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Helena Marks

New York, New York Travel Agent

Timeless Traditions of Thailand

Everything about Thailand feels exotic, from its people, art and architecture to the way you get around.  Yet, despite all the differences, the culture feels welcoming, warm and accessible. It also has a lot of variety, from the hustle and bustle of Bangkok to lively and laid-back beaches and ancient cities.

One of the highlights for many people is Wat Arun, a glorious temple on the banks of the Chao Phraya River in Bangkok. Also known as the Temple of the Dawn, it is one of Thailand’s most recognizable landmarks, especially when its golden spires are bathed in light against a half-darkened sky at dawn or dusk. 

Another favorite spot is Chiang Mai, a former capital filled with temples and known for its fabulous art and crafts. My favorite hotel here is the Four Seasons, located just outside town on a mountainside with terraced rice fields and a resident buffalo. It makes a great home base. Without even leaving the hotel, you can try your hand at planting rice and take a cooking class. And hotel guests are invited to join the townspeople in ritual offerings of rice to the monks who descend from the temples every morning. 

The Four Seasons also has an unusual property in Chiang Rai, the ancient capital, located in the Golden Triangle near the border of Burma and Laos.  It’s actually a luxurious tented camp, and guests are invited to visit its elephant sanctuary. During my visit, I helped feed the elephants and took a short (photo op) ride on one; you can also help bathe them in the river. It’s quite extraordinary.

Thailand is also known for its beach resorts. One of the most laid-back is Krabi, in southern Thailand. For some people, Rayavadee, a resort that can only be reached by boat, is paradise. There, you can sit on your terrace and watch monkeys at play, go sea kayaking, get traditional Thai spa treatments, or take a self-guided garden tour and learn about the edible, medicinal and spiritual value of the resort’s beautifully landscaped 26-acres of tropical plants and trees. And nearby, you can trek through the rainforest to soak in natural thermal hot springs. 

From grand temples, impressive Buddha statues and terraced rice fields to elephant treks and beaches for every mood, in Thailand, the exotic is commonplace. I’d love to help you create the experience that best reflects your interests and dreams. 

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