Yonder’s Thailand is like an unpredictable old friend. Ever reliable, full of surprises and fascinating to catch up with. A luxury Thailand holiday with Yonder is about so much more than a tropical paradise. Thailand a country with spectacular culture, a long and distinguished history of independence and monarchy.
It’s also home to one of the world’s oldest rainforests, the legendary golden triangle where the mighty Mekong River runs wild, and some of the most beautiful beaches imaginable.
Of course, it would be a mistake to suggest that some parts of Thailand have not suffered from the explosion of mass tourism there.
But for Yonder, it is still a country that richly rewards those prepared to venture along the road less travelled. The country is home to a dazzling array of hotels. The secret is knowing which Thailand luxury hotels to choose.
At heart, we at Yonder still have an affinity with those 1970s hippies who pioneered many of Thailand’s most idyllic destinations. Secretly, there’s a part of us that would still like to wear a beard and some beads and dwell in a beach shack beside an untrodden crescent of exquisite palm-fringed sand.
But of course as we have matured and become more sophisticated (that’s what you love about us, after all!), so have our tastes. And because we know this country better than most, having travelled its diverse regions for decades, we will transport you to a Thailand that still retains the fresh, unspoiled wonder of those early backpacker days – but with lashings of sophisticated refinements on the side.
With Yonder, you won’t risk falling foul of the awful mediocrity that is rife in so many mass tourism destinations. Instead, on your luxury Thailand travels, you will discover the dazzling tropical tranquility that first drew those happy hippies back in the 1970s, coupled with an elegant and dedicated approach to life’s refined pleasures that still makes Thailand special.
If you only do three things in Thailand…
- Lower yourself onto a longtail boat on the Chao Phraya river in Bangkok and go exploring in the klongs (canals) that run off the sides of the river. It’s a different world.
- Venture out onto the lake at Khao Sok to be awed by the sheer limestone cliffs that plunge into the water and the haunting song of the gibbons.
- Collapse into a beanbag on a legendary beach in Koh Phangan and soak up the laid-back tropical island atmosphere. It’s like a scene from The Beach.
And of course we are not only taking about beaches, glorious though some of them undoubtedly are. Bangkok is a frenetic capital that has a distinctive vibe and is home to some of Thailand’s greatest cultural treasures. As part of your Thailand luxury holiday with Yondr, perhaps jump on a plane and go north to reach the stunning hill country that characterises the Golden Triangle, where Laos, Myanmar and Thailand meet at the confluence of the Ruak and Mekong rivers. The little city of Chiang Rai, with its relaxed atmosphere, good-value accommodation and great local food, is pure Yonder territory.
And turning south again we head to Surat Thani province, where a number of Yonders’ greatest gems can be found. The jaw-dropping Khao Sok rainforest, the oldest parts dating back 160 million years, has only recently made it onto the tourist trail but remains largely untrammelled. Listen to the song of the gibbons as your relax afloat upon a vast lake within the national park.
A couple of hours drive further south, and you’ll reach the all but unknown beaches of Khanom with their A-list residents, the endangered pink dolphins.
To the east, is the Yonder string of Thailand luxury travel pearls: The islands of Koh Samui, Koh Phangan and Koh Tao. Whilst parts of Samui have now been sullied by commercialisation, it is also the setting for some of the most superlative luxury designer hotels we have ever enjoyed, while Koh Phangan and Koh Tao still retain the castaway credentials that make them paradise Thailand holiday islands.
Thoughts on a postcard
The people always smile, the food is sublime and the diversity is astounding. We’ve stayed cocooned within an envelope of perfection, our blissful days of Thailand luxury travel a continuum of exploration, relaxation and unashamed hedonism.
Thailand Holidays : OUR FAVOURITE PLACESKhao Sok / Koh Tao / Koh Phangan / Koh Samui / Chiang Rai / Bangkok /
Thailand Holidays : The map
Our Escapologists only recommend hand-picked, delectable properties we have sampled and savoured ourselves. We judge all our hotels by their excellence, the sheer hedonistic pleasures they have to offer. And we reject a lot that don’t meet our exacting standards.
Some of our selections are classics, with reputations recognised the world over. Others are discoveries: boutique havens where hospitality, relaxation and fine cuisine have been distilled into a rare art form. You’ll find a few options for the budget conscious too, where Yonder’s principles are still to the fore. And for those who just need an airport stopover on their way to paradise, there’s one or two convenience choices, too.
We provide in-depth descriptions of every property, based upon our own experiences there, along with our unique Yonder rating and icons that will give you further insights into what’s on offer. We even tell you the types of clientele you might soon be rubbing shoulders with!
Now that’s choosing a hotel Yonder style!
In each of Yonder’s main destinations, we have selected a range of highlights you might like to include in your personalised Yonder trip.
Whether they are fabled regions, resorts or cities, single destinations or entire itineraries, these are the Yonder ingredients we know will help you begin to piece together the ideal trip…
Sometimes we’re in such a hurry to get to where we think we want to go, we miss out on new and memorable experiences. So it was for us with Khao Sok. Because this stunning national park is within easy striking distance of the likes of Koh Samui and Phuket, you can easily pass it by without a thought. Oh what a mistake! Until we took the road less travelled.
- Go exploring in the rainforest with an expert guide. Believe us, hiking through this ancient forest, surrounded by astonishing wildlife, is no mere walk in the woods.
- If there is an adrenalin junkie inside you, a thrilling way to experience the magic of Khao Sok is tubing down the Sok River. Wow!
- Canoeing on Cheow Lan lake is an easy way of exploring the sensational beauty of the national park at your own pace.
It’s a tiny island – only 21 square kilometres – but Koh Tao sure is big on experience. And that starts with the journey there, as this far-flung gem is quite a ride across the turquoise waters of the Bay of Siam, taking around two and a half hours by ferry from Koh Samui. But let’s face it, when you’re journeying down the road less travelled, that’s a short hop in the grand scheme of things!
- Go on a night dive. Plunging into the inky water takes nerves but once you’re in you’ll find it mesmerising as the underwater world goes about its night time business.
- The picture postcard interconnected islands of Koh Nang Yuan are just 10 minutes by longtail boat. Spend a fun afternoon snorkeling in the crystal water with spectacular fan corals easily visible from the surface.
- Sairee beach is one of the last bastions of the old unpretentious Thailand that we love. Fall into a beanbag on the sand at a beach bar as the sun sets and cradle a Singha beer.
Ah, Koh Phangan! It is an emerald casually cast into the Bay of Siam, exquisite but rough-hewn. And it will always have a special place in our hearts as the setting for one of the most exquisite beaches we have ever had the delight of discovering.
- Take a hiking trip through the jungle to visit Koh Phangan’s beautiful waterfalls, most notably Than Sadet, a favourite with Thai kings. You’ll feel like a great Victorian explorer!
- You can hire motorbikes to explore the island but be warned some of the lesser roads are simply dreadful. Far better to explore the many idyllic bays and beaches on an all-day boat trip. If you find a spot you adore, you can always return by water taxi.
- Visit Ko Maa off the northwest coast. It offers some of the best snorkeling on the island.
Once a remote tropical island, with a couple of thatched pavilions as its airport terminal, Koh Samui is now a colossus on the Thai beach scene. The backpackers who first put the island on the international map, have long since been replaced by wheelie pullers. And the bamboo beach shacks they called home have given way to some phenomenal Koh Samui luxury hotels.
- Choeng Mon beach is amongst the finest on the island, with perfect white powdery sand. It’s quintessential tropical paradise.
- No trip to Samui is complete without a visit to Big Buddha. The golden statue seated on a 12m plinth is the island’s most revered cultural site.
- You’ll have a giggle at Hin Ta and Yin Ya. It’s a rock formation that is decidedly phallic.
Chiang Rai is a name, that can make the hairs on the back of the neck stand on end. It is the frontier to the Golden Triangle, the legendary intersection between Thailand, Laos and Burma where the mighty Mekong river flows. It's super remote, intensely mysterious and achingly beautiful.
- Get out onto the Ruak and Mekong in a longtail boat. You’ll get a different perspective of the Golden Triangle and encounter scenes that can only be appreciated from water level.
- The Hall of Opium museum is an absolute must visit. Unquestionably one of the best museums in Thailand. it is brilliantly curated, with fascinating insights into the opium trade.
- Travel from your Chiang Rai hotel out into the spectacular countryside to mingle with local tribes, encounter the wildlife and experience the rugged terrain.
Bangkok is bursting with energy and bubbling with diverse culture. It’s one of those extraordinary and evocative global cities that surprises you at every turn. Within the frenetic comings and goings and amongst the towering infrastructure (think of sky trains rather than undergrounds) and shopping malls, you’ll find charming night markets, tiny Buddhist shrines and an authentic daily life.
- Get up early, brave the crowds and visit the Grand Palace. It lives up to its name and the history that goes with it is fascinating.
- Go to Chatuchak market. It’s a never ending maze of booths, stalls and shops where there is nothing you can’t find… and that’s a challenge!
- Take a private longtail and pootle about for an hour or so on the klongs (canals) that run off the sides of the Chao Phraya river. You’ll see stilt houses, traditional communities and fascinating daily life.
Here at Yonder we have devised some exciting itineraries that will illustrate just what amazing journeys you could enjoy through Yonder’s exciting far-away destinations.
Of course every one of Yonder’s clients is a unique individual and we only create personalised itineraries that reflect those personal desires and wishes. So your Yonder journey will be as individual as you are. But to help you envisage just what amazing adventures might be possible, we have devised sample itineraries that we are confident will inspire you. You only have to pick up the phone to explore how any one of these ideas might be adapted to create your own perfect journey Yonder.
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Notes In Our Journal
Thai food is more than Phad Thai.
Out with the old and in with the new. A Yonder Escapologist recasts a familiar phrase.