Thailand including Elephant Hills

Lisa Brady on 07 October 2019
Thailand has always been a top selling destination of mine, just as I decided that my family were ready to visit – I won a place on a Travel Counsellor exclusive luxury familiarisation trip…bonus! We flew to Phuket (via Istanbul) with Turkish Airlines – currently the largest carrier in the world, flying to more countries than any other airline…who knew? #travelfact.

Koh Lanta

Our private transfers were ready and waiting at Phuket airport, our first location was the remote but stunningly beautiful island of Koh Lanta. It’s a 5-hour transfer from Phuket (easier to transfer from Krabi) so we stopped for our first traditional Thai meal on route, before arriving at Layana Resort & Spa, an adult only haven set on a spectacular beach where Phi Phi Islands are visible from the shore. Layana has only 57 rooms spread across 7 room categories, it’s important we select you the right one - they are all fabulous. We participated in a Yoga class, took a treatment in their award-winning spa #heavenly, had delightful food by the poolside and at the beachfront restaurant. A highlight here was the sunset cruise which absolutely delivered on the most spectacular sunsets at sea, before dropping us off at Koh Lanta market for a taste of Thailand.

Elephant Hills

Our next stop was the much-anticipated Elephant Hills, Thailand’s first luxury tented jungle camp and the only Asian resort to be a National geographic World Legacy Award finalist. Elephant Hills organises the transfers from various airports and resorts in Southern Thailand, from Koh Lanta it was a transfer to Krabi airport for collection by the Elephant Hills transport team, the transfers were seamless and opened another opportunity to see the wonderful Thai countryside.

Okay, so I am not the biggest fan of camping so was a little nervous. There are 66 tailormade tents on the main camp which are very comfortable. They are spacious with a great wet room and are well protected from mosquitoes and other possible intruders! The Rainforest Camp is a spectacular location and is well named being overlooked by a huge elephant shaped hill! Sustainability is high on the agenda for Elephant Hills, all guests receive a reusable stainless-steel water bottle to use throughout your stay, the camp runs on solar energy with sustainable products being used throughout.

There are a variety of tours available from 1 night to 3-night stays, we were booked into the 4-day, 3-night stay at the main jungle camp. Our first activity after a smooth check in was to sit back and enjoy the breath-taking beauty of Sok River in the Canoe Safari, then after a wonderful lunch (food was outstanding), it was onwards to the Elephant Experience to feed, wash and interact with Asia’s largest land animal. This was incredible! It is important to remember that these are domesticated elephants, mainly rescued from the logging industry which banned the use of elephants. Now an endangered species, ethical centres like Elephant Hills are needed more than ever.

The evenings at Elephant Hills are spent being entertained by a dance performance by local schools that are sponsored by the centre, cookery lessons, more wonderful food and an early night in readiness for the next days activities. They do have a well-stocked bar (bar drinks and gift shop are payable by cash only), where drinks are reasonably priced.

During the next 3 days we got to self-canoe exploring the mangroves, relax on a Burmese Junk, speed through the channels in a speed boat, explore the local markets at Takhun where we experience a little bit more of Thailand’s rural lifestyle. Another highlight was the arrival and adventure of the Rainforest Camp. The scenery throughout your journey to the camp on a traditional Longtail boat will take your breath away, arriving at one of the only floating tented camps in the world is an unforgettable experience. There are 20 safari tents – identical to the jungle camp tents, you can stay overnight if we book Elephant Hills Rainforest Camp, which is always 3 nights, 2 days. There are a few itinerary options, and all include an experience in the Lake Camp where you have time to explore the spectacular surroundings in your own yellow canoe! The lake is so peaceful and beautiful, this is time to relax and take that digital detox… no Wi-Fi at this camp!

Before departing on the final day, you get to take a trek with your guide through the jungle for your final experience before being transferred onwards to your next hotel or airport. Khao Lak

Our transfer was onwards to the brand new 5-star, luxurious Devasom Khao Lak…wow, what a contrast to Elephant Hills tents! Between the 10 of us we had an array of room types, all of them meticulously designed and aligned to the whole hotel… beautiful! We were incredibly lucky to be treat to the Ski Villa, a 2-bedroom suite with its own rooftop infinity pool, butler service and well stocked bar – what a treat and perfect for a small group, family or special occasion.

During our stay here we had an outstanding Thai massage in their amazing Spa, participated in a wellbeing session and had the most amazing food by the infinity pool and fantastic restaurants. We also took some time to explore the markets and street food of Khao Lak…I can personally recommend the deep-fried bugs!

Thailand is known as the country of a thousand smiles, we added a few more smiles and made memories which will last a lifetime. I have promised my family that we will return together and relive some of these experiences, this trip is perfect for families, solo travellers, honeymooners and anyone with a sense of adventure and a lust for travel!