If you’re looking for a honeymoon that’s a bit more exotic than, say, the Caribbean, but with equal opportunities for tropical fun, you’ll want to add Thailand to the list. There, verdant landscapes meet the jewel-toned sea fringed in snow-white sand with bustling cities, ancient ruins, and ornate Zen temples in between. Beyond the heaven-on-earth setting, the Southeast Asian country should also be of particular interest to anyone who loves a great meal—Thai food is even more mouthwatering when eaten at the source.
It’s a long trip over, but absolutely worth the trek. Expect a bit of a sensory overload upon arrival—anyone who hasn’t traveled in Southeast Asia might be overwhelmed at first, but will likely quickly fall in love with the people, rich culture, and natural beauty. It’s possible to travel in the predominantly Buddhist country year-round, but July to October is the rainy monsoon season, which is slightly less desirable. It's possible to find shockingly cheap flights at any time of the year to Bangkok (think just a couple hundred dollars round trip), giving you more spending money for loads of pad Thai and Thai massages, or the allowance to splurge on five-star accommodations.
The ideal Thai honeymoon would include a couple of destinations. The country is wedged between Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia, and Malaysia, and has it all—mountains in the north and islands in the south, both of which are well worth exploring. And city folk might appreciate a couple of days in busy Bangkok, Asia’s “city of angels,” where the urban oasis Banyan Tree Bangkok gives you refuge after a day of shopping and temple gazing with its suites, spa, and panoramic cityscapes; and the Peninsula Bangkok offers serene pampering and post-wedding stress reduction at its beautiful spa.
From there, lovebirds can head north to the land of bucolic rice paddies and terraces, elaborate Buddhist temples, thickly forested mountains, and even elephants. Chiang Mai (sometimes written Chiangmai) is a popular city, founded in 1296 and retaining ancient signs of a rich history alongside its colorful hill tribes. Rent a scooter to tool around and explore the area around the walkable downtown when not ensconced in a gorgeous hotel like the elegant boutique-y 137 Pillars House with its daybed-studded gardens.
Not too far away, Chiang Rai is another destination worth visiting, and it’s actually close enough to the border of Myanmar to take a day trip. The white wedding cake-esque Wat Rong Khun temple is a must-see. And there’s the singular Four Seasons Tented Camp Golden Triangle, a dream resort if there ever was one. There, the intimate tents make for an unforgettable experience, as does meeting the elephants rescued from Thailand’s crowded city streets and cared for by the Golden Triangle Asian Elephant Foundation. There is also an outdoor spa, perfect for unique couples’ treatments, and opportunities to take a tail boat ride along the Mekong River, lined with temples and markets.
Next, venture down south to end the epic vacation at the beach. An island Koh Samui is one of the most beautiful places to stay, thanks to the mountainous rainforest, turquoise water (it’s in the Gulf of Thailand), vivid coconut groves, more glamorous temples (one with a giant gold Buddha), and even hiking to secluded waterfalls. Backpackers often make it a stop, but there are also over-the-top resorts where romance is in the air. The Four Seasons Resort Koh Samui is one of those where you can indulge in simple, fun activities like a private movie night at the “Just the Two of Us” cinema, sip spirits from the Rum Vault, have a lemongrass scented massage a deux, or take an overnight yacht excursion.
Postcard-perfect Phuket, on the Andaman Sea, is awash with glamorous resort options too. It’s not hard to understand why so many top hospitality brands chose this as destination. Boat trips with snorkeling should hands-down be a big part of any Phuket stay, as the water and dramatic rock outcroppings are a major draw. Celebrating its 30th this year is Amanpuri, the very first resort in Aman’s portfolio, tucked away in a coconut grove and offering myriad opportunities for water sports of all kind, plus cruises on a fleet of 20 boats.
And though the Thai food is undeniably amazing, by this point you may crave something else and can enjoy a romantic dinner at Nama of exquisite sushi and sashimi made of fish carefully transported from Japan’s finest fish markets (wellness is also a big focus here, so fitness addicts will love the many options).
The private beach resort Trisara on the idyllic Nai Thon Beach is practically made for honeymooners. The five-star resort is secluded on the less-developed north coast, meaning you’ll have ultimate privacy as you enjoy villas with infinity pools and ocean views, as well as the game-changing spa—there’s a six-handed massage called the Royal Trisara that may make you think you died and went to heaven.
Another place worth considering, especially for water babies, is Banyan Tree Phuket, where not only does each villa has its own private pool, but the DoublePool Villas, overlooking a lagoon, feature a floating bedroom pavilion surrounded by a private wading pool, and also have separate infinity pools with immersed jet pools. The newest arrival on the island is Rosewood Phuket, which opened in late 2017 on a secluded beach on Emerald Bay, and has jaw-dropping panoramic views of the ocean from its perch atop the jungle canopy. There are 71 pool pavilions and villas that combine contemporary and traditional Thai design beautifully and merge indoor spaces with outside. Don’t pinch yourself, it’s not a dream.