Beyond the Hotel; Six Sensational Thai Experiences.

Marketing Director, Lizzie Heeley, from Turquoise Holidays is an extremely well-travelled individual and this month she shares with us her insights on how to make the most out of your holiday in Thailand.

Thailand lovingly known by us all as ‘The Land of Smiles’, is a treasure trove of colour, community and culture. Boasting year-round sunshine and incredibly well priced private pool-villas, boutique-boltholes and luxury-retreats, it’s drop-and-flop appeal tops the holiday bucket lists time and time again. However, what makes Thailand so incredibly special for me, are the people and the places, the journeys and the experiences, which lie beyond the beaches and hotel walls. The opportunities and array of activities are endless, but here are six of my favourites which can be booked through Turquoise Holidays.

Bangkok – Cookery Class

Join the chef from Blue Elephant, a well-renowned restaurant in the heart of Bangkok, for a guided tour around the local market, followed by a cookery class in which you will learn to create traditional and authentic Thai fare. Learn about the vibrant colours, flavours and tastes which make Thai food so delicious and unique. Half day from £140 per person.

Where to stay? SALA Rattanakosin. I love this hotel for its location in the heart of the city. Enjoy breakfast overlooking the Chao Praya River and famous Wat Arun temple, before hopping on the water taxi to Sathorn Pier, from where you can walk to the Blue Elephant to start your tour. Return with full bellies and sizzling senses for a sundowner or two in the hotel’s rooftop bar, from which you will enjoy a twinkling temple topped vista, stretching as far as the eye can see.

Chiang Mai – Meet The Elephants

This unique experience allows guests to understand, learn and engage with one of nature’s finest creatures; the Asian elephant. Patara Elephant Farm’s philosophy of ‘Extinction Is Forever’ clearly defines their approach to conservation and encourages all who visit to take action in educating themselves and others on how we can conserve wild animals. Spend a day in the life of a mahout (an elephant owner), feeding, bathing and looking after your very own gentle giant. Full day from £245 per person.

Where to stay? Raya Heritage. For those looking to be close to the hustle and bustle but not surrounded by it, this stunning sanctuary ticks all the boxes. With only 33 suites it is has an intimate feel with the luxury of space and serenity all around from the surrounding countryside. The Patara Elephant Farm is about an hour’s drive from the hotel, through an undulating landscape of lush jungle-clad hills and stepped paddy fields.

Chiang Mai – A Morning With The Monks

This is a unique opportunity to gain insight into the lives of Thai Buddhist monks. An early start allows you to present breakfast to the monks, who only accept food on donation. From here you will make your way to Wat Phra Doi Suthep, a mountain top temple from which you can admire Golden Naga images, intricately designed pagodas and sweeping views of the city below. Receive a blessing from one of the resident monks and spend the morning reflecting on this truly stunning and spiritual corner of the world. Half day from £60 per person.

Where to stay? Tamarind Village. This charming Thai infused property located within the ancient walls of Chiang Mai is a very special place from which to explore the city and surrounding landscapes. Within a few steps you’ll be on the main street which runs the length of the city, flecked with temples and local eateries. It is also home to the famous walking market which takes place every Sunday and another experience not to be missed. Doi Suthep is about an hour from the city by car.

Koh Samui – Mountain & Waterfall Adventure

I always encourage guests to make sure they spend at least one day off the beach, exploring the islands they are visiting and understanding the local landscapes, communities and way of life. This full day adventure takes you deep into Samui’s jungle-clad interior, through working plantations and traditional villages. Enjoy lunch up high on the summit of Samui before descending to Namuang Waterfall for a refreshing dip on your way back to the hotel. Full day from £175 per person.

Where to stay? Six Senses Samui. When 80% of your time on Samui is about R&R, it’s important to choose the perfect place to rest your head, and for me Six Senses is hard to beat. It’s not the most affordable but rest assured it is worth every penny. The subtleness of the Six Senses style is unique – it’s 5* luxury without the glitz and glamour. After a busy day, unwind in your private pool villa or visit the award-winning Six Senses spa. For this day tour you’ll be collected directly from the hotel.

Koh Phangan – Angthong Marine National Park

Set sail on a traditional Thai yacht and cruise amidst the Angthong Marine National Park, made up of 42 stunning islands. A protected environment for mammals, reptiles and birds, it is a hive of activity, abundant with wildlife, spectacular rock formations, hidden coves and deserted beaches. My favourite stop during the day is at Talay Nai where a fabulous inland saltwater lake was formed from the collapse of a giant kyrst cavern. Full day from £123 per person.

Where to stay? Anantara Rasananda. Far from the madding crowds of Haad Rin’s Full Moon party fame, this gorgeous beachfront abode is one of the best boltholes from which to explore the island and its surrounding marine park. I love the fact that one night you can wander out to fabulous local restaurants for caught-that-day fish and a cold beer and the next night be enjoying a private toes-in-the-sand candlelit dinner – the perfect balance.

Koh Yao Islands – Remote Snorkelling Adventure

Escape the crowds and discover another side to Phang Nga Bay on this private full day tour, taking you through the channel between Koh Yao Yai and Koh Yao Noi, in search for pristine snorkelling spots. A day of indulgence, your guide will not only show you the wonders of the underwater world, but also prepare a traditional Thai picnic for you to enjoy aboard your very own traditional long-tail boat. Full day from £250 per person.

Where to stay? Koyao Island Resort. A true desert island escape, the island of Koh Yao Noi is a hidden gem away from the tourist trap of neighbouring Phuket. Koyao Island Resort is truly one of a kind, with 18 thatched roof bungalows, it’s a home-away-from home that dreams are made of. Outdoor bathrooms and a truly rustic style make it a real Robinson Crusoe hideaway. You will be collected by boat from the hotel for your snorkelling adventure.

Find out more about holidays in Thailand with Turquoise Holidays on their website.