Thailand & Cambodia

Thailand & Cambodia

When I was looking to book this trip, I was lucky enough to start with a blank canvas – including the airline to fly with.  I was delighted I chose Etihad as their new A380 really takes some beating on comfort and quality.  Ok so I had a couple of hours to kill in Abu Dhabi, but it seemed to break up the journey perfectly.  And landing in Bangkok automatically provides a feast for the senses and stepping outside to the heat and humidity is a shock to the British senses in October.  But amazingly, it really doesn’t take long before you are acclimatised and with a smile on my face, I headed towards the Chao Phraya river and the Anantara and Avani Riverside hotels as the first stop on my whistle stop tour of Thailand and Cambodia.

The Avani opened only a year ago with 249 rooms and its modern style towers behind the low-level resort style of the Anantara Riverside.  I was lucky enough to be given a stunning river view room at the Anantara (413 rooms total) where I could gaze out and watch the buzzing river life and get a real sense of the destination.  Something that Anantara pride themselves on and they didn’t let me down on any stop during this tour.

I went up to see the amazing and flexible meeting space at the Avani with floor to ceiling windows to showcase those incredible city skyline views.  And wow what a stunning infinity edge pool with cool vibes playing at the adjacent cocktail bar.

Dinner on one of the Anantara owned river barges was the next treat to my senses – this time to my taste buds.  Those fragrant spices helped me kick the jetlag in one fell swoop and boy did I sleep well that night.

Day 2 took me to the heart of the city and to Anantara Siam.  This elegant flagship hotel with 354 rooms was home to the old Four Seasons hotel and you very much get a sense of Thai elegance here.  The hotel has had a huge refurbishment and the service scores have only increased since it was rebranded just 3 years ago. Perfectly located for shopping at Central World and a minute from the BTS station, you really can’t beat the location and service at this hotel.

Day 3 took me on a short hour-long flight to another world – to northern Thailand and Chiang Rai or more exactly The Golden Triangle and the exotic border tripoint of Thailand, Laos and Myanmar.  It was amazing that arriving after the 45 minute transfer, I could feel my shoulders drop and a sense of peace wash over me.  I know it wasn’t organised JUST for me, but a rain shower had just cleared, and a rainbow appeared as I looked over the hilly landscape.

The Anantara Golden Triangle Resort is a small 77 room hotel built on a ridge overlooking hills and the convergence of the Ruak and Mekong Rivers.  It manages very cleverly to combine luxury with a reach out to the natural world and the jungles that surround.

The beauty of a stay here is that the hotel is exemplary at providing local experiences so that you soak up everything on the doorstep.  A visit over the border to Myanmar & Laos to local markets trying a different variety of foods.  A stop at a working monastery with young monks in residence.  A trip on a long-tail boat along the Mekong taking in the serenity of the river.  Thai cookery class focusing on northern Thai cuisine incorporating a visit to a local fresh produce market early in the morning to buy ingredients.  A Thai boxing class taken in the open, so you sweat during the ultimate work out!  Such a choice…

And of course, the elephants…the Golden Triangle Asian Elephant Foundation is based at the Anantara and they offer guests inspirational encounters with these gentle giants and their mahout families.  An unforgettable and humbling experience.

I am now the spa queen having tried all of the spas in each of the resorts I stayed.  Nothing beats a relaxing Thai massage!

Stay tuned for my next stop in Siem Reap, Cambodia and my personal blessing by a monk!


Charla Forinton

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