For people who haven’t visited Thailand before, there is a misconception that holidays here are all about the beach. Although it’s true that Thailand is a fabulous choice for a beach holiday, there is so much more to this fascinating and diverse country. Visit exciting cities like Bangkok and Chiang Mai, explore the gorgeous countryside of Mae Hong Son and discover a host of off the beaten track attractions. Our guest in this interview is Jessica Carney from Elegant Resorts, the tailor-made luxury holiday specialists. Jessica is a regular visitor to Thailand and offers her insights into what makes Thailand so special.
How many times have you visited Thailand?
I have been lucky enough to visit Thailand eight times now.
How did your first impression of Thailand compare to how you feel about it now?
My first trip to Thailand was much more of a backpacker experience and I fell in love with the island hopping and the beautiful beaches, whereas now I feel like I know just how much more Thailand has to offer than just its beaches.
Are there any things you wish you’d known about Thailand, before you first visited, that would have enhanced your trip?
How amazing the locals are and to ask them for their recommendations on things to do and see as they are the best guides.
Which regions have you visited and what type of holiday did you experience?
In North Thailand, I experienced a mix of culture and luxury in Chiang Rai with a stay at the Anantara Golden Triangle and Four Seasons Tented Camp which were both amazing. This was followed by a few nights in Chiang Mai which I loved for the night market, shopping and food.
Having experienced Bangkok several times now I would recommend first timers to stay by the river for the incredible views and novelty of using the river boats to get around – I still love it! And maybe for more experienced travellers I’d recommend staying near a Skytrain station which makes it is so easy and cheap to get around and beats sitting in the Bangkok traffic.
I’ve visited many beaches in South Thailand and would say Ko Lanta tops my list. These are the best beaches I’ve experienced in Thailand and I like it that Ko Lanta is still less developed than the bigger islands.
Please recommend any other islands for anybody planning a holiday to Thailand
I first visited Ko Chang ten years ago and recently went back and it is such a lush island to experience. There is a range of lovely local restaurants and bars plus a mix of hotels and beach shacks waiting to be discovered.
Ko Yao Noi is also one of my favourite islands in Thailand. Although it is getting more popular it still has so much charm and has amazing accommodation options to suit all budgets.
What do you recommend for people wanting to explore the luxury side of Thailand?
The food, service and views from Six Senses Yao Noi should be on everyone’s bucket list to experience. It is the perfect luxury addition to your Thailand itinerary and is one of my favourite hotels ever. Four Seasons Tented Camp is also a must for those wanting a once in a lifetime experience. Set in the jungle, surrounded by nature and a few resident elephants, boasting views across Thailand, Burma and Laos – it will not disappoint!
As an experienced travel industry professional, what changes have you seen and what do you predict for Thailand?
With economic concerns, plus the implications of currency fluctuations, travellers are becoming savvier and are looking for the best deals and savings out there. And the market has definitely reacted to this as there are some incredible prices available making it the perfect time to travel to Thailand. Plus, with more competition than ever before and new ways to book, tour operators are having to work much harder to secure the business and keep it. But Thailand still has the biggest share of UK repeaters across Asia and once you’ve been it’s inevitable that you’ll want to return sometime soon. For Elegant Resorts, we understand that the more personal the itineraries are, the better. Clients will always be grateful for that unique excursion or once in a lifetime memory they create on their trips rather than just the accommodation they stayed in.
Please give your top three things to see or do in Thailand
Visit the north, whether that is Chiang Mai or Chiang Rai or elsewhere in North Thailand. In the south, enjoy a boat journey around Ang Thong National Marine Park or the Phi Phi Islands. And in Bangkok, experience the food markets via tuk-tuk.
Choose three words to best summarise Thailand as a holiday destination
Fun-filled, adventurous, romantic.
Thank you, Jessica. If you’re looking to book a luxury holiday in Thailand, see what’s on offer from Elegant Resorts.
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