Following on from our recent story about Bangkok, we now visit Chiang Mai – Thailand's 'Rose of North.'
Chiang Mai is the second largest city in Thailand, but the pace and atmosphere is a world away from country's largest city, Bangkok. Boasting a long history and a strong Thai culture, Chiang Mai is perfect for a couple wanting to experience the ideal combination of culture, adventure and luxury. The city itself is vibrant and charming, whilst the surrounding country-side is serene, relaxing and beautiful.
Whether you are coming to explore the contemporary art galleries, indulge in the region's unique Thai flavours (lighter than southern Thai food, with subtle influences from Burma), explore the famous temples, or go hard with some of the more extreme adventure options Chiang Mai is famous for, there is no doubt that Chiang Mai will be a honeymoon or romantic holiday you'll never forget.
One of the most memorable days for us was our Zip Lining. Two companies we have personally tried are Eagle Track and Flight of the Gibbons. Both were fantastic experiences - incredibly exhilarating and such fun to see Chiang Mai from the top down! You can also elephant trek, mountain bike trough the jungle, train to become an elephant mahout at a dedicated camp, ride white-water rapids or go a little further out and stay with hill-tribes.
For those who are more about the luxury and less about the adventure, allow us to introduce you to one of the country's leading luxury hotels - Dhara Dhevi. This place is truly amazing, and as much a destination itself as Chiang Mai is.
Designed like an ancient northern Thai city, Dhara Dhevi is spread over 60 acres and is just ten minutes from the centre of Chiang Mai. With the city itself so handy, you will have the best of both worlds – the opulence and luxury of Dhara Dhevi and the convenience of a short taxi ride or hotel courtesy bus into town.
Be sure to go into the city one evening and stroll through the famous Night Bazaar where you will find everything from Thai silks to t-shirts and fake wallets and bags. Or, if you are there over the weekend, visit the Weekend Walking Markets. Not far from town is the city's famous Golden temple, Wat Phrathat, a must-see for any Chiang Mai visitor.
We found ourselves leaving Dhara Dhevi for a couple of hours each day, lest we miss out on some incredible site or precious time at this incredible destination.
Although Dhara Dhevi is visually stunning, part of the appeal for us was in the many special touches. For example, at breakfast one morning, we heard the tinkling sounds of music and look over to see a farmer playing the flute, alongside his buffalo. Or, we would leave our luxurious room to take in the gorgeous grounds, and would always find new and interesting aspects to the resort. From vegetable gardens, to lotus ponds and even a reproduction of part of the ancient Chiang Mai Wall, to significant statues and carvings. There were surprises at every turn.
The main pool area is perched overlooking the resort's working rice fields, and we loved watching another perfect day finish here. Picture the emerald green rice paddies, the sound of crickets and birdlife, farmers and villagers working with the water buffalo, and the sun slowly setting as the day turns to night. Truly romantic, and very exotic.
An absolute highlight was the resort's spa. The building itself is incredible, a re-creation of a 19th century Burmese Palace, and crowned by a 20-metre, seven-tier roof. More than 150 local artisans loyally recreated mouldings and sculptures from an original Burmese palace in Myanmar - it is truly amazing. The Dheva Spa and Wellness Centre also boasts a range of specialist areas such as a hydrotherapy room and Hammam and the massage I enjoyed there was certainly one of the best I've enjoyed anywhere.
The resort's villas are situated not far from the main pool area and offer the same beautiful views I spoke of before and are the ultimate romantic indulgence. Complete with hand-crafted artifacts, a huge bathroom, spacious outdoor terraces and all the technology modern travellers demand, some of the villas even come with a private plunge pool.
However, if you wish to try to spread your dollar a bit further, believe me, the Colonial Suite is not a massive step down! Decorated with more of a plush, colonial feel compared to the very 'Thai-style' ambience of the luxury villas, the Colonial Suite's boast the signature large bathroom and sitting room. Our suite opened up directly onto the resort's second pool, with large shaded day-beds beckoning us whenever we opened our door.
Chiang Mai is a great honeymoon location and should be part of any Thailand honeymoon or romantic travel itinerary. Thailand's luxury hotels offer a superior level of indulgence, at a price that represents good value. Be sure to combine the country's southern islands such as Phuket and Samui with the cultural charms of Chiang Mai, and the excitement and shopping of Bangkok and you'll enjoy a romantic holiday or honeymoon to cherish forever!
If you are thinking of getting married in Thailand, visit www.greatdestinationweddings.com.au or download the FREE App ... there are some incredible Thai wedding destinations featured! Alternatively for other informative travel info, head to Tourism Authority of Thailand.