As Thailand’s leading hotel operator, Centara Hotels & Resorts is not only a provider of world-class accommodation; it is a guide to the most intriguing, enchanting and authentic parts of this captivating kingdom. Curious travellers who like to explore beyond the usual tourism hotspots can take advantage of Centara’s comprehensive nationwide portfolio to uncover the heart and soul of Thailand.
Centara currently curates a collection of 41 hotels and resorts all across the “Land of Smiles”, from key gateway cities and upcountry retreats to cultural sites, beach resorts and more – all of which blend international standards of hospitality with warm and heartfelt Thai service. For experienced travellers seeking an alternative to Thailand’s main tourist hubs, here are four fascinating destinations that are just waiting to be discovered:
NORTHEAST: UDON THANI
Lying on Thailand’s border with Myanmar in Tak province, in the far northwest of the country, Mae Sot is a bustling town that exudes cultural diversity. The city itself is small and charming, which makes it highly rewarding for a leisurely stroll to soak up the local sights, including ethnic Burmese, Karen and Hmong people in their traditional dress. This fusion of cultures also makes it a great place to dine, with a variety of dishes that can’t be found elsewhere in Thailand.
Must-see: Take a trip to the border, 6km from Mae Sot, where the River Moie separates Thailand from Myanmar. While it may not always be possible to cross the border, there is a lively market on the Thai side.
Where to stay: Centra by Centara Hotel Mae Sot is nestled in the verdant hills along the Thai-Myanmar border. Stay in a choice of modern and spacious rooms and suites, savour locally-inspired cuisine at the River Moei Coffee Shop, chill out in the Bamboo Bar and relax at the outdoor pool. Rates start from THB 894++ per night
SOUTH: HUA HIN
Traditionally the favoured weekend getaway for Thailand’s elite, Hua Hin blends the grace of a heritage destination with the laid-back vibe of a beach resort. Having become popular in the 1920s, the town exudes period charm and its exquisite architecture can be witnessed at the famous railway station, seafront palaces and hotels. Unlike many other southern beach resorts, Hua Hin is also easily accessible – just two-and-a-half hours’ drive from Bangkok.
Must-see: Maruekhathaiyawan Palace perfectly reflects Hua Hin’s regal heritage. Built in 1923 as the original seaside summer residence of Thailand’s King Rama VI, it is crafted entirely from golden teakwood and demonstrates a style unseen in any other Thai palace.
Where to stay: Centara Grand Beach Resort & Villas Hua Hin is one of Thailand’s most iconic heritage hotels. Dating from the 1920s, it exhibits an elegant colonial style with white verandas and manicured gardens. The stunning suites, pool villas, poolside Thai restaurant, upmarket beach club and spa ensure five-star experiences. Rates start from THB 2,931++ per night.
NORTHEAST: UDON THANI
Wat Thip Phayarat Nimit, which is believed to house Lord Buddha’s relics, and Red Lotus Sea, a stunning lake that blooms with colourful flowers. Isaan is also Thailand’s “rice bowl” which makes it the ideal setting to taste fresh and authentic local cuisine.
Must-see: Udon Thani is a rich cultural destination and the best place to learn about the area’s history and heritage is the Muang Udon Thani Museum, which showcases a wide range of exhibits and artefacts from the city’s past.
Where to stay: Centara Hotel & Convention Centre Udon Thani is situated in the heart of the city. This recently renovated upscale hotel features contemporary rooms and suites, a spa, fitness centre, outdoor pool and the Ban Chiang Restaurant, which specialises in Isaan cuisine. Rates start from THB 1,501++ per night.
The beauty of Trat is that it feels blissfully off the beaten track, but is in fact easily accessible by road from Bangkok and Suvarnabhumi Airport. Nestled next to the Cambodian border in the kingdom’s eastern corner, this coastal province is the gateway to Mu Koh Chang National Park, a collection of idyllic islands that exude tropical tranquility. The city of Trat itself is a charming provincial capital with lively markets, traditional wooden homes and precious few tourists.
Must-see: No trip to Trat is complete without taking a dive into the breath-taking seascape of Mu Ko Chang National Park. Book a boat trip into this exotic archipelago, unwind on secluded sandy beaches and snorkel in the crystal clear seas.
Where to stay: Centara Chaan Talay Resort & Villas Trat is set on a 400-metre-long stretch of pure white sand, overlooking the Gulf of Thailand. With only 44 suites and villas, this upscale resort feels highly exclusive. Visitors can unwind in the spa and infinity pool, or sip on sundowners at the beach bar. Rates start from THB 1,573++ per night.
CENTRAL: KHAO YAI
Thailand’s first national park, Khao Yai is an ecological treasure trove with diverse flora and fauna, including iconic animals such as wild Asian elephants, Siamese crocodiles, great hornbills, sun bears and even Indochinese tigers. The best way to experience this 2,168km² sanctuary is with a ranger-led tour. The lush, rolling hills surrounding the national park are also home to a wealth of attractions, from Thailand’s top wineries to championship golf courses.
Must-see: Away from the natural splendour of the national park, intrepid guests can discover how Khao Yai’s cooler climate is helping to produce some of Thailand’s finest wines. PB Valley Khao Yai Winery offers regular tours and tastings.
Where to stay: Roukh Kiri Khao Yai is a beautiful boutique retreat that features only 12 villas surrounded by spectacular scenery. Savour farm-to-table dining with organic, local produce at Roukh Cuisine, take a refreshing dip in the outdoor pool, and socialise with fellow travellers at the fire pit. Rates start from THB 13,404++ per night.
For more information about Centara Hotels & Resorts and to find the best deals for your next Thai vacation, please visit www.centarahotelsresorts.com.