Julie takes a journey through Northern Thailand - the friendliest place on earth.
Thailand is a land of rich cultural heritage, and natural wonders and has captured many hearts around the world, including mine. This Southeast Asia marvel offers a mesmerizing blend of ancient traditions and natural beauty, together with the warmest hospitality and most delicious cuisine. While you may be familiar with popular resorts like Phuket and Koh Samui, let me take you on a journey through Northern Thailand. We'll explore captivating destinations like Chiang Mai, Hua Hin, and even catch a glimpse of Bangkok. Each place has charm and character ensuring that your adventure in the ‘Land of Smiles’ is nothing short of unforgettable!
Nestled in the mountainous region of Northern Thailand, Chiang Mai is referred to as the "Rose of the North" and boasts a serene atmosphere, stunning natural landscapes and elegant accommodation, all along the banks of the Ping River offering a peaceful escape within a bustling city. Our first night was spent at the Cross Chiang Mai Riverside Hotel – peaceful, modern and elegant with stunning river-view rooms and a delectable Michelin-guided restaurant, It's a great choice for exploring Chiang Mai's hidden gems. Chiang Mai is a treasure trove of historic temples, markets and winding lanes.
Visit the temples of Wat Phra Singh with its Lanna-style architecture or Chedi Luang known for its towering Grand Stupa. Stroll through the fantastic street market–
a wonderful way to immerse yourself in local crafts and delicious street food and the many festivals that Chiang Mai is renowned for.
We were collected early morning by the staff of Elephant Bush Camp, where nature and wildlife surround you. This Eco-Friendly camp is nestled within the lush rainforests of Northern Thailand, providing their guests with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to interact with the elephants and immerse themselves in pristine nature.
At Elephant Hills you can experience ethical encounters guided by the Mahout tribe (elephant keepers). By focusing on the well-being of elephants, this eco-tourism approach ensures they are not subjected to cruelty. Observe these majestic creatures, feed them, and watch them bathe.
The Elephant bush camp offers a unique opportunity to learn about the Caren tribe, originally from Tibet but now settled in Northern Thailand. We witnessed how they harvest and prepare the rice and make traditional food and materials.
After a night's stay in the luxury tented camp, we headed back to Chiang Mai for a further night in the opulent Shangri-La, Chiang Mai a haven for spa lovers and exquisite dining.
Following our time in the jungles of Chiang Mai, we make our way to Bangkok, a vibrant and modern capital that seamlessly combines tradition and contemporary living.
Start your exploring with a visit to the Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaew/The Temple of the Emerald Buddha. The Grand Palace is a stunning example of Thai architecture, and the Emerald Buddha is a deeply revered national icon. We meandered through Chinatown and the market selling fresh food and delicious snacks and drinks. For an authentic experience, don’t miss the floating markets–vendors sell their wares from wooden boats along the narrow waterways. You can sample delicious foods, buy handicrafts, and soak up the incredible, vibrant atmosphere.
Bangkok comes alive at night with its bustling scene – Khao San Road is famous for its backpacker-friendly atmosphere, while Asiatique along the riverfront offers a more upscale experience. Taking a tuk-tuk is one of the must-do experiences or sipping a cocktail on one of the fabulous rooftop bars. We had a fun afternoon with a personal trainer in Muay Thai boxing learning the basics, and had a good workout with the group!
We dined at the Rib Room and Bar at the Landmark Hotel with impressive city views and visited the luxurious Shangri-La Bangkok Hotel along the riverfront – famous for their buffet - and I can see why as it was one of the best I've ever eaten!
We then made the two-hour road trip to Hua Hin where we spent two nights at the Hyatt Regency. This gorgeous luxury beachfront resort in Hua Hin boasts a prime beachfront location. With direct access to the golden sands, we dipped our toes in the pristine waters of the Gulf of Thailand. This hotel offers a range of facilities including swimming pools, The Barai luxury spa, and a lazy river with a giant water slide!
We took an Archery lesson and on our last day did a traditional Thai cookery class where we made some of the famous dishes using the freshest ingredients. I even made the Massaman curry when I returned home!
Hua Hin offers a range of accommodations: we visited the 5-star contemporary style Cape Nidhra Hotel, the elegant and colonial Centara Hotel which is over 100 years old, and Ace of Hua HIn resort which has an amazing pool and beach access.
The town of Hua Hin has a great selection of nightlife and places to eat.
Thailand's diverse landscapes and cultures offer an unparalleled travel experience.
From the serene temples and lush jungles of Chiang Mai to the ethical encounters with the Elephant camps, the bustling streets of Bangkok and the tranquil beaches of Hua Hin, this journey captures the essence of Northern Thailand. A place where modern life and ancient traditions complement each other in a way that is simply unforgettable. These humble people with big smiles and warm hearts have made me yearn to return again and again!
For more info and to organise your trip contact Julie at Abbotts Travel
Tel: 020 8989 9445 / email@example.com