The great Chiang Mai apartment hunt

We had two reasons for hunkering down for a month in Chiang Mai. Firstly, we’d been pretty much non-stop since leaving the UK six months previously. Secondly, and most pressingly, Craig had some IT-wizardry related work to do (shush you – I am a supportive and interested wife!) before we carried on with our travels, and he needed a bit of uninterrupted time to do that. We wound up here because the availability of Chiang Mai apartments was pretty good from what fellow travellers told us, and because Chiang Mai offered all the conveniences of a city used to expats and short-term visitors without the humidity and chaos of Bangkok. Plus, we were kind of in the area anyway!

We were looking for an apartment with a short but specific shortlist. We wanted to be west of the City (ideally around Nimmanhemin Road, which is a vibrant and student-y area), have a separate bedroom and living space so I could potter around without disturbing Craig and ideally have a gym on site, or be close to one. We weren’t bothered about a kitchen as I had no intention of cooking! Yes, I know. I am a bad wife…

Our difficulty in confirming our Gibbon Experience dates until quite late on meant we didn’t know when we’d be arriving in Chiang Mai, so we started our apartment hunt only a few days before we arrived.

When considering short term Chiang Mai apartments, there are two options: the first is a Serviced Apartment (kind of like a “hotel apartment”) and the second is an independent rental; we were open to both options but found that serviced apartments are really the only short term option in Chiang Mai – private landlords willing to rent a property in peak season for less than 3 months were nowhere to be found!

Our apartment search was short (thankfully only one day!) but pretty frantic as we’d only booked one night of accommodation before we arrived. Nothing like a bit of pressure to focus the mind!

We booked a night at the Opium Serviced Apartments to the north of Chiang Mai’s old town. The studio we stayed in was nicely decorated and modern, although the onsite pool and gym were a bit small and the wifi could be a bit patchy. Unfortunately they were booked out for the dates we wanted to rent an apartment, but they are fairly central and we would have seriously considered them otherwise.

Just down the road from the Opium was the Viangbua Mansion, which ended up as our second option. The website is dreadful, but the building is surprisingly luxurious (if a little old fashioned) and has a well equipped gym and a little coffee shop downstairs. Deluxe apartments (separate bedroom) typically rent for ฿22-24,000 (about £450) and they are just opening longer-term apartments over the road.

I’d contacted a few agents before coming to Chiang Mai (the Chiang Mai resource over at Never Ending Voyage is incredibly helpful here), but all apart from one had replied saying they had nothing for short-term rentals at the moment. Salvation came from the lovely Kwang at Perfect Homes; she lined up four apartments for us to see the following morning.

The first two were at Sirii Condo – a perfect location right in the centre of vibrant Nimmanhemin Road. Unfortunately, they were studio living spaces (no separate bedroom) and felt quite dingy and dirty (one of the kitchens still had food on the cooking utensils – vom!) so we said no to these.

Our second visit was to Green Hill Place complex just north of Nimmanhemin Road where we saw two apartments that fit our requirements perfectly. There was even a pool right outside our balcony which was a bonus, although the apartment was ฿23,000 – a lot more than we’d expected to pay. The apartment was “semi-serviced” – there was a reception/concierge downstairs but no additional services, such as cleaning.

Within 24 hours of arriving in Chiang Mai, we had a few options to choose from – not bad going really! We weren’t confident we’d find many more options by waiting longer so, eight hours after we viewed the first of five Chiang Mai apartments, we moved into Apartment 326, Green Hill Place.

Chiang Mai apartments
Our bedroom at Green Hill Place
Chiang Mai apartments Green Hill Place
Our balcony view… and the pool!

We loved the airy apartment, its convenient but quiet location (five minutes to Maya Mall and Nimmanhemin Road) and the gym. Despite slightly dated furniture, the apartment was in good condition and we were really happy here for the month. There were a few cons though – the apartment came with almost nothing bar four plates, a couple of bowls and some cutlery. Thankfully, we had a knife for the kitchen and bought a couple of bits and pieces (like drinking glasses, a bin for the bathroom and a brush to sweep the floor) but the extra expense was still annoying. The check-in clean was of a really poor standard (dirty sheets and Craig ended up scrubbing the bathroom himself while the cleaners stood out in the corridor gossiping!) and the internet was a bit patchy. We demanded new sheets (and got them) and set up our own internet for the month, which cost about £0.70 per day.

New sheets duly provided, we were safely installed for our month in Chiang Mai!

Our tips when searching for short-term Chiang Mai apartments
  • Single month rentals are a premium in Chiang Mai; adjust your budget upwards accordingly. We spent about £100 more than we expected to for the month; my sister plans to spend less when she relocates to Manchester!
  • During peak months (December to end of February) almost all of the serviced apartments are booked up – some we spoke to didn’t have availability for a month or more.
  • Bear in mind Chiang Mai gets humid and smoggy from end of February; the daytime heat can be almost unbearable if you are a wuss like me. I basically staggered round for the last week, screaming for a Solero.
Resources for an apartment hunt around in Nimmanhemin Road in Chiang Mai
  • If budget is of prime importance, or you are travelling solo, the Baanthai Studios are located just off Nimmanhemin Road (on Soi 6) and cost about £100 per month for a (rather basic) studio room. There is also a pool onsite.
  • Kantaray Hills is one for the luxe flashpackers, so sadly was way over our budget!
  • The Empire was full when we called, but looked lovely from the reception.
  • The Studio 99 Serviced Apartments were east of the City, so no good for us, but worth a look if that location interests you.
  • The Grand Wipanan again was full for the dates we wanted, but looked lovely. This is located near to the Opium and Viangbua apartments north of the Old Town, rather than west.

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