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struggling to decide where to stay in Chiang Mai

Posted by christay2009 on 12/9/2011 at 10:23

I've looked on TF and trip advisor, tried looking at a map to work out where everything is and still don't really see anything that has jumped out at me.

It seems many places are geared towards trekking though, which I am not looking to do. WOuld this be an issue?

Basic is good, cheapish would be nice, places nearby to walk to (eats, sights, whatever).

I am hoping to find a Monastery to stay at (not a retreat/centre) where I can practice my own meditation for 3 or 4 days before I fly into Luang Prabang. I would prefer to stay at a GH either side of that. Will be in the here morning of 14th until 20th

Any nudges in the right direction appreciated :)

#1 christay2009 has been a member since 8/2/2009. Location: United Kingdom. Posts: 414

Posted by exacto on 12/9/2011 at 10:50


I've already decided to give Ginny Guest House a visit on my next trip to Chiang Mai. It is in a good location inside the city walls, near bars, shopping, massage, restaurants, etc. Look good and clean and cheap and the description reminds me of Thai guesthouses from when I started backpacking there in the early 1990's. They do sell treks, so I don't know how much of an expectation there is for you to book one (I'm not interested in a trek either), but I imagine if you buy a few beers (including one for Captain_Bob) and a breakie or two you'll be golden. There was a recent thread about Ginny at:

Another long-time favorite of mine is CM Blue Guest House. It is also inside the walls at about Moon Muang Soi 6 or so. It is similarly surrounded by restaurants and other good stuff. I understand it has changed hands since I last visited, but every time I've stayed there has been a great value and comfortable room. Worth a look anyway.

Either of these neighborhoods is a good place to start looking. If you wander around, you'll see loads of choices and will likely find something you like quickly enough. Good luck.

#2 exacto has been a member since 12/2/2006. Location: United States. Posts: 2,660
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Posted by exacto on 12/9/2011 at 11:58

p.s. have you selected a place for your meditation yet? i've heard good things about the program at wat umong. it is an interesting forest temple just outside of the city up towards the hills. it is a real working temple and not a retreat/center, but i don't know if it is what you are seeking or not. i thing their program requires advanced reservations. it may be worth a look. regards.

p.p.s. what happened to the captain kirk photo?

#3 exacto has been a member since 12/2/2006. Location: United States. Posts: 2,660
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Posted by christay2009 on 12/9/2011 at 14:32

Good shout. I will look at getting to Ginnys from the station and then take it from there. If full, I find guesthouses will usually point you in the direction of your next place, or one they recommend. I just don't want to be lugging my bag around looking for a place! I am not in a rush regarding sights and things, so that is why i wasn't specific on that front. More just accessibility to a good mix of things.

I've had a look at Wat Umong and it looks quite good, although i get the impression it is more of a retreat. I would be all for this if i had more time and if I hadn't just come back from Suan Mokkh today. I am really just looking for a Wat to stay at currently so I can devote some quality time to practice before I had to Luang Prabang. After a concrete bed, the one I am on now in Bangkok feels like cotton wool. I don't like it. Might sleep on the floor tonight haha

In respond to your p.p.s, I have something else lined up. :)

#4 christay2009 has been a member since 8/2/2009. Location: United Kingdom. Posts: 414

Posted by Captain_Bob on 12/9/2011 at 17:24

I suggest room #4 (quiet except for morning birds, Bob Marley poster on wall) at Ginny's 200 baht. CM Blue House room 309 is good too - overlooks a temple and you wake up to the morning bell. I lived in that room for 2 years. For meditation and solitude Wat Umong is very nice, and no need to join a "retreat". Sit in the sala by the pond and small island and maybe do some "monk chat". Of course there are many temples where you can just go and sit peacefully.

#5 Captain_Bob has been a member since 27/5/2006. Location: Thailand. Posts: 1,903

Posted by Nixxypie on 13/9/2011 at 00:10

I stayed in a place called Green Tulip It was in old Chiang Mai and was 150 baht for a fan dorm room but it only had 3 beds, and there was just myself and my friend staying so it was a private room for dorm money. Really nice place, really clean and lovely staff. I'm not sure if there is anywhere near by to meditate but it's worth checking out.

#6 Nixxypie has been a member since 27/4/2011. Posts: 55

Posted by christay2009 on 13/9/2011 at 14:28

Thanks for the advice Bob, do you know if I can stay at Wat Umong without joining a retreat? Or if I can simply use their facilities in the day? Will try to find Ginny's from the train station when I get in tomorrow. I hope there is a room available when I find the place. I am guessing Chiang Mai has malls and stuff? I really need to get some specific supplies in.

More importantly, will you be around at Ginny's? Would be good to meet another TFer as so far I've only met the boss.

Nixxypie, good shout. It looks a good choice from where I'm sitting, although there were some comments about the distance away from things. It is my official back up to Ginny's - at least for now.

Not looking forward to 2nd sleeper ride in 3 days.

#7 christay2009 has been a member since 8/2/2009. Location: United Kingdom. Posts: 414

Posted by Captain_Bob on 13/9/2011 at 18:23

I'll be around tomorrow but leaving Thursday for a couple days. I wouldn't count on staying overnight at a temple unless you make a donation and/or know one of the monks there who can "host" you. There are popular retreats at Umong, Wat Rampoeng, Wat Suan Dok and Doi Suthep but they are fee-based and need to be prebooked. Maybe just stay in a guesthouse and get up early to discover the many temples in the old city.

#8 Captain_Bob has been a member since 27/5/2006. Location: Thailand. Posts: 1,903

Posted by christay2009 on 14/9/2011 at 12:16

Literally just arrived, in room 1 after originally given room ... 6? 1 has a much bigger window. Just had to check out a few things online before I head off to change some money, scout around.

Bad news on the Wat stay. I had counted on something like that as I don't really want to stay in Chiang Mai for 6 days.

I met someone who said they turned up to a Wat and stayed there in Chiang Mai so may just ask around and see what I find. According to a couple of blogs, you can turn up to Wat Umong without booking in advance but they only have limited space so would need to be lucky / well timed.

Thanks again,

#9 christay2009 has been a member since 8/2/2009. Location: United Kingdom. Posts: 414

Posted by JRSB on 16/9/2011 at 17:04

Im not sure what your budget is but I like to stay at the MD House when in Chiang Mai. It costs about 690 B for two people (costly, I know) but has aircon, pool, free bottled water, TV, free computer use/internet, and a great staff.

They offer a comfortable place, even a spot for your motorbike if you decide to rent one. They are in the northwest corner of the old walled city (dont remember the road name). Its by a bar called The Wall.

Its a nice place to catch some rest after days of tiresome travel. This trip we could only afford one night, and had to stay in a fan room for the rest.

#10 JRSB has been a member since 15/9/2011. Location: United States. Posts: 8

Posted by KhowNeow11 on 17/9/2011 at 13:11

I know Christay has settled in, but for anyone else interested: One of my favorite locations in town is just north of the northwest corner of the Old City, and it contains, among other wondrous things (Thanin Market springs instantly to mind), a truly excellent guesthouse called Banilah. It's one of those guesthouses that describes themselves as "boutique", though I'm not sure what it takes to qualify for that descriptor, as there are quite a few places throwing the term around..
The price is right for anyone traveling with a friend or loved one and looking for a comfortable, beautiful, simple place to stay. They have a wide range of room options, with the cheapest starting at 300 Bt and the most expensive reaching 600.
The best part of Banilah is debatable; it is either the extremely helpful, friendly staff that sincerely want their guests to get the most out of their time in Chiang Mai, or its the location, just far enough away from the Old City that you'll rarely if ever see any tourists in the area, yet close enough that you could walk to Touristopia in about 15 minutes if you wanted.
Amazingly peaceful, comfortable place to stay (with fantastic coffee in house), offering as much relaxation or action as you care to partake in, for a totally reasonable price.
Ticks all the boxes for me.

#11 KhowNeow11 has been a member since 10/9/2011. Posts: 19
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