The Best Eco-Friendly Hotels and Stays in Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai's Four Season's Resort blends luxury living with glimpses into local tradition
Chiang Mai's Four Season's Resort blends luxury living with glimpses into local tradition | Courtesy of Four Seasons Resort Chiang Mai / Expedia.com
Photo of Leslie Finlay
14 June 2021

From plastic-free pledges to turtle conservation projects, these hotels offer heartfelt hospitality that puts the environment first in northern Thailand.

Bangkok’s laidback sister city to the north has all the trimmings of cosmopolitan city life, channeled through a seriously nature-based ethos inspired by the beauty of the surrounding region. As the unofficial national capital of wellness, healthy cuisine and conservation stewardship, it’s no small wonder Chiang Mai rules the roost for eco-minded accommodation. Jump into the earthy Chiang Mai vibe with a stay at one of these eco-friendly accommodation options in Thailand’s rugged north.

137 Pillars House

Boutique Hotel, Hotel
4.8/5 (236 Reviews)
137 Pillars House
Courtesy of 137 Pillars House / Expedia.com
From $340 per night per room

Built in the 19th century as the headquarters of the Borneo Company Limited – a colonial-era trading firm – this Lanna-style teak-wood building was transformed into a hotel in 2011. Amid the neatly manicured lawns and towering coconut trees, they’ve tried to make this peaceful retreat as sustainable as possible: live plant walls by the pool to cool it down naturally; locally sourced, seasonal food, some grown on-site; energy-efficient lighting. Yet throughout the 30 palatial suites, with their high ceilings, large windows and expansive super-king beds, a sense of luxury pervades. Elsewhere, a well-stocked library, a full-service spa and a slew of history-focused tours ups the indulgence further still.

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Rachamankha

Boutique Hotel, Eco Hotel
4.8/5 (311 Reviews)
Rachamankha
Courtesy of Rachamankha / Expedia.com
From $184 per night per room

Designed by celebrated Thai architect Ong-ard Satrabhandhu, this hotel takes its inspiration from centuries-old Chinese dwellings while paying homage to the tropical climate and building practices of Northern Thailand. Buildings are cool and energy-efficient, solar-powered lighting is deployed, natural teak abounds and walls are made using the tried-and-tested technique of Chiang Mai temples since the 13th century. Better still, all staff members are local and the hotel supports temples and schools in the area.

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Anantara Chiang Mai Resort

Resort, Chain Hotel
4.7/5 (287 Reviews)
Anantara Chiang Mai Resort
Courtesy of Anantara Chiang Mai Resort / Expedia.com
From $204 per night per room

Along the banks of the Mae Ping River, this modern resort blends old-world charm with contemporary comfort. The Anantara group behind it comes with a certified sustainability programme: supporting turtle and elephant conservation in Thailand, aiming to slice energy consumption by 10% each year, reducing, reusing and recycling waste and much more besides. Guilt removed, this particular address has one- to three-day wellness programmes for those seeking a reboot that includes pampering spa treatments, nourishing meals and invigorating yoga sessions. After something more low-key? Kick back with a cocktail at the hotel’s swimming pool overlooking the river.

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Rainforest Chiangmai Hotel

Boutique Hotel, Eco Hotel
4/5 (418 Reviews)
Rainforest Chiangmai Hotel
Courtesy of Rainforest Chiangmai Hotel / Expedia.com
From $21 per night per room

This cosy boutique hotel is located 10 minutes away from the city centre, so you can enjoy the peace and quiet of nature and hear the birds chirping without being too far from the action. Within the hotel’s three wings are 86 rooms and two restaurants, plus two large outdoor pools terraced into its grounds and massages on tap for when you’ve ticked off one too many temples in this mountainous Thai city.

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Akyra Manor Chiang Mai

Hotel, Apartment
4.6/5 (118 Reviews)
Akyra Manor Chiang Mai
Courtesy of Akyra Manor Chiang Mai / Expedia.com
From $119 per night per room

Located in the artistic quarter of Chiang Mai, along buzzy ‘coffee street’ Nimmanhaemin Soi 9, this hotel is within walking distance of cafes, restaurants, art galleries and boutiques. As part of its commitment to the local community, artwork from Chiang Mai creatives is featured in its sleek wood-and-glass interiors. The company behind it has also made a plastic-free pledge, with paper bags and stainless-steel straws used instead, whilst woven shoppers are offered for free to guests heading out to explore the boutiques of Chiang Mai. On return, make time for Thai-Italian fusion dishes at Italics restaurant and cocktails at the sunset-ready Rise rooftop bar.

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Eco Resort Chiang Mai

Boutique Hotel, Eco Hotel, Budget Hotel
4.1/5 (132 Reviews)
Eco Resort Chiang Mai
Courtesy of Eco Resort Chiang Mai / Expedia.com
From $16 per night per room

This city-side paradise was founded decades ago by a local farmer and his wife, the teak design is traditional in style with sustainable farming and gardening practices at the forefront of things. Today, the property has evolved into a gorgeous resort operating 67 air-conditioned units appealing to all tastes, from low-budget shared spaces to private, en suite rooms. The rooms frame a swimming pool set within a lush garden, while the on-site restaurant peaks into the property’s treasured past, set within the sturdy, generations-old barn house.

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BMP Farmhouse

Eco-Lodge
Map View
BMP Farmhouse
Courtesy of BMP Farmhouse / Booking.com

A family-owned farm operating for more than 20 years, BMP Farmhouse offers modest rooms for guests eager to help the owners rehabilitate rescued elephants through its Elephant Care Project. The project provides food, nurturing, medical treatment, and lots of love to elephants rescued from exploitative conditions, whilst guests learn how to interact with Thailand’s sacred animal, helping them to adapt to their new environment. Options are available for arranging longer-term volunteer opportunities.

Rabeang Pasak Treehouse Resort

Treehouse
4.6/5 (72 Reviews)
Rabeang Pasak Treehouse Resort
Courtesy of Rabeang Pasak Treehouse Resort / Hotels.com
Unavailable for the next 3 months

Take refuge in a teak forest treehouse among the faint buzzing of crickets at this resort 70km (43mi) outside of Chiang Mai, the treehouse cottages offer instant access to incredible nature whilst the very architecture of the property encourages a different kind of relationship to the natural environment, built on an ethos of sustainability and conscious living.

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Karen Eco Lodge

Eco-Lodge
5/5 (1 Reviews)
Karen Eco Lodge
Courtesy of Karen Eco Lodge / Expedia.com
Unavailable for the next 3 months

Situated in the lush Chiang Mai hillside, this resort was designed to preserve the natural resources within and around the property and to offer an accommodation option that ensures minimal negative impact on the environment. The resort boasts 35 modest, Thai-style rooms and organises a huge variety of eco-focused experiences to enjoy the surrounding environment in a wholly sustainable way. Try out their bamboo rafting tour along the Mae Win river, visit local Karen villages along a trekking route, learn about the traditional rice production processes of the region and play with elephants at the nearby rescue sanctuary.

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  • Earth Home Thailand

    Eco Hotel
    Gioia Emidi : | © Culture Trip
    © Gioia Emidi
    Unavailable for the next 3 months

    Nine hand-built private adobe houses and a larger dormitory are available for dreamy nights on this sustainably managed property in the sleepy village of Baan Maejo. Today, Earth Home is one of the main learning centers in the country promoting sustainable living and guests can take advantage of all the on-site workshops like natural building, permaculture gardening and wellness courses. The on-site cafe and restaurant is supplied with organic delights from the property’s permaculture gardens, cooked to perfection by the Earth Home chefs.

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    Kaysorn Residence

    Eco Hotel
    Map View
    Kaysorn Residence
    Courtesy of Kaysorn Residence / Expedia.com

    This bright property right in the center of Chiang Mai offers convenience for discerning travelers. Close to Siri Wattana Market, nearly all of Chiang Mai’s top attractions are just a bicycle ride away. Sustainability is woven into every aspect of the hotel’s operation, from including reusable bags on your room key so you’ve always got one handy to offering free water refills throughout the property (and reusable bottles available for use if you don’t have your own), there is also a well-managed recycling program explained to guests on arrival.

    Om Waters

    Boutique Hotel, Camping, Eco-Lodge
    Map View
    Om Waters
    © Om Waters

    Why stay near the water when you can snooze directly on it? These floating homes are accessible by taxi boat only and the open-air sleeping spaces are arranged across several levels – the ‘lakefront berths’ and suite, a second-floor dorm and two private upper platforms with panoramic views. Guests share a kitchen and bathroom facilities, whilst the hotel offers free access to kayaks, stand-up paddleboards, inner tubes and an activities deck with yoga mats, cushions and hammocks. Almost everything is run by solar power and wi-fi is limited, encouraging a full digital detox.

    CAMPINESS Camping & Farmsook

    Boutique Hotel, Camping, Eco-Lodge
    f163f1aa-ae3a-46af-9d32-23a50bb454e2
    © CAMPINESS Camping & Farmsook
    Unavailable for the next 3 months

    Get back to nature – without the hassles of conventional camping – and cosy up in one of these spacious, private tents stocked up with all the amenities. Built on raised platforms to keep out the elements and critters, these minimalistic gazebos are nestled among rice fields and a quiet river, offering panoramic views of the surrounding mountains. The surrounding ‘campgrounds’ also have spaces for outdoor barbecuing and the on-site breakfast is truly farm-to-table, channeling the owners’ sustainable mindset. Guests can gather fresh salad from the organic farm, choose eggs from the chicken coop and pick mushrooms from the mushroom house.

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    Howie’s Homestay

    Eco Hotel, Resort
    fa567022_z
    © Hotels.com
    Unavailable for the next 3 months

    Sitting atop an expanse of tropical water gardens and winding streams, in spite of its modest name, Howie’s Homestay is an exercise in luxury and stunning design. The property is dotted with a collection of pavilions constructed with gold teak, a naturally insect-repelling wood that is reclaimed and recycled from old buildings. Green energy concepts are visible throughout the property, itself incredibly rich with tropical plant life, ensuring a truly sustainable experience.

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    Four Seasons Resort Chiang Mai

    Resort, Eco Hotel
    4.8/5 (109 Reviews)
    Four Seasons Resort Chiang Mai
    Courtesy of Four Seasons Resort Chiang Mai / Expedia.com
    From $280 per night per room

    Set within lush green rice fields, the Four Seasons Resort Chiang Mai delivers fully on its brand name, evoking ultimate luxury and design. From morning monk offerings to expansive nature trails and free Thai language lessons, culture and sustainability are highlighted across guest offerings. Channeling this ethos into operations, the resort’s three restaurants source a large portion of their produce from the Royal Project, an initiative designed by the late King Bhumibol, which promotes organic and sustainable farming while supporting rural communities.

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    Vanessa Tai contributed additional reporting to this article.

    These recommendations were updated on June 14, 2021 to keep your travel plans fresh.

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