Thailand, in all its exotic, Buddhist temple–studded, island-flecked glory, has a lot to offer—and it’s no secret the Southeast Asian star attracts more than its share of honeymooners. Rightfully so, most trips include stops in a few places, busy Bangkok being the launchpad for sunny spots like Phuket or Ko Samui and also culturally rich northern destinations such as Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai. But explored as the country is, it’s still possible to feel as if you’ve traveled just off the beaten path, while indulging in opulence and beauty suited for a trip of this magnitude. Here, a few reasons to consider Krabi, a lesser-known province on the southwest coast of Thailand, for at least one stop on your photogenic journey.
1. Like the rest of Thailand, Krabi’s also drop-dead gorgeous
It’s like the backdrop to an epic film, the way Krabi’s beaches face jagged limestone islands that light up with a surreal glow in the morning sun and turn to dramatic silhouettes on a pink sky as it sets behind them. It’s this view of the cerulean Andaman Sea that makes every day truly beautiful, not to mention serene and cinematic.
2. The resorts are an actual dream
If you wouldn’t mind feeling like actual royalty on your honeymoon—and who wouldn’t?—then it’s all about Phulay Bay, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve, for you. This resort redefines grand in a serious way. Designed by world-renowned Thai architect Khun Lek Bunnag, it’s a fantasy of never-before-seen magnitude, all soaring palms against plum-hued walls, gracefully arched sky-high ceilings, intricate edges and beds that you’ll literally never want to leave. That’s because they’re actually the size of two kings put together (no, the owner is not a giant of a basketball player). Gorgeously fitted with the silkiest sheets imaginable, you can sleep short-ways, long-ways or diagonally and still have room to romp. Not to mention some sea-facing villas have their own pools, and the resort’s main one—with a swim-up bar and romantic daybeds surrounding, where staff pass around coconuts and coconut ice cream in the afternoons—has a similarly awe-inspiring effect as those mega-beds. Not to mention their destination dining could keep you busy for most of a week, with one-of-a-kind settings—one, called Sala Srichan, sets you smack in the middle of a reflective moat and 2,000 dancing candles—that could even put your wedding to shame. For a more tempered opulence there’s also Rayavadee, with verdant Jacuzzi-studded, swing-endowed Spa Pavilions, a lagoon-style infinity pool and several restaurants including one actually inside a romantic limestone cavern. Note: it’s only available by boat, making the feel even more private.
3. The flavors
Kaffir lime, lemongrass, chili, ginger, lime juice and coconut milk—from the first sip of the life-changing rum-based Siam Seas cocktail at Phulay Bay’s Chomtawan Bar during sunset you’ll be enchanted by the flavors of Thailand. Learn to cook classic dishes like Tom Yum soup with many of these same local ingredients during a fun hands-on cooking lesson, or simply savor them in the elevated resort restos along the beach. Those fragrant favorites are on offer in Krabi, too, with an added freshness that comes with being in such close proximity to just-caught seafood.
4. A dose of culture
It’s not laden with temples like other parts of the country, but Krabi offers other ways to appreciate and learn about local culture. At Phulay Bay, for example, every afternoon at Chomtawan Bar, there are interactive demonstrations teaching guests to make art with lotus flowers or fold palm leaves into birds and fish, for example. And don’t forget the honeymoon-perfect legacy of the strong, stretchy Thai massage. The spa at the same resort also embraces local herbal remedies and knowledge, doling out vibrant homemade teas with their time-honored purposes.
5. The life aquatic
Krabi National Marine Park is your front yard, and it’s a stunning one to explore over and underwater. Grab a snorkel and hop a boat over to the islands to swim with the fishes and other colorful creatures, and maybe stop for a private beach picnic while you’re at it (don’t forget lip-smacking mango sticky rice for dessert). The crystalline water is also enjoyed via Hobie Cat, standup paddle board and kayak. Sunset cruises to the island known as James Bond Island is a great bet for a memorable evening. Fishing is another option, especially for those who go after big game in the deep sea, or anyone who enjoys line fishing for snapper, yellow tail tuna and grouper.
6. The most epic bathtub of your life
Besides the hotel world’s biggest beds, Phulay Bay has another superlative amenity: insane bathtubs. There are large four leaf clover–shaped tubs under matching skylights, and even larger ones outside akin to plunge pools that can be filled and accessorized with flowers while you’re at dinner for a candlelit soak under the glittering stars.
7. Active pursuits abound
Beyond the water sports, there terrain in Krabi welcomes hikers to summit high points for even more incredible panoramas. Sunrise yoga and other fitness classes are offered at Phulay Bay just beyond where the water laps at the land. And there’s the national sport of Muay Thai, which makes for a fun couple’s lesson, and perhaps a great plan for the future: It’s the perfect way to express any little frustrations and may just be the key to a happy marriage.