A Romantic Thailand TrioWords by Courtney Kellar
Every honeymoon should have a basic recipe for success: an exciting setting, amazing food and once-in-a-lifetime experiences. Thailand has this combination down pat. I recently visited (my first time to Asia!) and was hosted by two of Minor Hotels’ signature brands – Anantara and AVANI. My Thai travels took me to three distinct destinations – each of which would make a wonderful option for a honeymoon. Visit just one or any combination of the three and your travel taste buds will be left tingling.
This city is buzzing with intensity in all the right ways. Rather than feel overwhelmed, you’ll be energized by Bangkok’s feverish pace and world-famous street food scene. As soon as the sun sets, hit the bricks and head to Chinatown. The city’s street food vendors take over and alleyways that were previously packed with cars are now brimming with locals and tourists alike delighting in everything from Thai green curry and satay skewers to Yaowarat toasted milk buns. Bangkok has some of the most famous Michelin-rated street food vendors in the world, so be sure to do your research in advance, as opening times and locations can vary. To escape the heat, head to Teens of Thailand – a hipster bar with a gin and tonic that will knock your sweaty socks off.
Once you’ve successfully eaten your way into a food coma, head to Anantara Siam Bangkok Hotel, AVANI+ Riverside Bangkok Hotel or Anantara Riverside Bangkok Resort. The accommodations and service at each are stellar – it’s the locations and style that set them apart. The Anantara Bangkok Siam is located on the Golden Mile, near the Chatuchak Weekend Market (one of the largest open air markets in the world), the skytrain and upscale shopping. The Anantara Siam is swanky and known for its gilded silk mural that dominates the lobby. Both the AVANI+ Riverside and Anantara Riverside are located – you guessed it – by the Chao Phraya River and boast breathtaking views of the Bangkok skyline.
An hour’s flight south from Bangkok takes you to Koh Samui. The AVANI+ Samui is new to the scene and is a private escape set along the Gulf of Thailand. The beach leaves a bit to be desired, but the food and accommodations are outstanding. Be sure to book a pool villa for a private plunge whenever the urge strikes you. For a day trip, book a traditional Thai longtail boat and discover the island of Koh Matdsum for stunning sand and a charming shack serving up ice-cold cocktails.
Just an hour’s flight north of Bangkok, you can escape to the (slightly) cooler temps and jungle setting of Northern Thailand and the Golden Triangle. Chiang Rai is located in this region. In Southeast Asia, the Golden Triangle is where the borders of Laos, Myanmar and Thailand meet at the confluence of the Ruak and Mekong Rivers.
Anantara Golden Triangle Elephant Camp and Resort has a widespread reputation for excellence, so I checked-in with high expectations. From the moment you step into the open-air lobby, you know you’ve arrived somewhere special. Sip a signature welcome cocktail in the Elephant Bar…and just like that, you’re relaxed.
In case the misty jungle and winding rivers aren’t enough to capture your imagination, keep your eyes peeled for wildlife. As the name suggests, Anantara Golden Triangle Elephant Camp and Resort is home to 20-plus Asian rescue elephants. Upon checking into my spacious room, I got lost on my balcony. No, not literally, but spiritually. As I looked out over the hazy hills, I saw elephants swaying to-and-fro in the distance and a herd of Burmese water buffalo crossing the river from Myanmar. March and April is crop-burning season in Laos, so ideally you would avoid this time of year, as Chiang Rai can be super smoky. However, during my visit the smoke added to the mystique. Get up early and watch as a misty dawn rises pink from a blood-red sun.
Each night booked at Anantara Golden Triangle includes a complimentary activity like spa treatments, cooking classes or Muay Thai kickboxing lessons. The most popular options will bring you up-close-and-personal with the resort’s rescue elephants. I recommend the Walking with Giants experience, which allows you to follow in the footsteps of these gentle creatures as they go about their big business.
Your honeymoon symbolizes starting your married life together and should be a time of celebration. Experiencing this unique moment in time is made that much sweeter when doing it in a magical place like Thailand.
Photos courtesy of (in order of appearance): Avani Hotels & Resorts (1st, 2nd, 3rd & 4th) and Anantara Hotels, Resorts & Spas (5th, 6th, 7th & 8th)
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