Airbnb in Chiang Mai! The hospitality giant under the microscope in Thailand’s second city



Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last nine years, you’ll no doubt have heard of Airbnb – the mother of all hospitality startups who’ve taken the world by storm with their web-based marketplace which connects those who need somewhere to lay their head for a night or longer with a global network of hosts offering shared digs, private rooms or entire homes for rent.

Many countries have been quick to embrace the accommodation giant but as with other so-called “disruptive technologies” like Grab, Airbnb in Thailand has its critics. Most vocally, hoteliers who fear their business is being threatened…yet Airbnb represents only a tiny fraction of the short-stay lodgings in Chiang Mai compared to the 34,500+ hotel rooms here and, on price, mostly compete at the low-end of the market. Then there’s building management who allege leasing or renting for anything less than 30 days is prohibited by law…but, while Airbnb hosts are legally obliged to comply with a building’s own rules and regulations (or else face a fine), no Thai Act covers services like Airbnb so legislation’s wide open to interpretation. Not to mention the authorities who warn that the transience of Airbnb’s guests poses a greater risk to national security…though the same can also be said of more conventional forms of short-stay accommodation.

Up to now, Chiang Mai has escaped the scale of the crackdown on short-term lets as happened last year for all registered condominiums on Phuket island and, so far as we know, no Airbnb host or guest nationwide has ever been fined let alone detained. Still, given the growing resistance, are we witnessing the beginning of the end for Airbnb in Chiang Mai? Going on recent Airdna data and analytics, the number of active listings in Chiang Mai between September 2015 and June 2017 has grown consistently month-on-month from 1085 to 3782; a meteoric rise of almost 250%. At the same time, occupancy rates have remained steady and other than a predictable high throughout the peak months of November to February, demand for Airbnb is much less seasonally affected than that of hotels.

YH5BAEAAAAALAAAAAABAAEAAAIBRAA7Which begs the question why is Airbnb going from strength to strength in Chiang Mai? Could it be, for example, the opportunity for property owners (especially everyday Thai folk) to earn some extra cash on an otherwise unused space; or that it often offers a more affordable, more culturally immersive and more personal alternative to hotels for holidaying visitors; or that it helps boost the local economy by providing supply flexibility during popular periods such as Songkran or Christmas. In any case, we don’t expect anyone will be performing the last rites on Airbnb in Chiang Mai any time soon!

What are your own experiences using Airbnb in Chiang Mai either as a host or a guest? Do you think any of the various accusations levelled against Airbnb in Thailand are justified or even true? Have you ever been challenged by staff at any of the city’s condos for leasing or renting daily or weekly? We’re dying to hear your reactions on the subject so please do leave us a comment below!

Join The Discussion

7 thoughts on “Airbnb in Chiang Mai! The hospitality giant under the microscope in Thailand’s second city”

  • Carsten Dohrmann

    Hi Keith,

    We are just building a Vacation home in the San Sai area and we are planning to lease it out via AirB&B not only to ‘strangers’ but often to friends and relatives. It is simply a great tool to offer & organise the units without going through the hassle of when will it be available and when to block it, etc. For us, it is (at least for the moment) not so important to make money but to keep the house busy and friends happy. Besides, there are a good number of alternative digital marketplaces for short and long term rentals on the Internet like HomeAway, VRBO, Flipkey and others. I believe it will stay, especially when it becomes simply better (lightly) regulated by the next government. Yes, hotels are complaining, but the market is growing and such vacation home stay without full services is targeting a different group of people who are looking for something outside hotels. On top, with the many vacant property units (apartments or houses) in Chiang Mai a welcome relieve for some more entrepreneurial Thais to pay the home loan they took on in speculative expectations to ‘flip’ the house easily shortly after they bought it cheaply.

    With Chiang Mai becoming more and more a place for short- and midterm vacationers (interestingly from travellers from the more closer regions including Chinese, Honkies and Singaporeans) certainly a growing concept that will add only value to the Thai economy in total.

    Also, there is really no local reliable functioning and attractive alternative.

    What is your view on it?

    • Perfect Homes (Chiang Mai Properties)

      Dear Carsten,
      Thank you for you comments and thoughts, We wish you all the best with your project and we completely agree that AIRBNB can provide higher returns and give the owner the flexibility as to keep the property vacant for personal use too.
      But the higher returns come at a price, there is a lot more work involved than a standard long term rental.
      We wish you all the best with you project and I think you have a goond grasp of your target market.

    • DASS

      Most of the airbnb tenants we have had are now booking short term with the company then negotiating a better deal with the host once they arrive.There is so.many low cost opportunities in CM that they can easily find a better deal in another.location as well so in that light the airbnb fklks are hardly worthwhile these days.

  • George Poynor

    George P. Hello Keith I am enjoying your information about Chiang Mai. I plan to retire in about a year and a half April or 2020. Can you lead me to the ins and outs of living in Northern Thailand, This blog is vary informative.

    • Perfect Homes (Chiang Mai Properties)

      Hi George,
      We are really pleased to hear you enjoy our blog, also pleased to hear you have chosen Chiang Mai to retire too. It is a great city! WE WILL BE MORE THAN HAPPY TO HELP YOU FIND YOUR NEW HOME, once you move to Chiang Mai

  • Marc

    Do you know of anyone or a company providing airbnb management services in Chiang Mai? I am looking at buying a condo and would like someone to manage it for me when I’m not there as I don’t live in Chiang Mai.

    • Perfect Homes (Chiang Mai Properties)

      Dear Marc,
      Sorry we are unaware of any company managing properties for owners for Airbnb. Though we do offer long term property management services for absent owners on selected properties.
      Please follow this link for more info – Chiang Mai Property Management


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