For those seeking out a unique experience that will remain with them for a lifetime then a trip into Thailand's Golden Triangle combined with a stay at the world-class Four Seasons Tented 'Camp' is a 'must do' for any world weary traveler.
Perched on the crown of Thailand where the kingdom intersects with Burma and Laos the Four Seasons Tented Camp is 90 minute journey by jeep from Chiang Rai International Airport, and four hours from Chiang Mai International Airport. The trip by road traverses hillsides dotted with the traditional homes and villages of some of Thailand's oldest civilizations.
The Four Seasons Tented Camp Golden Triangle offers guests an all-inclusive experience including elephant trekking, spa treatments, meals and round trip airport transfers. The property is equipped with free Wi-Fi, (no television) a riverside free-form pool and a spa, free minibar and in room coffee machine amongst others.
Tents, if you can call them that (there are a total of 15 at the resort) - are more like a sophisticated suite at any top hotel in the world and feature a king sized bed, private balcony, air conditioning and minibar. Guests can relax in a custom made wooden hot tub on the outdoor deck which is covered by an extended roof, or or soak away the day in a hand-hammered copper bathtub.
Guests can unwind by lounging outside on the tent's private terrace and look across treetops and into neighboring Myanmar with only the occasional sound of a trumpeting elephant shattering the silence which can be heard in the distant background.
The resort offers a 24 hour desk service and guests can enjoy leisure activities in the garden area or relax by indulging in a pampering spa treatment. There a many activities in which to engage in including riverboat trips, traditional craft classes and cooking classes. Although it's the mahout training sessions which has made the resort stand out from the crowd when it opened a little over ten years ago.
When it comes to dining, the Nong Yao Restaurant offers guests a range of Thai, Laotian, Burmese and Western delights. Guests can further indulge by partaking in a casual cocktail or dine on local delicacies in open air at the Burma Bar which features a local style thatched roof building and boasting a wine cellar stocked with a collection of Thai and international wines.
One of the resorts permanent guests is Thongkam the elephant, who's life had not been an easy one until he came to be a permanent resort resident. In her early 50's it's believed she had been put to work in Thai logging camps shortly after she was born. She then spent a number years walking the streets of Surin a city in the north east of Thailand with her mahout, begging for money.
A number of years ago The Golden Triangle Asian Elephant Foundation (GTAEF) invited Thongkam and her mahout to move to Chiang Rai. The nonprofit foundation is supported by the Four Seasons Golden Triangle Tented Camp and the neighboring Anantara Elephant Camp and Resort, which operates on resort shared land.
The Foundation undertakes elephant rescues, some from the streets and others from illegal logging and trekking camps or elephant shows. It also assists the mahouts and their families as they too join the elephants in the foundation's safe, green environment.
It's an expensive stay to be sure, however for those looking to experience a once in a lifetime opportunity, reservations can be made by visiting booking.com
For those wishing to extend their trip further around Thailand, the Tented Camp Golden Triangle is a 4 hour drive from Chiang Mai or just a short distance by air from the Chiang Rai airport.