Before heading over to Thailand, we took Typhoid and Hepatitis B vaccines and started anti-malaria medication since we would be in the northern jungle.

Not going to lie, travel from the States to Thailand is a whip. It took us about 24 hours to get to Thailand and 35 hours to get back to Dallas. There are no direct flights from the States, so we went through Tokyo. We went to the Japan Airlines lounge where we had ramen and laid in massage chairs. This was my second international flight on Japan Airlines. The food is terrible, but the service is amazing. Also, the layflat beds aren't quite long enough in my opinion and they don't seem to keep the cabin quite as cool as American Airlines. The jet lag from this trip was worse than other trips. The flight from Dallas left at noon, so we didn’t sleep any of the 13 hours to Japan. Then the flight left Japan during their afternoon but we slept most of those 6 hours to arrive in Bangkok around 11pm. We had an incredible customs agent arranged by Four Seasons that met us as we deplaned and sped us through customs straight to our car.  It was the quickest, easiest customs experience I have ever had - highly recommend the “fast track”. The time is exactly opposite of Dallas, so 11pm in Thailand was 11am in Dallas.


The Four Seasons Bangkok was incredibly beautiful. The staff was friendly and helpful as well. We stayed in a new category room that has a balcony overlooking the pools and the river. My girls had a river view room which was amazing too - floor to ceiling windows overlooking the Chao Phraya River.

The breakfast buffet is incredible and beautiful. I've never seen anything like it. I love the tropical fruits in Thailand: mangosteens, lychees, passion fruits, rambutans and especially pomelos (mild white grapefruits). Orchids also grow in the wild and are used in all the decor.

Yu Ting Yuan is a Michelin-starred Cantonese restaurant there at the hotel.  The food was great; they specialize in a sweet BBQ pork dish. I don’t eat much meat so didn’t try that. My family really liked it though. 

BKK Social Club is a gorgeous bar also there at the hotel. CNN named it #3 best bar in Asia while we were staying there. It has a stunning interior, stylish server costumes and an incredible cocktail menu.

The Cover photo shoot was with photographer Sean Chen (@directedbysean) and Kaehla (@kaehla). I loved getting to know them! Sean is Thai and gave me a list of places to go in Bangkok to get a real Thai experience along with some places you wouldn’t find if you didn’t know an insider :)

Here is Sean’s list:

Iconsiam - amazing mall with indoor floating market

Talat Noi - happy cafe

The So Hang Tai Mansion

China Town

Widdershins - cool speakeasy

Lhong Tou Cafe

Mahanakhon Skywalk for a panoramic view of Bangkok

OJO also great view rooftop restaurant at The Standard Hotel

Chiang Rai

From Bangkok, we flew about an hour to Chiang Rai to drive about another hour to the Golden Triangle, where the Ruak River separates 3 countries: Thailand, Laos and Myanmar (Burma). We read about some serious drug and human trafficking going on in this area unfortunately. The Thai government has been working diligently to curb opium production and increase education in the area.

After a 10 minute boat ride in a motorized canoe, we arrived at Four Seasons Tented Camp Golden Triangle. This property is what started the glamping trend; it’s about 16 years old. There is a foundation that rescues elephants adjacent to the hotel that collaborates in supporting elephant care. As hotel guests, we had a lot of interaction with the gentle giants, from morning feedings to helping bathe and hydrate them to walking alongside the elephants and their mahouts to learn about their behavior. It’s really fun to feed the elephants every morning at breakfast. They love to be fed coconuts, cucumbers and bananas. On the elephant walk, we saw them eat sugar cane and figs. The elephants are precious, very calm and gentle despite their strength and size. They are well-trained and comfortable with humans. Their relationship to humans reminds me of a cross between horses and dogs in the US. The first night, we were invited to a private “Elephant Camp Dinner”. We gave the elephants bananas for desert and were then serenaded by a trio of Thai musicians and fed a wonderful traditional Thai meal. After dinner, we released lit lanterns to wish away our worldly problems and symbolize a new beginning. 

The tents are built high above the trees and air-conditioned, but the doors to the patio, outside shower and toilet room are all zip-up plastic with zip-up screens. The decor is jungle safari with horns as handles and hooks, elephant motifs everywhere and an elephant-sized bathtub. There are shockingly loud jungle sounds like birds and cicadas that sounds like lawn equipment throughout the day and night. Sunrise (at least during the “rainy season”) happens around 5:30am. Apparently July is the beginning of the rainy season, but it wan’t raining much at all. The weather was warm but not uncomfortable. I think July is a great time to visit, as well as the coolest months in November/December. The spa is at the far end of the Camp up high in the tropical trees. It’s a dual-treatment open-air room with a spectacular view. They have fans blowing, and I didn’t notice any bugs. My technician, Elle, was amazing at Thai massage.

Food and drinks are covered in the all-inclusive nature of the resort. They have a western and a Thai menu with two entree options in each type that change every night. You can elect to have room service at any time or go to the open-air restaurant. The food was great, and the service was incredible. I communicated all requests (room service, housekeeping, activities) through the Four Seasons app, and they were very quick to respond.

After three nights (which was the perfect amount of time) at the Camp, we were transferred by hotel car to the Four Seasons Chiang Mai, stopping along the way to see the famous White Temple.

Chiang Mai

The ride took about four hours and was pretty winding over the last hour. If you get motion sick, you might take something ahead of time. The Four Seasons Chiang Mai was a stunning property as well but in a unique way. The pool villas are individual little houses with outdoor showers, a pool, hot tub, lounge chairs, an outdoor dining table and hammock swing. The property has a gorgeous working rice field and resident water buffalo that help immerse you in the culture. Their pools are stunning with green tiles and all the green rice grass, palm trees and tropical flower trees surrounding. There is a big lap pool and a smaller infinity pool down a level towards the rice fields. We loved the food at the main restaurant as well as the pool restaurant. They grow some of their vegetables, and everything seemed very fresh. There are plenty of Western options in addition to Thai cuisine by region. We loved sampling Thai food based on region. The staff was amazing, especially the guest relations manager, Marina. When we picked up our girls from their elephant service trip, they secured the pool villa across from ours along with late checkout for both rooms. They also arranged a quick tour of Chiang Mai’s most famous temple on the way to pick up our girls. Thai people seem very friendly and polite. Apparently they are known for their smiles. The airline we flew on internally is called Thai Smiles. Wai is a common Thai greeting to say hello and show respect where you put your hands in a praying position close to your chest/face. Also like Japan, they often don’t wear shoes inside. I actually saw monks traveling barefoot through the Bangkok airport. 

The visitors we saw were from all over the world. In Chiang Rai, we met a family with teenagers from Mexico City and another one from LA. There was a European couple there as well. In Chiang Mai, there were a few American couples, a French couple, a German family and some couples and families from China and Japan. Ben Harper was playing when we arrived at the pool, but otherwise I didn't notice anything else that was influenced by America (other than a couple of the tv channels). There was also a Russian news channel which was interesting to watch.

Thailand is currently going through a political upheaval to choose a new Prime Minister. The Move Forward Party won in May but it remains to be seen if they will gain actual power. This article sums it up well in my opinion:

It's also a punishable crime in Thailand to speak negatively about their king.

As we were headed home through Tokyo, we basically flew over Typhoon Doksuri as it passed from the Philippines to China. Typhoons can certainly pose a risk when traveling during the rainy season. I bought trip insurance and recommend World Nomads or Roam Right. I usually buy trip insurance for major international treks but haven't had to use it 🤞