Thailand’s northern city of Chiang Rai is an excellent jumping-off point to explore the rural wonders of the north as well as a range of unique and boutique lodging including:
Located 90 minutes away from Chiang Rai International Airport in the tiny town of Thaton, Maekok River Lodge is owned and managed by Bryan and Rosie, a British couple who used to work in international schools in Asia and have decades of experience in the Thaton region. They have an extremely good eye for detail which is apparent in everything from room design, to food menus in four languages, quality of both Western and Thai guides and optional excursion routings.
The charming and well-managed resort, which is situated on the bank of the Maekok River, consists of 36 rooms in three different categories – Superior, Deluxe and Family. The practical, yet attractive, rooms are all identical; the difference is that the Family suites are made up of two Superior rooms with an interconnecting door. Each room boasts a patio or balcony as well as a small bathroom with a Balinese-style open shower. The property also features beautiful gardens and an inviting swimming pool.
The lodge’s Spice Garden Restaurant, overlooking the river and surrounding hills, offers a good selection of delicious, well-priced local dishes (particularly Northern Thai and Burmese Shan) as well as some European favourites.
Maekok River Lodge is a great, relaxed property for families with plenty of activities in an area of outstanding beauty and cultural history and heritage. Guests have access to a number of activities from the adjacent outdoor education centre, which include abseiling, archery, climbing, high ropes, jungle survival, rafting and Thai cookery. Activities off site include bird watching, biking, kayaking, trekking, tours and sightseeing, and local community projects. Hikes of varying lengths are also available with a guide as well as complementary cycling around the Thaton valley.
Nestled amongst dense green jungle and mist-shrouded hills about 35 kilometres away from Chiang Rai International Airport, Phu Chaisai Mountain Resort & Spa makes an excellent base for exploring the Golden Triangle and Mae Salong area.
An atmospheric collection of 33 eco-friendly thatched bamboo cottages in a mature and well-tended jungle environment, the resort envelops guests in the stunning nature of Northern Thailand. All cottages have en-suite bathroom and a wide balcony, while two pool villas have king size beds and are very romantic for those wanting a “rustic” private experience.
The secluded resort also boasts an onsite spa and an infinity pool, as well as a restaurant serving Thai and International cuisine.
The real draw of the resort is its unique location and natural surroundings – the evenings at Phu Chaisai take on an altogether different feel with the hum of jungle insects and relaxing sound from the regular pianist near the bar.
Situated approximately a 45-minute drive from Chiang Rai International Airport in a picturesque valley of the Mae Salong River, the Manee Dheva Resort was opened just five years ago and boasts an attractive Lanna-cum-Kathmandu Valley-style main building, houses, reception, open-air rooftop bar and restaurant with rice paddy views, and a swimming pool. The charming resort is owned and managed by a French/Thai team.
Accommodation consists of private villas that are scattered amongst rice paddies and reached by golf cart and raised bamboo connecting walkways. Each spacious stilted villa is minimally furnished and reflects a peaceful atmosphere with its high ceiling, quarry tiled floors and attractive views from the balcony across the paddy fields. The villas have en-suite bathrooms, which are open roofed.
The intimate property is best for couples and ideal for a one- or two-night stop on a touring trip of Northern Thailand.