Hundreds of years ago, the Grand Tour was a rite of passage reserved for scions of European aristocrats – dispatched on journeys around the continent’s leading cities to soak up culture and return replete with knowledge. Exotiq Thailand has brought the Grand Tour concept right up-to-date in a new Thai guise – as the spectacular prize for the winner of our inaugural Best of the Best Award. This is a Grand Tour around Thailand’s diverse landscapes to experience some of the country’s top destinations and their hotels, courtesy of our generous sponsors. Along the way, local activities at each of these magnificent seven destinations ensure this is a modern Grand Tour of Thai tourism. Don’t forget – there’s still time to win this fabulous Thai Grand Tour! Voting in the 2017 Exotiq Thailand Best of the Best Awards closes on 10 June. Visit exotiqthailand/awards to vote for your favourite hotels, restaurants, spas and airlines. Good Luck!
First stop is the southern holiday paradise of Phuket. Just a short drive from the new international airport is our luxurious accommodation at the serenely beautiful Banyan Tree Phuket, nestled between white sandy beaches and coconut groves. It’s an oasis of peace and relaxation where our winner will relax in a villa with its own private pool, finely furnished with Thai-inspired décor and modern conveniences. Be Impressed By: Banyan Tree Phuket Spa brings bodily relaxation to pleasure-seeking guests, courtesy of highly skilled and trained staff members with versatile skills honed through time and tradition. Don’t Miss: The Sanya Rak River Cruise, a romantic dinner amid a Phuket sunset on board a long-tail boat. Couples enjoy traditional Thai music and gourmet cuisine cruising through lagoons in an aura of romance.
It’s an early start for our Grand Tourists to check out for their three-hour drive to Donsak Ferry, and the 90- minute voyage by Seatran to Koh Samui and the next destination, Conrad Koh Samui. It’s a luxury pool villa resort on a scenic hillside, where all the villas have infinity pools and west-facing sea views. Don’t Miss: A culinary journey through contemporary Thai Cuisine at Jahn, the hotel’s award-winning restaurant is set in opulent surroundings overlooking the sea. Be Impressed By: A visit to the natural beauty of Na Muang Waterfalls, a set of two cascades, easily accessed by walking paths in Na Muang National Park.
Now it’s back to Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport for a 90-minute flight north to the mysterious mountain region of Chiang Mai and the Four Seasons Resort Chiang Mai. This sprawling resort is set amid the terraced rice fields of the Mae Rim Valley and positively oozes northern Thai culture. Don’t Miss: A Thai culinary adventure at the resort’s Rim Tai Kitchen cooking school in a teak house. Classes, inspired by the ancient Lanna Kingdom, focus on local organic produce. Be Impressed By: Touring Chiang Mai’s traditional classical temples of Wat Chedi Luang, Wat Phra Singh, Wat Phra That and Doi Sithep.
Elegance on the Beach
A drive of just over two hours south of Phuket takes us to Krabi and the elegant Sofitel Krabi Phokeethra Golf & Spa Hotel, combining French luxury and local charm. This beach resort is set in tropical gardens and is a haven for golfers with its adjoining golf course, as well as spa fanatics and just about anyone seeking relaxation and adventure. Don’t Miss: The hotel has the largest swimming pool in Krabi, a lagoon-style creation that demands to be explored. Be Impressed By: Sea Life – James Bond Island, Ao Nang and Phi Phi are all within easy reach by speedboat excursions booked through the hotel, and snorkelling can be enjoyed at nearby beaches.
There’s just a two-hour drive to the ferry, which embarks on a short trip to the island of Ko Lanta and Pimalai Resort & Spa. This stunning resort is an oasis of calm, poised amid a backdrop of serene mountains, lush tropical forests and the sea. It’s an intensely private location, surrounded by 100 acres of tropical vegetation and its own pristine private beach. Don’t Miss: A private romantic dinner on the beach, in a personal Sala with just sea breezes and breaking waves for company. Be Impressed By: Scuba diving in some of the area’s top dive sites near to the resort, accessed by its own Pimalai Dive Centre providing full facilities and instruction.
Time to leave island life behind for a flight to Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport, followed by a two-hour drive south to the seaside royal resort of Hua Hin, and the InterContinental Hua Hin Resort. This alluring low-rise resort spans a sweeping stretch of beach that’s fanned by exhilarating sea breezes. Don’t Miss: Enticing and healthy Mediterranean cuisine served right on a beach setting at the hotel’s sophisticated Azure Restaurant. Be Impressed By: A trip to the Hua Hin Cicada Market; this atmospheric weekend night market sells an eclectic mix of local art, handmade decor7ative items, fashion and clothes.
Big City Whirl
Departing the mysterious north, there’s another flight back to the big city whirl of Bangkok, and accommodation in the heart of this lively metropolis at The St. Regis Bangkok. Just minutes away from the business, entertainment and shopping districts, it’s a gateway to the best of Bangkok. Don’t Miss: Relaxing in spacious guest rooms with scenic views of the Royal Bangkok Sports Club and the striking Bangkok skyline. Be Impressed By: The direct connection to Rajadamri BTS Skytrain station, just a few stops from premium shopping malls such as Gaysorn, Siam Paragon, Central World, Central Embassy and Terminal 21.