Chiang Mai was the centre of the Lanna kingdom, and with interiors fitted out in natural fabrics & teak, roofs made from 80-year-old teak beams, and intricate carvings, the design of this tranquil resort reflects the kingdom’s heritage.
Khum Phaya Resort & Spa is a 4-stars hotel with 85 exquisitely designed rooms & villas provide us the option of direct pool access or private plunge pool, and all come complete with Jacuzzi. Outside our private world, we sink into the lagoon-shaped pool surrounded by century-old trees and meandering canals, enjoy authentic cuisine and being pampered at Spa Cenvaree.
It’s one of Chiang Mai’s longest-established luxury 5-star hotel and one of its most beautiful, with ancient palace-like structures, a wonderful spa and 69 teak villas set among 60 acres of fragrant, flower-filled gardens on the outskirts of the city.
Hemmed in by rice paddies and hidden behind high white walls on the eastern outskirts of Chiang Mai, the Dhara Dhevi’s dreamy location is designed for cosseting. And although we may have this feeling of being stashed away in the middle of nowhere, the airport is only 20 minutes away by car, while the city centre can be reached in 15 minutes via the hotel’s complimentary shuttle bus.
With its gilded spires, ornately-carved pagodas and glittering mosaic walls, the Dhara Dhevi looks like it’s been torn straight from the pages of a fairytale. Across the expansive grounds, stone paths lead through gardens hung with cotton puffs, purple orchids and pink cannonball flowers, wooden bridges veer across moats and rice paddies, lotus ponds twinkling in the sunset. Interiors are adorned in rich jewel-like colours, with hand-crafted furniture and traditional South East Asian art scattered around.
The Dheva Spa, its architecture echoing Myanmar’s Mandalay Palace, is a real highlight, with 18 lavish treatment rooms, highly experienced therapists and extensive range of both traditional and holistic treatments. The silk-clad staffs are courteous and professional.
The Blue Temple is known in Thai as “Wat Rong Suea Ten”, or “Temple of the Dancing Tiger”. Another ancient temple once stood here, and tigers are said to have roamed freely over the grounds when it was abandoned nearly a century ago. The Blue Temple as it exists today is brand new by comparison. The local village decided to rebuild the temple in 1996 and began the project in 2005. Construction was officially completed in 2016, but The Blue Temple is still considered a work in progress.
The stairs to the main entrance are guarded by naga serpents, whose tails ripple with detailed scales and twist and whirl around in entrancing elegance. The temple windows are protected by an angelic figure, posing proudly on a pedestal with feathered wings spread wide, a staff grasped behind its back. Brightly colored Yakshas, or female nature spirits, wait nearby to keep the temple safe from evil. Just behind the temple, a Buddha statue stands in an abaya-mudra pose, emitting an air of calmness and inviting visitors to relinquish fear and anxiety.
Inside, the Blue Temple is a kaleidoscope of colour and patterns, with elaborate and unbelievably intricate paintings completely covering every surface. Like most Thai temples, the walls depict stories of the life of the Buddha, but these have been painted in a particularly modern style. Much of this art is mounted in ornate gold frames which fit tastefully with the rest of the theme. Even the ceiling is spectacular, embellished with patterns so extraordinary they are almost psychedelic.
The centerpiece of the space is a seated Buddha statue, made of shiny white porcelain that looks eerie and blue in the reflection of the room. Powerfully framed by columns, he sits with one hand pointed to the ground, a representation of the moment he achieved enlightenment.
We were blown away with the breathtaking architecture and design of the White Temple that was created by the Thai artist Ajarn Chalermchai Kositpipat. Born in Chiang Rai, the same city where the temple was built, Chalermchai Kositpipat has dedicated his life to the restoration and improvement of White Temple, known locally as Wat Rong Khun.
We didn’t notice it on first glance, but the White Temple has more than one roof. Inspired by the traditional design of Buddhist temples in Thailand, the building has a three-tiered roof. It is decorated with unusually intricate Naga serpents and makes for an incredible sight from afar.
In addition to the pure white color choice, much of the structural choices, mythical creatures, and positions of the White Temple’s guardians and deities depict a religious or symbolic meaning. The common theme of this Buddhist temple is of escaping greed and desire and moving towards enlightenment through Buddha’s teachings.
As one of the most unique and somewhat bizarre destinations in Southeast Asia, the White Temple in Chiang Rai province is definitely a place we didn’t want to miss on our trip to Thailand!
Elephant Sanctuaries in Phuket have rapidly become very popular as the attitude towards animal-based attractions changes. The emphasis at these camps is on ethical, animal-friendly interaction with these majestic creatures, many of whom have been rescued or retired from the local logging and elephant trekking industries. The welfare of the residents is often the first priority of such places. We learn far more about the gentle giants than we would from a short ride on their back, and both us and the elephants are far more likely to have a fun time together.
Tiger Kingdom Phuket is a once in a lifetime experience where we get to meet, play, and have our photo taken with tigers! Watch the tigers as we kick back with some food and drink from top-quality restaurant. We sure had a very memorable experience!