Chiang Mai condos and apartment for monthly rental are all over the city - but what’s the best area to live in for digital nomads or remote workers?
With around 200,000 inhabitants, Chiang Mai is a small but captivating city. It doesn’t really matter where you live, as the town is small and easy to navigate. Most digital nomads who spend part of the year in Chiang Mai, or even the remote workers living in Chiang Mai, move around between areas to explore the city in more depth. Each area of Chiang Mai offers a unique vibe and countless hidden treasures, from cafes to temples and everything in between. So if you are thinking of moving to Chiang Mai, then here is a rundown on the best areas to live in Chiang Mai with condos for monthly rental.
If you are only staying in Chiang Mai one or two months, then Chiang Mai’s old city could be an excellent base to explore the city from. The old city is surrounded by an ancient wall, and each moat of water is a mile long, so joggers will enjoy running the perimeter in the early mornings.
The old city is a complex maze of streets, sois, and temples - no matter where you are in the square, you will be within walking distance of a temple. At night the temples are lit up, showcasing their elegant golden decor, and this lighting extends to the nearby streets, creating a calm and mesmerizing glow within the old city. If you love history and culture, then this is a great area to live, as there are cultural events and local Lanna Kingdom history on every corner.
The main downside to living in the old city is the number of tourists and tuk-tuk drivers looking to get you into their tuk-tuk for ‘very cheap price’. If you don’t want to feel like a tourist (or hang out with people wearing elephant pants), then try Nimmanhaemin or over the river. However, if you plan on doing touristy things like ziplining and bathing with elephants, then being in the old city offers you access to tour agencies and local pick-ups.
There are a surprising amount of restaurants within the old city, especially vegetarian and vegan eats. Try Taste from Heaven, its sister Vegan Heaven or the long-standing Blue Diamond. There are also some great cafes within the old city, including the second branch of Akha Ama cafe, the brunch spot Overstand and the small, hipster Graph cafe. There are also two Punspace co-working cafes (Thapae Gate and Wiang Kaew locations) for digital nomads in Chiang Mai.
Between the river and the old city is the Chang Klan area. Chang Klan is a long road starting at Thapae bridge and winding south until it meets the Ping river. The area is popular with older expats as its easy to access all areas of the city from the main road, and this means that the Condos in Chiang Mai and apartments around Chang Klan tend to be better quality and well furnished for monthly rental.
The Peaks Avenue condo and its sister Peaks Garden condominium are two plush complexes with beautiful rooms and impressive city views. Designed with a touch of Japanese influence, these condominiums are arguably the best serviced apartments in Chiang Mai and are adjacent to the affluent Shangri-La hotel and the fun Art in Paradise Museum. Another great condo in Chang Klan area is Galare Thong Tower. Smaller in size than the Peaks, Galare Thong Tower offers equally impressive modern apartments, from a small budget-friendly standard condo to superior family suites.
For something a little cheaper rental in Chang Klan, try the Smith Suites or the Smith Residence. Both within walking distance from the old city, and with the Saturday night market right on the doorstep, The Smith complexes are well located, comfortable and offer exactly what those new to Chiang Mai are looking for. An older but long-standing favorite with expats is the Galare Thong Tower condo. Cheap monthly rent, functional furnishings and excellent access to the city means that Galare Thong is a choice for many expats and digital nomads in Chiang Mai.
Arguably the hipster area of Chiang Mai, Nimmanhaemin Road is a great place to stay for younger travelers. With restaurants, cafes, boutiques and dessert shops on all the small sois (alleys), you’ll never get bored of living around Nimmanhaemin. Ideal for walkers, the small soi’s are mostly car-free in the daytime, while the main Nimmanhaemin road is always brimming with taxis if needed. Close to the mountain, the old city and Maya mall, ‘Nimman’ is a great location for those new in Chiang Mai and looking for a condo for a short and long-term stay.
Eastin Tan Hotel is arguably the best property in terms of location and views - Doi Suthep is clearly visible. Once a 4.5-star hotel, the Eastin Tan now rents its hotel rooms by the month making it a desired address. It’s a stone throw from Maya shopping mall and the One Nimman complex, and virtually everything in the city is walkable from Eastin Tan. The Empire is one of the older condominiums in Nimmanhaemin, but its age means it offers unparalleled views of Doi Suthep from its prime location in the middle of the Nimman area. It has aged well, and the interiors have all been updated regularly leaving a comfortable and stylish apartment. Powerhouse Gym, Infinity club, and the infamous Warm Up Cafe nightclub are all within walking distance from The Empire.
Another good Nimman condo is The Bliss. Tucked down a quiet and local soi, The Bliss offers residents everything they need in their home away from home. The smaller soi’s around The Bliss offer a glimpse into laid-back Thai life and feature local street eats, small convenience shops and elaborate small gardens outside Thai houses. The Bliss is a ten-minute walk to Nimmanhaemin Road or Maya mall, and a 3-minute walk to Huay Kaew Road, which runs from the old city all the way up the mountain to Wat Doi Suthep.
Nimmanhaemin road can be a little busy and loud, so Sirimangkalajarn road is a quieter version, two streets to the east of Nimmanhaemin. The small leafy soi’s off Sirimangkalajarn road is quiet and quite Thai. The original Punspace co-working space is on Sirimangkalajarn Soi 11, and The Cube No. 7 cafe (a giant space hosting a range of talks and events) is on Sirimangkalajarn Soi 7. Nimmanhaemin Road is within 5-10 minute walking distance, but staying on Sirimangkalajarn road also means you can easily walk to the old city area.
Apartments for a range of budgets are available around Sirimangkalajarn road. The Siri Condominium is the sleek newly built condo with large rooms, swimming pool, and gym in the complex. Huay Kaew Residence is a long-standing short-term Chiang Mai rental option with simple rooms and larger suites. Next, to the Kad Suan Kaew shopping mall and a few minutes walk to Sirimangkalajarn road, Huay Kaew residence is an excellent location for exploring Chiang Mai. At the other end of Sirimangkalajarn road, where it meets Suthep road is the The Wing Place Condo. Close to the peaceful Wat Suan Dok temple, and offering easy access to the old city and local restaurants, The Wing Place Condo are spacious, fully furnished condos and brand new, offering amazing facilities such as a swimming pool, and fitness.
On the other side of Huay Kaew road from Huay Kaew residence, and starting at the outer north-west edge of the old city is the Santitham area. Santitham is a student area and lively night time location. This means that there are lots of cheap eats and evening only street stalls, but if you are a morning person, the area will be dead. The original Akha Ama cafe is in Santitham and a Nana bakery. There are lots of other cafes and restaurants all with lower prices catering towards students.
A popular, central condo in Santitham is View Doi Mansion. Clean and comfortable, the higher floors have great mountain and city views. A new favorite within the digital nomad community is The51Hometel, a sleek black and white hotel style condominium. Chiang Mai Lodge is technically Santitham but located down a small soi off Huay Kaew road. Its neighbor on the quiet Soi is the Pansook High Quality Condo, which lives up to its name. A quiet area, these condos are suitable for those looking to relax and slow down, but you can still access everything the city has to offer.
Further back into Santitham is the clean and white Vanilla Residence and more lavishly decorated The Kannas Serviced Apartment. And if you want to go even further into Santitham then Serene Teak Apartment is located in an attractive Thai area away from tourists, offering fully furnished serviced condos for monthly rental.
For those planning on living in a condo in Chiang Mai longer or trying to avoid tourism altogether, then the area of Wat Umong and over the river are two great areas to experience ‘real’ Chiang Mai. Wat Umong is a large, sprawling temple with a lake and underground tunnels for monks to pray in peace. The windy road of the same name starts at the university and meanders along to the artsy area of Chiang Mai: Pong Noi. The temperatures are always more refreshing in this area, which is important from March to October. Central Hill Place is an apartment complex nestled at the foot of Doi Suthep mountain and offers a chance to live closer to the nature surrounding the city.
An alternative to Wat Umong area is the large area ‘over the river’. The bus and train stations are over on the east side of Chiang Mai, as are more Thai’s and less tourism. There are lots of good restaurants over the river, from delicious brunch spots like ‘Bake & Bite’ and ‘Nawat Home Cafe’, to the famous Tripadvisor restaurant, David’s Kitchen. One of Thailand’s biggest shopping malls, Central Festival is also easily accessible from over the river. As the name suggests, Sunny Side Up Apartments are bright, centrally located near both the bus and train station. The studios feel more like a holiday resort than life in a big city and are a good option for those not looking to work while in Chiang Mai.
Every area in Chiang Mai holds its own secrets, and each deserves to be explored. For digital nomads and those planning to explore by foot, Nimmanhaemin and Sirimangkalajarn roads are better options due to location, but for retirees or those looking to explore the city and Thai culture, Wat Umong, over the river or the old city are better areas to stay in. Nomad Rental offers a range of condos and apartments for monthly rental across the city and to fit a variety of budgets and lifestyles. So the real question is, what are you looking for in a condo?
Laura Gibbs is a writer living in Chiang Mai, Thailand. She has traveled extensively throughout Asia and Europe and bases her writing on real-life experiences. Laura is an expert on luxury travel and expatriate life in Thailand, and has written and co-published two travel guides to Thailand and compiled an anthology of travel stories from around the world.