Thailand: The Land of Smiles
Tuk tuk rides, elephant kisses, and happy Buddhas. Thailand, the Land of Smiles, has once again earned its nickname! Destinations just completed one of our annual retreats to this amazing country and between the delicious food, delightful people, and rich culture, the group was all smiles.
Our journey began in the Thai capital of Bangkok, a city where the familiar and exotic collide into an adventurous treat for the senses. And if you’ve made the effort to get to Bangkok, you deserve the best accommodations possible—the Anantara Siam Bangkok Hotel, a luxurious property with an unrivaled location, iconic design, and level of service that is second to none.
Home to more than ten million people, a city of this size requires several modes of public transportation to support its booming population. Having many options to choose from, we decided that our guests first experience outside the hotel should involve perhaps the most Thai method of transport, the Tuk Tuk—a motorcycle-powered rickshaw. To enhance this experience, we arranged to have a police escort for our convoy of Tuk Tuks and headed out to see some of the city’s highlights. Riding in a Tuk Tuk can be a little bit nerve-wracking for the faint of heart. But we were with a group of adventurers, and zipping through the bustling streets was our dive into breathtaking cultural immersion!
Our first stop was at the city’s flower market where we were able to breathe in the bouquet of different flowers native to Thailand and learn their significance to the Thai people and Buddhism. We then moved on to one of the city’s oldest and most impressive temples, the 16th-century Wat Pho. Home to one of the largest shrines of Buddha in the world, the Reclining Buddha is a massive 49 feet tall and 150 feet long. Mouths open, we couldn’t help but say, Soot Yaad— Amazing! We followed that up with a visit to what is undoubtedly the most famous landmark in all of Bangkok, the spectacular Grand Palace. Golden spires, ornate statues, and ornamented roof lines—as the main residence to the Thai King for 150 years, this impressive complex continues to wow guests with its beautiful architecture and intricate details. Many of the Thai people feel this palace is still the spiritual heart of the Thai Kingdom. We finished our sightseeing in Bangkok with an amazing, authentic lunch at the Supattra River House restaurant followed by a boat tour on one of Bangkok’s many canals. (A note to those who plan on visiting the Grand Palace, be sure to check their website to confirm the dress code. It’s updated often and they are very strict about what people wear within their sacred walls).
After having such an amazing experience in Bangkok, it would be easy to wonder how you could top that. Well, the answer to that question is simple and can be summarized by one name: Chiang Mai.
The former capital of the Lanna Kingdom, Chiang Mai is Thailand’s second largest city and is only an hour and twenty-minute flight from Bangkok. Located in the northern region of the country, its temperatures are milder and the scenery more majestic than the humid, metropolitan city of Bangkok.