The Coolest and Most Affordable Hostels in Chiang Rai, Thailand

Happynest Inspiring Hostel features high ceilings, whitewashed brick walls and elegant wooden furniture
Happynest Inspiring Hostel features high ceilings, whitewashed brick walls and elegant wooden furniture | Courtesy of Happynest Inspiring Hostel /
Culture Trip Travel Team

Northern Thailand’s temple-topped city and gateway to the Golden Triangle offers budget-friendly bases with free bikes to borrow, hearty breakfasts included and exciting tours on tap. Now you can book your stay in Chiang Rai with Culture Trip.

While most travellers to northern Thailand make a beeline for Chiang Mai, its sister town Chiang Rai shouldn’t be overlooked. Within the northernmost province of Thailand, nudging towards the border with Laos and Myanmar, this mountainous town is filled with natural beauty and rich in Lanna culture. From the famed Wat Rong Khun (better known as the White Temple) to the Ming Muang Temple (the oldest in Chiang Rai), there’s plenty to see and do in this historical city. The selection of stays is wide and varied – and pleasingly pitched at prices that won’t break the bank.

1. Happynest Inspiring Hostel


Happynest Inspiring Hostel
Courtesy of Happynest Inspiring Hostel /

This Instagram-ready hostel features high ceilings, whitewashed brick walls and elegant wooden furniture that wouldn’t look out of place in an architecture magazine. Choose from cosy private rooms – tastefully decorated with tropical plants and rattan furniture – or spacious dorm rooms that come with your own locker space. For a small fee, you can enjoy a scrumptious breakfast at the hostel, with your choice of continental, Asian or American cuisines.

2. Busket Hostel


Busket Hostel
Courtesy of Busket Hostel /

If you’re looking for a clean and convenient place to bed down during your time in Chiang Rai, Busket won’t disappoint. This hostel is situated a stone’s throw from the bus station and the night bazaar. Solo travellers can opt for the four- or six-bed dorm, while those who prefer a bit more privacy can choose a private double or twin room. There’s also a communal kitchen with basic ingredients such as bread and eggs provided.

3. Bed and Bike Poshtel


Courtesy of Bed and Bike Poshtel /

As its name suggests, this is an upgrade from your basic hostel, with facilities such as loft-style bedrooms, rain showers in the bathrooms and a large communal kitchen. There’s also a pool table for guests to enjoy a bit of R&R. The hostel interiors are artful and well thought-out, with an industrial-chic aesthetic that includes exposed brick walls, cement floors and grungy pendant lighting.

4. Baan Mai Kradan Hostel


Baan Mai Kradan Hostel
Courtesy of Baan Mai Kradan Hostel /

Previously a private Thai residence, this traditional wooden house was given a complete overhaul and transformed into a contemporary hostel in 2017. The available rooms runs the gamut from mixed or single-sex dorms to private doubles with bathrooms and balconies. Guests are offered a free breakfast, with the option to upgrade to a heartier set meal. Bicycles are also available to rent.

5. Stay in Chiangrai


Courtesy of Stay in Chiangrai /

Featuring vividly coloured fixtures and finishings, this hostel offers a warm and welcoming atmosphere. Dorm rooms are clean and spacious, with big beds that come with individual curtains for added privacy. There’s a communal kitchen and a large shared space packed with books and board games. Guests also get to enjoy an on-the-house selection of snacks, coffee and tea.

6. Norn Nung Len Cafe and Hostel


Courtesy of Norn Nung Len Cafe and Hostel /

With its modern, comfortable interiors accentuated by whimsical illustrations on the walls, this hostel is popular with young couples and solo backpackers. While the Chiang Rai Night Bazaar is just moments away, you can also choose to dine in at the cucumber-cool, mural-lined restaurant and bar, whose kitchen specialises in Thai street food. Other local attractions nearby include the Buddhist temple of Wat Chet Yot and the King Mengrai Monument, a statue dedicated to Chiang Rai’s founder.

7. Pan Kled Villa Eco Hill Resort


Pan Kled Villa Eco Hill Resort
Courtesy of Pan Kled Villa Eco Hill Resort /

Despite its relatively compact size, this 29-room hotel offers a large outdoor pool and lazy river – perfect for whiling away those sultry tropical afternoons. Each of the tastefully decorated rooms is clean and spacious, and comes with an outdoor balcony that overlook the resort’s lush garden. There is an on-site restaurant and plenty of cafes and restaurants conveniently located within walking distance.

8. Ben Guesthouse

Hostel, Guesthouse

Courtesy of Ben Guesthouse /

Designed to mimic a traditional Lanna-style home, this resort has a distinctive terracotta sloped roof and charming teak interiors. Situated close to attractions such as the gilded Chiang Rai Clock Tower and the Oub Kham Museum, which delves into Northern Thailand’s tribal history, this 32-room guesthouse is a great base for exploring the sights and sounds of Chiang Rai. During your stay, make time for a dip in the large outdoor pool, or take a stroll around the property’s leafy garden.

9. Mercy Hostel


Courtesy of Mercy Hostel /

With its brightly coloured interiors and clean, comfortable rooms, this modern hostel is an ideal spot for travellers looking to get more bang for their buck. There are female-only dorms and a large terrace and swimming pool on-site for those looking to cool off after a day of exploring. Mercy Hostel offers a communal kitchen, but if you don’t want to cook, there’s a wide variety of local cuisines available a short walk away.

10. Meesuk Residence


Courtesy of Meesuk Residence /

Located in the city centre, within a short drive of the picturesque Mae Kok river, this stylish hotel offers a comfortable stay at affordable prices. The rooms are fitted with large, plush beds and come with big windows so the spaces are filled with natural light. The hotel also offers guests free use of bicycles so you can easily explore the surrounding neighbourhood.

11. SOOK Cafe and Hostel


Courtesy of SOOK Cafe and Hostel /

With a name that means “happy” in Thai, you’re guaranteed a blissful stay at this cheap and cheerful hostel located in the heart of the city centre. The friendly staff are always available with travel advice, whether it’s offering recommendations on where to eat or booking a guided tour. The hostel also has a rooftop bar where you can kick back with an ice-cold beer after a day of sightseeing.

12. Nok's Garden Resort

Homestay, Hostel

Noks Garden Resort
Courtesy of Nok's Garden Resort /

Surrounded by verdant teak and bamboo forests, emerald-green paddy fields and mountains, this idyllic resort offers you a chance to relax and recuperate in the bucolic Northern Thai countryside. Within the resort there’s also a beautiful lily-covered pond and a flourishing garden. Rooms are built with natural materials such as wood and bamboo, and adorned with gorgeous blooms. Staff can arrange day trips to the Golden Triangle (where the borders of Thailand, Laos and Myanmar meet), Tha Ton (the northernmost town in Chiang Mai province) and the Doi Mae Salong mountain village of Mae Salong.

Extend your backpacking adventure beyond Chiang Rai by seeing the best hostels in all of Thailand and booking your stay with Culture Trip.

This is an updated version of an article originally by Iona Proebst.

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