Amazing islands and beaches outline the tropical
landscape of Thailand while the small towns in the north
embrace visitors with timeless tranquility. Beyond all
these, the time-honored Thai wellness practices deliver
complete healing to the body and soul
Thailand, known as Siam in the old days, is an ancient civilization with over 2,000 years of Buddhist history and now turns to be a popular vacation destination worldwide. The cooler climate throughout the country from November to March each year, coupled with the famous Thai Lantern Festival, which also takes place during this time, makes it a peak tourist season.
According to scenic areas, Thailand is generally divided into four regions, the north, central, south and northeast. The north is best known for the two small cities of Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai, with idyllic scenery and peaceful ambience. If you are interested in historical sites, you may want to visit the historic city of Sukhothai. This is also the name of the luxury wellness hotel brand “Sukhothai Hotel”, which originated from Thailand and has now opened a property in Shanghai in addition to Bangkok, blending rich Thai style with local characteristics to create a place apart.
The central region is centered on the capital city of Bangkok, surrounded by a collection of famous attractions such as Pattaya, Hua Hin and Ayutthaya. Bangkok brings out the best of ancient Buddhist culture. Hua Hin, just three hours away from Bangkok, is a traditional Thai seaside destination with beautiful scenery. It’s the home to the renowned wellness resort Chiva-som, which continues its legend with luxurious wellness services, excellent facilities, and constantly evolving wellness programs.
The south is Thailand’s most prestigious island gathering place, each with its distinctive characteristics against a backdrop of clear water and swaying coconut groves, attracting tourists to return again and again.
Phuket, Thailand’s largest island, is not only blessed with pristine tropical scenery, but also a long history and rich culture. Hat Patong, Hat Kata, and Hat Karon are some of the main beaches to visit in Phuket, with relatively more developed amusement activities and facilities. From the many water sports in the daytime to the various bar parties at night, these beaches will never let you feel bored. After you’ve had your fill of beach life, take a motorcycle tour around the island, to explore traditional Phuket Towns, visit a weekend market, and sample authentic food at a local teahouse. Then climb up the Phuket Mountain to have a bird’s eye view of the city, or relax in the mangrove-lined Sirinat Marine National Park.
Compared to the more commercially developed Phuket Island, Koh Samui has retained more of its natural simplicity. Chaweng Beach on the east coast is seven kilometers long, where the soft sand and the sea fall into a crescent-shaped embrace. It is also the liveliest and perhaps the only lively place in Samui, with a wide variety of stores selling food, drinks and small local articles, and offering a wide range of water sports facilities and Thai massages. Heading south, you’ll reach Lamai Beach, a much more tranquil place for a relaxing swim or dive. On the north coast, the cape between Maenam Beach and Bophut Beach is the best place to watch the sunset on Samui. Maenam Beach’s calm waters are especially good for surfing, and the beach is home to many luxury resort hotels, including the W Koh Samui. You can also visit the neighboring Mae Nam Village to stroll over the local market and experience the life of the locals.
Koh Tao and Koh Pha Ngan are both great options for those who want to escape the crowds. On Koh Tao Island, you often have the luxury enjoying hundreds of meters of sandy beach yourself. The abundance of coral reefs and marine life, as well as the excellent diving conditions, make this place one of Thailand’s most famous diving destinations. Koh Pha Ngan, with its dense jungle and rolling hills, can be reached in just half an hour by ferry from Koh Samui.
The Tranquil Northern Thailand
With its fresh air, quiet atmosphere and rich cultural heritage, Chiang Mai slows down time. There are several cafes in the city with fairyland-like scenery, where you should not miss especially on a relaxing summer afternoon.
60 Doi Chaang Coffee in Mae Rim has a strong tropical feel. Various tropical plants line on both sides of the archway, forming a botanical wall with white hanging tassels that sway slightly in the wind. Waiters and waitresses in Lanna-style uniforms walk around. A small two-story wooden loft stands in the deepest part of the cafe. Both Thai desserts and Thai food, as well as Western snacks and Western food are available here at reasonable prices.
Fern Forest Café, as the name suggests, is surrounded by tall ferns. The owner is a famous Thai artist who planted this large forest in the center of the city to recreate the scene of the movie “Little Forest”. In addition to coffee, the cakes and bread are also very delicious, and we recommend the white chocolate cake with latte.
Chom Café & Restaurant in Mae Hia has created a real-life version of Alice in Wonderland, with waterfalls amidst lush trees and clear pond surrounded by flowers.
Chiang Rai, another small city in the north, is far from the hustle and bustle and overflows with traditional Thai culture. In recent years, the development of sustainable tourism has become a major feature of the city.
Rai Ruen Rom Organic Farm hopes to make people more health conscious by consuming organic food, and also allows people who are interested in natural organic farming to gain experience in concrete practices. The farm has camping tents that allow people to become one with nature. The tents are available in 2-person, 3-person and 4-person categories. For more information, visit the farm’s official website: http://www.rairuenrom.com.
Singha Park, at an altitude of 450 meters, features over 12.8 square kilometers of fertile land. The climate is excellent, the soil is fertile, and the plants flourish all year round. Here, you can not only enjoy the beautiful scenery, but also find many interesting activities, such as walking in the tea garden, feeding the animals, jungle leaping and more. Then go to the Phu Phi Rom restaurant for dinner with a view of the sunset after the activity. For more information, please visit: http://www.singhapark.com.
Baan Pang Ha is also a great place to experience Thai farming life. The town enjoys a rich culture. Apart from the refreshing cafes and snacks with Northern Thai characteristics, the most famous thing for tourists is the handmade mulberry paper experience here. At the DIY base, visitors will learn to make paper using mulberry plant fibers. The art of mulberry paper began more than 600 years ago when the local tribes used the bark of the broad-leaved tree as a paper material. In addition, visitors can learn to make homemade beauty products, cook and experience original Thai cuisine, learn traditional Thai dances and more.
Thailand has always advocated a healthy and natural lifestyle, and is not only known as a health center in Asia, but also as a desired leisure destination. According to statistics, the number of Chinese tourists to Thailand in 2018 was as high as 10 million, which shows the important position of Thailand in outbound tourism.
Thailand’s year-round warm climate, good air quality, and slow pace of life make it a region with a low incidence of cardiovascular disease. In addition, the belief in Buddhism make the people optimistic, calm and happy about things around them. Meditation classes at temples are also an important part of the vacation experience for visitors to Thailand.
When it comes to Thai wellness, we must first talk about the world-famous Thai massage. “Thai massage originated in the western part of ancient India, and its founder was Shivaga Komarpaj, the royal physician of the King of India, who is still regarded as the father of medicine by the Thai people,” said Mr. Guo Bin, the Founder of TaiOursea, who has studied Thai massage in depth. “His traditional medicine and massage knowledge techniques were brought to Thailand by missionary monks and learnt by the King of Thailand, who inscribed them on marbles and set the marbles on the veranda walls of Wat Pho.”
“Thai massage has three characteristics. One is centripetal: generally starting from the foot, and moving toward the center of the body, with combined massage techniques. The second is delicateness: Thai massage often uses delicate finger pressure techniques. The therapists work on the guests’ four limbs and large muscle groups with stretching, pushing and pinching, etc., to let the force of the palms evenly penetrate into the muscle, to unblock the meridian channels, eliminate fatigue and relax the muscles. Third, joint mobility: Thai therapists deliver the treatment with the strength of their fingers, waist, and back.” Mr. Guo Bin said. “Thai wellness practice is different from our therapies inspired by traditional Chinese medicine. It doesn’t focus on physical healing alone, but helps us relax the mind as well. While relaxing the body to relieve muscle pain and other conditions, Thai massage also brings one’s heart to peace and guides people to have a deep conversation with their inner self.
In addition to “Thai massage”, food and sports are also part and parcel of Thai wellness. Characterized by a balance of five flavours: sour, spicy, salty, sweet and bitter, Thai food stimulates the taste buds and gives people a lot of pleasure. Thai food ingredients are natural and healthy, with a wide variety of spices that are good for the body, such as cilantro and basil, which are popular for their antioxidant effects, and lemongrass, which can soothe headaches and gastrointestinal problems.
Muay Thai (Thai boxing) is a special sport to Thailand, which can exercise the one’s will, body and mind, patience and endurance, and it is taught in elementary schools in Thailand. Golf is also a popular sport in Thailand, and there are many world-renowned golf courses in Chiang Mai and Phuket, where one can enjoy the beautiful scenery while playing the golf.
Needless to say, Thailand boasts a wide range of luxury spa hotels and resorts. Health and leisure tourism is quite popular in Thailand nowadays. These hotels feature complete facilities, beautiful environment, with local characteristics, thoughtful and considerate services, offering a diversity of retreat programs and health therapies to restore the body and mind. Different aspects of wellness such as detoxification, nutrition, yoga, mindfulness, spa, fitness are perfectly integrated to guide people to restore a balance of body and mind and enjoy the nourishment of nature.
“In the post-pandemic period, Thai wellness can help people boost immunity, increase self-awareness and inner peace, get in touch with nature deeply, achieve emotional relief and heal the soul.” Mr. Felix Khew, Country Head, China, DUSIT FUDU HOTELS & RESORTS said. “Thai wellness has become increasingly popular in China in recent years, as people are attracted to Thai massage, Thai cuisine and the hotel’s Thai ambience.”
Thailand is still influenced by the pandemic, which has hit the entire hospitality industry very hard. But on the other hand, it also makes people pay more attention to their own health. Many Thai wellness resorts and spas have dived deeper and innovated on their traditional programs during the lockdown in order to better meet the health needs of customers during the post-pandemic era. For example, the herbal compress treatment has regained its popularity. Herbal compress features strong Thai characteristics, and is filled with a variety of precious herbal extracts. When in contact with the skin, the essence of the herbs quickly penetrate the skin and muscles to relieve fatigue, muscle aches and pains, remove dampness and drive away cold. It’s easy to use with fast results, and the experience is very comfortable, which perfectly caters to the needs of modern people.
“The essence of Thai healing lies in the use of natural ingredients, combined with unique manual massages, to unblock the body, strengthen the metabolism, improve the immune system, regulate body functions, and release the suppressed internal emotions and stress,” said Ms. Wing Yu, General Manager of Mt.Sapola China. “It also features various natural therapies to target sub-health conditions. To heal the body and mind simultaneously is a dominant character of Thai wellness practices.”
Many Thai SPA treatments are based on aromatherapy using the most natural ingredients. In the soothing ambience of the spa, people from different languages feel a sense of respect, nobility, security, comfort and pleasure. The spa offerings provides comprehensive healing in terms of the five senses of sight, sound, touch, smell and taste, and subconscious intuition.
“This is the charm and essence of Thai SPA treatments. Seemingly simple, gentle and soothing, it is able to help guests achieve a total harmony and unity of the body and mind.” Ms. Wing Yu said, “The benefits are all-round: body – heal sub-health conditions; mind – regulate emotions and reduce stress, tension, fear and anxiety; spirit: purify and enhance the potential spiritual energy.”
*Information provided by: Tourism Authority of Thailand Shanghai Office; Mr. Guo Bin, the Founder of TaiOursea; Mr. Felix Khew, Country Head, China, Dusit Fudu Hotels & Resorts; Ms. Wing Yu, General Manager of Mt.Sapola China
A List of Thai Spas
Asia Herb Association. Asia Herb Association is located in the heart of Bangkok, surrounded by large shopping malls, restaurants and cafes. The spa features traditional Thai massages and herbal compress. In the signature treatment, following the traditional Thai prescription, eighteen kinds of natural herbs are crushed and made into a herbal compress, which is heated for an hour before being applied to the body. The treatment can effectively relieve soreness and improve immunity. In addition to Thai treatments, the spa also offers services in Chinese, English and Japanese.
Cenvaree Spa. Cenvaree Spa is a well-known Thai spa chain. Located on the cliffs of Karon, Phuket, each spa room has a breathtaking view of the sea. The interior is gorgeously decorated and well-equipped. Traditional Thai massages, oil massages and deep tissue massages are recommended. However, there aren’t many spa rooms and advance booking is required.
Sukko Spa. Sukko Spa is the most popular five-star spa in Phuket, with over 1,200 square meters of space and excellent facilities, about 30 minutes from Patong Beach. The rich Siamese architecture and the interior decorated with royal elements takes you back to the ancient Thai garden. A wide range of treatments are available, such as Thai massages, oil massages, body scrub, aloe vera facial spa, aromatic milk bath, etc. Chinese service is available.
Oasis Spa. Specializing in Thai massage and oil massage, Oasis Spa has won many industry awards and the therapists are trained by the head office and are highly skilled. There are three branches in Chiang Mai, each with its own characteristics. The Oasis Spa Chiang Mai, located near Nimman Road, consists of a few single wooden houses in the Northern Thai style, with wooden verandas and lush plants to create a peaceful and romantic atmosphere. The other two branches, Oasis Spa Lanna, located in Chiang Mai’s Old Town next to Phra Singh Temple, and Oasis Spa Baan Saen Doi, located next to the scenic Sukhumvit Mountain, offer a quiet retreat from the hustle and bustle of the city center.