This week we made an escape from the relentless heats of Thailand’s lower lands, with a stay in Khao Yai, a region not far from Bangkok, famous for its cool mountain climate. An area which has become a year-round retreat for well-heeled city folk, due to its scenic landscapes, and various themed attractions scattered through the hills. But it is also an area hard to explore without independent transport, and a convenient and cosy hotel is therefore necessary as a base for travel. And we stayed at the DusitD2, which is a brighter, more youthful extension to the renowned Thai luxury Dusit brand. A brand I feel suits us well, with our more whimsical style of travel. And Fanfan highlighted this throughout, with repeated reminders that “I really like this room”. Our stay is in the standard deluxe rooms, which alone are massive, with standalone bathtubs central to the room, which may sound impractical, but, again, the rooms are quite massive. The design, like the brand, is again contemporary, with minimal design and bright earthy tones, which fits perfectly with the resort’s natural surroundings. “I really like this room”
A New Lease of Life
These days I don’t really pack sportswear when I travel, or swimming shorts even, simply because it’s rare for me to ever use them. But this time I was uncharacteristically kicking myself, as I was almost desperate to take a run at the resort’s rock-climbing wall. And jeans and flip-flops don’t really fit. But this unlikely enthusiasm comes from the local climate, and the cool, clean air of the region, which gave me energy to actually do things. As, more than not, I would be hiding in the daytimes from Thailand’s typical life sapping heats. So I did miss out on much of what the resort has to offer, like the free bike hire for exploring the surrounding scenery, but I did make good use of the infinity pool, which sits central to the resort. The perfect place to lounge and relax, and in the evenings the sunken bar and table booths are probably the highlights of anywhere for miles. As Khao Yai is otherwise lacking in nightlife, and in the evenings the lights go out, as the region is more about serenity and relaxation, which makes it perfect for a weekend of romance.
Thailand’s Little Europe
Otherwise there’s a lot to explore in the day hours of Khao Yai, and while the area is best known for its National Park, and irritable elephants, I find that domestic tourism is otherwise focussed on themed attractions. And Khao Yai has become a bit like a European theme park, in parts, with all the much-loved clichés of top European destinations, which I know sounds weird, but what’s weirder is, it does work with the region’s European climate. And the themes of Switzerland, and England, and Italy, all fit well with the climate and landscapes of the cooler hills of Khao Yai. And for many domestic travellers, not to mention international travellers, this may be the closest they’ll ever come to experiencing the real destinations of Europe. And at a mere fraction of the price. But my own excitement was in the fresh garden peas I bagged at a local market, which was the first I’d come across in near five years since leaving the UK. However, these somewhat selfie-centric attractions again will close early, at around sunset, so for us it’s back to the sunken pool bar, for happy hour cocktails at the DusitD2.
Romance in the Hills
Much of this visit was retracing past romance, as this would be our fourth visit to Khao Yai together, and it’s not likely to be our last. But our first ever visit was for a romantic whirlwind escape, for Valentine’s, where we spent just one night in Khao Yai, yet made it look like a long weekend of romance. We also followed the usual clichés of Valentine’s celebrations, only I upgraded them. So instead of buying Fanfan flowers, I brought her to flower gardens. Instead of ordering a bottle of wine with dinner, we went wine tasting in the vineyards of Khao Yai hills. Instead of handing her a punnet of strawberries, we picked them together in an adorable English garden. But the most romantic gesture had to be the surprise visit to an open farm, where Fanfan could feed the sheep. As we all know the way to any Thai girl’s heart is through cute, fluffy, adorable sheep. Or at least that’s what I thought, only to find the sheep left lonely, as it’s apparently all about alpacas these days. Goofy looking alpacas, with goofy looking scarves. We got to feed them grass.