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34 • Vacations


Winter 2018

Vacations® •

Winter 2018 • 35



Ex raordinary Experiences

Enjoy majestic Northern Thailand, famous

for its mountains, temples, rice paddies and

ethical elephant sanctuaries, while staying at

a replica of a Lanna kingdom.

in Chiang Mai, Thailand



By Amber Gibson

Built to resemble an ancient Lanna

kingdom, the Dhara Dhevi Chiang Mai

spreads across 60 acres; it’s arguably

the most authentic and breathtaking of

the many luxury resorts in Chiang Mai. Its

lobby is the gilded palace where you’re

greeted with jasmine blossom flower

garlands and warm smiles. Brick paths

lead to 123 individual teak wood villas,

each housed behind a brick wall, ensuring

plenty of privacy with ample indoor and

outdoor living spaces. Thai silks, local hill

tribe textiles and ornate wood-carved

furniture set the scene.

This intricate resort has a weathered look

with contortionist yogi sculptures, moats,

colourful paper lanterns and fortified

stone walls decorating the property.

If you prefer a more contemporary

vibe, book a colonial suite – these were

updated just last year, along with a newly

renovated spa.

A collection of shuttered wooden

shop-house boutiques and restaurants

are located near the front drive from

the lobby reflecting the Lanna tradition

of trading with outsiders just beyond

the kingdom walls for security. Within

the kingdom, there’s a craft village

where locals demonstrate paper cutting

and bamboo weaving. Dhara Dhevi

Chiang Mai has nine different bars and

restaurants, and the myriad of tempting

delicacies is almost overwhelming. There

are rich Thai curries served over fluffy

steamed rice, braised bird’s nest soup at

the Chinese restaurant, Fujian food, and

even Italian pasta at Allegro. For dessert,



try the delicate French macarons in

unique flavours like honey truffle from

the charming cake shop.

To work up your appetite, take a private

Muay Thai class. Resort instructors are

demanding but sympathetic, offering

refreshing iced butterfly pea flower tea

(think of it as traditional Thai Gatorade)

and cold lemongrass scented towels to

cool off after a particularly strenuous

sequence. If Muay Thai is too intense,

rejuvenating group yoga classes for all

levels are offered daily.

The Dheva Spa is another highlight,

its building (which took more than

three years to construct) is inspired by

ancient Mandalay palace architecture.

Every treatment commences with a

lifestyle consultation to determine

your Ayurvedic


, and treatments

include a wide variety of traditions

including Chinese and Lanna therapies.

One Lanna massage involves tapping

the body with a “Tok Sen” tamarind

tree tool. During a thermal Himalayan

salt massage, a hot clay pot compress

filled with Himalayan salt detoxifies

the body and reduces water retention.

In Lanna culture, this treatment was

traditionally used for women who had

just given birth to help restore the

mother’s energy.


Chiang Mai was established in the 13th

century, the last capital of the Lanna

Kingdom before it joined Siam. Like

Florence during the Italian Renaissance,

the largest city in Northern Thailand was

known for arts and culture, a melting

pot of Chinese, Laotian and Burmese

cultures. Today, the majestic temples,

crowded night markets and elephant

sanctuaries are popular draws for

visitors looking to see a different side of

Thailand beyond Phuket and Bangkok.

November through February has the

most favourable weather and is the most

popular time for international tourists.