The hidden sanctuaries of Thailand
Get away from the crowd by visiting the unexplored districts of Suan Phueng and Amphawa in the Land of Smiles
If Phuket, Krabi, Chiang Mai, Pattaya and Koh Samui have become too touristy for your liking, there are still hidden gems to discover in Thailand, in the less explored districts of Suan Phueng and Amphawa.
A beautiful destination and restful sanctuary, Suan Phueng is where locals from the Land of Smiles go to rejuvenate.
Located in the western part of Ratchaburi Province, the district sits on the border of Thailand and Myanmar.
Its panoramic view of hills and greenery are a stark contrast to the bustling city of Bangkok, a 2½-hour drive away.
Accommodation, food and activities also cost half the price.
Most Bangkok residents visit Suan Phueng at least once a year to get away, finding peace in the natural landscape and slower pace of life.
Several resorts have sprouted in Suan Phueng in recent years, with sprawling villas and gardens inspired by other cultures around the world.
La Toscana Resort features architecture from Italy, while Nagaya Resort is influenced by the Mediterranean.
Both are highly popular with the locals, who book the units months in advance for wedding photo shoots and as a honeymoon destination.
Nagaya Resort, which sits in a valley surrounded by pastures and mountains, also takes advantage of its proximity to nature by offering creek walking just behind the property.
Take a walk through the Pachee River and let your mind become as clear as the waters that flow gently past your feet, after which you will be treated to high tea at the site, complete with tables and swings while you munch on the resort's homemade scones.
For the slightly more adventurous, the Tasana Kayak resort offers a unique kayaking experience down a river.
Those looking to take it up a notch may request to do it at night, with guides who are happy to oblige and keep you safe.
Families may also wish to visit Alpaca Hill, a farm that allows you to get up close with friendly animals such as alpacas, Flemish Giant rabbits and capybaras.
Suan Phueng is also home to the Tao Hong Tai pottery and ceramic factory, a whimsical place housing hundreds of ceramics in the shape of animals. The colourful pottery items dot a field at the entrance, with multiple locations perfect for photos.
After exploring Suan Phueng, experience the Thai way of life in Amphawa.
The district sits at the northwestern tip of the Bay of Bangkok, and is a key transit area for commercial trade.
Visit the famous Maeklong Railway Market in the morning, where locals gather to set up shop and conduct business.
Also known as Siang Tai Market, meaning 'life-risking', it is so called because of the unique way the stalls operate on the railway track itself.
Traders ply their wares on the tracks, and as the train approaches, they quickly move their items out of the way. And the train passes just inches away from them.
From there, head for Asita Eco Resort for lunch by the river, with a menu that has local dishes with a fine dining twist.
The resort offers an experience focused on cleansing the mind and body, with classes for guests to teach them simple massage and relaxation techniques.
It is also focused on environmental protection, with much of it built using eco-friendly materials.
In the afternoon, visit the Amphawa Floating Market, where you will find traditional Thai food being sold in the canal by locals in paddle boats.
The market is open only on weekends, and continues to retain its authentic charm.
Alternatively, the Damnoen Saduak Floating Market just outside the Amphawa district is open daily, though it is usually teeming with tourists.
Dynasty Travel is offering a five-day tour of Suan Phueng, Amphawa and Bangkok (from $898 for land package), and couples who book before July 15 enjoy additional savings of up to $100.
Awarded Skytrax 2018 World Airline Awards as the World's Best Economy Class, World's Best Airline Lounge Spa and Best Economy Class Onboard Catering, Thai Airways operates 32 flights from Changi Airport to Bangkok weekly.
Check out the Dynasty Travel online for special airfares with Thai Airways.
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