Of Elephants and Mountain Mist
Without question, the most enchanting place we’ve visited in Thailand has been The Golden Triangle. With family in town over the Christmas 2011 holidays, we wanted to do something extra special — and extra special it was. So much so, in fact, that we have promised ourselves to return again before we leave Thailand in 2014. The Golden Triangle is the perfect mix of majestic mountains, elephants, cool weather, and relaxing boat rides along the Mekong, all in a tri-state area. You know what they say: breakfast in Burma, lunch in Laos, and dinner in Thailand. It’s all possible from this location.
We stayed at the Anantara Golden Triangle Resort & Spa, which in itself is a phenomenal experience. Situated on a hilltop in the jungle with views of Burma and Laos, the resort is breathtakingly beautiful. We arrived at the resort in the late afternoon and from our balcony we could hear elephants trumpeting in the valley below. At night, you can hear monkeys chattering in the distance. You are fantastically removed from the hustle and bustle of everyday life and transported to a serene wilderness. This is such a special and memorable place for children. We spent hours listening to and spotting nature. What a joy it was to watch Logan anticipate and appreciate the wildlife around him.
A tremendous highlight for the little ones at the Anantara is that a baby elephant greets guests every morning at breakfast. The staff, whom are fantastic with children, provide bananas and other buffet goodies for the children to feed the elephant. There is an elephant camp that you can visit any time of the day just steps from the guest rooms. Older children and adults can opt to take elephant treks through the jungle. For extra excitement, the resort offers a day-long mahout training class, the highlight of which is taking a plunge with the elephants in a nearby river (note: do not wear your best clothes for this activity)! Really, this place is like Disney World, only a hundred times better because the things happening around you are real!
Had your fill of elephant activities? No problem. Take a longtail boat trip along the Mekong, embark on a three-country tour, go mountain biking, or just relax at the resort spa, which, by the way, is one of the best in Thailand.
If you live in Thailand, visit the Golden Triangle and stay at the Anantara. I’m telling you now, you will regret it if you don’t. Honestly, I cannot emphasize how special this place is. And once you arrive, say hello to Mina, the baby elephant for us. Tell her we’ll see her again over Songkran . . . because we just made our reservations to return, this time with Katelyn out of the womb. Yeah!
If you are thinking about a trip yourself, click here to see more pictures of our trip.
P.S. – For those Bachelor fans of you out there, the second-to-last episode of the current season filmed at the Anantara Golden Triangle Resort (yes, I’m obsessed enough to read the spoilers). If you are planning to make a trip, negotiate room rates and book now. Once the episode airs, I am sure resort prices will skyrocket.
How to get there: Hop a flight from Bangkok to Chiang Rai via Air Asia; rent a van to drive you from Chiang Rai Airport to the Anantara (about an hour drive).
Accommodation: Anantara Golden Triangle Resort; cost fluctuates wildly based on the time of year you choose to visit (rooms range from around USD 150++/night – USD 1000++/night based on the season). Also, negotiate, negotiate, negotiate. They will try to sell you on an expensive package; just keep reinforcing you would like a regular room rate for X number of nights. Good luck!
Activities: Well, I think we covered that above.