Famed for its umami street food, turquoise waters and ancient temples, Thailand is a bonafide slice of paradise. The only country in Southeast Asia to withstand European colonization, Thailand is uniquely, well, Thai. Home to temple-clad Northern cities and tropical Southern islands, from top to bottom, Thailand has it all. Here are five places to put on your list.
Like a fever dream, Thailand’s capital awakens all the senses. There’s no shortage of cultural sights to explore, including Wat Pho, Wat Arun, The Grand Palace, Chatuchak Market and the Jim Thompson House Museum. Then, If your tired feet allow, stroll through Benjakitti Park at sunset before heading to Chinatown for a street food feast.
Where to Stay: The Siam Hotel
A boutique beauty from the mind of award-winning Bangkok-based hotel designer Billy Bensley, The Siam is a literal work of art. Decorated with hundreds of antiques from the owner’s personal collection, its Art Deco design complements the glamorous vibe. And its location, set back on the Chao Phraya River, offers a serene break from the frenetic city.
A weekend getaway for Bangkokians looking to escape the smog, Khao Yai is home to the country’s oldest national park, where wild monkeys, deer and elephants roam. A two-and-a-half-hour drive from the capital, book any number of wildlife tours leading the intrepid on jungle-lush hikes to waterfalls worth chasing.
Where To Stay: InterContinental Khao Yai Resort
While its location may feel like the middle of nowhere, you’ll quickly realize you’re somewhere special. Opened in 2022, the newest Bill Bensley hotel focuses on the golden age of train travel with luxury suites made from actual train carriages salvaged from the countryside. Its standout restaurants offer a mix of fancy French and comforting Thai, while its tranquil setting is personified by its swan-filled lakes, blooming baobabs and butterflies.
Thailand’s second-largest island is ideal for honeymooners and travelers looking for some tropical R&R. While there are plenty of beaches to simply lounge, including the mile-long Choeng Men, a full or half-day trip snorkeling and swimming in Ang Thong Marine Park is a must.
Where To Stay: Banyan Tree Samui
Dotting the emerald green cliffside, each of its 88 standalone villas is pure luxury. While most come with Gulf of Thailand views, all feature shocking spacious digs, plus plunge pools and private beach access a quick buggy ride away.
With more than 100 temples sprinkled around this ancient gated city, Chiang Mai is a spiritual center. Walk through the crumbling stone gates into Old Town for a coffee at My Secret Cafe in Town, followed by a massage at Fah Lanna Spa & Massage. Chiang Mai is synonymous with street food, so a day bouncing from SP Chicken to Khao Soi Khun Yai to the North Gate night market is a day well spent.
Where To Stay: 137 Pillars House Chiang Mai
Towering banyans and palms envelop this elegant 30-suite boutique hotel. Built around a late-1800s teak building (the former headquarters of a logging company), each room includes a bit of Chiang Mai history with old framed photographs alongside custom-made silk decor from Jim Thompson and Victorian claw foot tubs.
Koh Pha Ngan
This Thai island has long had a reputation for partying thanks to its monthly Full Moon Party. But in recent years, it’s also become synonymous with digital nomads, yoga and wellness. So grab your mat and head to The Yoga Retreat or One Yoga for a session between trips to Zen or Bottle Beach.
Where to Stay: Anantara Rasananda Koh Phangan Villas
Steps away from the silica sands of Thong Nai Pan Noi Beach, each of Anantara’s 64 suites and villas have private plunge pools and thatched roof cabanas. Tucked amongst the tropical foliage, the resort’s spa has traditional Thai treatment rooms carved against the cliffside with peek-a-boo ocean views.
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