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Af­ter­noon Chi Time

Not far from Bangkok – well, two hours away by Mercedes S350 if you are met at Bangkok’s Su­varn­ab­humi Air­port (BKK) – is Chiva Som: Bud­dha sight­ings guar­an­teed. This is“Thai-ness”in the truest sense, in a com­plex of Well­ness pavil­ions and Lanna-style guest cot­tages. It opens onto a quiet and seem­ingly end­less sugar sand beach in Hua Hin, the for­mer sum­mer Thai cap­i­tal for roy­als.

And al­though Hua Hin of­fers much to ex­plore as a re­sort town on the Gulf of Thai­land, guests will opt to stay on site at Chiva Som. This is be­cause Chiva Som is Thai­land’s top spot for pam­per­ing, heal­ing, in­ner peace, find­ing your own small light.

There are 58 cot­tage, room and suite ac­com­mo­da­tions amid ponds and pools. Highly trained prac­ti­tion­ers take it from there de­liv­er­ing a full sched­ule of healthy de­lights – from crys­tal mas­sages to chakra cleanses to medi-spa beauty treat­ments. The food is in­spired by fresh­ness and pu­rity and spices that calm and gal­va­nize your chi.

Squeeze in sem­i­nars on mind­ful­ness, lec­tures on Karmic im­per­a­tives or talks on awak­en­ing your thy­mus be­tween stretch­ing classes and strength-build­ing fit­ness ses­sions. Fully-in­clu­sive pam­per­ing and heal­ing pack­ages start at $2,500 for one per­son, for three days.

Ex­pe­ri­enc­ing Ele­phants ...

Add an el­e­ment of“never for­get­ting”to a Thai va­ca­tion through a va­ri­ety of pos­si­ble ele­phant en­coun­ters. Only in Thai­land is the ele­phant made so avail­able to vis­i­tors. And while these pachyderms re­ceive pro­tec­tion through­out the King­dom, they also re­ceive love and at­ten­tion from trav­el­ers who may stay for an hour, a day or a week in an im­mer­sive ex­pe­ri­ence of all things ele­phant.

There are dozens of ele­phant camps to be found in tourist des­ti­na­tions such as Ayut­thaya, Chi­ang Mai, Chi­ang Rai, Phuket, and Pat­taya. These range from rus­tic tent camps in the jun­gle to elab­o­rate lux­ury re­sorts in the moun­tains of the Golden Tri­an­gle.

Mo­ti­vated trav­el­ers can volunteer at an ele­phant hos­pi­tal, learn how to train an ele­phant with a ma­hout, or just am­ble through the over­growth, lis­ten­ing to the call of gib­bons while sit­ting on the back of a lum­ber­ing trunk-bear­ing beast. No mat­ter what type of ele­phant ex­pe­ri­ence it is, it will be hands-on and hugely re­ward­ing.

Top­ping the list of ele­phant-fo­cused lux­ury re­sorts is Four Sea­sons Tented Camp, Golden Tri­an­gle, an easy drive from Chi­ang Rai. The camp’s 15 in­side/out­side bun­ga­lows are prim­i­tive enough to evoke the era of 19th cen­tury ex­plor­ers but chock with ameni­ties that range from wood­burn­ing fire­places, pri­vate ter­races over the rain­for­est, rain shower bath­room fea­tures, and cop­per tubs for two.

Guests can take off on jun­gle walks through the cliff­side re­sort ex­panse, or in­dulge in jun­gle-shrouded side-by-side spa treat­ments, or cool off in a swim­ming pool over­look­ing the river.

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