Lanna Dusita by Andacura

Where

Lanna Dusita is located north of the city and only 15 minutes from the city center. Along the Ping River there are many cultural events throughout the year in the capital of Lanna former empire.

Getting comfortable commute Shopping Kad Luang (Warorot Market) Night Bazaar and Tha Pae Gate, all the needs and desires of those who stay in order to get the maximum satisfaction and tight seal in memory.

What

The view from the hotel ranks among the most beautiful spots facing the vast river bend. “Sai Ping” and “Ing Nam” Buildings are the accommodations in the hotel with Superior and Deluxe room settings, decorating in modern and contemporary Thai.

Ruen Fai Building showcases magnificent view of the green lawn leading to the blue infinity-edge swimming pool overlooking the Ping River while Ngam Bua Building is set besides lotus pond.

Lanna Dusita river view

Eat

The Wai Restaurant is the place to be for amazingly good and fair priced food in a spectacular Iocation right on the river. The place is popular for a romantic dinner along the river and reservations are highly recommended.

Play

The resort focuses on authentic Thai massage, natural beauty, herbal medicine and natural healing to ease your ache and pain during the stay while making sure you rejuvenated after the treatments.


Costa Well Resort Pattaya

A Santorini-inspired resort in a charming local fishing town of Bangsaray, Chonburi

Situated approximately 20 minutes from Pattaya Beach in a charming and peaceful fishing town of Bangsaray, Costa Well Resort Pattaya is located on Soi Na Jomtien 56 and only a few minutes’ walk from the beach.

The resort is surrounded by many tourist attractions including Cartoon Network Amazone Water Park, Nongnooch Botanical Garden, Silver Lake Vineyard, Ramayana Water Park, Phoenix Gold Golf and Country Club and Pattaya Floating Market.

It is approximately a 30-minute drive from U Tapao International Airport and two hours from Bangkok Suvarnabhumi International Airport.

A 110-Key Costa Well Resort Pattaya is spread into three buildings namely Thera Wing, Mykonos Wing and Santorini Wing. Thera Wing consists of 46 units in five categories, all with a private Jacuzzi on the balcony, including Deluxe Jacuzzi, Premier Jacuzzi, Deluxe Ocean View Jacuzzi, Two Bedroom Suite Jacuzzi and Two Bedroom Duplex Jacuzzi, as well as a salted swimming pool, a gym room and pool bar on the rooftop.

Cartoon Network Amazone Water Park

Mykonos Wing consists of 64 units in four categories including Superior, Deluxe, Grande Deluxe and Sky Terrace. The Mykonos Wing houses the main lobby, an all-day dining Fira Restaurant as well as a salted swimming pool and pool bar on the rooftop.

The Santorini Wing is located at the entrance of the resort and offers an event and meeting space. Santorini Meeting room can accommodate up to 100 guests and can be divided into two meeting rooms.

The rooftop has The Costa Tapas Terrace offering tapas menu, snack and drinks. It is a perfect place to relax and unwind after a long day with Bangsaray Beach and sunset as background. It has indoor and outdoor seating and this area can be used for small cocktail receptions in the evening.

Bangsaray Beach

The spa on the ground floor offers numerous massages and treatments using a natural product. The Santorini Wing is expected to open within March 2018.

Costa Well Resort Pattaya is inspired by the Santorini Island in Greece. It is a perfect seaside getaway for couples, families, and friends who enjoy a peaceful and beautiful charm of a quiet beach that has more locals than tourists.

Within walking distance, there are small local restaurants, cafes and coffee shop. The resort offers free Wifi, Tuk Tuk shuttle to a local market and Bangsaray Beach and bicycles on loan.


Bangkok-Chiang Mai: Thailand’s Railroad Less Traveled

Take the slow train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai and unlock ‘old Thailand’: a land of misty temples, golden Buddhas and epic history…

The setting was a Thai palace, its gables covered in glistening gold and mirrored glass, framed against a backdrop of night sky. Dancers moved to the tinkle and pluck of Eastern instruments, wearing long, spidery fingernail rings wrought in delicate shapes.

Their smiles were fixed under headdresses garlanded with orchids and amulets that twinkled in the light of the lanterns. I was transfixed. So much so that I forgot about the table of food that lay in front of me, all courtesy of my hosts, Ame and Dong.

Ame coughed loudly. “Try this one,” she said, enthusiastically thrusting a portion of steaming hot, chilli-red fish towards me. “Lan Na food. Lan Na music,” she said with a big, proud smile.

I was in Chiang Mai, the ‘capital’ of northern Thailand and once the centre of the powerful Lan Na kingdom. It was part of the country’s past that I had been curious to learn more about, and so had come up with an ingenious plan – all the while saving some cash in the process.

While most people fly the popular route between Bangkok and Chiang Mai or take a whistle-stop highlights tour, the map showed me another way: a railway that, for around the cost of a one-day London travelcard, slowly cut south-to-north through the centre of the country.

No beaches, beer bars or designer spas. Instead, I would peer into Thailand’s historical heart, and by taking it easy I hoped to learn a lot more about its local tribes and people along the way.

Here to Modernity

Bangkok was anything but slow. I left the airport on the sinuous Skytrain, gliding over five-lane highways, past village-sized shopping malls and on to the hotel district around Sukhumvit Road.

From the window of my room, the city twinkled all the way to the horizon, hoarding as big as tennis courts beaming out bright, back it Thai smiles while blinking helicopters hovered busily overhead.

The next morning brought a change of pace. Catching a whizzing tuk-tuk, my driver weaved and cut through traffic, passing temples and shrines squeezed between towers of glass and rows of food carts frying up pad Thai. In half an hour we were in Chinatown, where I joined a cycle tour that promised to show visitors the ‘real’ Bangkok.

Our convoy soon left the wide boulevards, wobbling slowly instead through armchair-wide alleyways dearly built before the dawn of the automobile. Cavernous shops were stacked high with rivets and engine parts, while busy stalls traded in garlands of marigolds.

We soon crossed the Chao Phraya river, a swirl of brown greened with floating water hyacinth and swollen with bus boats and rice barges, and drifted into the Thonburi distrust. I swerved past a group of laughing school children and onto a boardwalk that hugged the river, then we disappeared into backstreets shaded by tall teak shop-houses.

In a wooden, gabled temple, two women bowed before a golden Chinese goddess, and through windows I spied men playing mahjong with bottle caps under the glare of strip lights.

By the end, sweat was pouring off me, but thankfully the guide soon brought our convoy to a halt, offering much-needed water and a break.

“How do you like Thongburi?” she smiled. “This was where Bangkok and Thailand began, founded less than 250 years ago by a warrior called Taksin.”

It seemed barely any age at all for a city like Bangkok – let alone a country – but as my guided explained, before Taksim’s intervention, Thailand was a series of separate warring kingdoms. The most powerful was Siam, whose capital city Ayutthaya was sacked by the Burmese army in 1767.

Taksin, then a general, escaped south-east to Thonburi. It was here that he founded a new capital, from which he was able to drive out the Burmese, unite the kingdoms of Siam and Lan Na and found what we know today as Thailand.

We cycled onto see the remains of Taksin’s fort and palace, passing a small, modest wooden building lost amid a web of concrete streets and overshadowed by the towering stupa of the adjacent Wat Arun, known to all as the ‘Temple of Dawn’.

On the rails

The next day I set off on my rail journey to Ayutthaya, once the power centre of Siam. Shattered during the Burmese invasion, its ruins looked astonishingly peaceful lying on a floodplain by the Chao Phraya river, pinnacled with crumbling pagodas and shaded by bodhi and banyan trees.

The tendrils of one embraced a Buddha, leaving only its fare exposed in a filigree of roots. Pink lotus flowers bloomed in the canals while butterflies played in the warm air. It was hard to imagine the violence that encircled it in 1767, when the palace was stripped of its jewels and the 33rd Siamese king was murdered on its steps.

Back then, the consequences for its people were worse: an estimated 30,000 were transported to Burma as war captives; others were simply cut down where they stood, their bodies left scattered on the plain.

Back on the train and heading north, my next stop was the city of Phitsanulok, another former Siamese capital. At the station, my grinning guide found me easily -I was the only foreigner. Her name was Ancha and she promised that I’d arrived in a special place.

Our first stop was the Wat Phra Sri Rattana Mahathat temple, where mothers with their shopping giggled as I knelt earnestly before one of South-East Asia’s most beautiful and precious Buddhas. Gazing up, the statue glowed like the setting sun under the temple spotlights, and atop its head shone a lotus petal corona of lace-fine gilt metal.

We then drove north to the ruined city of Sukhothai, once Siam’s most powerful city until it was overtaken by the might of Ayutthaya. Ancha showed me stupas covered in fronds, flowers and effigies. Then, rising up before me, I saw a giant coated Buddha – as tall as a skyscraper – its hand shining thanks to decades of pilgrims pressing on devotional gold leaf.

Nearby, amid the trees, lay ancient kilns littered with 700-year-old fragments of celadon pottery, once exported as far as China.

Ancha took me further north to the ruins of Si Satchanalai, the `second city` of the Sukhothai powerhouse. For hours I wandered through vast jungle-covered ruins. Monkeys played in fig trees and brilliantly coloured tropical birds floated from the branches.

In villages, I saw men beating steel into swords using centuries old techniques, while women gathered in teak houses weaving fine threads of silk into colourful sinh skirts.

Wat Phra Sri Rattana Mahathat temple

The Other Kingdom

Back on the train the next morning, I found that I was sharing a cabin with a young couple on their way home to Chiang Mai. They introduced themselves politely as Ame and Dong, in perfect English.

Their fares were as pale as milk, with jet black hair, straight noses and high cheek bones. Tasked if they were Thai?

“That depends. Here in the north we prefer to think of ourselves as Lan Na,” explained Ame. “It’s the old name for northern Thailand.”

“An old kingdom like Siam?” I enquired. She nodded. But if Siam was England, she explained, then Lan Na would be Scotland – an historically restless neighbour with a long, proud history.

Dong was delighted to discover that I was English. “Did you know it was Buddhist magic that won the Premier League for Leicester City?” he asked, producing videos on his phone of the football club. He showed me monks blessing goalposts and its billionaire Thai owner draped in a dazzling string of amulets.

“Those amulets are blessed by saints,” said Ame. “Thai people believe they have the power to bring protection or good fortune – they cost millions of baht.”

I pondered where I might find my own set on the cheap and waved the couple goodbye at Lamphun – my final stop and a key city in Lan Na history. I lei the station to discover a pretty, provincial town wrapped around the Wang River and stapled with small bridges. It was reportedly founded byAsigs first Buddhist Queen, the semi-legendary Mon tribeswoman Catna Devi some 1,200 years ago, before tribes 110 led by Lan Na king Meng Rai conquered it in 1281 AD. He went on to found his capital in Chiang Mai.

These days, the area is better known for its timber. The hills around Lamphun are washed in dark green woods dripping with waterfalls. For centuries, elephants have worked these forests, lugging its precious teak. It was here I visited the Friends of the Asian Elephant hospital, where animals from the logging and tourist industries go to be treated.

Many had suffered wounds in their heads from the sharp metal spikes used by the mahouts. The hospital tries its best to educate owners as well as help the animals, and when I visited I witnessed one elephant learning to use a prosthetic limb moulded out of rigid plastic. It was impossible not to be heartened at the sight.

The following evening I finally reached Chiang Mai. Remnants of the ancient Lan Na city still remained: brick walls with gabled gates, stucco-encrusted stupas, lily-filled moats. Only now they rubbed shoulders with modish, modern Chiang Mai – a town of artists, students and emo fringes.

The next day I wandered the back alleys around Nimmanhemin Road and found funky coffee bars, chic boutiques stuffed with Thai home decor and silks, and an antique shop with shelves of glittering silver temple bowls and jewellery: the owner told me that Elizabeth Taylor once shopped here. It was then that Ame rang and invited me to dinner and a dazzling Lan Na show.

The Final Stretch

The railway doesn’t go beyond Chiang Mai. But Thailand does. I spent my final two days on a trek exploring the fringes of what was once the Lan Na kingdom. It was here in the mountains where South-East Asia began – when Mon and Shan tribes wandered across from Burma, Tibet and China thousands of years ago and discovered the fertile plains around the Chao Phraya and Mekong rivers.

Like those tribes, I walked the edge of a rushing mountain river, albeit with a guide. We passed a waterfall and climbed through a Shan village where locals in hand-woven sarongs and modern T-shirts waved to us.

In late afternoon we reached a village perched over a deep valley and, after dinner cooked on a charcoal stove, I sat with an old man who offered me a heavy tobacco-filled cheroot. He told me he was from the Karen tribe and that he arrived here in the 1940s as a teenager from Burma, fleeing Japan’s bombers and its `Death Railway`, the infamous Burma-Thailand railroad cut through the jungle by prisoners of war and Asian labourers – its construction cost more than 100,000 lives.

His family came later, he said, escaping the Burmese army, and today, a millennia after the Mon and Shan arrived, people continue to spill into the Lan Na region over the mountains. Thailand is still being born.

The next day we left early for Doi lnthanon, Thailand’s highest point. At tail climbed through woods that thickened into forest and hornbills drifted from the branches across valleys. There were no cars, no planes. Even the ruined cities of Sukhothai and Ayutthaya seemed an age away.

On its slopes, two stupas watched over oriental gardens perfumed by fragrant flowers. Below them rippled blue-green ridges, as the sun, a giant red ball, cast forth shafts of amber over the scene.

I soon realised I was looking south – back the way we had come. I stared out over the tribal hills, into Lan Na and across old Siam. I made the right choice not to take that highlights tour, I reflected. No bucket list can include acountry – its stories, its memories, its heart.

Vital Statistics

Capital: Bangkok
Population: 67,959,359
Languages: Thai, various tribaI dialects
Time: GMT-F7
International dialling code: +66
Visas: Not required by UK nationals for stays of up to 30 days
Money: Thai Baht (THB), currentlyTHB44 to the UK£. ATMs are found across the country; credit cards widely accepted.

Health & safety

Visit your local GP or travel health centre for advice on what jabs you might require. There is some risk of malaria and dengue fever so use plenty of anti-mosquito prophylaxis. The sun is strong so avoid excessive exposure. Always drink bottled water and ensure any ice is purified.

Further reading & information

A History of Thailand (Cambridge UP, 2005) by Pasuk Phongpaichit and Chris Baker — a useful primer on Thai history Thailand (Footprint, 2015) — handy guide tourismthailand.co.uk —tourism board dnp.go.th — Thai national parks services.

The Trip

The author travelled with Revealed Travel, who offer a bespoke trip including train travel from Bangkok to Chiang Mai, stopping atAyunhaya, Sukhothai, Lamphun and other cities on request.

Getting there

Thai Airways fly direct from London Heathrow to Bangkok and other Thai cities from £520 return, taking around 11 hours.

Getting around

The railway is run by the State Railway of Thailand, with timetables online in English. First-class fares from Bangkok to Chiang Mai cost from £13.20. Bookings can be made in advance at stations.

Accommodation

In Bangkok, opt for the plusher hotels along the Skytrain route, with online dealsma king them competitive. The Rembrandt (rembrandtbkk.com) is one of the best-value semi-luxury picks in the centrally-located Asok area; doubles from THB2,434 (£55).

Stays are more modest outside the big cities. Ayutthaya’s well-located Krungsri River Hotel has B&B. The Treasure has a decent spa, while Lamphun’s Will Hotel is only a stroll from the town’s fine temples.

In Chiang Mai, splash out at the Anantara for one of the best spas in the country, as well as river views and decent online rates.

Food and drink

Try spicy salads such as som tam, made with green papaya, glass noodles, prawns and lime juice, or a Lan Na dish like kamsoikai (chicken curry and noodles). Learn to cook these and more in a class at Thai Garden Farm Cookery School.


Siam Kempinski

Siam Kempinski, Bangkok – For Shopping

Attached to the enormous Siam Paragon shopping center and surrounded on all sides by street markets and mega-malls (try Central World for high-street fashion and MBK for gadgets), shoppers simply couldn’t be better placed.

And when you’re ready for a post-shop flop, you’ll find spacious rooms, all pearl whites, mossy green and soft bronze, with chocolatey marble bathrooms —the best have balconies overlooking tropical gardens or access straight into one of the many swimming pools. There’s also an impressive array of restaurants on site.


banyan tree bangkok

Banyan Tree, Bangkok – Best for Views

The Banyan Tree Bangkok celebrated its 20th birthday in 2016, but with its clutch of fabulous bars and restaurants, as well as a smart new refurbishment, it remains at the top of its game. The suite-sized rooms, each with its own living space and nimble bathroom, am perched between the 15th to 58th floors, meaning they come with spectacular views.

There’s also a rooftop pool, a gym and a cavernous spa. But it’s the 61st floor Vertigo restaurant and Moon Bar that will set pulses lacing. Knocking back a cocktail here as you gaze over Bangkok’s skyscrapers is a heart-stopping experience.


siam hotel bangkok

The Siam Hotel, Bangkok – Luxury Hideaway

Set in the upmarket neighborhood of Dusit, down water from Bangkok’s historic district, The Siam is a luxurious retreat frequented by Thailand’s high-society set. Doze off by the outdoor swimming pool, detangle at the Opium spa or pick up a permanent souvenir from the hotel’s Sak Yant tattoo studio.

the-room-mix-black-and-white-in-the-most-elegant-way

The rooms are mixed in black & white in the most elegant way

The rooms and suites have the air of a stylish country retreat; spacious, monochrome, with lofty ceilings, claw tubs and deco-inspired furniture. The river can be enjoyed from the hotel’s complimentary water limousine.


arun residence bangkok

Arun Residence, Bangkok – For Local Sights

If you were sleeping any closer to Wat Pho temple, you’d be a monk. Located just around the corner from Thailand’s most revered place of worship and the equally-spectacular Grand Palace, Arun Residence is where you want to be to beat the crowds.

The Grand Palace in Bangkok

The Grand Palace in Bangkok

Set on the banks of the Chao Phraya river in a beautifully restored 1920s shophouse, the Arun has just six head-to-toe teak rooms; three split-level deluxe rooms and three airy suites with private balconies from which you can stare across the water at Wat Arun.


dream hotel bangkok

Dream, Bangkok – For Singletons

The rooms at this hip, hidden-away hotel, in the backstreets of Sukhumvit, are comfortable, with floating beds (and 300-thread count Egyptian cotton sheets), blue therapy lights and free mini-bars stocked with beers, snacks and soft drinks.

Dream Nirvana Suite

Dream Nirvana Suite

The Dali-inspired restaurant is terrific fora night in and the Flava dance bar, with its pink porcelain leopards, is popular with expats and locals alike. Sealing the deal are free tuk-tuk rides to nearby attractions, an ultraviolet-lit rooftop pool and terrific little spa.


Shanghai Mansion

Shanghai Mansion, Bangkok – For Street Food

If you want to chow down on some of the best, most eclectic street food in Bangkok — sour/spicy soft-boiled cockles, crispy pork noodles, oyster omelettes — head for the joyfully chaotic streets of Chinatown. Located right on the main drag, Yaowarat Road, Shanghai Mansion taps into the neighborhood’s rich mixed heritage in extravagant style.

Shanghai Mansion-1

The lobby of Shanghai Mansion

In the atrium lobby there are Chinese lanterns, decadent velvet sofas and pretty wooden birdcages looped around a water garden filled with lotus flowers and goldfish. The colorful palette extends to the 76 rooms — all pinks, limes and purples, adorned with four-poster beds, balloon lanterns and jewel-colored silks. It’s all spick and span and gorgeous fun.


hotel muse bangkok

Hotel Muse, Bangkok – For Glam

This upmarket 174-bedroom address in Langsuan, near Chit Lom BTS station, may be housed in a sleek skyscraper but on the inside it’s a mad mash-up of Victoriana and Rama V-era art and objects.

Fabulous all the way, you’ll be able to find opera singers giving live performances in Medici restaurant, teeny-weeny bikinis by the teeny-weeny outdoor pool and Bangkok’s most beautiful girls and boys shaking their tail feathers around giant, gold cupolas on an Astroturf lawn at the rooftop speakeasy bar.

muse-hotel-has-a-fancy-bar-on-its-rooftoop-providing-great-view-of-bangkok

Muse Hotel has a fancy bar on its rooftop providing great view of Bangkok

If you want to camp it up even more then you can head out to the nearby Soi Twilight and the nightly 11.30pm synchronized swimming show at The Classic Boys Club go-go bar.