Destination Discovery: Thailand
Thailand is home to some of the world’s premier spas coupled with an iconic wellness heritage (this is the land where Thai massage originated, after all, and the practice is said to be passed down through generations from Buddha’s doctor). This country in southeast Asia should be a must-visit on your travel bucket list: From yoga sanctuaries in eco-chic bungalows to simple spas with rows of chairs and daybeds to five-star overnight destinations bordering the Andaman Sea, Thailand presents something for every wellness traveler.
Where to Sleep
It depends on your preference, not to mention where your Thai travels take you. Do you want quiet seclusion in Phuket? Amanpuri, Amanresorts’ flagship property, means “place of peace”; it sits in a coconut planation and offers access to both a private beach and the premiere Aman Spa. Seeking a different vibe in Phuket? Indigo Pearl and its Coqoon Spa Suite—complete with a private pool, steam room, Vichy shower, sauna, massage beds, and Jacuzzi-is a good choice (while you’re there, book a spa service in the treatment room dubbed “The Nest” for its tree house-type resemblance, structured amidst the branches of a banyan tree).
Spending one night in Bangkok? Try the hip Peninsula Bangkok, bordering the banks of the Chao Phraya, and take a dip in its three-tiered swimming pool. Families traveling together will love the kid- and adult-friendly PANVIMAN Spa Chiang Mai Resort (15 minutes from Chiang Mai, considered the “Pearl of the North,” it has a golf course, playground, and two-level saltwater pool), while adventure advocates will enjoy Four Seasons Tented Camp Golden Triangle Thailand. The three- and four-night jaunts at this northern Thailand property, south of Burma, merge jungle and mountain trekking via elephant with lavish tented accommodations.
Where to Spa
Thailand entices with its wondrous selection of spas—take your pick. Six Senses Spa Yao Noi paints a lovely picture: Reminiscent of classic Asian long houses, the spa’s wooden walkways lead you to a sauna, steam room, gym, and open-air treatment salas, the latter of which is where you partake in treatments using intoxicating ingredients like lemongrass and ginger from organic herbal gardens. Going beyond just pampering, the spiritual Kamalaya Koh Samui, Wellness Sanctuary & Holistic Spa, on a hillside near the southeastern shores of Koh Samui, offers a steam cavern, Buddhist monk’s cave, and spa with 70-plus treatments that include Ayurvedic and Traditional Chinese Medicine rituals; 12 customized wellness programs cater to a more specific need, such as detoxification and rejuvenation. Those seeking medical therapies and a more-extended stay should try the internationally famed Chiva-Som. Here, 150-plus Eastern- and Western-influenced beauty, medical, and wellness services are performed by a nearly 100-person staff of medical doctors, complementary health providers, nutritionists, fitness trainers, and estheticians.
And while it might sound cliché, you should schedule a Thai massage during your travels! (Here’s a fun fact: Teachings for Thai massage were carved into giant stone tablets at Bangkok’s Wat Pho temple for the benefit of warriors and monks. The instructions are still taught at Buddhist temples today.)
Where to Snack
Phuket’s Trisara resort hosts a Sunday Jazz Brunch, serving fresh seafood, tapas, and desserts, that’s popular with both property guests and locals.
Where to Sweat
Point Yamu by COMO, Phuket, recently opened but already has a strong presence. Poised on the tip of Cape Yamu, with views of the Andaman Sea and the historic limestone cliffs of Phang Nga Bay, this property spotlights a COMO Shambhala Retreat. The retreat continues the COMO Shambhala brand’s renowned holistic approach to health through yoga and other wellness therapies: Complimentary yoga classes happen daily, and top health practitioners from around the world visit regularly. If you’re looking for more thrilling escapes between child’s pose and warrior’s pose, COMO’s team is on hand to guide you through activities like biking through area villages and diving.
Muay Thai boxing is a countrywide pastime, as well—Bangkok packs a punch with its Lumpini Boxing Stadium and Ratchadamnoen Boxing Stadium; however, click here to find a Muay Thai boxing class closer to home.
What to See
Here’s a quick (very quick!) rundown of points of interest in Thailand, where attractions are far-reaching and empowering and the gentle spirit of the Thai people exudes. Bangkok attracts visitors for hotspots like historic Chinatown, the truly magnificent Grand Palace, and Wat Phra Kaew (where you can discover the beloved Emerald Buddha). A visit to Wat Pho, one of the oldest temples in the city, is a must for those interested in spa culture (the wat is recognized as the birthplace of traditional Thai massage); those uninterested in wellness will still enjoy the 150-foot-long reclining Buddha. Nature fans will want to comb Khao Sok National Park, where wildlife mingles with jungle foliage, and beach lovers should squeeze in a visit to Phuket’s Patong Beach. Chiang Mai is a good starting point for visiting jungle and hill-tribe villages; its night bazaar and ancient temples are also common with tourists.
Packing tips: Thailand’s tropical climate creates fairly warm temperatures year-round, fluctuating from 65° F to 100° F. Pack light clothes during the “hot” March-to-June season, but throw in a jacket during the “cooler” November-to-February period. Rainy season hits July through October so it’s best to bring an umbrella during this time. And remember to pack modest attire if you plan on visiting any of Thailand’s vast collection of temples, or wats.