Songkran may be over, but that doesn’t mean there’s nothing to do in Thailand. On the contrary, if the only place you’ve been to is Bangkok, you’re missing out. Here’s where you can start to explore the beautiful land of smiles.
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Sriracha is unlikely to top anyone’s list of Thailand’s most beautiful beach destinations, but it is only two hours’ drive (or three hours’ train ride) from Bangkok. Those looking for a quiet-ish seaside escape should check out Oakwood Hotel & Residence. Starting at $118 per night, studios and one- and two-bedrooms come with the choice of sea, mountain or city views—plus, for longer stays, a kitchen that’s stocked with condiments and seasonings. A large rooftop pool offers a panoramic view of the Gulf—perfect for a sundowner or two.
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Costa Well Resort brings Santorini style to the quiet fishing town of Bangsaray. A white and blue color scheme runs throughout, and the expansive views make for a peaceful, airy vibe. Tucked out of sight of town, the resort is in a perfect location for families with the nearby attractions of the Cartoon Network Water Park, the Nong Nooch Botanical Garden and the Pattaya Floating Market. The Deluxe Jacuzzi Room starts at $170/night while the Two-Bedroom Suite Jacuzzi goes for $545.
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Joining a slew of stylish openings that have dramatically changed the popular seaside retreat of Pattaya, Renaissance Pattaya Resort & Spa takes over prime beachfront land on Na Jomtien. Inspired by the local fishing village, the resort integrates wood and metal, emphasizing earthy tones with hints of cobalt blue. The 257-room resort comes equipped with two outdoor swimming pools, a luxury spa, as well as F&B options like 609 Kitchen restaurant and Pebbles Bar & Grill. Room rates start at $189 for the deluxe room with mountain views.
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Z9 Resort (+66 (0) 63-239-4459), near the Srinakarin dam, sets a new high-water mark in floating luxury. The design by Dersyn Studio manages to be both classical and futuristic, each room stepping out onto a private terrace with unobstructed views of the reservoir. Lounge on beanbags on the communal floating deck or retreat to shore and the resort’s restaurant and bar. On weekdays, the 50-sq-meter spaces go for $278; weekends are $362 (breakfast and kayaking included).
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Meena Cafe’s view is the stuff of oil paintings. The entire glass-walled front faces out onto lush rice fields with the pagodas of Wat Tham Sua in the distance. With this view in hand, the owners clearly decided that any decor would be secondary, and the bare industrial decor is fittingly casual. Take a cold coco ($2.50) out to the mesh seats outside that sit level with the fields. For a snack, orange cakes and blueberry cheese pies go from $2.90 a piece. The cafe’s best hour is sundown.
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Set across five spruced-up barns looking out over green expanses, The Village Farm to Cafe has Kanchanaburi day-trippers in a spin. Inside is just as lush as the mountainous surrounds, with dangling ferns, cacti and dried flowers. The kitchen spotlights locally sourced ingredients in photogenic forms like a turtle-shaped bun that comes with a fresh melon wedge and melon soft-serve ($8). Before heading back to Bangkok, chow down on the barbecue ribs served with a huge salad portion, French fries and garlic bread ($28).
Kofuku Coffee & Bistro is Phetburi’s contribution to the DIY dining trend. Get your coffee snob on by moonlighting as roaster and barista, a process that will take you from green bean to steaming cup. The cafe does have a drum roaster (no, you’re only allowed to use the little pan) where New Guinea and Kenya beans are roasted. For a novel drink, order the rainbow latte ($3.30-4.10), which is poured with milks of different color. Purists, try the ristretto ($3.30-4.10). The cafe also serves Thai food, but it’s quarantined in another section.
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Shrouded in the lush green countryside of Phetburi are the eight cabins of Riverbed Cabin Resort. The cabins, which are built with Russian teakwood, have a Scandinavian minimalism to them and start at $152 for the studio room. Wake up to yoga on the riverbank or join the outdoor body combat class, which, conducted to a pumped-up playlist, the resort calls a “healthy party.” The poolside restaurant specializes in barbecue and seafood.
Next time you take a day trip out to sleepy, artsy Ratchaburi, find your way to Mali Cafe & Cuisine. Amid arched windows, neutral-pastel tones and Thai motifs, an all-day menu boasts Thai and fusion dishes. Our favorite is the colorful khanom jeen (fermented rice noodles, $6) made from seven different herbs and served with green curry. On the fusion end, the fermented Thai sausage spaghetti with crispy tuna ($5) packs an umami punch. You can’t go wrong with the dessert of lot chong (pandan-colored, rice-flour droplets in coconut milk, $2.30) topped with purple sweet potato and coconut ice-cream.