Thailand: A Luxury Traveler's Guide

Tripoto
20th Mar 2013

The White Temple

Photo of Thailand: A Luxury Traveler's Guide by Carlos

Hall of Opium

Photo of Thailand: A Luxury Traveler's Guide by Carlos

Elephant Polo, Golden Triangle

Photo of Thailand: A Luxury Traveler's Guide by Carlos

Infinity Pool, The Okura Prestige, Bangkok

Photo of Thailand: A Luxury Traveler's Guide by Carlos

Koh Hong island, Krabi

Photo of Thailand: A Luxury Traveler's Guide by Carlos

Hua Hin Vineyards

Photo of Thailand: A Luxury Traveler's Guide by Carlos

Standing Buddha, Takiab

Photo of Thailand: A Luxury Traveler's Guide by Carlos

Six Senses, Koh Samui

Photo of Thailand: A Luxury Traveler's Guide by Carlos

Dinner at the Four Seasons

Photo of Thailand: A Luxury Traveler's Guide by Carlos

Phranang Bay

Photo of Thailand: A Luxury Traveler's Guide by Carlos

Thailand is a visually stunning and fascinating country with its breath taking scenery and exotic beaches. The country is very aptly called 'The Land of Smiles', people here are so warm and welcoming that you never feel out of place. Thailand can surely boast about having one of the most friendly and gracious cultures in the world.

Food, beaches and beauty. Thailand is a perfect amalgamation of all the aforementioned aspects, no wonder the country is drawing attention from travelers across the world. There’s just too much to see and do in Thailand, from eating the plethora of dishes to island hoping to partying. The sheer number of islands to choose from provide something for every type of traveler. Big, flashy resorts occupy some of the best white sand beaches, while small backpacker havens have chosen other spots to settle in and flourish. Some islands are busy, loud and party all night. Others are remote, untouched by tourism and still rely on roosters for alarm clocks.

It is always a treat to spend time in Thailand, a country I carry close to my heart and which always manages to draw a BIG smile in my face. I have been to Thailand 5 times now. In my fifth time in Thailand, we visited and spent time in Bangkok, Golden Triangle and Koh Samui. Apart from these, I have also mentioned some other places I have visited in my previous trips here, that you could fit into a 2 week tour of Thailand.

Thailand is also fairly cheap, travelers can live like kings for cheap compared to Western standards or can live on pennies and travel for months on end.

You might say, Carlos is Argentinean, therefore Polo runs in his veins… but how about going a bit further, bigger and taller… how about Elephant Polo. It sounds quite eccentric right? Thanks to the Four Seasons Tented Camps Golden Triangle in the northern region of Thailand, I can say this this my new thing. This is one of the many activities you can do at the Four Seasons Tented Camp, along with Training to become a Mahout or Sunrise Walk with these gentle giants. I have quite a weakness and devotion for Elephants, so I was quite intrigued and happy when this activity was proposed to me on my last visit to the camp.
Photo of Four Seasons Tented Camp Golden Triangle, Thailand, Chiang Saen Post Office, Mueang Chiang Rai, Thailand by Carlos
One of the many attractions of the Golden Triangle area, in the northern region of Thailand, is without a doubt the Hall of Opium, created in 1988 by Princess Mother on her desire to educate people on the background of opium in the Golden Triangle and elsewhere in the world. The Golden Triangle, infamous worldwide for its poppy fields, drug smugglers, and opium warlords. Throughout the three decades, the Golden Triangle supplied most of the world’s heroin. Even today, Myanmar and less so the Laos PDR produce significant amounts of opium. The Hall of Opium was created to help reduce demand through education.
Photo of The Hall of Opium Ban Saeo Chiang Rai Thailand by Carlos
As campy as it can be, but at the same time beautiful and impressive. I have not seen, ever before, a temple like this. It looks like the set for the next Narnia movie, it is that magical! But it is a fully operational Buddhist and Hindu temple. The white color stands for Lord Buddha’s purity; the white glass stands for Lord Buddha’s wisdom that “shines brightly all over the Earth and the Universe.” Unfortunately they do not allow cameras once you have crossed the bridge and into the temple; that is in the main room which has several images of Lord Buddha. It was created by Chalermchai Kositpipat, one of Thailand’s most renowned artists. Access to the temple is FREE of charge.
Photo of Wat Rong Khun Pa O Don Chai Chiang Rai Thailand by Carlos
Today I spent the entire morning and afternoon exploring the wine region of Hua Hin Hills in Hua Hin, Thailand. The people from Siam Winery picked me up at my hotel and drove me for 25 minutes to their stunning vineyard, to spend a day tasting local Thai wines, eating great tasty modern tapas and bonding with my friends the elephants. I mean, where else in Thailand can you explore a vineyard on the back of an elephant ? Overall experience…FANTASTIC! Strongly recommend visiting for those of you who relish a nice lunch with fantastic wines. And if you love the elephants as much as I do, then you can bond with them while being surrounded by stunning views of the vineyard, and the mountains of Hua Hin Hills. You can even take this tour for a full day from/to Bangkok (2hours 30 minutes transfer each way).
Photo of Hua Hin Hills Vineyard Hua Hin Thailand by Carlos
Most of the hills in Huan Hin house a temple and a Buddha statue, and Takiab Hill has of course its own, the Standing Buddha. Other than its size, the location and surroundings around this beautiful image of Buddha, like the views of the Gulf of Thailand and the beaches of Hua Hin make it even more attractive. It is surrounded by local markets and improvised restaurants that serve fresh fish and sea fruits. So do pay a visit to the Standing Budhha. It is only 10 minutes from Hua Hin downtown and most hotels or resorts. You will get great panoramic views of Hua Hin beach, and do not miss out on exploring the Fishermen Village.
Photo of Wat Khao Takiap Nong Kae Prachuap Khiri Khan Thailand by Carlos
So we keep on the move, testing new hotel during our stay in Bangkok. Since this new hotel came to me through my partner Rubin Singer, for the first time, I get to enjoy a hotel as a true guest, and wow this property is indeed to be enjoyed. The hotel's most dramatic and spectacular feature is the cantilevered infinity pool. Not really original as I've seen this before at the Marina Bay Sands Hotel in Singapore, but you have to give it to them, it is quite impressive, overlooking a part of Bangkok’s skyline. The outdoor pool, fitness center and spa area all located at the 25th floor. Not recommended for those scared of heights!
Photo of The Okura Prestige Bangkok Pathum Wan Bangkok Thailand by Carlos
Koh Hong Island is just stunning. I spent my full morning Snorkeling in Koh Hong Island, only 30 minutes away from Phulay Bay in Krabi. Literally a paradise on earth, and supposed to be one of the top ten beaches in the world. KOH in Thai means Island and HONG means room, therefore the Island of the Room. Access to the island is possible only by rented long tail boats, private yatchs or hotel transfers. You sail through a huge pool of fresh water coming from the Andaman Sea only during the High Tides. So shallow that if I would have jumped into the water I would have have half of my body out of the water. During the Low Tides, this is a valley of sand and beautiful surrounding nature, with direct access to the sea.
Photo of Ko Hong Nong Thale Krabi Thailand by Carlos
One of the many activities you can enjoy while being at Phranang Beach, other than laying down on the beach and drinking and eating is Kayaking the turquoise and clear waters of the Andaman Sea and the caves of the limestone formations all around the Phranang Bay. I spent over 2 hours paddling around, jumping into the water, and snorkeling. Most hotels on the shore offer Kayak rentals, and in my case the Rayavadee Resort, provide them complimentary as part of your Krabi experience. Hop on and off, explore the caves, jump into the waters of the Phranang Bay, do some snorkeling or just retrieve to small beaches of your choice to have your own private beach experience.
Photo of Ao Phra Nang Beach Ao Nang Thailand by Carlos
We also stayed at the Six Senses property, set on a gently sloping headland at the northern tip of Samui Island. Located just six kilometres from Samui Airport, the 20-acre, or around 9-hectare estate is a 45-minute flight south of the Thai capital, Bangkok. The resort is made up of just 66 private villas, many with personal pools, which are landscaped within natural vegetation, and with glorious, sweeping panoramas out to the Gulf of Thailand and the surrounding islands.
Photo of Six Senses Spa Ko Samui Ang Thong Surat Thani Thailand by Carlos
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