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Must see locations, events and places to travel and enjoy in Thailand.
Must see locations, events and places to travel and enjoy in Thailand.
Spectacular beaches, idyllic resorts, vibrant cities, diverse culture, delicious cuisine and the very warmest of welcomes: live the Thai life on honeymoon.
The flowers are ordered, the guest list is agreed, the menu is set; you’ve even written your vows. All that is left is the honeymoon: that heavenly ‘alone time’ when at last it’s just the two of you. It has to be perfect. But one of you wants five-star pampering in a private pool villa; the other wants some off-the-beaten-track adventure. One of you wants to experience a truly different culture; the other wants to be sure of five-star cuisine night after night. Where to head for a harmonious start to your married life? Top spot: Thailand.
Thailand’s glorious swathes of golden sands draped in palm trees have merited an almost iconic status, gracing magazines around the globe. On the mainland, world-famous resorts include fashionable Hua Hin. Eastwards, the warm waters of the Gulf of Thailand lap at the tranquil shores of Koh Samui, Koh Phangan and Koh Tao (ideal for a summer honeymoon); to the west, Phuket, Krabi, Koh Phi Phi (of The Beach fame) and the dreamy Similans (all perfect following a winter wedding) dot the Andaman Sea.
Aside from its glorious beaches, Thailand’s unequivocal allure lies in its diversity: coastal beauty combining with rich culture to create a plethora of honeymoon possibilities. Phuket’s bustling ‘old town’ alone is home to traditional markets, ornate temples and golden Buddhas. From Phuket, traditional longtail boats or ferries carry you off to explore nearby islands: Koh Lanta’s eclectic shops, colourful sea gypsy villages and National Marine Park; Phi Phi’s beach parties, charismatic macaques and 50-metre snorkelling visibility the evocative limestone outcrops and caves of myriad smaller islands; or Khao Sok National Park for a night in a luxury tented lodge at Elephant Hills, with its eponymous residents nearby.
Alternatively, the easterly island of Samui is home to everything from charming fishing villages to bustling beach bars, vast Buddha statues to Secret Buddha Gardens, while Angthong National Marine Park offers a true tropical island escape. Venture north from here and you can enjoy the sleepier Koh Phangan (sleepier, that is, except for the monthly full-moon parties) – or, for the ultimate getaway, the even sleepier Koh Tao boasts some of the finest diving in the world.
The true draw of Thailand, however, is the ease with which you can fly (direct, by the way) and flop, recover from your wedding celebrations – and then explore the rest of the country with a network of direct internal flights enabling a multi-stop experience. At the heart of the action is the bustling capital, Bangkok, a modern cityscape intersected by quiet canal side communities and dotted with the iconic temples of Wat Arun, Wat Pho and the Emerald Buddha Temple (Wat Phra Kaew). From the capital, history and nature lovers can travel out to Kanchanaburi (under two hours away), famed for the story.
Alternatively, in northern Thailand, the charming cities of Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai offer their own regional culture, night markets and ‘old city’ life. And for those wanting to explore truly off the beaten track, the surrounding countryside beckons with rolling fields, jungle-clad hills and traditional hillside villages. After which, what better than to head back to your boutique resort for another heavenly Thai massage.
Turquoise is a family-run company at the forefront of luxury travel, whose focus on those special touches and unique experiences ensures the ultimate honeymoon. With an inside knowledge of every destination featured, its team of specialists can personally recommend itineraries and hotels – from luxury boutique to international brand – to create an unique honeymoon to suit every individual style and budget.
Turquoise Holidays also offers a complimentary Gift List Service, run by a full-time team, blending a traditional gift list with travel tailored to your honeymoon.
When arriving at the Landmark Hotel, guests immediately realize how it got its name. The location is pristine, and this beautiful, tall building that stands out in the heart of Bangkok, which is saying something as the city is ripe with magnificent buildings.
The lobby’s cathedral ceiling and marble floors give the impression of a luxurious Las Vegas hotel, lavish and lush. The receptionist greeted us and took us to the 31st floor, all the way to the top, where we met with the hotel’s management. After giving us in depth details about our stay at the Landmark and all the generous complimentary perks that came along with it, we headed back down to the 24th floor to see our room.
Although the Landmark was built almost 30 years ago, most of the rooms have been recently renovated and our room was simply gorgeous, from the enormous king size bed to the modernized bathroom, every detail in the room was carefully chosen for comfort and style.
Every morning, we would receive an English copy of the local Newspaper outside our door before heading to the breakfast buffet.
The buffet’s variety was broad to say the least. If you wanted Western, Chinese, Thai or even European choices, it was all there. The buffet chefs offer to make a fresh omelette with ingredients of your choice, as well as pancakes and waffles made on the spot, delicious! Fresh fruits, cold cuts and cheese are also at your disposal. We would enjoy our daily iced coffee while reading that newspaper.
Further into the day, you might feel the need for some quiet time by the pool located on the 9th floor. Its privacy makes you almost forget that you’re in the heart of the country’s capital. After cooling off in the pool, make sure to visit the sundeck, located a stairway away. A small bar on the sundeck serves refreshments throughout the day while you enjoy the lounging in the sun. The fitness room is modern and can help you feel less guilty about all those pastries you’ve been having at the breakfast buffet.
At night, we would eagerly visit the 31st floor where you can relish a view of the city from up on high, while enjoying complimentary drinks and snacks.
The evening buffet is very diverse and was simply delicious. We were also given a wonderful token of appreciation, rebates on the hotel’s steakhouse, bar and spa. Chocolates and the teddy bears that represent the Landmark’s mascot were left on in our room, simply a kind-hearted gesture.
The staff was supportive, knowledgeable and positive from start to finish, from helping us find local restaurants and directions for entertainment, all the way to securing our luggage while we waited for our transportation.
We got to meet the director of marketing communications who insured that our stay had met our expectations. It obviously had, as we would definitely recommend The Landmark and visit again in the future!
The heat of the sun as we landed would be a preview of the warmth we would get from the staff at the Tongsai Bay Resort. Comfort and pleasure is the name of the game, and upon arrival at the Koh Samui airport, a staff member was there to welcome us and chauffeur us to the resort.
The receptionist gave us a tour of the hotel and its amenities along with a map to find our way. We were informed that we would be offered an upgrade to a seafront pool villa!
The hotel offers to all their guests a complimentary escort (golf cart) from the lobby to their rooms or from their rooms to wherever they wish to go within the resort. It may seem silly, but it is quite appreciated in the heat, especially considering the resort’s size.
Our seafront villa was simply stunning! Nice cold towels infused with a lovely fragrance and a refreshing herbal iced tea awaited us. Stepping into the room, you will immediately notice the very large balcony, which includes a private pool facing the sea. Alongside the swimming area, two sun loungers invite guests to sunbathe with a view.
If you are trying to avoid the sun, the balcony also has a shaded resting area containing a 4 poster bed with mosquito screens, a bath tub, dining table and a large pantry which includes a bar with sink and a fridge. As for the room itself, it is divided in two, where the bedroom and TV room both offer seafront views.
Headed to the quintessential island getaway destination of Phuket? Centara Hotels & Resorts offers a diverse range of accommodations to fulfil your every holiday need, whether your agenda includes romance, adventure, or both
Best for the extended family – CENTARA GRAND WEST SANDS RESORT & VILLAS PHUKET
Generously-sized living and playing areas make the spacious Centara Grand West Sands Resort & Villas Phuket the perfect destination for indulging in some great family fun in the sun. A dedicated children’s water play area, two kids’ clubs, a multitude of swimming pools, and an endless list of leisure activities promise limitless entertainment for the little ones, while older guests who remain young at heart will love the adrenaline-pumping thrills and spills at the Splash Jungle water park. Barely 15-minutes’ drive from Phuket International Airport, and with an extensive range of family-friendly residences and suites, the resort is an ideal destination for adventurous holidays with the extended family and friends.
Best home away from home – CENTARA KARON RESORT PHUKET
Backed by green hills and comprised of four residential zones, Centara Karon Resort Phuket provides an air of quietness and privacy that would make the perfect base for exploring the rest of Phuket and Karon Town. Karon Beach itself has excellent snorkelling spots at its southern end and is wide enough for beachgoers to never feel crowded. Couples and small families will enjoy The Terraces’ residential options, while larger families and groups of friends are spoilt with the spacious The Lagoon studios just steps away from the waterslide and pool. More private accommodations are also available with generous one- and two-bedroom Cabanas with spacious garden terrace and plunge pool.
Best for romance – CENTARA VILLAS PHUKET
Found in a tropical oasis, where the lush jungle meets the serene sea, Centara Villas Phuket is a romantic hideaway of private Thai-style villas nestled within a haven of green, perched atop a dramatic incline for sweeping views of Karon Beach and the sea. Relax, rejuvenate, and find the inner tranquility that only nature can bring. Candle-lit dinner and drinks at The Cliff Restaurant and a refreshing Thai-style lunch at The Bayview Restaurant & Bar offering dramatic views of the glittering Andaman Sea.
Situated on the south-western tip of the idyllic Thai island, the beautiful 25-acre luxury resort is built into a dramatic hillside, framed by azure reefs of Aow Thai Beach below, and the beautiful cerulean sky above. 81 free-standing pool villas, all with private balconies will offer you breathtaking views of white sandy beaches, crystal-clear waters and heliconia-red sunsets.
Look inside, and you will be enveloped in luxury and comfort that is overwhelming. Each villa has tropical hardwood floor and is elegantly decorated with Thai artwork, silk and local stone features. Amenities include LCD flat screens, high-speed internet connections, floor-to-ceiling windows and bathrooms with oversized bathtubs and glass-walled rain showers. The finest of them all, the Conrad Royal Oceanview Pool Villa, has a 22.5m infinity pool, a luxe living room and lawn, a king-sized master bedroom with an ensuite bathroom featuring spa-quality amenities, a dining table and fully-equipped kitchen. Plus, there’s a 24-hour butler service, private chef and grocery shopping service available on request – giving you very little reason to leave.
Unless it’s to indulge in the amazing choice of culinary delights. The Cellar, perched on top of the resort offers private dining and interactive wine sessions, while Jahn is known for its contemporary Thai cuisine. For those craving something different, the Mediterranean-inspired Zest – an all-day dining option with a unique ‘Food Library’ – promises to satisfy. For an open-air feast, drop into Azure Bar & Grill, or for cocktails and beautiful sunsets, check into the Lobby bar. The resort also arranges destination dining excursions for unique experiences.
Or if it’s to pamper yourself with one of the best spa experiences of your life. Focusing on personal attention and sensory engagement, the treatments here unite contemporary luxury with ancient healing traditions to enhance the well-being of your body, mind and soul. The Conrad also houses an on-site diving and sailing booking centre for those who want to go on a nautical adventure, a fitness centre with Tai Chi and Thai boxing classes, a Kid’s club and two retain shops.
If all this wasn’t enough, the resort even has its own concierge app for personal luxury at your fingertips. Download the complimentary app and customize the details of your stay before and during your visit. Here you will find luxury, beauty, bliss – which will make you think, you haven’t truly lived, until now.
A favourite tourist destination it certainly is, but Thailand has gone all out to make every girl book a ticket to the country – to partake in some merry-making and women-centric celebrations in honour of the 84th birthday of their queen.
If Thailand had a theme song for the month of August, it would probably be the 1980s Cyndi Lauper hit, Girls Just Wanna Have Fun. And with good reason. Come August, and you can expect a gaggle of girl gangs descending on Thailand. On the occasion of their queen’s 84th birthday, the country is extending its celebrations to all women – and providing unmissable opportunities to make the most of the festivities.
1. PARTY ALL NIGHT – If attending the most definitive parties in Thailand is on the short list of things to do, then you have your pick of locations: Koh Phangan for its world-famous full-moon party is a definite must, or there’s always club-hopping in Bangkok to look forward to.
Small, stylish hotels have been quietly springing up around Bangkok for a few years now, especially near the Chao Phraya River. Some are in heritage buildings, while others are purpose-built. Many aren’t five-star (or even four-star for that matter), but visitors seeking somewhere more intriguing than brand-name hotels, these nostalgic boutiques are romantic, unforgettable and fun. To get started, here are some of the best.
THE ASADANG & THE BHUTHORN
These intimate bed-and-breakfast guesthouses occupy century-old shophouses on different streets in Bangkok’s original Occidental business district. Both are therefore subject to strict conservation guidelines and have been refurbished to period authenticity – with the addition of mod cons such as air conditioning, Wi-Fi, television and modem plumbing. Each of The Asadang’s nine guest rooms is decorated with antique, vernacular furniture and Thai fabrics. The Sino-Thai ambience of its dining/sitting room and the heritage architecture throughout are delightful. With an eagle-claw tub in your bathroom, plus the guesthouses’ location – adjacent to two khlongs (canals) – you’re immersed in old-time Bangkok, so to speak. The smaller property, The Bhuthom, offers three guest rooms in the heritage-listed Phraeng Bhuthom enclave, and while far less spacious is equally authentic. Western and Thai breakfast options at both places are delicious; however service standards still have a way to go to match the competition. Be sure to try the po-tong-go donuts and sticky rice balk if they’re on the menu,
The Cabochon Hotel located in the Walpole Building, is tucked away discretely at the end of Sukhumvit’s Soi 45. oblivious to the restless boulevard beyond. Designed by Taiwan’s Eugene Yeh, the Cabochon has four suites and four studios, all of which – along with its restaurant bar and library – tip their Panama hats and fascinators towards wicked, between-wars Shanghai. The decor is an exercise in smart postcolonial sampling, sans kitsch: wickerwork, teak flooring retro light-switches and antique bedsteads, with the addition of free Wi-Fi and other mod cons. Dine in the Thai Lao Yeh restaurant where the food is as authentically local as the bentwood chairs, tiffin holders and abacuses, or enjoy a nightcap in the intimate Joy Luck Club’s library lounge bar.
LOY LA LONG HOTEL
A night at the two-storey Loy La Long Hotel, perched beside the River of Kings, really brings the Leonard Cohen lyrics: “You can hear the boats go by. You can spend the night beside her,” to life. Barges, ferries and long-tail boats, plus water hyacinths and a classic Chinese pagoda are right at your window in this century-old, wooden hideaway. Each of the six unique guest rooms are creatively decorated in retrofunk-steampunk – a style that defies description. Loy La Long (which means “let it be, let it go, let it flow”) has a small cafe and bar plus sunny river-view decks where you can snooze, dine and allow your mind to drift downstream. Situated in the grounds of a riverside Buddhist monastery, Loy La Long also has romantic credentials as the setting of a memorable love scene in the 2009 chick flick, Bangkok Traffic Love Story.
Phuket is known as the Pearl of the Andaman Sea and the “playground of the rich” for its gorgeous beaches and resorts to match. In the rush to cash in on the tourist boom, much of the island’s innocence and personality was lost, and visitors now look to the resorts for signs of its former character.
At Amanpuri, they need look no further. The firstborn of the Aman hotels and still considered to be the most special, it’s the premier vacation spot on the island, with secluded pavilion-suites that spill down a coconut-palmed hillside on a promontory overlooking beautiful Pansea Beach. The decor is one of ethnoluxe simplicity and Zen-like aesthetics: what appears to be a series of Thai temples are forty open-sided teak guest pavilions with many-curved roofs, intricate gables, and vaulted ceilings. Inspired by Thai Buddhism, these centers of calm create an atmosphere many Western visitors at first find unsettling, but ultimately irresistible. Solitude is the special quality Amanpuri has to offer, and it is by blissful design.
Elsewhere on the island, the Banyan Tree is Southeast Asia’s first and largest spa resort, offering an aromatic, hedonistic, near-religious experience that promises to salve your mind, body, and soul using the ancient methods of the East. No sunrise hikes or aerobics before breakfast here. This is about handing over your jet-lagged body for indulgent spa treatments whose names alone soothe and assuage: oasis of harmony, voyage of bliss, dream elixir. The Lomi Lomi massage promises to leave you “with fond memories”; manicures and pedicures are described as “royal”; and other treatments “polish” and “anoint” your body.
The one-day program is called Vision of Serenity – and that is just what guests look like when they have finished with the massaging, body wraps, and pampering and wander back to their house-size beachfront villas.
After five minutes in Bangkok’s snarled, snail-paced, fume-belching traffic, you’ll be more than ready to escape to Mae Hong Son, up in the hills 595 miles to the northwest. Increased tourism has left precious few Thai towns that can claim to be unspoiled, free of Western impact, but Mae Hong Son, a lovely town on the border with Myanmar (Burma) that the Thai call the City of Mist, fits the bill better than most.
Situated in a province that’s more rugged jungle than typical rice paddy, it was founded as an elephant training camp in the 1830s and remained cut off from the world until the late 1960s, when a paved road was built from Chiang Mai, 160 miles away.
Local guides can send you rafting down the gentle Pai River, bush trekking atop your very own pachyderm, or hiking to tribal villages in the hills. The only real excitement in town is the early morning market, when the hill-tribe women come down to buy and barter with the locals.
Things have calmed down again by breakfast time, and the swirling mists that give the town its name lift by late afternoon. Motorbike to the top of Doi Kong Mu hill and the 19th-century Wat Phra That temple for a spectacular view of the Pai Valley and the surrounding mountains.
James Bond fans might recall Phangnga Bay as the spectacular island setting for The Man with the Golden Gun, much of which was filmed on Koh Phing Kan, and which Westerners have ever since referred to as James Bond Island. Cinematic fame aside, this spectacular profusion of sheer limestone mountain peaks rising from the Andaman Sea’s pistachio-green waters is one of the world’s most beautiful natural phenomena.
Located just off the southern Thai coast, near Krabi, the bay’s sharp outcroppings reach up 1,000 feet, many covered by dense mounds of jungle and some shaped like animals (Koh Ma Chu, or Little Dog Island) or other familiar objects (Koh Khai, or Egg Island). On a gray day, these islands, with their tiny lagoons and mangrove swamps, have the mystical aura of Chinese watercolors. Many of the humped and jagged islets are riddled with caves and caverns embellished with stalactites and stalagmites. Idyllic beaches and fishing villages built on stilts can be explored by sea canoe or long-tailed boats.
Accessible only by boat through the bay’s towering karst outcroppings, the Rayavadee Premier Resort is nestled within a tropical rain forest on Cape Phra Nang, populated by wild monkeys and exotic bird life. It’s one of the world’s most unusual hotel locations. The resort was built on a shady coconut plantation, which was left virtually undisturbed during the eco-sensitive construction of 100 hexagonal two-story pavilions.
No less than three beaches, lapped by the Andaman Sea, surround the property, and are its uncontestable highlight. One of them, the powder-white Phra Nang beach, has been declared by cognoscenti to be one of the most beautiful in the world, and certainly one of the nicest in Asia.