Chiang Mai Neighbourhoods, Locations and Districts

(Chiang Mai, Thailand)

Picture of central templeLife in Chiang Mai is centred around its Old City district, which is where you will find the biggest concentration of attractions, including many outstanding Buddhist temples, markets and restaurants. A good selection of hotels and cheap eats can be found within the eastern region of Old Chiang Mai, often located alongside the Mar Ping River.

The area surrounding Chiang Mai's Old City district is brimming with family friendly sights, locations and neighbourhoods, which are particularly concentrated both to the north and the west. The main districts are explained below.

Photo of historical walls in the Old City

Old City District

The historic and centrally located Old City area of Chiang Mai is an appealing square, edged by a series of moats and restored 13th-century walls, complete with original gateways, such as the Tha Pae Gate. Next to the eastern moat, the Moon Muang area is a good place to head for both cheap hotels and eateries. Much of Chiang Mai's Old City area consists of a labyrinth of winding old lanes and streets, which are often lined with shops and close to ancient Buddhist temples, such as the famous Wat Phra Singh and its Sinhalese Buddha image, the Wat Chedi Luang and its ruined spire (chedi), and also the 13th-century Wat Chiang Man, the city's oldest temple, located along Ratchaphakhinai Road within the district's north-eastern corner.

Business and Shopping Districts

The main concentration of shops and businesses in Chiang Mai lie on the eastern side of the Old City district, close to the Mar Ping River. The famous Chiang Mai Night Bazaar can be found in this part of city, around the Chang Klan Road, and has become one of the region's most colourful and enticing attractions, being full of local handicrafts, traditional Thai silk, and plenty of tasty cheap eats. Further markets, together with shopping centres, restaurants and guesthouses also reside within this bustling area, particularly around Chang Klan Road, Chareon Prathet Road, Loy Kroh Road, Sridonchai Road and also Praisanee Road, where you will find the local Municipal Tourist Information Centre.

North of the Old City District

Directly north of Chiang Mai's Old City district you will discover a surprising cluster of cultural attractions. The true highlight within this area is the Chiang Mai National Museum, which is located on Lampang Road and alongside the appealing Wat Jed Yot temple. Also here and always popular with children is the city's Puppet Playhouse, where regular performances take place and captivate the crowds, both young and old. Keen golfers should visit this district to play a round on the magnificent Lanna Golf Course, situated on the Chiang Mai-Mae Rim Road (Highway 107).

West of the Old City District

Tourists staying in the city will often visit this district for the family orientated attractions alone. The Chiang Mai Zoo and Arboretum, on Huay Kaew Road, is home to thousands of animals and the elephants are particularly popular. Also along the same stretch, the Bully Sky Ice Rink is a fun place to cool down and offers good city views. A number of noteworthy festivals also take place in this area, including the Chinese New Year Festival each February, and also the Chiang Mai International Arts and Culture Festival at the beginning of April.

East of the River Ping

The part of Chiang Mai contains a number of notable tourist attractions, the most popular of which includes the Gawila Boxing Stadium along Gongzai Road and close to the San Pakoy market, and also the striking Kawila Monument on Wat Ket Road, on the southern side of Nawarat Bridge. Also here, look out for the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) office on the Chiang Mai-Lamphun Road, a good place to obtain free city maps.

Photo of elephant camp in an outlying area

Outlying Areas

Located on the outskirts you will find many attractions close to Chiang Mai, all of which are worth exploring if you have space on your itinerary. So close that they are often considered to be suburbs of Chiang Mai, the most tourist friendly locations nearby include the Doi Suthep mountain park and its historic temple, the hand-painted parasols within the Bo Sang Umbrella Village, the architectural exhibitions within the National Museum at Lamphun, the traditional silk weaving in San Kamphaeng, and also the elephant camps in the nearby Mae Sa area.