Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Unique Journeys: Thailand

Being in the travel industry and talking travel all day gives me some unique insights. I am constantly surrounded by the latest travel trends, get first hand feedback from hundreds of travellers every year and am bombarded with industry reps touting their travel products and don’t forget the familiarisation and personal travel I undertake every year. 

All too often I see people fall into the trap of taking uninspired holidays. In this Series “Unique Journeys” I am focusing on bringing you unique experiences worldwide. One of a kind getaways and fascinating experiences to get you seeing travel from a new perspective. 

The experiences and properties you will see recommended here are not sponsored they are brought to you from my many years experience as a travel consultant.

For my first Unique Journey we are heading to Thailand. The reason I chose this as my first destination is that it is extremely popular with the Australian market and with good reason. The people are so friendly, it is exotic and exciting and the food is out of this world. It is also a very diverse country with large bustling cities, remote wilderness and stunning tropical beaches.

The issue I have is that very few Australian's make it past Phuket. Whilst Phuket is abound with fantastic value resorts, fun day trips like elephant trekking and rafting and it has all the amenities like shopping, restaurants and bars there is so much more to Thailand you just need to not be sucked in by the stay pay resort discount deals.

For a real experience, one that will stay with you for a lifetime, head North to the more remote regions around Chang Rai. Right up the very top of Thailand almost on the Thai/Laos border you will find Lanjia Lodge.

View from Lanjia Lodge, just stunning. Photo courtesy of Asian Oasis

 Lanjia Lodge is a unique experience not only due to it's stunning surroundings in the mountains but the fact that it is run by the local Hmong and Lahu villages providing employment and opportunities in the region. The local hilltribes service all of your needs and activities during your stay and some of the revenue go directly to local community projects so you are giving back at the same time as having a holiday.

Like so many of these unique experiences the pictures say it all. You aren't staying in five star luxury and that is what makes this so fantastic, You aren't being sheltered from the local life and people you are experiencing it at a grassroots level. Can you imagine waking up to those views over the Mekong Valley. Lush green foliage all around you, fog settled in the valley and the Mekong River at your feet. Village life happens all around you and traditional local meals are made for you by the villagers themselves.

Dining balcony at Lanjia Lodge. Photo courtesy of Asian Oasis
It's Thailand at it's core and whilst tourism will have had a small affect on this place it hasn't stomped all over it like in the beach resorts down south where your Holiday Inn's butt up against sad, degrading animal zoo's and touts chase you down the beach till you buy that $2 Rolex watch.

You can fully immerse yourself here with educational activities like Batik, Hiking, Local farm visits, tree planting, bird watching, walks around the local villages. This is what tourism should be.

Nearby Village in Laos Photo courtesy of Asian Oasis who can get you here in a Mekong River Cruise

Based on the glowing Trip Advisor reviews Lanjia Lodge receives most travellers main regret is they did not stay for long enough. Don't make that same mistake. Stay at least three nights if you really want to disconnect from it all, which is easy to do with no cell phone reception and no TV.

You can see more about the lodge, make bookings and view extended trips in the area at Asian Oasis, a great company specialising in incredible experiences not to be missed in Asia.

Photo courtesy of Asian Oasis

Photo courtesy of Asian Oasis

Village in nearby Laos Photo courtesy of Asian Oasis

Of course you won't have travelled all the way to Thailand to only stay at Lanjia. Spend some time soaking up the atmosphere in Chang Rai (around 2 hours drive from the Lodge). Chang Rai is less touristy than many of Thailands other destinations for travellers and a great place to explore the local hill tribes, go on treks and cycle. 

If you so wish you can have that five star experience here at the Anantara Golden Triangle Elephant Camp and Resort or if you want a great value experience check out Laluna Hotel and Resort.

Internal flights around Thailand are quite cheap and in many cases can be included as a part of your international airfares making them even better value. So you can certainly combine any location in Thailand with Chang Rai and Lanjia Lodge. If you head south there are an almost endless number of islands to take a beach break at. They vary greatly in their offerings and range from tourist Mecca's like Phuket and Koh Samui to secluded bays such as Yao Noi and Koh Kradan. Do some research first to see what will suit your needs.

Originally posted on Tuesday, 30 September 2014 by


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