Thailand 2.0

Jan 22, 2007
Outside Magazine

Wat Phra Singh, Chiang Mai   

After landing at Bangkok's glass-plated Suvarnabhumi Airport, which opened in September, you'll be forgiven for thinking the entire country's been upgraded. The new facility is equipped to land Airbus's 555-passenger A380 and then speed visitors downtown via light rail—currently under construction—in just 15 minutes. (Anyone who's ever braved a cab ride from the old airport into Bangkok knows those last five miles leave you more drained than any red-eye.) Complete the beta test with a connecting flight to Chiang Mai, where Tamarind Village, an old colonial compound, reopens in February after a top-to-bottom transformation into an earthy yet luxurious spa and hotel punctuated by a series of courtyards and watched over by one commanding, 200-year-old tamarind tree. Each of the rooms is decorated with colorful local textiles and the art of nearby hill tribes. A short walk from the front gate are more than 20 Buddhist temples and Chiang Mai's night bazaar, still buzzing like when it was a southern spur of the Silk Road. Farther afield, the Pai River's rapids churn through the jungled Dao Chiang Mountains, which yield sheltered singletrack and limestone peaks. Doubles from $170;

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