The heart of Thailand’s heritage and cultural trail, Chiang Rai is home to many of the country’s most breathtaking wats, including the White Temple. Its mountainous inland landscapes proffer atmospheric panormas, often encapsulated in mists during the early parts of the day. Part of the Golden Triangle, the area is found where the Ruak and Mekong rivers meet (be sure to look out for the many shrines and Buddha statues along the banks), home to many hill-tribe communities. Chiang Rai is also the best place to visit if you’d like to explore the remains of Thailand’s old Lanna Kingdom.
Le Meridien Chiang Rai Resort
Featuring classic architecture with a modern twist, this riverside property spread across five wings, is surrounded by century-old flora and fauna. Le Meridien’s culinary offer comprises a signature restaurant, Latest Recipe, and the riverside Italian Favola. There are multiple pools, a fitness centre, a library for some quiet time and the Parvati Spa for replenishing treatments to combat tired limbs after long days of exploring (bikes are available to borrow if you want to adventure on two wheels). Spacious bedrooms come with signature bedding, sitting areas and private balconies with epic views.
Four Seasons Tented Camp Golden Triangle
Would you like a bucket list-worthy hotel experience? Retreat to a luxury resort with a difference; this tented camp places you among jungle trails, bamboo forestry and wildlife such as rescue elephants, who roam past your handcrafted teak door. Expect ‘rooms’ with outdoor showers, wooden hot tubs and lamplit verandahs. Sample Thai, Laotian and Burmese cooking under a thatched roof restaurant, and tipples from the in-house wine cave. Take a Land Rover trip out to the heart of the jungle, before being served sundowners on the roof and tuck into a picnic feast (prepared just for you) by the riverside.
Anantara Golden Triangle Resort and Spa
Built into a hillside and surrounded by 160 acres of grasslands and forestry, the Anantara Golden Triangle Resort and Spa is another marvellous choice if you want to commune with the elephants, as it’s next door to a foundation caring for these gentle giants. Lanna culture runs clearly through the resort; from the architecture to the hospitality, Northern Thai cuisine, design in its 61 bedrooms and the spa treatments (which are carried out in a three-storey wellness temple). There are also tennis courts, an infinity pool overlooking the valley, yoga sessions and kickboxing lessons.