Our Product Manager for Asia and Australasia, Sandra, shares her first-hand recommendations for things to do on your next luxury Thailand holiday with Elegant Resorts...
Thailand, or ‘the Land of Smiles’, is a country that captivated me the very first time I visited back in 1997. Filled with cultural monuments, bustling cities and delicious food, I have enjoyed an entirely different experience each of the six times that I’ve visited!
During a recent trip with Emily and David, two of the Luxury Travel Specialists on our Asia team, I was able to enjoy a range of activities and excursions that gave me a true taste of Thailand, while still staying in some of the country’s most luxurious hotels. From kayaking through Phang Nga Bay and a street food tour around Bangkok, to a Muay Thai boxing masterclass and meeting local Buddhist monks; this was a Thai adventure quite unlike any I’ve experienced before.
Tuk Tuk Street Food Tour
Thai cuisine has always been an absolute favourite of mine. In order to taste authentic Thai food, as well as seeing Bangkok, we took part in the aptly-named ‘Midnight Food Tour by Tuk Tuk’. Setting off after dark, we were whisked by our friendly guide through the bustling city past several of the most renowned landmarks – including the Grand Palace and Wat Pho Temple – which look strikingly different at night. Of course, Bangkok’s incredible street food (some of the best I’ve ever eaten) was the highlight. My favourite was Guay Tiew Kua Gai – wok-fried rice noodles with chicken and plenty of spice – which was enjoyed with a cold Thai beer. We were also able to go behind the scenes into the kitchen, to watch how this delicious dish is made.
An Authentic Cookery Class
Taking our Thai culinary experience one step further, we enjoyed a day at the Blue Elephant Cooking School in the heart of Bangkok, learning the art of Thai cuisine with an expert instructor. Way more than just a cookery demonstration, the day began with a trip to the bustling Bang Rak morning market. The colours and smells were incredible here, and we were led by our teacher to pick the produce and spices that were needed for our four-course Thai banquet. After a demonstration by the expert, we donned our personal Blue Elephant apron and set to work making a range of delicious dishes. These included sea bass topped with bird’s eye chilli and sweet basil, stir-fried squid with yellow curry (using our own homemade paste!), and hot and sour soup with prawns. After all our hard work, we tucked into our masterpieces which tasted amazing – even if I do say so myself! A well-deserved Blue Elephant certificate and a copy of the recipes to take home perfectly concluded the experience.
The Elephant Experience at the Four Seasons Tented Camp Golden Triangle
During our stay at the Four Seasons Tented Camp Golden Triangle, an amazing hotel in Chiang Rai, we were lucky enough to enjoy their truly unmissable Elephant Experience. These rescued animals enjoy happy, comfortable lives in their dedicated sanctuary, surrounded by lush jungle and the Ruak River. We set off for a walk (alongside – NOT on board!) two graceful female elephants named Bounma and Thong Kam, learning more about the fascinating creatures from the expert mahout, before helping to bathe them in the river. The elephants were left to splash around happily as we relaxed with drinks and fresh fruit. Seeing the sheer joy on the face of my colleague Emily was a real highlight, and this was an experience that none of the group will ever forget.
Trying Out Muay Thai
While at Six Senses Yao Noi, we took part in a traditional Muay Thai class with an experienced instructor. Muay Thai is the country’s national combat sport and dates back to the 18th century. Referred to as the Art of Eight Limbs, the sport uses eight points of contact (as opposed to four in many other combat sports). Great after all the delicious food I consumed on the trip, I channelled my inner warrior for one of the most tiring workouts I’ve ever done – but easily the most fun. The class was made even better with views of picturesque Phang Nga Bay. The post-workout Thai massage in the Six Senses Spa wasn’t half bad either!
Phang Nga Bay
Phang Nga Bay is genuinely one of the most beautiful places that I have ever been lucky enough to visit. Six Senses Yao Noi is backed by this marine National Park, offering great views of the famous limestone karts, turquoise water and mangrove forests. The resort offers a range of ways to see the stunning surroundings, though we chose to explore by kayak to get up close to the beauty and mystery of these natural wonders – the limestone karsts even appeared to change colour as we passed. Perfect for cooling off afterwards, we jumped into the crystal-clear waters.
The Peninsula Bangkok offers a range of brilliant excursions and activities that immerse guests in Thailand’s history and culture. Allowing us to learn more about Buddhism in Thailand, we took part in the historic morning ritual of Tak Vart in the hotel’s lovely gardens. This involves gifting food parcels to local monks who are not themselves allowed to buy or store food, due to disciplines set by Lord Buddha nearly 3,000 years ago. After removing our shoes according to the ritual, we placed our gifts (that are created by the hotel’s culinary team) into the grateful monks’ bowls, in return for a blessing for our sharing. In Buddhist belief, those that give to the monks are more likely to enjoy a healthy and happy life in their next incarnation.
To book your bespoke luxury holiday to Thailand, browse our carefully-selected portfolio online, or contact a Luxury Travel Specialist today on 01244 897 551. Our Concierge service can also arrange each of these incredible Thai activities for you to enjoy, as well as many more.