We are hoping to rent an apartment for a month(ish) in December in Chiang Mai. Does anybody have any experience doing this??
We'd be interested to know who you arranged it with? how much it cost? and where would be the best part of the town to base ourselves.
Thanks in advance!
Poi & Kirsty
Hopefully there will be others with recent experience who can answer this one as well. Right now I'm nearly 3 months into a serviced-apartment rental in Bangkok, and after a few weeks touring around Laos I'm going to do the same in Chiang Mai, starting around mid October. I can give you specifics shortly after that, but I've done quite a bit of research already.
My understanding is that there are many serviced apartments in or near the city center with vacancies. And even though you'll be coming just as things really start getting crowded, I'm still pretty sure you can just rent a place once you arrive.
Unless you don't mind paying top dollar it's always a bit risky to commit to one of these places without seeing the place and knowing the area. At least in Bangkok these places are all notorious for really deceiving maps which make places seem just steps from the Skytrain while they are really a kilometer away. Or they don't mention that there's a busy road or a loud school yard next door.
I'm going to find a cheap hotel first and I'm sure I'll find a serviced apartment within two days or so. For hotel-room-style apartments it looks like 10,000 baht per month (US$350) gets you a nice place.
For just one month you should look for a guesthouse that has monthly rates. A proper apartment (seperate bedroom, kitchen etc) is unlikely to be available for only one month commitment. December is high season for Thailand but mainly down on the southern beaches, not so much up here. Take a centrally-located room for a few days and search on foot/bike in the old city area (the eastern half and just outside the moat). Expect to pay about 4000-7000b (plus electricity) for a good clean place (bed, hot shower, fridge, maybe aircon). It's rare to get monthly rates at the really cheap (100-200b/day)guesthouses as they prefer to have fresh customers every few days (the kind who pay for treks, trips, activities, etc and then move on). I can list a few names of places but it's easier to just look with your own eyes. Start at the Thaphae Gate and branch out from there.
I like Bob's suggestion of finding a room with a monthly rate too. I'd similarly look for a clean place with bed, hot shower (particularly that time of year in Chiang Mai), fridge (for yoghurt, drinks, and snacks), maybe aircon but maybe not depending, and a bit of furniture like a desk and a wardrobe.
I don't think a kitchen is necessary at all because of all the great places to eat in C.M. Plus, other stuff you might normally do in an apt, like laundry, is cheap and available everywhere.
Thaphae Gate is ground central for all the fun stuff for sure. Unless you are doing some program up at CMU or a massage course or something like that elsewhere, it is a good place to start your search. Be sure to look both inside and outside the moat for variety. Cheers.
Bob and Exacto make some great points, and I think they are probably right that a hotel or guesthouse might be a better solution, although that obviously depends on why you were thinking of an apartment in the first place.
I've seen many serviced apartments that advertise daily, weekly, and monthly rates in Chiang Mai , with monthly rates of around 10,000 baht like I mentioned, so I don't think it's difficult to find a short-term place.
Another thing to consider is that serviced apartments will want a deposit to qualify for the monthly rates. For example, I had to pay a full one-month deposit in cash for my current place in Bangkok. They tell me that I'll get it all back minus electricity and water charges, but I've also read a few stories about owners in Chiang Mai shafting people by keeping some or all of their deposit for invalid reasons.
I spent 4 months in Vietnam and one month in Cambodia going from hotel to hotel, and I was sick of dodging the housekeepers and eating every meal out every day, so staying in an apartment has been fantastic for me and allowed me to get more work done.
However, if you are actually planning on eating out a lot anyway then I agree a kitchen might be a waste, though a fridge always comes in handy. You'll find cheap and nice restaurants in hotel districts, plus even cheaper street vendors all over. So buying groceries and cooking yourself could easily end up costing more than eating out, especially when you factor in the cost of a place with a kitchen (which means a sink, hotplate, fridge, and microwave).
definitely agree with you that there is a big difference between 3 or 4 months in a place and just one month. with just one month in a place like chiang mai where there is so much great food around, i'd think just a fridge would be enough.
i did two months in phnom penh once, staying in a suite-like room (by p.p. backpacker standards) that had a good-sized fridge, a sitting/eating area, and about the best satellite TV set up ever. i ate most of my meals out, which i enjoyed, but that hotel also had room service, which was nice to have a meal delivered every now and then.
anyway, in which part of bangkok are you staying now? what's the room like? etc. regards.
Exacto, yes, it was actually great to try new restaurants and such every day while in Vietnam, and that took months to get old, partly because breakfast was often included so it only meant going "out" twice a day. I love the food all over this region, and that it's very cheap is just a bonus.
I'm currently staying in a serviced apartment about one kilometer down Sukhumvit 22, which as you may know is quite a nice expat neighborhood. I have a rather large and comfortable one-bedroom apartment here and I'm paying 18,000 baht(US$560)/month. Since I work at "home" I don't mind paying more for a nice place in a good location. There are cheaper options here for sure. The internet is solid and quite fast, at least compared to Vietnam and Cambodia.
Funny you mentioned the satellite TV. In Vietnam and Cambodia every cheap hotel has 60 or 70 channels, including 10 or 15 international sports channels and plenty of other English-language stuff. Here in Bangkok I get 5 international channels, no sports channels, and there's a huge satellite dish on the roof. I don't get it, but thanks to bittorrent it's not that big of a deal.
I spent my first two years in Chiang Mai living in a single-room guesthouse (CM Blue House, 5000b/mo+electric) and never really felt the need for a kitchen - short walk down soi 6 to the Somphet market, w/food stalls in the evenings for my bumee haeng gio goong or takeaway sai oua, nem, kanom jeep, fruit on-a-stick, etc. or sometimes a sitdown restaurant still cheap under 100b for a khao soy or green curry with jasmine rice and large lime smoothie. Guay teo tee-sam luk chin pla hua nom (rice noodles with small "nipple-size" fish balls) with crispy fried geowza open til 3am for late nite munchies. If living alone with a small footprint there's little need to have a bigger abode IMO. But living with significant-other a seperate sleeping room can be nice esp. once you deign to watching TV at night or if the GF snores, etc. A fridge is nice from day-1 and maybe an electric kettle for morning coffee/tea. You'll get a feel for how domesticated you want to be as the days roll on but I'd start out simple.