Loosely translated, the name of this fascinating Southeast Asian kingdom means “people” or “freedom,” in recognition of the fact that Thailand was never conquered by a European power. Home to a beloved royal family, Buddhist temples and elephant reserves, Thailand is welcoming Western honeymooners with its sunny shores, delectable cuisine, superb service and smiling faces.
Massage, much like herbal medicine, runs deep in Thailand’s traditional culture. It’s believed to cure all that ails you. (The first university in the country was a massage school!) Have a treatment at the Four Seasons Bangkok, and you’ll be welcomed with a flower-infused footbath and a cup of herbal tea. Treatments here are performed in grotto-like suites that boast oversize tubs, personal relaxation areas and enormous massage beds (treatments start at about $60; fourseasons.com).
Phuket may get all the press for its beaches, but the outer islands of nearby Phang Nga Bay are so pristine, they seem to have been created especially for daydreamers. On an excursion from the Royal Phuket Marina around the limestone islets, you’ll experience that wonderful swept-away-to-an-island feeling you’ve always imagined. Snorkel in the transparent waters, watch fishing boats bring in their catch and marvel at the scenery — it’s no wonder James Bond has been spotted on these spits.
Bangkok’s Grand Palace complex is one of Thailand’s most famous sites. The walled area houses temples, governmental offices and a residential palace that is still in use — royal ceremonies such as marriages and coronations take place here, and foreign dignitaries often stay at the complex while in town. Wat Phra Kaew (Temple of the Emerald Buddha) and Wat Pho (Temple of the Reclining Buddha) are two of the most spectacular buildings here.
With only 55 thatch-roof guest villas, each with its own plunge pool, butler service and shaded outdoor living room, it’s no wonder this resort is called Six Senses Hideaway Yao Noi.The hilltop property is so remote it has its own time zone (room rates start at about $885 a night; sixsenses.com).
The 64-floor Le Bua State Tower Hotel soars over Bangkok’s crowded streets. Atop this luxury oasis, the rooftop Skybar provides a relaxing environment for sipping a cocktail, watching the sunset and marveling at the cityscape below. Adjacent to the bar is Dome, a modern loft-like space serving splurgeworthy cuisine and wine pairings, as prepared by head chefs who happen to be twin brothers (room rates start at about $170 a night; lebua.com).