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No Boredom In Bucketlist Bangkok

Bangkok, Thailand is a non-stop contradiction – from old world temples and makeshift markets to sky-soaring architecture and luxury boutiques. There is no such thing as boredom in Bangkok. This colourful capital has something for everyone’s budget.

Here are the ‘highs and lows’ of this South East Asia gem.

EAT:

Photo: @dear.rt

High: If you can brave the Bangkok view from 61 floors up, then you must try Vertigo Grill and Moon Bar. Enjoy BBQ seafood and Thai delights among the stars. After dinner, stay a while and enjoy a sky-high martini. Note: Vertigo shuts down during high winds, so check the forecast before you head out.

Photo: @irenemarcolin

Low: Bangkok is probably THE most budget-friendly cosmopolitan capital city. Food stalls along the cramped streets offering simple al-fresco dining are plentiful, delicious and easy on the wallet. Beef noodle soup, pad Thai and a fresh mango shake for dessert costs less than $5. Not bad for a three-course meal!

SHOP:

Photo: @bopinyapach


High
: Spend the day at Siam Paragon, one of Asia’s largest shopping complexes.  It’s also the most expensive in Bangkok. Spread across 13 acres, Siam Paragon features everything from designer duds like Armani, Valentino and Jimmy Choo to Thai silk boutiques and even an opera concert hall! Don’t forget to check out Siam Ocean World on your way out, South East Asia’s largest aquarium.

Photo: @sinsinsie

Low: Get lost in the mayhem at Chatuchak Weekend Market, the largest weekend market in the world. New and vintage clothes, Asian antiques, colourful lanterns, Buddhist statues and more are all for sale at bargain prices – if you can find it! This market mecca is full of surprises. Exploring the maze is half the fun!

EXPLORE: 

Photo: @peepy_and_mother_lee

High:  If you’re looking for the ultimate East Asian spa experience, the Oriental Spa at Mandarin Oriental Hotel was voted the best spa in the world, according to Travel + Leisure. Spend the day being luxuriously pampered in an exquisitely restored century-old teakwood house. The full-body scrub using grated coconut, green bean, jasmine rice and coconut oil smells like pure bliss (or so I imagine!).

Khao San Road

Photo: @seohyenna

Low: The infamous book ‘The Beach’ describes Koh San Road as “a halfway house between East and West”. The iconic Bangkok street is jam-packed with backpacker bars, cheap guesthouses, tour agencies, quirky shops, market stalls, tattoo and massage parlours, eateries and much more. There’s no doubt that the legendary Koh San Road is a smorgasbord of everything and anything. Be prepared for the masses!

Photo: @mixxpst

Also: Be sure to visit Wat Phra Kaew and the Grand Palace, where both the revered Emerald Buddha carved from solid jade and the King of Thailand reside. Intricately tiled facades, shimmering gold Buddha statues and exquisite wall murals are the centre focus of this top culture spot. Note: Don’t forget to take a cute pic with one of the stern-faced Palace guards.

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10 Unique Hotels That Are Worth The Splurge

Finding hotels that fall into stylish city stays, romantic rural retreats and chic coastal getaways can be hard to come by.

From Istanbul to the Dominican Republic, Portugal to Thailand — and a handful of destinations in between — these 10 properties that will get even the most modest of travellers hunting down their next trip.

Best Hotels Bermuda

Photo: @rwbermuda

Rosewood Tucker’s Point: Bermuda
Style: British colonial charm

Have the tennis whites and golf plaids pressed and ready for Rosewood Tucker’s Point hotel in Bermuda, a luxe playground for the country club set with views of the glittering pink beaches of Castle Harbour and Harrington Sound. As Britain’s oldest colony, you’ll catch sight of a bobby directing traffic or a heated cricket match. But this sun-splashed island is decidedly tropical, moving to the rhythms of calypso and reggae and the resort’s four stylish swimming pools, spoiling spa, manicured golf course and pro-worthy tennis courts are at your whim for playing the days away.

Santo Domingo Hotels

Photo: @casasdelxvi

Casas del XVI: Dominican Republic
Style: Charismatic colonial casas

Dominican Republic hotel Casas del XVI invites guests to quantum leap back to the colonial era – with the added benefit of all mod cons, naturally. Two casas, in the centre of Santo Domingo’s UNESCO World Heritage site Colonial City, have been lovingly restored (dare we say, improved upon) and fashioned into seven luxury suites. However, a supernaturally helpful private butler, peaceful palm-strewn courtyards to siesta in and a bygone setting support the illusion that you’re a fresh-off-the-boat hidalgo paying homage to the New World.

Panama Hotels

Photo: @elotroladoportobelo

El Otro Lado: Portobelo, Panama
Style: Native arts and culture

Tucked away across a cerulean Caribbean bay from the historic port town of Portobelo, El Otro Lado hotel is a laid-back, yet luxurious, outpost of traditional Panamanian culture that’s right at home in the jungle-blanketed wild. With original artwork adorning every room, local woodworkers carving sculptures on site, creative Caribbean cuisine and an ambitious list of activities for outdoor enthusiasts, this jungle retreat is the ideal mix of art and adventure.

Photo: @liz.bonney

The Byron at Byron Resort & Spa: Byron Bay, Australia
Style: Relaxed rainforest resort

Bed down in the rainforest at The Byron at Byron Resort and Spa, a tropical treat with an excellent restaurant, award-winning spa and flocks of resident birds and butterflies. Toast the forest from the glittering green pool, stroll to the beach or laze around in your fig-and-fern-surveying room.

LA Hotels

Photo: @acedtla

Ace Hotel Downtown Los Angeles: Los Angeles, United States
Style: Rock ‘n’ LA noir

Where else can Spanish Gothic, art deco, noir, rocker chic and hipster cool coexist so peacefully but at the Ace Hotel Downtown Los Angeles? Located in the revamped United Artists Theatre building in the up-and-coming neighbourhood’s once-great Theater District, the hotel has generations of cool, and uses them to its utmost advantage, from its scenery rooftop bar to its Brooklyn-meets-California restaurant.

Istanbul Turkey

Photo: @smallcrazy

Vault Karaköy, The House Hotel: Istanbul, Turkey
Style: Historic bank, modern makeover

Originally the Ottoman Bank, Vault Karaköy by House Hotels in Istanbul has kept its classic architecture and charming historic features (including the eponymous vaults) but added plenty of modern delights: there’s a spa, stylish modern decor and even its own in-house art curator. Rooms from $263 per night. 

Photo: @royalcrescent_hotel

Royal Crescent Hotel: Bath, United Kingdom
Style: Georgian perfection

The neoclassical finery of Bath’s Royal Crescent Hotel, in the centre of one of the country’s most evocative streets, makes it the English escape of which elegant dreams are made. Add the first-class food and top-notch spa, and you’ll never want to leave.

Photo: @out.of_office

Point Yamu by Como: Phuket, Thailand
Style: Paola Navone perfection

At Italian-influenced Point Yamu by Como, rooms are immaculately styled by Paola Navalone and brilliant pizzas are served poolside at La Sirena restaurant. Thailand sings through, too, thanks to the Phuket-inspired artworks in the lobby, Peranakan-Thai cuisine in Nahmyaa restaurant and the jaw-drop views of Phang Nga Bay.

Memmo Alfama Hotel

Photo: @thehautepursuit

Memmo Alfama: Lisbon, Portugal
Style: White and wonderful

Once used as a shoe polish factory, Memmo Alfama hotel is a bright and breezy townhouse tucked away in a maze of cobbled streets twisting between ancient churches and Fado restaurants. Inside, smooth lines, crisp sheets and laid-back lounges beckon; outside, the river-view pool bar is Lisbon’s latest spot to see and be seen.

Photo: @toppingrosehouse

Topping Rose House: Hamptons, United States
Style: Gallerist’s beach house

If someone with a summer home in the Hamptons decided to build a hotel, it would be Topping Rose House. With just the right doses of gallerist-curated art, historic and modern architecture, anything-you-can-dream-of service, farm-to-table cuisine and the understated luxury that well-heeled New Yorkers expect, the Bridgehampton hideaway might actually be better than your own private Hamptons home. Or, does your summer home come with a free car and beach passes?

Island Hopping Around The Philippines

Less touched than the islands of Vietnam and Thailand, the Philippines boasts a unique, low-key, Jurassic Park-like heaven. Not even Chris Pratt can save you from falling in love.

The Philippines’ vast in beauty and nature would take months to explore in its entirety. However, we have laid out our top spots to hit when planning a short getaway to this one-of-a-kind destination.

Start your trip by flying from Manila (The Philippines’ central city) to the south-west island of Coron. Continue along to The Bacuit Archipelago off the island of El Nido – a necessary stop in exploring the beauty of the Philippine islands that can only be described as paradise.

Coron: Coron is a must-see for your first experience in the southern Philippines. Its crystal clear waters, limestone cliffs, and beautiful reefs speak for itself. Put your feet up, grab a San Miguel beer, and enjoy the view.

@denim.and.dreams

Sleep: Spend your mornings enjoying a traditional Filipino massage, your afternoons diving next to World War II Japanese shipwrecks, and your nights unwinding by the sea at the Two Seasons Coron Island Resort and Spa.

@shynrivera

Devour: Coron prides itself on its laid-back atmosphere and beautiful landscapes. If you’re itching to venture away from the resort for a night, we recommend you order a San Miguel while watching the sunset behind limestone cliffs at La Sirenetta Seafood Restaurant & Bar. Look no further than Bistro Coron for the best seafood on the island. As a local favourite, this casual hole-in-the-wall will not disappoint (tip: order the tiger prawns).

@backpackerstory

Experience: Book an island hopping tour (Tour A & C tend to be the best) with your hotel. Make sure you go for a dip at Kayangan Lake (or Cayangan Lake); known as the cleanest lake in Asia, the limestone rock underneath is perfectly visible, making you feel like you’re swimming in a different galaxy.

Philippines

@thetravellerguide

Bacuit Archipelago: The town of El Nido is the perfect starting point for travelling through the Bacuit Archipelago. Ranked as Conde Naste Traveller’s list of “20 Most Beautiful Beaches in the World,” Bacuit Archipelago is a must-see on your trip to the Philippines.

Philippines

@xaintly

Sleep: Situated on Miniloc Island (just west of El Nido), book a private water lodge at El Nido Resorts Miniloc Island and enjoy your breakfast at the base of overarching limestone cliffs, while overlooking Bacuit Bay.

@solorebeleats

Devour: Enjoy a wood-fired pizza at Trattoria Altrove – the restaurant prides itself on its homey-feel, insisting each guest take their shoes off upon arrival.

@bysmo.photo

Experience: Rent a motorbike or take a taxi and venture to Nacpan beach. There’s a good chance you’ll get to enjoy the vast, pristine beach all to yourself. Hidden by a rocky road, Nacpan possesses an untouched beauty of sea, sand, and sun.

Island Hopping Around The Philippines

@garlandehaney

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The 6 Best High Tea Services Around The World

Mother’s day is coming up ladies and gents!

That means it’s time to treat the most important woman in your life to some of the best high tea around the world.

Here are our top six spots:

The 6 Best High Tea Services Around The World

Photo: @jackieguanzon

Toronto

The Torontonian mother won’t be able to turn down an afternoon sipping traditional teas and munching on a variety of decadent pastries at the Shangri-La Toronto. Take her to High Tea at the Lobby Lounge for some serious brownie points. Served daily from 2 pm – 5 pm, High Tea is priced at CAD $61/person.

The 6 Best High Tea Services Around The World

Photo: @theplazahotel

New York City, New York

Embrace your inner Eloise and take your mother to The Plaza, The Palm Court. Designed by renowned Architect Thierry Despont, this luxurious space features beautiful floral accents inspired by Central Park. Treat your mother to a champagne afternoon tea ($105 per person) and enjoy a variety of baked goods and floral teas by Palais des Thes. The Palm Court is open this Sunday from 7am-10pm.

The 6 Best High Tea Services Around The World

Photo: @aspirehotels

London, England

For the essential British experience, take your mother to tea at The Ritz London and take your pick from a selection of 18 loose-leaf varieties. If you’re feeling extra extravagant, order a sparkling glass of champagne. You are also welcome to pick from an assortment of freshly baked scones served on china plates, all while surrounded by the smooth sound of pianists, harpists and much more. With prices from £54 per person, afternoon tea is served daily at 11:30 am, 1:30 pm, 3:30 pm, 5:30 pm, and 7:30 pm.

The 6 Best High Tea Services Around The World

Photo: @raffleshotels

Singapore

Enjoy an assortment of finger sandwiches and English cakes, or switch it up with dim sum and dumplings at Raffles Hotel, Singapore. Nothing is more elegant than the 120-year-old five-star hotel that combines luxury with history and colonial design.

The 6 Best High Tea Services Around The World

Photo: @nofong_

Bangkok, Thailand 

Enjoy an assortment of traditional or Mandarin Oriental Thai teas at the Mandarin Oriental Bangkok. Open from 12 pm – 6 pm, the Authors’ Lounge serves up a taste of new world charm in Thailand’s city-hub of Bangkok. Featuring an overarching glass roof and a collection of photography of the great famous writers that have stayed at the hotel; the Mandarin Oriental is the place to be this Mother’s Day.

The 6 Best High Tea Services Around The World

Photo: @stacieflinner

Argentina

For the Argentinian mother, the Alvear Palace Hotel for high tea is one of the best. Open Monday through Saturday, 4:30 pm – 7 pm, the Palace Hotel serves up fresh fruit tarts and warm scones, along with a perfect selection of teas. With a tea specialist at your service, you can create the exclusive “Alvear Blend”, a perfect cup of loose-leaf teas that mimic the aromas of the Alvear Palace.

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7 Unique Wellness Spas Around The World

It’s the end of the long week, you’ve worked hard and you’re tired. You’re dreaming of a far-off destination to slip away to and unwind. If this sounds all too familiar, then you are most definitely due for a designated spa vacation.

Here are the 7 best spas around the world you should plan your next relaxing escape to.

Palm Trees and a pool at the spa

Photo: @yaanwellness

Yaan Wellness, Tulum, Mexico

From its luxurious decor to its soothing offerings including yoga, moon Temazcal Ceremonies and more, Yaan Wellness deserves a top spot on this list. For those looking to completely immerse themselves in an energy healing experience, Yaan Wellness has treatments such as herbal and flower baths in copper tubs, purified crystalline water pools and deep muscle relaxation techniques. It was also recently named “Best New Hideaway” in the Condé Nast Traveller Spa Awards 2017.

Gorgeous pool in Bangkok, with server and the spa

Photo: @mo_bangkok

Mandarin Oriental Bangkok, Thailand

Another spa to win in the Condé Nast Traveller Spa Awards 2017 is the Mandarin Oriental Bangkok spa for “Most Outstanding City Spa.” With the spa’s delicate outer architecture and sumptuous treatment offerings, the century-old mansion has become a renowned spot for relaxation. Visitors to the spa can enjoy traditional Thai massages, reflexology, specialist facials, and a healthy food menu to enjoy while on property. Packages offered at the spa range from full on beauty pampering to spiritual wellness and exploration.

Pizza + a Pool in Italy Lake Como

Photo: ghtlakecomo

T Spa, Lake Como, Italy

There may not be anything dreamier than overlooking breathtaking Lake Como in a state of pure bliss directly after an indulgent massage. This otherworldly perfection is available at Grand Hotel Tremezzo’s T Spa. The chic and modern spa boasts luxurious anti-aging and anti-stress treatments to rid of all your wrinkles and worries. End the day with a refreshing dip in the infinity pool and watch the sun go down behind the lush Italian hills.

Photo: @aroharetreats

ARO HĀ Wellness Retreat, Queenstown, New Zealand

Getting back to nature is one of the best things we can do for our bodies, minds and souls. In one of the most nature-centric countries in the world, the ARO HĀ Wellness Retreat allows its visitors to do just that. Set in breathtaking Kiwi landscape, the spa encourages its guests to B.R.E.A.T.H. which stands for “being, relating, eating, activity, toxicity and healing,” creating an all-encompassing, wellness experience.

St Annes Spa Ontario

Photo: @megojmac

Ste. Anne’s Spa, Ontario, Canada

Visitors to Ste. Anne’s Spa can expect an incredibly tranquil experience complete with a chic and rustic atmosphere. This Canadian country spa is dedicated to making its guests feel absolutely at home. They encourage laughter and conversation and dedicate themselves to ensuring the utmost comfort for their guests. Being pampered is not just a treat for the patrons of Ste. Anne’s, its a way of life. With packages such as Day Spa Getaway, Overnight Getaway, Yoga Retreat and more, there is something for everyone here.

Chicago Spas

Photo: @nastasiaspassport

Waldorf Astoria Spa & Health Club, Chicago, Illinois, USA

Modern and chic facilities, top notch services and an iconic location make this spa one of the best the US has to offer. The spa invites busy city dwellers to unwind and destress after a hectic week. From its vast treatment offerings and focus on fitness and health, this urban mecca for relaxation is a must-try for visitors to Chi-town!

Photo: @fscaironp

The Spa, Four Seasons Hotel Cairo at Nile Plaza, Cairo, Egypt

Continuing with breathtaking spas found within iconic hotels, The Spa at the Four Seasons Hotel Cairo at Nile Plaza is the place to visit for those in search of much-needed R&R in bustling Cairo. Enjoy a massage with a view as treatment rooms overlook the famous Nile River.

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Island Hopping 3 Ways X Thailand

A diversity of dreamy experiences exists within the hundreds of islands scattered along Thailand’s Southern coast – how do you choose just one adventure to embark on? You don’t. With a convenient and rather inexpensive ferry system, today’s traveller can easily check multiple island extravaganzas off the bucket list.

Known as the “land of a thousand smiles”, there is no doubt Thailand boasts some truly extraordinary experiences – both on luxurious and cultural levels – that can quite literally be consumed using all five senses. Crystal-clear blue seas and white sand shores are inevitable in Mother Nature’s artistry along every shore, and dedicated foodies will have no problem finding truly hands-on culinary experiences that extend beyond the classic Pad Thai or Green Curry.

The Thai word, “Koh” directly translates to “Island”, and precedes the name of each of our recommended Thai hotspots: Ko Tao, Ko Pha Ngan and Ko Samui. Take a look at our suggestions below – this island trio is sure to satisfy all of your Thai travel aspirations, regardless of your budget!

Beautiful beach of Koh Tao, Thailand

DIVE IN: Koh Tao

Koh Tao is an ideal first stop of the three islands in Thailand, especially if you intend on obtaining your PADI open water diving license. It is one of the world’s more affordable places to receive this internationally recognized certification, which will undoubtedly come in handy throughout your upcoming island explorations. Expect to come across multiple world-class dive sites as the islands are known to have a wide variety of marine wildlife: from manta rays to whale sharks, to vibrantly colourful fish and coral reefs.

If you don’t have the time to commit to a full scuba diving certification, there is no shortage of prime snorkelling spots around the island that can be experienced either through an organized group tour or on your own. Koh Tao’s Shark Bay is accessible from the beach shore and offers clear, shallow waters for the chance to explore a variety sea life and coral formations – if you’re lucky, you might catch sight of a Blacktip Reef shark or Green sea turtle!

Sleep: With warm and friendly hospitality, panoramic breakfast buffet views and the island’s most Instagram-worthy infinity pool, you can’t go wrong booking a suite at the Aminjirah Koh Tao.

Devour: Sink into massive beanbags and catch happy hour cocktails at Fizz Beachlounge for an unforgettable sunset experience.

Experience: With the island’s natural vibe of pure zen relaxation, yoga retreats such as those offered by Shambhala Yoga Centre can provide you with the ultimate detox to strengthen your body and mind.

Aerail Koh Mae view, Koh Phangan, Thailand

BREAK FREE: Ko Pha Ngan

If you can recall anything about this lively island, it’s likely that Ko Pha Ngan is best known for its famous Full Moon Parties. Once every lunar month on Haad Rin’s crescent-shaped strip of shoreline, a low-key beach by day transitions into a once in a lifetime party that lasts until sunup. In high tourism season, the beach populates with crowds of up to 30,000 neon face-painted backpackers, enjoying mixed drinks in sand buckets and choreographed fire performances.

Accommodations run anywhere from $5/night backpacker party hostels to luxury resorts on the pricier end. You’ll quickly discover this island has an abundance of first-class offerings –Ko Pha Ngan is not necessarily all about a constant buzz of music and expensive beach clubs. The further north, the more remote and quiet the beaches are. Here, you can escape to some of the country’s most luxurious resorts while still having access to Full Moon Party celebrations. 

Rest: Experience utmost bliss with your loved one at Santhiya Ko Pha Ngan Resort & Spa. A true gem to the island, the resort offers a variety of stunning private villas engulfed in lavish greenery and cascading pools – the ultimate paradise utopia in Thailand.

Devour: Known for its service excellence and cultural ambiance, The Bistro at The Beach is considered to be the premier Ko Pha Ngan restaurant. Don’t miss the signature Gai Pad Med Ma Muang – a delectable stir-fried chicken dish topped with roasted cashews, chili jam and Phangan fresh pineapple.

Experience: Learn how to cook like a culinary pro while crafting the perfect Thai plate – whether it be Tom Yum soup, Penang Curry, or Papaya Salad. For the ultimate foodie experience, find a class that includes a tour of the famous Thong Sala food night market.

Tropical beach and coconut palms in Koh Samui, Thailand, Asia

WIND DOWN: Ko Samui

The next piece of paradise in Thailand, Ko Samui is the largest island of the three and is well-known to be suitable for all types of travellers. While it is certainly a bustling tourist hub full of stimulating experiences, Samui still offers the freedom and relaxation for those looking to do their own happy wandering. Whether you’d prefer to explore the land by foot or navigate the twisting highland roads by motorbike, expect no disappointments in this island’s magical scenery.

Samui has several waterfalls, although the two Na Muang Waterfalls are the most picturesque. Tree roots form a natural staircase that lead to the base of the falls where massive purple rocks sit. Other must-see landmarks include the 12-metre tall Big Buddha Temple, locally known as Wat Phra Yai, as well as Lamai Beach, a laid-back community that sits south of Chaweng district.

Sleep: If you don’t mind blowing your Baht, Ko Samui is known to have some truly luxurious accommodation retreats. Ease off in one of Code Ko Samui’s chic penthouse suites to enjoy striking views of the area’s turquoise sea.

Devour: Indulge in fine Thai and European dishes at Second Nature, where East cuisine meets West. Whether you’re looking for special occasion dining or a more casual, bar lounge environment, this Lamai Beach restaurant will suit your fancy.

Experience: If you’re working with a smaller budget, you’ll have no problem finding traditional Thai massage salons every few steps amongst the town with prices as little as 200฿ – or about CAD$7.50 – for a FULL body aromatherapy or reflexology foot massage!

Picture this: All of the culture, cuisine and warm hospitality found in Thailand’s major mainland cities, but accompanied by endless sun-lounging, towering ocean-side cliffs and palm tree-coated shorelines.

If Thailand has been forever on your to-do list, what are you waiting for? With the country’s various offerings, this island-hopping itinerary can be customized to hit all of your ultimate holiday goals. Between Koh Tao, Ko Pha Ngan and Ko Samui, the Gulf of Thailand has everything your dream vacation desires, regardless of your travelling taste.

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72 Hours In Chiang Mai, Thailand

Chiang Mai, commonly seen as one of the most culturally significant cities in Thailand is a sure fit for those who love a laid-back city adventure. She sings the songs of her traditional ways, with street vendors, trolley wagons, and a sea of markets, yet keeps you on your toes with a lively night scene.

Here are some MUST DO’s for a quick in and out of Chiang Mai:

STAY: GOOD MORNING CHIANG MAI,

The name pretty much says it all. Centrally located in Old Town, Good Morning Chiang Mai offers eclectic boutique charm for exceptional value. With only 24 rooms, you are welcomed like family. Rooms are extremely spacious and updated with warm presence of Thailand charm. The boutique is set on a lush ground of greenery with a beautiful salt-water pool to relax in after those big city ventures. A quaint bar and daily massage studio is also conveniently available on site. Included in your stay you will also receive a made to order breakfast complete with freshly squeezed orange juice and coffee in their beautiful indoor/outdoor restaurant.

EAT: With the abundance of vendors, markets, and restaurants, eating in Chiang Mai is something that you do often, with ease and in total food bliss.

TOP CONTENDERS

A Taste From Heaven: Large menu with all vegetarian/vegan choices. You would seriously never know this place is meatless.
TRY: Spring rolls, green curry in a coconut, pineapple boat rice, vegan brownie

The Hideout: Full bodied fresh coffee, healthy sandwiches and lunch menu made with all local fresh ingredients.
TRY: Jaws sandwich and a latte

The Coffee Bull: Be sure to take your shoes off at the door for this charming Thai cafe. Perfect for people watching, this little coffee stop is bursting with rustic Thai charm.
TRY: Drip coffee and hot cocoa.

 

DO:

The Night Bazaar: Test your haggling skills at the night Bazaar located just outside of Old Town. This market runs every day from 6pm-11pm. Night Bazaar is THE place to buy your souvenirs, as you will find most items much cheaper than the day markets.

Tip: can’t figure out how much to barter? Go for the average of 30% less than the asking price and walk away if you need to. You can usually find repeat products a few stalls down.

 

Thai cooking class: Can’t cook? No problem! Chiang Mai offers several full and half day cooking classes that include everything from exploring the produce markets to crushing Thai chili peppers. Whether you are a praised chef or eager beginner, you will learn a thing or two about Thai culture, vegetation, and the skills to impress your friends back home.

TRY: Zabb E LEE Thai cooking school.

Tuk Tuk Ride:

An experience in itself! What is commonly used for taxi’s can turn into a fun way to see the city in a jiff. Don’t feel like taking a day tour on a bus to see the city? Ask a Tuk Tuk driver to chauffeur you around to all the hot spots and you will be sure to see Chiang Mai the way the locals do.

TIP: Always negotiate price with the Tuk Tuk drivers. It’s expected!

SEE: Chiang Mai Wat

You will find several Wat’s (temples) all over Chiang Mai. Beautiful to look at, and immensely peaceful, you will immediately feel at rest in these aging architectural wonders.

VISIT: Wat Chedi Luang Varavihara. Walk around this beautiful Wat and learn about the everyday lives of monks.

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Ryan Emberley And Sabrina Maddeaux Set Sail With Silversea

I had never been on a cruise before embarking on Silversea’s recent tour of Southeast Asia. Departing from Singapore, the Silversea Silver Shadow made stops in Thailand, Malaysia, and Myanmar. Singapore, in particular, caught me by surprise. The city/country is impeccably manicured, design forward, and green as far as the eye can see. It felt like stepping into the future.  

The ship itself was beautiful and far less busy and imposing than I had envisioned. While there were plenty of restaurants and bars, it felt like more of an intimate, boutique experience. Adorning the walls was an incredible selection of art from the likes of Dali, Picasso, Renoir, and Miro – impressionists make for a very good first impression. And yes, some of them are surrealists, but my surrealism joke wasn’t as funny. 

A few highlights from the various excursions and adventures:

– In Thailand, I rode on a speedboat through Phuket’s numerous outposts and islands – one dubbed James Bond Island (as it was featured in the film The Man with the Golden Gun), and into Koh Panyee (a famed floating fishing village). Thailand is a place I’ve always wanted to visit.  The blues, greens and rolling island elevations didn’t disappoint.

– Malacca, Malaysia was one of the more interesting stops on the Silver Shadow’s voyage. The UNESCO world heritage site is an eclectic mix of cultures, religions, people, etc. I took a hilarious ride in a fleet of colourful trishaws through the city centre, while one of the stereo-equipped buggies blasted George Michael’s Careless Whisper.  

– Visiting the Shwedagon Pagoda, a massive golden stupa, in Yangon, Myanmar (formerly Rangoon, Burma) was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.  I’d recommend visiting in the evening as the gilded compound lights up in all different colours – and if you’re lucky enough to visit during a full moon, as I was, it’s even more spectacular. 

An example of Singapore’s stunning architecture, as seen from the Silver Shadow in Singapore’s harbour. 

The second-to-top deck of the Silver Shadow.

One of the little villages we visited while speedboating around Phuket, Thailand.

As the sun sets in Thailand the emerald greens give way to a sea of cool, glassy blues.

One of the island elevations around James Bond Island in Thailand.

There’s nothing better than a classic bar. I was pleasantly surprised to find there were numerous bars and lounges, some of which featured live music every evening. A great way to unwind after a day of exploring Southeast Asia.

More than once I said, “this is one of the best things I’ve ever eaten.” I might have overindulged a little – daily champagne (actual champagne) delivered in-suite, entirely-too-much foie gras, and more truffle than any all-inclusive should allow. Some notable standouts: a truffle and mushroom soup (called a truffle cappuccino, I believe) from the reservation-only Le Champagne, the homemade chocolate gelato from the ship’s Italian restaurant (probably the best gelato I’ve ever had), and the huge shrimp grilled-to-order on hot rocks outside on the ship’s deck.

The gilded peaks of Yangon’s Shwedagon Pagoda reaching up to a full moon.

Exploring the Shwedagon Pagoda compound.

A look at the bustling city centre of Yangon.

Driving around on the outskirts of Yangon.

A young man in Myanmar riding on the back of a delivery truck.

The small village around Yangon’s port was like a window back in time to Myanmar’s agrarian past. As the roads are largely undeveloped in this area, we spent a lot of time in traffic watching the locals go about their business.

In Malacca – everyone agreed that I had the best trishaw.