Our family has a great love affair with Thailand. After all, we were married in Thailand, two of our three children were born in Bangkok, and the third was only four months old when we arrived in Thailand. Just so you know, with Thailand, I cannot be objective. I will always be biased. It is such a wonderful country to visit - especially with kids.
We lived in Bangkok for four years (2010-2014), and during that time, we explored a great deal of the country. From the jungle in the north to the islands in the south, from the beaches in the east, to the national parks in the center . . . some places we visited once, others, multiple times. But, if I had to choose our favorite place to visit and stay with kids in northern Thailand, it would be this:
Our favorite spot in northern thailand with kids
When most people thinking about going on vacation to Thailand, they plan for beaches and Bangkok. So many people miss out experiencing the most beautiful part of this country - northern Thailand. Do me a favor and do not travel to Thailand without going north (Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Golden Triangle). We fell in love with the Golden Triangle region. It offers 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.
During our four years in Thailand, we stayed at the Anantara Golden Triangle Elephant Camp & Resort three times. For a country rich with luxury travel accommodations, that says something. Staying at this resort in itself is a phenomenal experience. Situated on a hilltop in the jungle with views of Burma and Laos, the resort is breathtakingly beautiful. From our room balcony, we could hear elephants trumpeting in the valley below. At night, we heard monkeys chattering in the distance. At the Anantara Golden Triangle Elephant Camp, you are fantastically removed from the hustle and bustle of everyday life and transported to a serene wilderness. In this respect, it is as far away from Bangkok as you can get.
The resort is home to an elephant camp that you can visit any time of the day, which is just steps from the guest rooms. Older children and adults can 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)!
You can also take a long-tail boat trip along the Mekong, embark on a three-country tour, mountain bike, or just relax at the resort spa, which, by the way, is one of the best in Thailand. Really, this place is like Disney World, only a hundred times better because the things happening around you are real!
Not that this place can be summed up in just five paragraphs, but I have done my best to try and bring you our highlights from the Anantara Golden Triangle.
Highlights of the Anantara Golden Triangle
1. The staff: A-MAZING. Wonderful with kids. From the servers who help out at breakfast to the transportation gurus who take you to different locations on the hotel property, these folks know how to interact with children. The breakfast staff gave Logan a constant supply of fruit to feed the baby elephant at breakfast (yes, one visits the dining area every morning), while the jeep driver took us on our own private safari to see water buffalo and elephants in the forest - at no extra cost.
2. The beauty of the hotel and surrounding areas: Majestic in the early morning, captivating during the day, and enchanting at night.
3. Mahout training: Meandering through the bamboo forests atop elephant back, followed by bathing them in the river. You tell me. Is there a cooler way to spend two hours?
4. The Anantara's conservation and sustainability ethos is dope. You would be hard-pressed to find a brand as socially responsible as the Anantara. I mention this not only because of its importance in today's world, but also because there is widespread mistreatment of animals, and elephants in particular, in Thailand. In 2003, the Anantara set up the elephant camp at the Anantara Golden Triangle, modeling it after a traditional mahout village. The conservationists behind the project then identified elephants that were injured or in danger of abuse and brought them to the elephant camp, along with their mahouts and the mahouts' families. The camp cares for the elephants, provides employment for the mahouts, and provides food, housing, medical insurance, and schooling for all mahouts and their families. If you are interested in knowing more, check this out.
5. The pool: The view of the tri-state area from the pool is phenomenal. There is a real Jacuzzi (hard to find in Thailand) and a separate area that bubbles up, creating a kind of massage for your whole body (which, by the way, is a huge hit with kids of all ages). Servers come around with complimentary chilled face towels, sorbets, snacks, and juices. From the pool, you will almost always see an elephant hanging about in the forest below. Being here never gets old folks; it never gets old.
Do me a favor and just go, okay? Mentally transporting myself back to write this post makes me want to get on a plane to Thailand ASAP.
Hop a flight from Bangkok to Chiang Rai via Air Asia; rent a van to drive you from Chiang Rai Airport to the Anantara (1-hour drive).
*Please know that this content is not sponsored. This resort is one of my favorites in the world, and I feel compelled to share information about it, because everyone should have the opportunity to visit at least once.
Do you have a favorite family-friendly location to visit in northern Thailand? If so, please share in the comments below.