Make reservations far in advance if visiting during Chinese New Year, Songkran and other holiday periods.
Accommodation prices in the city are slowly creeping up, but you can still find a respectable air-con room from 650B.
East of the Old City
While it isn't as quaint as the old city, Th Tha Phae is just as convenient for sightseeing and nightlife and is even closer to the Night Bazaar.
There are literally hundreds of places to stay in the old city. Go for the quieter ones dotted around the tiny lanes linking the main streets.
The neighbourhoods on either bank of the riverside are less touristy, but are handy for the night market and the riverside eateries on the east bank.
For those who find downtown Chiang Mai too hectic, there are many scenic country resorts just beyond the superhighways where you can surround yourself with misty mountains, green fields and tropical forests. The following are less than two hours' drive from Chiang Mai.
Proud Phu Fah Designer chic in the jungle, this elegant country resort offers the most atmospheric accommodation on the Mae Sa–Samoeng Loop.
Tharnthong Lodges An eclectic chalet-style jungle resort close to Mae Kampong, with trickling brooks, scattered statues and rabbits leaping around the lawns.
Four Seasons Chiang Mai Ultra-upmarket, but beautifully executed, with lodges scattered through rainforests and fields still tilled by local farmers, close to Mae Rim.
Dhara Dhevi Chiang Mai's most elegant address, this lavish resort re-creates a medieval Lanna village, right down to the farmers toiling on rice terraces between the villas. It's 5km east of the city.
Kaomai Lanna Resort This resort is set in a series of converted tobacco-curing sheds, redeveloped as swish hotel rooms. The resort can arrange tours to nearby handicraft villages and the outdoor restaurant serves superb Thai food.
Rabeang Pasak Tree House Grown-up tree houses among the branches. Lodging is simple but far from ordinary.
Chai Lai Orchid This collection of comfortable jungle huts is planted in the middle of the forest, reached via a suspended footbridge across Mae Wang.
West of the Old City
Staying west of the old city puts you close to Chiang Mai University and trendy Th Nimmanhaemin's bars and restaurants.