A great family combination of adventure in the mountains and jungles of the north, and chilling out on the tropical islands and beaches of the south.
Just outside the attractive old city of Chiang Mai in northern Thailand lies the Mandarin Oriental’s Dhara Dhevi resort. Set amid 60 acres of paddy fields and lush greenery, this makes the ideal base from which to explore the region’s natural beauty and cultural attractions. Elephant trekking, mountain biking, river rafting and visits to the villages of the local hill tribes are some of the activities on offer.
Chiang Mai itself, founded as the capital of Lanna - the ‘Kingdom of One Million Rice Fields’ that once ruled this part of Southeast Asia – has impressive temples and atmospheric shopping at the famous night bazaar.
The Dhara Dhevi has a renowned Ayurvedic spa and several good restaurants that will appeal to parents. For children, there’s an excellent kids club where they can do everything from learning to write their names in Thai to riding a water buffalo, mastering the basics of yoga and Thai boxing, or planting rice in the paddy fields. Nearby there are elephant camps where they can learn to care for, ride, clean and understand these beautiful creatures, and in the evenings there are ‘night safaris’ in the jungle to observe nocturnal animals. Back at the resort, families can also enjoy private dining in a traditional rice barn.
From Chiang Mai, there are direct flights down to Phuket, which saves connecting via Bangkok. Thailand’s largest island has some of the best beaches in Asia and, in the Evason Phuket, another top-class family-friendly hotel.
Like Dhara Dhevi, the Evason has a spa and a good kids club, but the star attraction is its own private island, reached by a fifteen-minute trip in a long-tail boat. Here there’s a wonderful sandy beach and a variety of watersports to choose from. The Evason also has volleyball and floodlit tennis courts, its own dive centre and offers day trips to destinations such as the scenic Khow Ping Kan Islands, which featured in the James Bond film The Man with the Golden Gun.