying here, we know one or two things. Here you go, a bunch of great things to know before you visit. A backpackers guide to Chiang Mai:
1. Chiang Mai is safe (awesome for Female Solo-Travellers)
Chiang Mai is a super safe destination, same as Thailand all over actually.
It is well known for being a very safe travel spot for especially female solo-travellers.
Since there is not the overcrowded mass-tourism, you won’t find many scams here you will experience on the Thai islands for sure.
To sum it up: do not worry, Chiang Mai is super safe and fun!
2. Chiang Mai is cheap
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. The hostels in Chiang Mai range from 7€ up to 15€ per night. You can also find great guesthouses in Chiang Mai with Airbnb. iA simple apartment in Chiang Mai starts from 170€ per month.
Note: here you have 30$ discount for Airbnb.
On top of that, you can eat here incredible street food for as little as 1€ – amazing. And you know what, we actually found the BEST 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 best bet. 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)
- Sunday Walking Street
- Maya Shopping Mall
- Our favorite street food near Oxotel (full address – check our map below)
Very poular: Take a Thai Cooking Class.
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.
Here is a great guide to the street food in ChiangMai.
4. Things to do in Chiang Mai
There are plenty of cool activities to join during your time in Chiang Mai. Two of them are the street food tour and the cooking class.
As we mentioned many budget accommodations in Chiang Mai, you will have more money to invest in activities and food.
Here is a list of ideas that we hope you will love:
- Join a small, ethical tour to the Elephant Sanctuary (no riding permitted) – check our perspective on Elephant Sanctuary
- Go on a White Temple and Golden Triangle day trip to Chiang Rai
- Learn something new and join a Thai Cooking Class
- Have tremendous fun on the Rainforest Eco Zip Line
- Have a swim in the Grand Canyon
- Hidden gem: Wat Sri Suphan (Chiang Mai Silver Temple)
- Go Café Hopping in the Old Quarter
- Explore Inthanon National Park
- Loi Krathong Festival
- Have a drink at night at Night Bazaar ( the backpackers meeting place in Chiang Mai)
- Beat your friends at The Songkran festival
- Visit the Weekend Market in the Wua Lai Road
- Enjoy a full day high mountain trek
- Go Vintage and Boutique Shopping at Thapae East
- Listen to Live Music at Thapae East
5. Few things NOT to do in Chiang Mai (important)
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.
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 Kiwi.com to find flight combinations to Chiang Mai the easiest way.
Here is our review on Kiwi.com – and how to use it properly.
The Airport in Chiang Mai is actually super central.
We recommend getting an Uber or Grab from the Airport to your hostel. Many hostels in Chiang Mai Thailand also offer an airport pickup service. Talk to them beforehand, this is the cheapest option.
A fun way to travel the way from Bangkok is the train.
There is also a sleeper train now from Bangkok to Chiang Mai. The train is a cheaper option and a great experience; hand in hand.
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 Chiang Mai 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 in Chiang Mai
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 Chiang Mai 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 in Chiang Mai in and around:
- Wat Phra That Doi Suthep
- Wat Inthakin
- Wat Lok Molee
- Wat Chedi LuangWat Suan Dok
- Wat Phra Singh
- Wat Sri Suphan (Silver Temple)
- Wat Phra That Doi Kham
- Wat Umong
We included all temples in the map below (that is just easier, right?!)
10. Writing the cities name
When you did your research for the coolest hostels in Chiang Mai or backpacking Chiang Mai, you may have noticed the naming of the city.
- Chiang Mai
No worries, it is the same city, there is no difference in this. Just so you know.
Map of Chiang Mai Hostels + TOP Sights
Check out this handy map, listing all of the hostels in this article and much more!
Top sights in Chiang Mai include:
- Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep
- Wat Phra Singh Woramahawihan
- Doi Suthep
- Elephant Nature Park
- Tiger Kingdom Thailand (read our thoughts on Tiger Kingdom here)
- Chiang Mai Night Bazaar
- Bhubing Palace
Over to you
There you have it; the 3 best hostels in Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Do you have any questions, doubts?
Then please please leave us a comment. This list of awesome Chiang Mai hostels should be as informative and useful as possible so we always need you help!
Your question(s) will help me to understand what I have missed to mention. You will have your questions answered and help both Hostelgeeks and fellow travellers in their quest for an awesome trip.
Therefore, do not be shy, drop us a comment, we are keen to help you!
More (incredible) Hostels in Thailand
This guide covers all your top hostels in Chiang Mai.
We have also travelled extensively around the country, and found more incredible awesome places to stay in Thailand.
Read the full list of all the best hostels in Thailand here.
It includes best hostels in Thailand for couples, for solo-travellers, and the party travelers around us.
Here are all our hostel guides to Thailand:
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 ONLY recommend places we know you will enjoy, no matter what.
We will never recommend you any place we haven’t evaluated or are not convinced by. We only share with you places we also recommend to our best friends and family!
Enjoy this fine hostel selection and all 5 Star Hostels.
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Hostel Packing List
It is time to see what you should pack in your backpack or suitcase. Make sure you always pick a quality hostel, it totally reduces the things you need to pack. Here is our ultimate hostel packing list. It features 23 items you should really throw in your backpack.The most important things to pack are:
- eye mask
- key chain flashlight
- the right backpack, the Nomatic (our review of Nomatic here) or Lowe Alpine Lightflite 45 Pack
- packing cubes
- generic padlock (fitting all locker types)
- quick-dry travel towel
- universal power adapter
- travel-sized toiletries