Thailand is known to be a fantastic destination for both budget-friendly and luxury travel. What many people don’t realise, though, is that nearly every corner of the country has a variety of different travel options. For luxury experiences, for instance, most people assume you have to visit an island off the coast or stay in a rain forest villa far away from the main cities. Indeed, one of our favourite Thai destinations is the Koh Jum Beach Villas complex located in Krabi, near the famous Phi Phi islands. That being said, you can also have a luxury vacation in Thailand’s cities, if that’s the type of getaway you prefer. Along these lines, another one of our favourite places to visit is Chiang Mai, where there are wonderful upscale hospitality options amidst all the things to do in a larger city.

Located in the northern part of the country, Chiang Mai is known largely for its strong cultural roots and visual appeal. It is nestled between mountain ranges, so the air is clean and the weather generally pleasant. Popular things to do in the area include trekking, visiting temples, and wildlife watching – all things you may well expect to do on a Thai getaway. This focus on natural attractions and serene appeal makes Chiang Mai calmer than some other big tourist spots in the region (and certainly Bangkok). Though don’t mistake it for some quiet, remote mountain village. It’s also a legitimate city, home to a talented artistic community, luxury attractions, and an expanding dining scene that’s perfect for the foodie in you.

Don’t take that to mean Chiang Mai is bursting with the same street food options you hear about in Bangkok, either. While you can certainly enjoy some similar offerings, this city is actually better known for its fine dining, meaning you’ll always have a lovely evening option after a day of exploring or relaxing in your hotel (which we’ll speak to more below). David’s Kitchen steals the show with its set four-course meal, providing elevated cuisine at very fair prices. But you may also want to check out The Service 1921 (where you’ll find a blend of Asian cuisines and a terrific wine selection) or, for a surprising Mediterranean menu, Chez Marco Restaurant and Bar.

We could go on about the charms within the city, but another reason we love Chiang Mai for a high-end holiday is its proximity to some other great destinations in Southeast Asia. Both Myanmar and Laos are nearby, if you’re looking to see a little more of the world on an extended trip. Myanmar in particular can be an appealing stop for travellers in this part of the country thanks to the availability of casino entertainment facilities there. Casino tourism – often associated with luxury travel in other parts of Southeast Asia – is not really an option in Thailand, with the country’s only offerings of this sort existing online, or in the form of betting on horse races or Muay Thai. Locals have in many cases taken to enjoying top free online casino options. These come in the form of well-reviewed sites with generous game variety, and can be perfectly entertaining for casual gamers. For people travelling though, who might want to work those in-person casino thrills into the experience, Chiang Mai’s relative proximity to these neighbouring countries can be a subtle perk. A day trip with a night at the Regina Hotel & Casino in Myanmar can be just the thing.

For your time in Chiang Mai though, whether you use it as a base or you stay there for you whole trip, there are plenty of lovely resorts in or near the city. And ultimately, we believe that the quality of a luxury vacation is ultimately decided by one’s choice of accommodation! There are many upscale places to choose from at this destination, with one of our favourites being Akyra Manor Chiang Mai. At this modern resort you will find yourself overlooking the brightly lit city and enjoying views of the surrounding mountains all at once, truly making it the best of both worlds. Meanwhile, if you’re someone whose list of criteria for a luxury stay includes a five-star spa, don’t fret – Thais take relaxation very seriously, perhaps especially in Chiang Mai. For a truly serene accommodation experience more along these lines, we recommend staying at the Ping Nakara Boutique Hotel & Spa.

Hopefully this has helped to convey that Thailand’s luxury getaways aren’t all on the beaches. Whether you’re looking for a high-end modern suite to stay in while you explore the region around the city, or you just want to stay put and relax, Chiang Mai might just offer the experience you’re looking for. Happy travels!