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.