The Golden Triangle has a rather infamous image. Stories of opium, smuggling and unrest might have travelers expecting a certain kind of adventure when they come here. Yes, there is excitement to be found along the border between Thailand, Laos and Myanmar, but these days the region is not at all like the wild and lawless place of legend.
One of the best ways to access the Golden Triangle’s most memorable experiences is at the Anantara Golden Triangle Resort and Elephant Camp. From the balconies of this luxury Thai resort, guests can literally see into both Laos and Myanmar.
One of the best characteristics of the Anantara Golden Triangle is that each and every guest room offers views of all three of the Triangle's countries. (The resort has 44 Deluxe Rooms, 14 Suites, and five Family Suites).
In addition to Wi-Fi and flat screen televisions, the rooms have teak floors, silk accents and huge terrazzo tubs that can accommodate two people with room to spare. Guests can take advantage of the views at any time of day or night. Often, the resident elephants are visible as they graze along the river bank below the accommodations.
At least once, you should get out on the balcony before sunrise because the dawn scenery on the 160-acre property is not to be missed.
The views are also on display at the resort’s infinity pool and from Sala Mae Nam, the open-air eatery where an international breakfast buffet is served in the morning and a menu of Northern Thai specialties is available throughout the day. The adjacent Baan Dhalia, which serves Mediterranean dishes in air conditioned comfort, is open for dinner each night, and guests can sit under whirring ceiling fans and enjoy cocktails or beer at the Elephant Bar.
The Anantara also has something called Dining by Design. This is especially popular with couples. Basically, guests can request a special, private meal that can be served in a number of locations around the resort.
The relaxed, exotic setting is ideal for corporate retreats or other special events. Anantara has two conference rooms, the larger of which can accommodate up to 144 people with a theater seating layout.
Anantara can also host customized wedding celebrations. (It was a romantic enough venue to be chosen as a shooting location for a season of the Bachelor). In-house event planners can help couples design a personalized celebration and ceremony.
The pool, fitness center, yoga and kickboxing classes, a cooking school and the full-service spa, which offers both Thai and Western treatments, could all be highlights. Yes, all these features are of the highest quality, but the highlight for almost every guest will be the elephant camp.
The elephants and their mahouts live on the resort in a special village. Guests can interact with the pachyderms in three different ways. One of the most popular experiences is called Mahout Training. During this experience, guests get to ride elephants and learn the basic commands that mahouts use to communicate with the giant creatures. Guests can also opt for the Elephant Learning Experience where they get insight into the habits of young rescued elephants. Finally, Anantara has a unique offering called Walking with Giants where guests accompany mahouts and resident veterinarians as they take some of the elephants on their daily grazing and bathing hikes.
All these experiences take place on the resort grounds, which run right up to the border with Myanmar.
There are options outside the resort as well. A scenic overlook offers panoramic views of the Golden Triangle, though it is also possible to get a closer look by taking a long tail boat ride on the Mekong itself. The Opium Museum, which features interactive exhibits that offer a glimpse into the region’s opium-producing past, is literally right across the road from Anantara. Chiang Rai, which boasts night markets, restaurants and art galleries (Northern Thailand is the creative heartland of the country), is only about an hour away from the resort on well-maintained highways.
The Anantara Golden Triangle Resort and Elephant Camp puts adventures and luxuries right at guests’ fingertips. This venue provides both expected and surprising experiences in an exotic setting.