Whenever people think of Thailand, most tourists will picture the hustle and bustle of Bangkok or the stunning beaches of Phuket and Krabi. Such was the case with my husband Michael and me. We had been to Thailand numerous times before, but always gravitated towards the cities, not knowing how much we were missing out by not exploring Northern Thailand.
So, when Michael and I were finally able to set off on our honeymoon – having promised we’d return to Thailand to celebrate—we not only planned to visit Bangkok but also to explore parts of Chiang Mai, Phuket, and Chiang Rai – a perfect balance of city, the beach, and the mountains.
Our three-day stay in Chiang Rai was particularly memorable, to say the least. It was a much-needed stop after four days of exploring and eating in Bangkok; and “Pa Sak Tong,” the estate where we stayed, was beyond incredible. Here, we enjoyed a beautiful private villa, complete with our own pool, a team of hosts and private chefs who were always available, a private fitness center, and endless walking paths to wander whenever we wished to explore the estate.
Surrounded by farmlands and overlooking the nearby mountains, Pa Sak Tong is situated about 20 minutes away from the Chiang Rai Airport. The estate has two villas—the first of which is the Baan Sak Tong (or Thai Chalet), where we stayed. The villa has six bedrooms, a private spa, a steam room, an entertainment room, and a gym. The villa overlooks a pond and has a beautiful sitting area by the water, from where you can enjoy the scenery. While at our villa, we were able to relax by the pool, walk around the premises, arrange for massages, and appreciate the views of the mountains. It truly has all the amenities one would want.
The second, larger villa is the Khum Sak Tong (or Luxurious Longhouse). This villa has seven bedrooms, a private heated pool, multiple pavilions, a private dining villa, and an entertainment center. Khum Sak Tong is perfect for groups or families, as they will never run out of things to do! The furniture and decor on the whole estate is also quite stunning. When staying here, you really feel like you are in your own private mansion in Thailand!
Exclusivity & Service
What we loved the most about staying at Pa Sak Tong was the quality of service and the privacy the estate offers. The entire property is only booked to one party at a time, so whenever you are staying here, you are assured that there will be no one else. It is perfect for people wanting to disconnect from the outside world.
The staff also go above and beyond to ensure your every need is met. They helped us coordinate activities to meet our schedule, each excursion customized based on our specific interests and hobbies. Meals were seamlessly tailored to meet dietary restrictions and the team even brought in a doctor when my husband was feeling under the weather. The consummate professionals, I couldn’t have been more thankful for all of their assistance throughout our stay.
Meals were enjoyed in the privacy of our villa—with breakfasts served on the terrace. The views were spectacular, and the food was amazing – a mixture of popular Thai dishes and specialties from Northern Thailand. The staff working at Pa Sak Tong are local and live in the villages nearby, so their knowledge of Northern Thailand culture and cuisine is insurmountable.
The estate also has a restaurant on site that, while open to the public, has very limited seating and thus maintains a level of intimacy. ‘Lotus Native Food Lab’ headed by Chef Kong (Kongwut Chaiwongkajorn) gives guests the chance to taste authentic Northern Thai cuisine in a cozy and unique setting. What’s more, everyone gets to interact with Chef Kong as he explains culinary history and shares stories about the ingredients he serves.
One morning we went on a rural mountain hike. This trek went around the estate, into the nearby tea plantations, and lasted roughly an hour (there is an option for an even shorter route). The hike ended in the plantations, where our host met us with cold towels, water, and a car to drive us back to the property. It was a nice, informative guided walk where we got to see how locals live and what the culture is like in this area of Thailand.
Our favorite activity was visiting a nearby elephant sanctuary, nestled in the mountains just 45 minutes from the estate. Located in beautiful open farmland, the owner and trainers here have dedicated their lives to taking care of these wonderful creatures. The owner of the property even calls the elephants his ‘kids,’ and prohibits tourists from riding them, in order to ensure their well-being.
Once we met up with the two pachyderms, we spent some time watching them eat, and periodically handed them a banana heart, some leaves, or bamboo. The pile of food quickly disappeared, and I couldn’t believe just how much they ate! The female elephant was also pregnant, and they are expecting a baby in 20 months. To accommodate this new arrival, and help shelter them during the summer months, the sanctuary is working hard to build them an official place to sleep. For right now, the elephants roam the nearby hills and mountains at night.
We then went down to the pond with little buckets to help bathe the elephants—which was an absolutely surreal experience. Standing in the water, we repeatedly splashed them, and watched their ears flap in happiness. Our guide, a local mahout (elephant caretaker) informed us that this was how elephants expressed love!
Our time at the sanctuary was a true highlight of our honeymoon, and all the more enjoyable because it was a private excursion. Michael and I felt like we really got to bond with the elephants and share this special moment together. Guests staying at Pa Sak Tong for three or more nights have the opportunity to participate, and I can’t recommend it enough—for couples and families alike! It was something we will remember for years to come.
All in all, our time in Chiang Rai and at Pa Sak Tong was beyond what we had expected. The mountains, the privacy, and the ultimate luxury of service are things worth experiencing! Thailand will always be one of my favorite countries in the world and I’m glad I got to explore it more with the love of my life. All the experiences we had on our honeymoon were worth the three-year wait!