Truffle Journal Guide to Chiang Mai, Thailand

Truffle Journal Guide to Chaing Mai, Thailand

When the offer came up to experience Chiang Mai, Thailand as part of my travels I jumped at the experience without hesitation. I had previously spent several weeks exploring the south of Thailand and island hopping with endless sunshine and ocean. However, a part of me felt deprived after departure back home without having explored the cultural mecca of Thailand. Known for its beautiful temples and rich history Chiang Mai always called and I finally received the chance to answer.
Here is a list of some of the amazing experiences I had in Chiang Mai that I would highly recommend. They are in no particular order and can be easily achieved with a shuttle tour bus. I stayed in the center of town on the banks of the Ping River at X2 Riverside Resort. Chiang Mai is a city that captured my heart and that I would easily return.

Temples;

Chiang Mai is known for its elaborate beautiful Thai temples. When visiting the temples make sure to wear something that covers your knees and your shoulders. It is respectful to local monks who live within the temple grounds. When you are at the temple you are able to explore quietly appreciating the history and the culture on offer. You can purchase lotus flowers or incense and offer this to the Lord Buddha. If there is a local monk giving blessings then you can approach the monk and receive a blessing.

The first temple I visited was the magnificent gold gleaming Wat Phra That Doi Suthep found on Doi Suthep the 8th highest mountain in Thailand coming in at 1685 meters, bigger than table mountain. Considered a national park driving up to the temple is simply beautiful! The thick lush greenery engulfs you and then the temple stands tall covered in the most magical gold, overlooking the city with the most amazing view. It is considered one of the holiest Buddhist sites in Thailand. This awe-inspiring temple is crowned by an elaborate Chedi (Monument), 24 meters tall and gold plated from top to bottom. It is quite something to behold. Allow enough time for exploring the temple ground and to see the elaborate murals that adorn the walls as well as learn about the history. Make sure you have cash with you for the entrance and the offerings. If you have questions regarding the temple or in general about Buddhism then visit the Buddism Center. The Thai are friendly and helpful and would love to answer any questions you may have. This spiritual place offers retreats, meditations and lighting the candle at the offering was an immensely special moment for me.

Truffle Journal Guide to Chaing Mai, Thailand
Truffle Journal Guide to Chaing Mai, Thailand
Truffle Journal Guide to Chaing Mai, Thailand
Truffle Journal Guide to Chaing Mai, Thailand

If you are feeling for more of an active experience that involves you literally getting into the ring then why not step up and visit the Buakaw Village. Set up as a sustainable village and training Gym by Buakaw, the K-1 Muay Thai World Champion of the World and Thailand title holder for over a decade. This establishment offers training camps whereby you can come and stay and train in Muay Thai. The accommodation is simple and the training fierce. With a relaxing area overlooking rice paddies, there are moments to relax and take in the beautiful grounds. We only did a day visit and minimal training however, judging by the number of muscles on site - this training camp means business. You can find them on facebook here.

Truffle Journal Guide to Chaing Mai, Thailand
Truffle Journal Guide to Chaing Mai, Thailand
Truffle Journal Guide to Chaing Mai, Thailand

Further up in the lush green forest of Chiang Mai you will find the Hill Tribe Villages. Showcasing a simpler and more rural life. These tiny little villages are so small that many are unmarked on maps. Some villages are as small as up to 20 households. We explored a little village taking in all the beautiful hand woven items created by the local tradesmen in order to make a living off the tourists that pass. The fabrics are beautiful and purchasing an item was a must. The site we visited had manicured gardens and a gaggle of small children playing outside. A very peaceful way of living. With some of the original huts and information about the tribes inside you can explore this foreign world. Just make sure to be respectful and ask if you may take photos. It is not an animal zoo but rather a place where you have the opportunity to step into someone's world, so vastly different from yours and see how they exist.

Truffle Journal Guide to Chaing Mai, Thailand
Truffle Journal Guide to Chaing Mai, Thailand

Chiang Mai has a variety of bustling markets filled with a selection of common and unique fresh foods and more. We visited the busy Warorot market place on the banks of the ping river. This market place is where the locals do their shopping and is an authentic experience that submerged me in the Thai culture. Surrounded by street food stalls and busy vendors the sights, smells, and sounds are an assault on the senses in a wonderful way. Getting there by tuk-tuk or going on foot is best. The market opens early in the morning and closes after dark. You can buy almost anything at the market from clothes, condiments, fresh fruits, meat and more! Visiting the flower and fruit market was my favourite and yes, of course, a coconut was had. The fruit section was my favourite with the display of so many unknown bright coloured fruits. You are going to want to get out and explore all areas so make sure you have the time and don't forget that cash is king. Don't forget the side streets where you can find hemp textiles and fabric woven by the hill tribe people.

Truffle Journal Guide to Chaing Mai, Thailand
Truffle Journal Guide to Chaing Mai, Thailand
Truffle Journal Guide to Chaing Mai, Thailand
Truffle Journal Guide to Chaing Mai, Thailand
Truffle Journal Guide to Chaing Mai, Thailand

Once the home of the Emerald Buddha (Thailand's most sacred and ancient relic), the Wat Chedi Luang in Chiang Mai is one of the most iconic parts of Chiang Mia's skyline. This magnificent structure was built somewhere between 1385-1402. This beautiful chedi at its peak measured 60 meters across and 80meters tall. After a devastating earthquake, the Chedi remains but the staircase and elephants had some restorations done and one can only begin to imagine seeing such a magnificent structure in all its glory! With several culturally significant pieces on the temple premises, I would highly recommend taking a walk and exploring.

Truffle Journal Guide to Chaing Mai, Thailand
Truffle Journal Guide to Chaing Mai, Thailand
Truffle Journal Guide to Chaing Mai, Thailand

Dine at X-2 Riverside resort with Alex Dermard. This was one of my favourite experiences. To see this master at his craft was a true delight. His food is beautifully plated and each plate a complete work of art. The only thing to stand tall against the beauty of each plate is the flavours of the dish. Well thought out and elegantly executed whether you are staying at the resort or passing by making a reservation is a must!

Truffle Journal Guide to Chaing Mai, Thailand
Truffle Journal Guide to Chaing Mai, Thailand
Truffle Journal Guide to Chaing Mai, Thailand
Truffle Journal Guide to Chaing Mai, Thailand

Stay at 137 Pillars, Chiang Mai. This establishment quite literally took my breath away. It was just beautiful from the moment we arrived. Each and every detail has been thought of in this colonial historic boutique hotel. The original teak house that has been restored to glory dates back to the 1800s. The details that have gone into the grounds makes it a dream destination for travelers. With different room options, you can choose to stay with a room that has a built-in lounge, bedroom, walk-in wardrobe, and private pool.

The interior is colonial and elegant with warm finishes that will make you feel at home. With giant trees towering over the walkways you feel tucked away from the world. I stayed for lunch and it was a very good decision. The authentic Thai menu was utterly delicious and I enjoyed every bite full! I could very easily have moved in and never left! Especially with the look of the private pool.

Truffle Journal Guide to Chaing Mai, Thailand
Truffle Journal Guide to Chaing Mai, Thailand
Truffle Journal Guide to Chaing Mai, Thailand
Truffle Journal Guide to Chaing Mai, Thailand
Truffle Journal Guide to Chaing Mai, Thailand

For those of you that are down for the spa treatments and being swaddled in a happy fuzzy bubble then I have the place for you. Oasis Oriental Secret Spa offers traditional treatments such as the Thai Hot Compress massage. Of course, I dived into experiencing this amazing offer and it was fantastic. With scents of lemongrass, ginger kafir lime, salt, and camphor oil, a hot compress is an aromatic escape from reality. You will be in a relaxation coma post-treatment with an offering of herbals teas and fresh fruit. They believe in being so much more than just a massage spa and that is exactly what they have achieved. Owners Pakin and Toby Ployphicha and thought of all attention to detail and have had a hand right down to the interior. I couldn't help but recognize traditional hand-woven textiles that had been included in the design of the hotel. With amazing products and an array of treatments, this is my must visit Spa of Chiang Mai. With mountains as a backdrop, Oasis Baan Sean Doi Spa Resort has spacious rooms that are elegantly decorated. Situated on a quiet street this hotel will make you want to sleep, spa, eat and repeat! Did I mention the heavenly pool? They have several branches so if you find yourself in Thailand look them up and treat yourself.

Truffle Journal Guide to Chaing Mai, Thailand
Truffle Journal Guide to Chaing Mai, Thailand
Truffle Journal Guide to Chaing Mai, Thailand

Lunch at Organic Cafe Ohkajhu. A local and sustainable organic farm that is being run by three friends that have a fierce love of food and farming. Situated on the outskirts on town this was one of our first stops after we landed in Chiang Mai. This restaurant has it going on with one of the biggest salad menus I have seen to date. Each and every bite was scrumptious and just so fresh. But how could it not be? It is grown on site and made into beautiful meals that are healthy. It is so amazing to be able to travel and eat healthy fresh whole food. It is a top priority for me and I loved experiencing a place away from home that allowed me to eat healthy and fresh organic food! Look them up if you are in the area or if you are in Bangkok or downtown Chiang Mai as they have branches there too.

Truffle Journal Guide to Chaing Mai, Thailand
Truffle Journal Guide to Chaing Mai, Thailand

Feast on Thai colonial cuisine at The House by Ginger. Possibly my favourite lunch whilst I was visiting Chiang Mai. The food is perfectly made and the flavours are out of this world. With a menu filled with traditional items I highly recommended the Pad Thai. The food was so moreish that I couldn't help myself. Each dish was just better than the last. To top it off? They have a gorgeous store.

I am sure you will find your way there - just be prepared to swipe the credit card because the clothing is so beautiful you will find yourself defenseless.

Truffle Journal Guide to Chaing Mai, Thailand
Truffle Journal Guide to Chaing Mai, Thailand
Truffle Journal Guide to Chaing Mai, Thailand
Truffle Journal Guide to Chaing Mai, Thailand
Truffle Journal Guide to Chaing Mai, Thailand

Chiang Mai has so much on offer that I only touched the surface in my short stay there. I love offering up guides but I am a firm believer in going and getting lost. Let the music find you, meet new people and explore new paths. Each experience is unique and taking in the sights and sounds of Chiang Mai is something I will never forget.

Did you know that there is a Thailand Tourism office located in Johannesburg? Don’t think only beaches (Phuket), as there is so much more to Thailand.  So if you need info or digital brochures etc, be sure to contact them or better still follow them on Facebook and Instagram.

-Melissa

Staying at X2 Riverside Resort, Chiang Mai

Staying at X2 Riverside Resort, Chang Mai
Staying at X2 Riverside Resort, Chang Mai
Staying at X2 Riverside Resort, Chang Mai
Staying at X2 Riverside Resort, Chang Mai
Staying at X2 Riverside Resort, Chang Mai
Staying at X2 Riverside Resort, Chang Mai
Staying at X2 Riverside Resort, Chang Mai
Staying at X2 Riverside Resort, Chang Mai
Staying at X2 Riverside Resort, Chang Mai
Staying at X2 Riverside Resort, Chang Mai
Staying at X2 Riverside Resort, Chang Mai
Staying at X2 Riverside Resort, Chang Mai
Staying at X2 Riverside Resort, Chang Mai
Staying at X2 Riverside Resort, Chang Mai
Staying at X2 Riverside Resort, Chang Mai
Staying at X2 Riverside Resort, Chang Mai
Staying at X2 Riverside Resort, Chang Mai
Staying at X2 Riverside Resort, Chang Mai
Staying at X2 Riverside Resort, Chang Mai
Staying at X2 Riverside Resort, Chang Mai

Situated on the banks of the Ping River in the heart of Chiang Mai is a place that not only will envelop you in luxury but an establishment that makes you feel like a King or Queen. 

X2 (Pronounced cross two) Riverside Resort on Chiang Mai is part of a luxury resort chain that has the finest attention to detail coupled with modern design and impeccable service. With Ewan Taylor appointed the head manager and Executive Chef Alexandre Demard serving up delectable dishes this boutique hotel is a gem to explore in northern Thailands Chiang Mai. 

Getting to the hotel was fairly easy. Just a short half hour cab ride from the main airport of Chiang Mai this boutique hotel is really central. Making excursions really easy and allowing access to all Chiang Mai has to offer. 

The rooms are spacious and overlook the restaurant and the Ping River. With a large balcony and a full set up mini bar with coffee, I was in heaven and simply had to have an ice cold drink in the balmy weather on the balcony. The beds are king sized beds and each room is uniquely decorated with koi fish on the walls. The design element is modern and welcoming. The bathroom is large and with white fluffy bathrobes, you will soon feel like a million dollars. 

If the room doesn't make you feel that way then the Spa surely will! A five start spa offering traditional, as well as aromatherapy massage, is on the property. A mere few feet away from your luxury bedroom.  After your relaxing massage you can make your way to the beautiful rooftop for sunset and sip on an ice-cold cocktail and take a dip in the pool. My favourite thing about the pool was the fact that it was designed to look like a galaxy and is speckled with mosaic tiles and lights that come on after the sun has dipped below the horizon! 

The food in the resort is spectacular and well thought out by executive chef Alex Dermard. The tasting menu is something I would highly recommend and the flavours were spot on. He is a true artist displaying each bite with flair and passion. We spoke about wandering into the local markets and losing ourselves in the amazing fresh produce that Thailand has to offer. I must admit a dream for me to cook with! 

Breakfast is fresh and simple and the poached eggs made to perfection. A gooey yolk and perfectly cooked white is a thing of glory. Breathing in and taking a moment at breakfast whilst over looking the river made me think about slowing down and how I don't do it often enough. 

The staff are the heart and soul of this botique hotel. They were friendly and beyond helpful - which is also a Thai thing. Nothing was too much effort to arrange for us. A special part to me was that everybody just worked so well behind the scenes. Your room was cleaned and the hotel spotless yet no cleaning staff were in sight. It was as if fairies were on duty! 

As a five star establishment they are on the more pricey, however, if you are not looking to backpack but rather have a holiday where you do not want to lift a finger, then this hotel is for you! The spa offers an array of treatments and losing yourself in a full body massage is defiantly something I would recommend. After all, what is visiting Thailand without a Thai massage? 

I hope to soon return to this magical spot in the cultural heart of Thailand, Chiang Mai. A city that has so much to offer. Very much like X2 Riverside Resort.

-Melissa

A night at The Plettenberg with the McGrath collection

A night at The Plettenberg with the McGrath collection
A night at The Plettenberg with the McGrath collection
A night at The Plettenberg with the McGrath collection
A night at The Plettenberg with the McGrath collection
A night at The Plettenberg with the McGrath collection
A night at The Plettenberg with the McGrath collection
A night at The Plettenberg with the McGrath collection
A night at The Plettenberg with the McGrath collection
IMG_2273 1.jpg
A night at The Plettenberg with the McGrath collection
A night at The Plettenberg with the McGrath collection
A night at The Plettenberg with the McGrath collection
A night at The Plettenberg with the McGrath collection
A night at The Plettenberg with the McGrath collection
A night at The Plettenberg with the McGrath collection
A night at The Plettenberg with the McGrath collection
A night at The Plettenberg with the McGrath collection
A night at The Plettenberg with the McGrath collection

Plettenberg bay is a well known coastal town on the popular garden route of South Africa. This little coastal village has a hub of activities and if whale watching is one of them, then it is the right destination for you. The only thing you need to decide is where to stay.

The Plettenberg is one of the three hotels in the Liz Mcgrath Collection. Know for their luxury and five-star experience, The Plettenberg doesn't disappoint. 

The Hotel is situated on a hilltop overlooking the ocean with uninterrupted views and is roughly a six-hour drive from Cape Town.  With it being the popular garden route there is plenty of opportunities to experience all it has to offer along the way! You also have the option to fly into the local airport should time be limited. 

The hotel is classically decorated with an ocean theme running throughout. Its no wonder with the views that it boasts. With a gourmet restaurant and boutique shop, between shopping and eating what more could you need.

Each room feels like the penthouse of some of the top hotels in the world. With walk-in closets, large bathrooms, a lounge, and the bedroom separate you will have space and comfort for your trip. 

The bedrooms have coffee stations, minibars and of course king size beds. Be sure to request a room with a view when you book! Overlooking the ocean will let a wave of tranquility wash over you! 

Dining at The Plettenberg is an experience not to be missed. The food is served at their contemporary restaurant Seafood and group executive chef Peter Templehoff and his team have delivered in all areas. The menu has the classics such as the famous cheese souffle that is a must along with several seafood dishes that draw on inspiration from the ocean and the bounty it has to offer. The view is magnificent overlooking the ocean and with glass panels, you are sure not to miss it! 

If you find yourself in Plettenberg - it is a hub of activities. You can experience whale watching or Sup boarding. You could wander to local wine farms and have long lunches or you could visit one of the several animal sanctuaries in the area. If you just feel like relaxing then finding your way to the pool whilst overlooking the ocean isn't a bad option either. 

The staff is always available to help should you require anything and have a fantastic knowledge of the area and all it has to offer! I know that next time I visit Plettenberg I would like to linger longer and experience it all. All I can say is that one night is simply not enough to experience not only this amazing hotel but Plettenberg bay! 

-Melissa 

Staying at Pel's Post, Kruger National Park

Staying at Pel's Post, Kruger National Park
Staying at Pel's Post, Kruger National Park
Staying at Pel's Post, Kruger National Park
Staying at Pel's Post, Kruger National Park
Staying at Pel's Post, Kruger National Park
Staying at Pel's Post, Kruger National Park
Staying at Pel's Post, Kruger National Park
Staying at Pel's Post, Kruger National Park
Staying at Pel's Post, Kruger National Park
Staying at Pel's Post, Kruger National Park
Staying at Pel's Post, Kruger National Park
Staying at Pel's Post, Kruger National Park
Staying at Pel's Post, Kruger National Park
IMG_6338.jpg
Staying at Pel's Post, Kruger National Park
Staying at Pel's Post, Kruger National Park
Staying at Pel's Post, Kruger National Park
Staying at Pel's Post, Kruger National Park
Staying at Pel's Post, Kruger National Park
Staying at Pel's Post, Kruger National Park
Staying at Pel's Post, Kruger National Park
Staying at Pel's Post, Kruger National Park
Staying at Pel's Post, Kruger National Park
Staying at Pel's Post, Kruger National Park
Staying at Pel's Post, Kruger National Park
Staying at Pel's Post, Kruger National Park
Staying at Pel's Post, Kruger National Park
Staying at Pel's Post, Kruger National Park
Staying at Pel's Post, Kruger National Park

Picture lying in your bed. Listening to the African bush sing. When I say sing, I mean the sounds of the bush right next to you as if you are submerged in it. Every single layer of insect, bird, and animal all in harmony creating a symphony. It is the ultimate white noise sleep app that offers you perfect relaxation, except, its real. Then add in luxury and comfort, not only do you have a five-star experience but you also have Pel's Post Lodge. 

Pel's Post is an exclusive use eco-friendly lodge situated in the northern Kruger National Park. Bordered to the north by the Limpopo River and Zimbabwe and to the east by Crooks Corner and Mozambique.  This vast wilderness is a slice of paradise that seems virtually untouched by man. You can fly into Johannesburg international airport and rent a car. The drive will take about 6 1/2 hours and boasts beautiful landscapes scattered with ancient baobabs. Once at the Parfuri gate it's a short drive to the lodge. 

The lodge is tucked away in the bush on the hills,  overlooking the Luvuvhu River. You will find your way to your room along gorgeous wooden walkways that wind through the environment. The rooms are spacious, modern and based on an open plan design. So much so that several of the walls are screens that you can roll up via remote and sleep with nature on your doorstep. 180 degrees of the uninterrupted African bush. Don't worry - there is a magnificent mosquito net that will make anyone feel that they are on a romantic getaway. All the rooms have large king size beds with a bath, an inside and outside shower and all the amenities you would require. I must admit I jumped right in for the opportunity of a shower whilst overlooking the valley. 

The food is five star and well thought out by a private chef catering to all your needs. A light breakfast of fruits and cereals is provided before your morning game drive along with your much-needed coffee. Once back a light fresh brunch welcomes you while sitting on the deck overlooking the flowing river. If you are lucky an elephant might come by to take a much-needed drink or to have a splash in the midday heat. The lodge caters for all food choices whilst embracing local cuisine served with a fresh twist. You can enjoy lunch next to the shimmering pool if you prefer. In summer months the temperatures soar and a cold gin and tonic will be most welcome. Dinner is a three-course affair with a wonderful selection of wine. 

My favourite part of any bush experience is the game drives. Your wake up call is at 5:30 am (the only time I don't complain about waking up early.) Waking up to the sunrise over the valley and river with open blinds was simply spectacular. Your biological clock just tunes in and waking up with the bush environment is magical. If experiencing the game drives is not on your agenda then you can enjoy a game walk or relax at the pool and bird watch. Visiting the fever tree forest counts as one of my favourite experiences and if you find yourself visiting make sure it is a request! Driving and spotting the animals felt like driving through the garden of Eden. A moving experience on every level. 

With a private chef, exclusive vehicle and personal guide, your experience is tailor-made for luxury. The surroundings and service allow you to slip into ultimate relaxation whilst connecting with your loved ones. 

There are few places I have visited where I left a piece of my heart behind. Pel's Post - I will have to return to make my heart whole again. 

-Melissa 

*This blog post is sponsored by Rare Earth Properties. All opinions are my own.