The Best Hotels in Chiang Rai, Thailand
The striking blue Wat Rong Suea Ten temple is one of the gems you will find during a stay in Chiang Rai | © Jon Arnold Images Ltd / Alamy Stock Photo
The temple-laced northern Thailand city of Chiang Rai sees fewer visitors than its provincial neighbour Chiang Mai. Those who do venture here are rewarded with lush green landscapes and ancient temples, such as Wat Phra Kaew and Wat Klang Wiang.
Avoid the tourist traps in northern Thailand by heading to the quiet town of Chiang Rai. Beyond the city, the Golden Triangle – where the borders of Myanmar, Laos and Thailand meet – is home to hill tribes, elephant sanctuaries and relics of the region’s opium-era past. Whether you’re looking for a city-based boutique or a remote glamping resort, these Chiang Rai hotels are the best places to call home, bookable on Culture Trip.
Four Seasons Tented Camp Golden Triangle
Boutique Hotel, Chain Hotel, Luxury
5/5 (4 Reviews)
Courtesy of Four Seasons Tented Camp Golden Triangle / Expedia
Stays at the opulent Four Seasons Tented Camp in Chiang Rai not only include full-board, but activities and spa sessions, too. There are only 15 luxury safari-style tents here (with broad verandas, air-con and freestanding bathtubs), so you’ll feel secluded but well cared for. Take a sailing trip to watch everyday life unfold along the Kuak River, bathe and feed the camp’s rescued elephants or visit tea plantations in Mae Salong, where you can learn about the region’s opium-fuelled past.
Anantara Golden Triangle Elephant Camp Resort
Luxury, Boutique Hotel
4.8/5 (28 Reviews)
Courtesy of Anantara Golden Triangle Elephant Camp Resort / Expedia
Anantara Chiang Rai’s plush suites – decked out with teak furnishings and fabrics made by local hill tribes – look out over the Mekong River and to Laos beyond. If you can tear yourself away from the hillside infinity pool, you can learn traditional rice planting techniques, visit the nearby Opium Museum or join the mahouts (elephant keepers) as they care for the resort’s rescued herd. You could even opt to sleep in a transparent jungle bubble for all-night elephant watching.
Mora Boutique Hotel
4.9/5 (119 Reviews)
Courtesy of Mora Boutique Hotel / Expedia
Elegant rooms, an outdoor pool and free bikes for getting around – you can’t go wrong with this Chiang Rai boutique. If you’re here on a Saturday, don’t miss the Walking Street night market for souvenirs and regional street food (hot pots are essential eating around here). Hungry for culture? The Hilltribe Museum is just around the corner, and the 14th-century gilded temple, Wat Phra Singh, is less than 1km (0.6mi) away. The ornate White Temple (actually an oft-Instagrammed art exhibit) is 20 minutes south by tuk tuk.
The Imperial River House Resort
4.6/5 (139 Reviews)
Courtesy of the Imperial River House Resort / Expedia
Sitting on the northern bank of the River Kok, the Imperial River House Resort is a quiet retreat on the outskirts of town, featuring rooms with hardwood floors, daybeds and river or pool views. Wat Rong Suea Ten, a striking, smurf-blue Buddhist temple, is a short walk away. Take the free evening shuttle to the centre of Chiang Rai to browse the Night Bazaar for souvenirs and see Thailand’s most beautiful roundabout (it’s topped with an intricate gold-leafed clock tower).
Athiya the Hidden Court Chiang Saen Boutique Hotel
Courtesy of Athiya the Hidden Court Chiang Saen Boutique Hotel / Booking.com
Hotels often claim to have used local materials and building techniques, but Athiya the Hidden Court takes the trend to new extremes: 90% of the building is made of tropical teak wood – the rest uses local bricks, in keeping with Chiang Saen’s ancient temples. Visit the ruins of Athi Ton Kaew next door to see the likeness, as well as the headless Buddha, or wander along the riverfront, stopping at street-side stalls to take in the views of Laos and the Mekong River.
Nak Nakara Hotel
4.3/5 (563 Reviews)
Courtesy of Nak Nakara Hotel / Hotels.com
Affordable Nak Nakara Hotel is a city centre option within easy walking distance of many of Chiang Rai’s most famous downtown attractions, including the Night Bazaar. Traditional rooms are bright and well maintained with pops of colour, courtesy of Thai mythology-inspired murals. The decent-sized saltwater swimming pool is a draw here, plus there’s an on-site gym for fitness buffs (and Thai massage offered to ease sore muscles afterwards). Enjoy cocktails or coffee at the hotel’s restaurant and bar.
Laluna Hotel and Resort
4.2/5 (444 Reviews)
Courtesy of Laluna Hotel and Resort / Expedia
Situated outside of the city centre and yet just about close enough to reach on foot, Laluna Hotel and Resort is a quiet retreat near Chiang Rai. Manicured grounds and the larger-than-expected pool mean it offers surprisingly good bang for your buck. Within the resort, you’ll find 79 bungalows, featuring relatively low-key but charming decor that veers towards the traditional. Upgrade for poolside view. Perks include free parking and even 24-hour room service.
Grand Vista Hotel
4.4/5 (150 Reviews)
Courtesy of Grand Vista Hotel / Expedia
The Grand Vista Hotel is a refreshing spot with brighter, more contemporary decor than is common in many properties of a similar level in Chiang Rai – yet even here, there are pleasing pops of Lanna-style traditional northern design. The 80 rooms range from simple doubles to the Grand Vista suite with a king-size bed and private jacuzzi. There’s also an outdoor pool and Thai spa that stay open until 11pm.
The Riverie by Katathani
4.7/5 (185 Reviews)
Courtesy of the Riverie by Katathani / Expedia
If you’re looking for an ultra-luxe option with an enormous romantic pool and pristine gardens, book the Riverie. This five-star resort sits on an island in the middle of the Kok River, yet the hotel is only around a 20-minute walk from downtown. Classic, bright rooms feature crisp white linen with a contemporary lotus flower pot design on each bed’s headboard, symbolising wealth and prosperity. Many rooms also include large windows overlooking the river. Rotate between three restaurants (Thai, Chinese and a steakhouse) and two bars for nightly sundowners.
The Legend Chiang Rai Spa Resort
4.2/5 (230 Reviews)
Courtesy of the Legend Chiang Rai Spa Resort / Expedia
The Legend combines lotus ponds and flower-filled gardens with northern Thai-inspired buildings that house 78 rooms. Spacious bedrooms feature a luxurious blend of white walls and linens alongside handsome wood; many feature outdoor bathrooms and enormous, comfortable terraces that overlook the gardens. Families will appreciate the interconnecting room options, too. Dive into the infinity pool to escape the heat before tucking into a wood-fired pizza from the on-site Italian trattoria, La Casa.
Le Méridien Chiang Rai Resort
4.6/5 (629 Reviews)
Courtesy of Le Méridien Chiang Rai Resort / Expedia
There’s little doubt this five-star property is among the finest hotels in Chiang Rai, or indeed the north of Thailand. An out-of-the-city location affords seclusion and peace, while facilities include a spa, gym and an enormous pool. Contemporary yet charming rooms – and especially bathrooms – are as plush as you would expect at this price point. Downstairs, there’s an international buffet restaurant called Latest Recipe, as well as an Italian joint, Favola. Finish your day with a nightcap at Latitude 19 bar.
Emma Sparks contributed additional reporting to this article.
These recommendations were updated on May 25, 2021 to keep your travel plans fresh.