Remote jungle location in the Golden Triangle, only accessble by boat
All-inclusive rainforest camp with plenty of contemporary comforts
Luxurious air-conditioned tents with outdoor rainfall showers
All tents have spacious balconies overlooking the river, some with whirlpool tubs
Rooms are stocked with free champagne, liquor, and snacks
Elephant rides and jungle trekking with mahouts included
Jungle spa with open-air treatment rooms
Forest swimming pool with hot tub
Jungle jeep transportation between tents and common areas
Free return airport transfers to and from Chiang Rai
Wi-Fi is free throughout the hotel
Minimum two-night stay required and nightly rates are incredibly high
Hotel's pool is small and looks a little dated
Smoke from field burning from March to May
Hidden in the jungle in the famed Golden Triangle, this Four Seasons sits right on the border of Thailand, Laos, and Myanmar, and is only accessible by private boat. The 15 luxury tents all include huge antique-style bathtubs, outdoor rainfall showers, unlimited minibars, free bottles of Champagne, and enormous balconies that overlook the Ruak River and the jungle. There's a small swimming pool in the forest as well as a hot tub, but the real treat at this all-inclusive property are activities like elephant rides and educational experiences. A minimum two-night stay is required, though it would be pointless to come to such a magical place for just an evening.
Ultra-luxurious all-inclusive resort deep in the jungles of the Golden Triangle
Deep in the jungle, the Four Seasons Tented Camp Golden Triangle is a one-of-a-kind adventure. For those with the cash to burn, this all-inclusive luxury resort is about as exclusive as it gets. Accessible only by boat, guests are transported here on small longtail boats, and the first point of contact with the hotel takes place at an open-air bamboo hut. Here, guests are obliged to ring a large traditional gong three times: once for luck; once for health; and once for wealth. With that, the atmosphere is effectively set for one of the world's most romantic escapes.
After their ceremonial entrance, guests proceed up a set of stairs to the Mai Pai Lao lounge, which doubles as both a bar and the lobby. Brightly colored pillows and cushions line sofas and seats here, along with large traditional cloth parasols and a variety of elephant statues. Every surface and corner is the definition of rustic-chic, and fits perfectly in with the secluded ambience. The grounds are large and thick with jungle and wildlife, and guests should expect long walks to get between their tents and common areas. However, the resort has a funky old jungle jeep that can be used to transport guests who don't want to or aren't able to walk about.
With only 15 tents, the atmosphere here is quiet and intimate. That, coupled with the prohibitively high nightly rates, means that the clientele is limited to an exclusive set of travelers and bucket-listers. Not surprisingly, wealthy tourists are the most frequent guests here, and within that demographic, the hotel sees mostly couples.
Hidden along a river and surrounded by jungle, right on the Thailand-Myanmar border
The resort is located just off the Mekong River in the infamous Golden Triangle, a former site of opium trade, but now a magnet for tourism. The majority of guests get picked up at the Chiang Rai airport, 90 minutes away, and transfers are included in room rates. Guests with cars drive to Sop Ruak and then catch a longtail boat to take them up to the hotel via the Ruak River, a tributary of the Mekong. The boat ride takes about 10 minutes. There's really nothing else in the immediate area, and most guests are here for exactly that reason -- to escape everyday life.
Luxurious tents with outdoor showers and private balconies, some with whirlpool tubs
There are only 15 tents at the Four Seasons Tented Camp Golden Triangle, and all of them may have guests questioning why they would stay in a proper hotel room ever again. Each is individually named and has its own style. The Birders Tent is aimed at the ornithologist, the Cooking Utensils Tent has various kitchen items hanging on the walls, and the Burmese Tent is closest to the Myanmar border. The tent that we visited had dark wood floors, lots of rustic-chic furniture done in wood and leather, eye-catching fabrics with a tasteful elephant motif, and antique items like fans and hanging lamps. Decks are lovely and furnished, looking out to the jungle or the river.
Tents come in Superior and Deluxe categories and while both have similar amenities, Deluxe units have whirlpool tubs on the decks. All tents have teak bed frames with mosquito netting, desks, and ample sitting space. The tents open on all sides and have mosquito net screens and large lockable wooden doors for the main entrance. They are also spacious, with the lower-category Superior Tents offerings 54-square-meter floor plans (581 square feet).
Bathrooms are particularly lovely, though for the most part the floor plan is open. Toilets are kept separate, but sinks and gorgeous soaking bathtubs -- like the hand-crafted copper one that we saw -- sit in the main body of the room. The outdoor rainfall showers also zip off from the room for some additional privacy. Details like the ceramic jars for toiletries add a special touch, as do brass double vanities with water buffalo horn taps.
All tents are air-conditioned. They also include minibars with free bottles of gin, vodka, rum, and whiskey to go with tonic water, soft drinks, and juices, plus a free welcome bottle of Champagne. Snacks and candy are also provided. Tents have safes and free Wi-Fi, but no TVs, which helps to maintain the sense of a proper jungle retreat. Guests are also provided with special mahout clothing for when they go out on elephant rides, as the elephants are more gentle and relaxed when not stimulated with unfamiliar colors or patterns. Keep in mind that this is the middle of the jungle, and you will hear the noises of wildlife all around.
Romantic restaurant, elephant riding and jungle trekking, all-inclusive wine cellar, and open-air spa
Despite being in the middle of the forest, there are a number of luxury features here. There is no fitness center, but the hotel has a lovely open-air spa and a free treatment is included with every booking. Decor matches the antique elegance employed elsewhere in the hotel and guest rooms, and the views of the jungle are spectacular. The swimming pool is set among all of the lush greenery, and has a few token boulders to give it a rustic look, but it's a little underwhelming given the hotel's exclusive status, and in fact looks a bit dated. It's fine for a dip, and there is a hot tub nearby as well. Lounge chairs are set on platforms on the surrounding grass and there are umbrellas for shade.
The Burma Bar, situated at the west end of the property overlooking the river, is a great place for a drink or to curl up with a book. Back near the entrance, the Mai Pai Lao lounge doubles as both the lobby and check-in area and offers various types of "yadong," a local rice liquor. The adjoining Thai and European fine-dining Nong Yao restaurant is also open-air, set in a traditional thatched roof hut. The menu consists of northern Thai dishes as well as more familiar Western options, and all meals are included in the room rates. There's also a wine cellar next door with cheese and international wines -- guests can even bring a bottle or two back to their rooms. Special events like picnics in the jungle and meals with the elephants can be arranged.
Without a doubt, one of the highlights here is the hotel's elephant program. They are well treated, and while they are brought throughout the grounds each day, they may be chained at other times of day. The elephants are part of a non-profit program that works with the local community, and the resort has a strict policy of never purchasing elephants. This is meant to help bolster the country's wild population of the animals, as many that are sold into work are captured from the wild. Rates include elephant rides and treks in the jungle. Boat trips on the river and tours of the Golden Triangle's main attractions are both included in rates as well.
Transfer from Chiang Rai and the boat ride to the resort are part of the hotel's packages, which must be purchased for a minimum of two nights. Wi-Fi is also free throughout the resort. The resort recommends special preparatory measures before arriving, including packing lightweight clothing as well as items for cooler nights. Insect repellent -- it almost goes without saying -- will be a necessity for most.
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