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ihg hotel chiang mai thailand review.© Karen Silas,IHG

Looking for a luxury stay in Thailand? The 5-star InterContinental Chiang Mai made my bucket list trip a dream come true

A visit to this newly-renovated hotel in Chiang Mai will make your once-in-a-lifetime trip one you'll want to repeat ASAP

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Karen Silas
Senior Lifestyle Editor
Updated: June 28, 2024
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When I decided to visit Northern Thailand's Chiang Mai, a 90-minute flight from Bangkok and home to more than 300 Buddhist temples, my first stop was Google, where I found plenty of advice for more casual stays and backpacking.

I’m someone who loves an adventure while on holiday but I absolutely need to be able to relax and be pampered once I get back to my hotel, exhausted from my day of exploring. So keep reading if, like me, you're the type to want a bit more luxury when you're on vacay.

My hot traveller tip? Consider making the newly-renovated 5-star InterContinental Chiang Mai The Mae Ping your home during your visit – it's a cocoon of peace in the heart of buzzing Chiang Mai, and the ideal place to unwind and restore peace to your mind and body.

chiang mai thailand© Karen Silas
Thailand's Chiang Mai is a vibrant city with a buzzing vibe and more than 300 temples

The InterContinental Chiang Mai: What to expect

The culture of northern Thailand and the history of the region's Lanna Kingdom are infused into every aspect of this contemporary hotel, and from the second I arrived, greeted by the gracious front desk staff with a welcome drink (and by ringing a gong to start my stay), I had a sense this was going to be a holiday like no other. 

IHG Chiang Mai Hotel Lobby review 2024© IHG Chiang Mai
The hotel decor is a fusion of modernity and the region's ancient Lanna culture

When you walk into the lobby, drenched in natural light, you’re immediately immersed in another world with sky high ceilings, ornate lacquered wood and burnished metals, a fusion of Lanna tradition and artisans' techniques with sleek, elegant modernity. 

And despite being phenomenally located right in the city center, walking distance from the famed night market and the historic Tha Phae Gate, the hotel feels so far from the hustle and bustle. An exploration of the grounds of the hotel was an instant retreat, too, with lush foliage, chirping birds and a luxurious pool with a swim-up bar, as well as the beautifully restored ancient structures of Wat Chang Kong nestled in the gardens.

intercontinental chiang mai hotel grounds© Karen Silas; IHG
The hotel's grounds are a peaceful as the interior with lush greenery and the ancient stupa Wat Chang Kong

The five-star accommodations really have everything you need to experience the city in style, from luxury restaurants – including one serving up elevated versions of the region’s famed street food – to no-fuss private excursions to explore Chiang Mai. If you'd like, the concierge arranges every detail, including premium transportation, for temple visits and hands-on local cultural experiences you’ll never forget.     

The Rooms

Like the majestic lobby, my room was flooded with natural light, soft and encompassing, a neutral-toned harmony of lacquered wood, burnished metal, linen textured wallpaper and white marble. 

KING ROOM ihg chiang mai review© IHG
The rooms were spacious and peaceful

The incredible king-sized bed was one of the most comfortable I’ve ever slept in  – I heard that some guests go as far as purchasing the pillows, and I could understand why. 

In the bathroom, there's a spa-worthy setup in monochrome tiles and marble, juxtaposed with lantern lighting, a huge rain shower and separate soaker tub, and although I’d brought my own toiletries, they didn’t even get unpacked. My new discovery: Thai luxury brand Erb Wellness – founded by Thai fashion designer Pattree Bhakdibutr – whose lush products with a soft, comforting scent only added to the sense of tranquillity.

 ihg chiang mai review room bathroom review© IHG
In the bathroom, a spa-worthy setup with a huge rain shower and separate soaker tub, as well as amenities by Thai luxury brand Erb Wellness

I recommend a mountain view room overlooking Doi Suthep mountain – the newly-renovated hotel is currently in the process of expansion with a new wing set to open in 2025, and the city view rooms overlook the work being done in the distance. 

What to eat & drink: My review of the hotel's restaurants

Thailand is famed for it's food, and the IHG Chiang Mai's dining options (which you can see here) are as impressive as you would think.

 My second day in Chiang Mai started off with a jaw-dropping breakfast. While I’ve stayed in five-star hotels before, this hotel’s buffet has set a new, and decidedly high standard for me. The all-encompassing selection caters to so many different cultural definitions of what breakfast should be, so you could find everything you were in the mood for. From charcuterie and fresh local fruit (and an actual honeycomb from which to scoop your honey), to kanom krok, bao and congee, or waffles and Eggs Benedict made to order. 

Breakfast aside, Chiang Mai – and Thailand in general – is of course famed for its street food, and there are so many restaurants to choose from around the centrally located hotel. But if you're looking for elevated versions of the traditional street food dishes, you have to try the hotel's The Gad Lanna.

mieng kham bua lhuang at the IHG Chiang Mai© Karen Silas
I loved the Gad Lanna’s exquisite take on Mieng Kham Bua Lhuang – lotus petals filled with a medley of prawn and tamarind

Elegant but casual - choose a seat by the picture windows for a view of the gardens - The Gad Lanna is the perfect place to try the Intercontinental’s street food with a twist. The flavours were so complex and just plain gorgeous - there wasn’t a single dish that was a let down.

But my favourites? Lung Phanom’s Beef Cheek Khao Soi, a savoury yellow curry noodle soup with coconut milk, melt-in-your-mouth wagyu beef cheek and of course the traditional fried noodles to put on top, and the Gad Lanna’s exquisite take on Mieng Kham Bua Lhuang – lotus petals filled with a medley of prawn and tamarind – which was beautifully presented and as delicious as it looked.

hongs chinese restaurant review igh chiang mai© IHG
The five-star cuisine was just one of the standouts at Hong's, where the view and service were also impeccable

For luxury dining with a view, you’ll want to try dinner at the newly-opened HONG’s Chinese Restaurant on the 16th floor. Both the cuisine and decor were gorgeous - a chance to tuck into exquisite Chinese dishes in an intimate, sophisticated setting overlooking the city - there are even sky view private dining rooms. What to order? I recommend the stir fried blue crab, wok fried wagyu beef with black garlic, and chilled mango sago cream with pomelo. I guarantee you won't be disappointed.

Where to relax: Hong's Sky Bar, The II Spa & the pool

The hotel overall is synonymous with serenity, with places to disconnect, chill out and have signature cocktails with a view at sunset, too.

Hong's Sky Bar

There was no better way to end a day of exploring Chiang Mai than a signature drink and a bite to eat as the sun sets at Hong's Sky Bar.

ihg chiang mai review hongs sky bar© IHG
Sunset cocktails overlooking Chiang Mai at Hong's Sky Bar was a highlight of the trip

Taking the lift to the 17th floor, and making your way through a stylish hall entryway you emerge to With it's ultra chic and stylish decor, DJs, fantastic views and well-versed mixologists, there's really nothing more one could ask for. And if you're hungry the bar menu consists of tapas-style dishes adapted from the haute cuisine at Hong's. So between the locally-inspired cocktails and the elevated bar snacks, I was in hotel heaven.

hong rooftop bar at the ihg chiang mai © Karen Silas
Sunset signature cocktails and a gourmet bite to eat were the perfect way to end the day

The II Spa

The ii Spa was a truly holistic experience, first you take a brief quiz to express the issues you have, any ailments, parts of your body you’d like to focus on, or inversely, that you don’t want touched before your treatment. Massages range from 30 minutes to two hours - I indulged in the Golden Lanna Massage, a ‘unique massage created to unlock the Lanna experience’. 

ii spa at the intercontinental chiang mai review© IHG, Karen Silas
I indulged in the oh-so-relaxing two-hour Golden Lanna Massage, which includes everything from a special lymphatic drainage massage and aromatherapy to a mini golden leaf facial

The treatment involves a special lymphatic drainage massage to detoxify and help improve circulation and your immune system, followed by a pure golden leaf massage and aromatherapy massage. Then, you relax with a mini golden leaf facial. Essentially, it was two hours of pure bliss (although I missed part of the experience because I briefly fell asleep!) As someone with a lot of nervous energy, stress and back pain, it was just what I needed. 

The current ii Spa is in a temporary location within the main hotel, but a new space in the grounds of the hotel is currently under development, and set to open in 2025.

The pool

If you're planning on visiting during the rainy season like I did, don't worry - the rain is intermittent, and you'll still get some time in at the pool. And the Intcontinental's pool - which includes a swim-up bar - is a great place to unwind. 

POV: You're taking a break after an exciting morning exploring Chiang Mai© Karen Silas
POV: You're taking a break after an exciting morning exploring Chiang Mai

There are comfy sunbeds, but I opted to chill in one of the cabañas, with their comfortable loungers and ceiling fans, in between taking dips in the pool. 

What to do: Bespoke experiences

If you're into no-fuss exploration, you can opt for the hotel’s chauffeur service, for a comfortable drive - refreshments and cold towels included. You can of course opt for a tuk tuk or songthaew (those famous open-backed red trucks that are essentially taxis) to get around, but with my short stay the easy transport was a lot more convenient if not as adventurous.

The hotel offers such an array of experiences, from a sunrise hot air balloon ride with lakeside breakfast to a city tour that my biggest disappointment was that I wasn’t able to do all of them. (If you’d like to find out more, or book, you can do so here.) 

chiang mai Wat Pha Lat tour ihg hotel© Karen Silas
Visiting the spectacular Wat Pha Lat

I was so excited to visit Chiang Mai to see the temples first hand, and with the IHG's bespoke experiences - more personal and in-depth than your typical organised tourist group tours - I was able to explore them, and also witness and speak with local artisans at work in the process. 

For example, following my visit to the jaw-dropping silver temple Wat Sri Suphan (note that, because of the presence of the monks, women are not allowed inside) I not only got to watch how artisans make the beautifully crafted silver designs, I also had a chance to create my own silver piece, wielding the hammer and etching tool myself. 

 Wat Sri Suphan in Chiang Mai Thailand © Karen Silas
A visit to the silver temple, Wat Sri Suphan

Let’s just say I’m not quitting my day job anytime soon - one of the artisans helped clean up my lotus flower design, though, and I have a beautiful keepsake to commemorate my brief time as a silversmith. 

I also visited a lacquerware workshop, where I saw the beautiful work of artisans and watched them create - and had a chance to try my hand at it myself.

ihg chiang mai lacquerware workshop cultural experiences© Karen Silas
I had a chance to create my own keepsake during the lacquerware workshop visit

I also visited Wat Pha Lat – in the foothills of the mountains, about 30 minutes from Chiang Mai town, and famed for its popular Wat Pha Lat Monk's Trail for hiking, was one of the most peaceful places I’ve ever been, as breathtaking as the natural scenery around it.

If you would like to see a beautiful temple as well as spectacular views of the city and mountain, a visit to sacred pilgrimage spot Wat Phra That Doi Suthep - founded in the 14th century as a place to keep a bone fragment from the Buddha's shoulder, carried up to the top by a white elephant - is a must. 

Wat Phra That Doi Suthep© Karen Silas
Blue skies during my visit to the spectacular Wat Phra That Doi Suthep

Surrounded by gold-plated wonders, ancient pagodas, bells and shrines, you wander barefoot through the grounds. It was a bit more crowded with visitors, and you can either choose to climb the 300+ step staircase with it's jewelled naga, or ride the tram which takes you up and down the mountain.

Important note: When visiting the temples, be prepared to remove your footwear and wear modest clothing which covers your shoulders and knees.

Thai tea time

Another highlight was visiting sustainable tea company Monteaco, near the Ping River, which produces hand-picked eco-friendly teas from the forests of Northern Thailand. It was a fascinating top, similar to a winery visit, where I had a personal lesson about the science of teas, how the teas are gathered, and the proper brewing methods, as well as a tea tasting. 

chiang mai thailand monsoon monteaco tea co visit.© Karen Silas
I enjoyed a tea tasting at Monteaco, home of Northern Thailand's hand-picked 'forest-friendly' tea

We also created our own blends using the forest and exotic wild teas – I called mine, with white tea, lotus, and butterfly pea, and miang, a traditional fermented tea from Northern Thailand. I called it Chiang Mai Memory and now that I’m back home, it’s a delicious reminder of my visit.

Afternoon tea at ihg chiang mai review© Karen Silas
The Kam Lobby Lounge's afternoon tea, featuring assorted coffees and hand-picked Monteaco teas, features a golden tower of treats. Each month there's a different culinary theme based around an in-season ingredient. When I went, the theme was Rose Apple

Tea fans also won't want to miss out on the hotel's Afternoon Tea in the Kam Lobby Lounge. Every month there is a different culinary theme based around an in-season ingredient, with a selection of Monteaco Thai tea, coffees and an impressive golden tower with tiers of artfully-presented goodies suspended over your table.

During my visit in May the theme was in-season Rose Apple, which featured treats like smoked duck and rose apple tartare, as well as home-made scones, chocolate pralines, French pastries and Rose Apple tart. Needless to say it was an afternoon tea for the books. 

Why Chiang Mai should be on your bucket list

When you think of a holiday in Thailand your first thought might take you to the beaches of Phuket (which is only about a 2-hour flight from Chiang Mai) but I discovered that Chiang Mai is the ultimate bucket list holiday destination and my trip was incredible from start to finish. While I was initially hesitant to go during the rainy season, it turned out to be lovely with only occasional rainy weather. If you'd prefer to go during the high season, the best time to book is from November to April.

I loved being able to explore the vibrant excitement of Thailand’s second-biggest city and then return to the absolute peace and luxury of the InterContinental... if that's how you love to travel, I can fully recommend a visit, it will be one to remember.

Room rates at the InterContinental Chiang Mai The Mae Ping start from £133 ($141 USD) per night for a double room at time of publishing. To make a reservation, visit the hotel's website, or you can book via Tripadvisor or Booking.com

For flights to Chiang Mai (CNX), check out Skyscanner.

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