After spending the better part of the year based in Malta, we decided to try out the travel bloggers’ unofficial capital: Chiang Mai, Thailand.
We arrived in Thailand in the beginning of December, and after spending a few days in Bangkok, headed north to Chiang Mai via Bangkok Airways. I can definitely recommend this airline by the way, excellent service from start to finish, including a lounge with free food and drinks while waiting to catch our flight.
In Chiang Mai, we booked a one week stay at the Triple Palms House, a small guesthouse situated in a very good location in the old town. We chose it because it had a great internet connection, which we planned to use heavily in our search for the ideal apartment.
We spent the first two days walking and cycling about town, trying to get a good idea of the different areas so we could focus our search more. We liked the Huay Kaew road area to the north west of the old town, and also the Chang Klan road area, where a lot of the condominiums are situated.
The fact that many expats have settled in Chiang Mai means that new condominiums are constantly being built, which is a good thing for those looking for quality accommodation. However our search didn’t turn out to be a walk in the park.
When searching for an apartment, you need to have something in mind. We had been reading Simon and Erin’s blog post about apartment searching in Chiang Mai, and our requirements were very similar. There are quite a number of bloggers who claim that you can find accommodation in Chiang Mai for as little as $100 a month. The truth is that you get what you pay for, and you certainly won’t get much more than a small room with that budget.
We were looking for a modern, clean apartment with at least one bedroom, and a good internet connection. The first thing we discovered in our search, was that the majority of apartments available tend to be studio flats, which are ok for a short stay, but definitely not ideal for 3 months+ of living and working in.
Moreover, we also wanted the apartment to have a kitchen. Alyona is a wonderful cook, and while I love trying out Thai dishes, I’d rather sample Alyona’s tasty cooking most of the time. It’s definitely more convenient, and possibly cheaper, to be able to cook whatever you want in your own kitchen. Strangely enough for new visitors to Thailand, most apartments don’t come with a kitchen, as Thais generally prefer to eat out on the many street-side eateries that are so common here.
So we set out for our one-bedroom apartment search with the following requirements. I suggest you make a list like the following and send it to agents as soon as you arrive in Chiang Mai.
- Budget of 15,000 to 20,000 baht/month (max $650).
- Good wifi connection.
- One bedroom or more.
- Western style kitchen.
- Max 20min walk from centre.
- If possible pool and gym within the condominium.
We wanted an apartment in a central location as we didn’t plan on driving a motorbike, and it would be good to be able to walk to any activity/restaurant/landmark in town.
And so our search for an apartment in Chiang Mai started in earnest…
We had actually started the search for an apartment around a month before we left Malta, by contacting a few agents in Chiang Mai. Unfortunately this doesn’t really work, as apartments are quickly taken and by the time we arrived, all the ones we had bookmarked were taken.
Following other bloggers’ advice, we went directly to a couple of agents in order to help us find an apartment quickly. Here are the agents we contacted:
Apart from the agents, I also scoured any other classified site I could find via Google. If you do the same you will most probably come across the Thaivisa forum, which has a vast content base, but we didn’t really find any good leads there. It can be a useful place to search for other Chiang Mai and Thailand information though.
A very important thing to keep in mind when browsing online listings is that most properties will only be available for periods of 6 months and more. We found many interesting properties only to be told that they were not available for the 3 month period we wanted, especially since it was high season.
Apart from emailing all the agents, we decided to visit them in order to discuss our requirements better. We first visited Chiang Mai Homes, and found them to be very friendly. They had a very nice apartment available in the Huay Kaew area, and it seemed ideal for us. Unfortunately just before we left to view it, they got a phone call saying that it had been rented just an hour before. We were thus left to rue our unlucky start to an apartment search.
Next we visited Parker Estate Agency. The office is located within a shop and the Thai man there didn’t speak English, so he took our details and promised us that someone would call us later that day. Sure enough, the agency’s owner Nigel Parker called me and asked me to give him a few days to try to find something for us.
Chiang Mai Properties seem to have the biggest presence in town, having a number of offices in different areas. That was convenient for us as we cycled our way to their main branch on Chang Klan road. I had been in contact with them via email before we arrived, so they had our details on file. Unfortunately they didn’t have anything within our budget available, so they also asked us to wait a few days and see whether any good apartment becomes available.
After 4 days of searching and waiting, it was becoming evident that finding an apartment with our requirements wasn’t going to be easy. We realised that peak season means that most apartments would have already been rented, and it would probably have been easier for us had we arrived in Chiang Mai a month or two earlier.
Thankfully, I received an email from Angkana Rau, the owner of Satihoga Tropical Homes. She told us that she had just one apartment available at Twin Peaks condo, available at 23,000 baht/month. This was above our budget, but given the circumstances and the fact that it was in a condominium which I really fancied, we decided to go and see it.
As soon as we walked into the apartment I couldn’t help smiling, as it was the exact apartment I had been wishing for all along. The only issue was that internet had to be bought separately, costing 500 baht/computer/month. After giving this some thought we decided to go ahead with this apartment as it was as close as we could get to our ideal. We were a bit over budget but after spending the first week enjoying the comforts of this apartment and condominium, we were really glad that we went for this option.
Angkana was very friendly and professional, and also gave us a ride with our luggage from the guesthouse to our new apartment, which was very convenient. I highly recommend contacting her when looking for accommodation here in Chiang Mai. Before moving in, we signed a contract with a representative of the landlord, and all documents were very professional, giving us total peace of mind about our decision.
The apartment is fully airconditioned and has two hot plates for cooking. The kitchen is also equipped with a microwave oven, toaster and coffee machine. These included appliances are very convenient, some other apartments we’ve seen didn’t come with any equipment or silverware.
Our new home for the next 3 months is on the 6th floor of the Twin Peaks condominium, which is located in a private side road off Chang Klan road. This area is quite a busy one, with a number of shops and restaurants close by.
We do our food shopping at the Rim Ping Supermarket, which is 20 minutes away on foot, just after crossing the river Ping. A 7 eleven shop is conveniently located just 2 minutes away, and that’s where we buy the daily things like water, bread etc.
The famous Chiang Mai Night Market is also just a few minutes away on foot. We can walk to the old town in 20 minutes, making this a very good location for us, even though we don’t have any transport. For longer trips we just wave down a Song Thaew and pay the standard 20 baht each to get to our desired location.
The living room features a big table that doubles as a desk, but I actually prefer working downstairs by the pool. It’s so relaxing there and I can enjoy a quick swim when I feel like taking a break. There is also a gym next to the pool, where Alyona and myself work out several times a week. All in all we are really happy with our apartment, as it has everything we were looking for. The staff here are very polite and the other people living here (mostly expats) are a friendly bunch too.
Most apartments here require you to pay extra for water and electricity. You receive a bill towards the end of the month which you settle at the condominium’s reception. Expect to pay anywhere from 1,000 to 3,500 baht, chiefly depending on your usage of the air conditioning units.
If anything, this experience of apartment searching in Chiang Mai has shown me the power of visualisation. As Alyona rightly pointed out to me, I had been wishing for this apartment all along, and although it was difficult to find any apartment, I still got what I had wished for.
For more tips and specific recommendations about Chiang Mai accommodation, check out these posts from fellow Chiang Mai travelers:
- The Search for an Apartment in Chiang Mai (Never Ending Voyage)
- Apartment Hunting in Chiang Mai (Technosyncratic)
- The Famous Question: Where to Stay in Chiang Mai, Thailand (Got Passport)
- Getting an Apartment in Chiang Mai (Kaypacha Travels)
Leave a comment if you have any questions or want to share your own experience of finding an apartment in Chiang Mai.