Due to its inland location, the ‘New City’ of Chiang Mai is often bypassed by sea-seeking tourists. Yet it’s here that some of the nation’s most revered temples, atmospheric landscapes and incredible wildlife resides. It has a fascinating history – it was once the capital of the Lanna kingdom – with relics and architecture dating back to the Middle Ages. And while some of the major sites are busy, the landscapes offer the opportunity to really escape the throng and find a slice of serenity. Although it’s not coastal, Chiang Mai’s rivers and lakes provide a backdrop for some stunning waterside resorts. Take a look at these indulgent hotels and see if they whet your appetite for a stay in this area.
Shangri-La Chiang Mai
This large hotel boasts the biggest pool in the city, along with 277 guest rooms (designed in a modern Northern Thai style) and four places to eat. The Shangri-La’s range of facilities makes it ideal for parents travelling with kids — there’s cartoon bedding for younger travellers, playpens, colouring sets, everything you need to feed/bathe a newborn, mini-bathrobes and slippers, a splash zone, kids’ club, and supervised creative activities run daily. Then while the kids are being entertained, you can indulge in a traditional Asian healing treatment at CHI, The Spa.
137 Pillars House Chiang Mai
In a former life, 137 Pillars House was the Borneo Company headquarters. Built in the 19th century from teak, its since been sensitively restored to include 30 individually designed suites (each with a garden view verandah or patio), two gourmet dining rooms, a bar, a long thin swimming pool flanked by a green ‘living’ wall, a library and the Nitra Serenity Centre. The latter is the resort’s wellness centre, offering rituals combining the three aspects of mind, body, and emotion.
Anantara Chiang Mai Resort
Once the home of the British Consulate, the Anantara Chiang Mai Resort enjoys a riverfront position, onto which the pool backs and on which the hotel’s own boat carries sightseeing guests. Much of the interior design here takes its cue from the building’s past life, with a contemporary twist. So too does the restaurant, The Service 1921, a decorative homage to its heritage, serving contemporary Asian cuisine and cocktails. Wellness is a focus at the property; there’s a spa, holistic classes, Lanna Rituals and Shirodhara massages on offer. In addition to its open-plan tropical themed bedrooms, guests can opt to stay in a serviced suite.
Na Nirand Resort
This boutique hotel has a romantic back story and so encourages its guests to discover ‘eternal love’ for themselves when staying. It also has strong connections with forestry. The area has played a significant role in conservation, a theme that’s echoed in the hotel’s decor and a giant 100-year-old Rain Tree sits within the grounds, a definite talking point for visitors. The top range of suites face onto the river and are named: Harmonious British-Indian, Burmese Dream, Enchanted Chinese and Siamese Love, reflecting the hotel’s connections with neighbouring countries. Also beside the Ping River, is the property’s industrial vintage-style restaurant and there’s a rooftop wine bar with wonderful views.