With the rise of soulful getaways for girls, Thailand is increasingly popular as a destination offering the balance of wellness, health, food and retail therapy, as I discovered on a recent trip.
Beyond the country’s long history and unique culture, modern cities and inviting attractions are the luxury hotels and resorts, as well as the spectacular health spas and wellness retreats. But what really makes Thailand special is its generous and welcoming people, whether encountered in a small mountain village or in the vibrant capital city of Bangkok.
That and the ever-instagrammable limestone mountains, tropical rainforests, white sandy beaches and crystal clear waterfalls, where girls can gather to soak up this slice of paradise, go snorkelling through coral reefs, lounge next to the pool, get massages on secluded islands, and learn to cook with Thai locals.
But should the focus be on health and wellness and the ever-important quiet that we seek out to replenish the soul and restore balance to our systems, Thailand is where you are likely to be reminded of what really matters in life.
Thai Massages and Spa
Thailand is recognised as a premier health and wellness travel destination with world-class standards, modern and traditional techniques, with ancient medical wisdom and core values of the people of Thailand adding to the wonder.
For Spa focused wellness, a favourite is the Oasis Baan Saen Doi – a unique boutique Retreat, nestled beneath enchanting mountains on the outskirts of Chiang Mai. Elegant Asian décor and teakwood architecture is accented with the arts and crafts of the Hill Tribes. Here you can sink into your very own Jacuzzi, relax beside the saltwater pool, or while away afternoons in the spa. You will find here a branch of one of the most celebrated day spas in Thailand. The Oasis Spas offers the unique “Lanna-style” spa experience with treatments created to combine the best of Thai traditional medicine and herbal secrets with advanced discoveries in beauty and wellness.
The gentle and courteous Lanna ambience pervades to create a magical place where beautiful, gracious people provide the ultimate in personal service without pretentious airs. The Oasis network of Spas can be found across the country with fourteen locations in four destinations. In Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Phuket and Pattaya, Oasis Spa’s gentle, highly-trained therapists use specialised treatments and products to awaken a better you. This commitment to excellence has resulted in countless awards over the past 15 years.
If you prefer to get a massage in the comfort and safety of your home or hotel, try out RLAX, a new Home Massage Service (https://rlax.me/) which delivers a spa-quality massage right to your doorstep.
Meditation and Retreats
Thailand is perfect if you want to discover peacefulness and practice yoga, both of which are known to improve the quality of life. Of the hundreds of meditation temples in Thailand, not all cater specifically for foreigners with meditation sessions and retreats in English. Novices, as well as practised meditators, are however generally welcome at wats, but absolute beginners might like to consider the regular retreats at Wat Suan Mokkh and Wat Khao Tham, which are conducted by supportive and experienced Thai and Western teachers and include talks and interviews on Buddhist teachings and practice.
Of course, this may not be exactly what a girly retreat calls for – especially not a silent retreat – however, a couple of friends may benefit greatly from joining one of these together.
An alternate option is the SPA Koh Chang Resort on Koh Chang Island, which is ideal for a complete spiritual retreat. Formed on their passion for a healthy lifestyle, medical practitioners Piranuch and Kamthorn Orn, one a Doctor and the other a Dentist, who have taken their philosophies and blended them with true Thai hospitality to create a very special eco-friendly destination.
Says Piranuch – ‘We routinely exercise, cook healthy food for our family and are really mindful about what we eat taking extra care in the selection of the food we choose. Our acquired knowledge of natural holistic health from our own interest, studies and training are in such incorporated into our daily life.’
Offering the choice of a Detox Retreat, Fasting and Cleansing, Juicing, Raw Food Diets and Demonstrations, Yoga and Yoga teacher training, Weight loss, Health and Wellness packages. Or you can opt to book in simply for the beauty of the place and arrange treatments and yoga at your convenience. They buy fruit from a local project, recycle, are chemically free and advocate for the symbiotic relationship that should exist between man and nature.
The Kamalaya is an award-winning luxury meditation resort, on the beautiful island of Koh Samui that specialises in only the best holistic packages and offers customised treatments by medical professionals. Retreats include meditation, yoga, massage and health treatments as well as private consultations. Another wonderful option.
Health and wellness retreats can be nothing short of transformative with many programs designed specifically for women. Pair all that with affordability and excellent tourism infrastructure, and Thailand truly is one of the best places for this form of self-discovery.
Yoga, wellness and inner refection can be hungry work, and you’d do well to join a cooking class either at the spa or resort that you are staying at, or at one of the many on offer around town. They can be healthy, vegetarian or vegan focused, and even include a visit to the local markets to get all the required ingredients. Learn how to create eye-popping fruit carvings, make tofu from scratch, ‘cook’ raw vegan food, or participate in a traditional culinary experience on an organic Thai farm. You can even join a family in their home, for a more intimate cooking experience.
Shopping in Bangkok is a day-and-night activity that rivals the best found elsewhere in the world. Work your way through Bangkok with visits to the legendary MBK, the sophisticated Emporium, trendy Siam Discovery and Central World Plaza, or the impressively upscale Siam Paragon. Not to be missed is the market of all markets – Chatuchak Weekend Market; with floating markets and night markets found around the country. A new one to look out for in Bangkok is the ICONSIAM on the banks of the Chao Praya river. A very upmarket shopping mall with Thai food delicacies for sale on the basement level.
Chiang Mai deserves extra mention for its authentic craft atmosphere. A city of artisans and craftspeople, there are many beautiful boutiques and art galleries. From little markets to hidden temples, hip cafes and shops. Look out for banana spring rolls, lemongrass tea served in bamboo, and sticky rice with mango, if you need some sustenance as you go.
Read my other posts on Thailand. Photos supplied by the Thailand Authority of Tourism.