There are an incredible number of high-quality and budget accommodations available for rent here in Chiang Mai with more coming onto the market all the time. However, the reality is that finding the right place for you can be a challenge without local support on the ground.
A small handful of exceptions aside, due to the underdeveloped state of IT infrastructure and web commerce, and complicated by the English/Thai language barrier
, the majority of local apartment providers are unable to take reservations online (that is, if they have a website at all).
Integrated systems sharing real-time booking information with third-party resellers online are few to none, and any attempt to communicate directly by phone or email only invites misunderstanding unless one can communicate effectively in Thai (if you don't wish to take our word for it, by all means go right ahead and give it a try).
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Daily Rental Options
Daily/nightly rental options are least in abundance and relatively pricey when booked in person, or ridiculously pricey when booked online through any third party hotel booking service (i.e. 300% higher).
One Month Apartment Rentals
1-month rentals are in moderate abundance and vastly cheaper than daily/weekly rentals when booked in person. Quoted rates often include weekly cleaning and linen changes, electricity, water (shower, toilet consumption), cable, internet and gym/pool memberships (where applicable). Individual properties can have up to three different rates depending on the time of year.
3 to 6 Month Rentals
The richest options category and best deals by far are apartments requesting a 3 to 6-month lease contract with a refundable damage deposit (equal to one month's rent) paid up front. The lower monthly rate typically will not include electricity or water (shower, toilet consumption), with cable, internet, cleaning, linen changes and gym/pool memberships (where applicable) either included or paid on a property-by-property basis.
Low, High & Peak Season
Availability and pricing may vary depending on the time of year and length of term. Low season is typically March 1 to November 14, high season is November 15 to March 1, and some properties add an additional premium "peak season" category somewhere between December 1 to January 31.
There are 3 areas in Chiang Mai where the majority of new arrivals tend to populate, depending on their specific requirements, but mostly because of the number of other expats living in the local community.
Obviously, there are Expats spread around the city, many choosing to live in the more remote areas (because they like solitary living or moved in with a Thai person) and sometimes because they want the peace and quiet.
The Nimman area is located to the east of the Old City and is a thriving and more upmarket area of town. This is the prime location chosen by the Digital Nomad community and has many better quality condos occupied by expats. Close to everything, including 3 shopping malls and many supermarkets, the Nimmanhemin (Nimman) area and its surroundings is an inner-city type vibe. Mostly condos in this part of town, with many new developments finishing each month waiting and ready for lease or purchase.
Hang Dong Area
The Hang Dong area is just a 10-minute drive from the Old City and the Nimman area. Hang Dong is popular with retiring expats because of the many Moo Baans (gated community developments) and rural vibe. Beautiful housing developments with lakes, clubhouses and gyms are located here, along with many large home improvement stores.
Chang Klan Area
The Chang Klan area is located close to the Ping River, which has long been a favorite location for Western-styled restaurants and nightlife. It is also close to the red light district and the tourist-oriented Night Bazaar markets. This area of town is populated by many single men and has a much larger local population that speaks English.
Obviously, there are many other places where you can choose to live. The areas above are just a guide, but it is suggested that before you commit to a long term lease, you spend a month or so in a monthly apartment
closer to the main city and then explore the various areas.