The gorgeous rooms at the Regent.
You must visit the spa on your holiday.
Sorrel ventures to Thailand's most opulent five-star lodging: a wonderful pool, rooms with a view and a spa you'll die for.
Chiang Mai is Thailand's second largest city and was founded in 1296. It has more than 300 temples. Doi Suthep Mount rises 1876m above the city, and the temple there contains a highly venerated relic of Lord Buddha which was taken to Chiang Mai in the 14th century. It is around 16km from the city and can be reached by road. The last stage to the temple is reached via a highly decorative Naga staircase, or you can take the cable car. The outer courtyard has a wonderful collection of bronze bells, as well as views to the city below. The inner courtyard of the temple has paintings of historical and mythical scenes, and if you want to enter this sacred area, you must cover your legs and arms.
The old section of Chiang Mai is a neat, moat-surrounded square and it is where several of the most important temples are located. Its altitude makes Chiang Mai a desirable escape from the humidity found elsewhere in Thailand, and the royal family spends a lot of time at Phuping Palace, which is set in beautiful grounds on the Buag Ha Mountain. When they are not in residence, visitors are permitted to visit the gardens.
The National Museum has a varied display, from Haripunchai terracottas to Lanna heads of the Buddha, some as high as three metres.
The night bazaar opens at 6pm and has endless stalls selling hill-tribe crafts, leather goods and clothing. There is a floor specialising in antiques, but you should be wary of fake items. Silverware and textiles can be a good buy. There are also plenty of places to try the Burmese-influenced cuisine.
The most beautiful place to stay in Chaing Mai is the Regent Resort, which was the area's first five-star hotel.
It is made up of 16 Lanna-style pavilions with 64 suites and eight luxury two- and three-bedroom residences. Lanna means "a million rice fields" and the resort was built in the Mae Rim Valley on the outskirts of Chiang Mai among the working rice paddies.
The buildings form a U-shape around a green mosaic of rice fields and each day you can see the farmers and their buffalo working in the paddies.
Each pavilion has four spacious suites, each with its own sala, or covered verandah. The rooms have teak floors, vaulted ceilings, a large terrace, separate dressing, sitting and bedrooms and the bathrooms have a glass-enclosed deep-soaking tub with views of the rice terraces.
There is a swimming pool, two restaurants, two bars, health club and complimentary bicycles if you want to explore the local hills. You can indulge in a Thai massage, herbal steam, hot and cold whirlpools or have a hit on one of the two tennis courts.
The Lanna Spa is in a three-storey villa which looks like a temple. It has seven treatment suites and a beauty salon. The Thai steam aromatherapy and yoga massage techniques have been handed down through generations, and the blends of clay and herbs, along with the correct pressure techniques, create wellbeing and relaxation. They also specialise in skin scrubs, body wraps and facials.
Seven-hundred kilometres north-west of Bangkok.
Accommodation at the Regent Resort Chiang Mai starts at around $600 per double per night. Spa treatments start at around $100.Qantas
flies daily to Bangkok with connections to Chiang Mai. Return economy airfares start at $1573 from the east coast, $1904 from Adelaide and $1454 from Perth.
Please note prices are valid at time of transmission and to the best of our knowledge are inclusive of GST.
Four Seasons and Regent Reservations
Ph: (02) 9333 8669 1800 022 800Tourism Authority of Thailand
Ph: (02) 9247 7549
For a safe and healthy journey, talk to the travel doctor
: 1300 658 844 or visit traveldoctor.com.au