Four Seasons Tented Camp Golden Triangle – All Inclusive
What We Love
- The vintage military jeep used to ferry guests around the property
- Guest room bathtubs, made from hand-hammered copper, are big enough for two
- Watching the sunset from the whirlpool, glass of wine in hand
- Morning meditation at Camp Peak, the resort’s highest point
What To Know
- There are no televisions, but you won’t miss them
- The all-inclusive package includes airport transfers, meals, elephant trekking, and a treatment at the spa
- Kids under 10 aren’t allowed
- Free WiFi
- Parking On Site
When the Four Seasons does camping, it turns out, that means a spa and masseuse, pillow-top beds, and a wine cellar. This luxe resort occupies a stunning patch of scenery at the borders of Thailand, Burma, and Laos and has just 15 luxury tents scattered among the trees. Flaps open to the air, and the views—verdant hills, bamboo forests—are so calm-inducing you’ll forget you have any problems at all. The tents feature hardwood floors and are stuffed with locally made metal craftwork including antiques that seem sourced from old-timey explorers, like a compass and a rifle. Splurge on a “Deluxe” tent to get your own wooden hot tub on the deck. If you’ve ever wanted to get up close and personal with an elephant, now’s your chance: the camp has its own elephant crew, and mahouts will take you trekking and bathing with the gentle giants. Afterwards, sit down to a divine communal meal of local specialties or western cuisine, sample a wine or two from the cellar, and enjoy that sense of wellbeing that comes from the very glammest of glamping experiences.
In the Area
Though most of the hotel’s all-inclusive packages include excursions, the camp’s isolation means you won’t be renting a car and heading off to explore on your own (even your arrival at the camp involves a long-tail boat trip down the Ruak River). The off-site trips organized by the Four Seasons include city tours of Chiang Rai, trips to the markets and pagodas in the Burmese border town of Takilek, hikes that end with a dip into natural hot springs, and visits to Thailand’s hill tribe communities.
How to Get There
It’s the Four Seasons. Easily the best service in the hotel industry and Golden Tented Camp did not disappoint. The staff is just tremendous in every aspect imaginable. They just make a point of going out of their way to ensure everyone has a great time. The staff, the elephants…just what everyone else says. So instead, I will try to provide some helpful hints on the hard parts of this trip, Getting There and What to Bring.
Getting There. We chose to fly direct from San Francisco to Singapore for a few days to relax, adjust to the time change and enjoy an easily walkable relaxing vacation in Singapore. This was a good choice because I didn’t want to waste any of the Golden Tent time trying to adjust to the time of day. From Singapore, we took Air Asia to DMK (the small airport in Bangkok) and then transferred to Chiang Rai. I was very concerned because the connection in DMK was only 1 hour and 40 minutes. If I missed the connection the next flight on Air Asia wasn’t till 5 hours later in the day getting me into Chiang Rai at midnight. So I was thrilled to be told by Air Asia in Singapore that our bags would be sent all the way through to Chiang Rai and we would go through both Immigration and Customs in Chiang Rai. Great information that came as a relief to my stress level; however, it was not correct. We did have to go through Immigration in DMK (a.k.a. Depressing Manik Kok) airport. One person, 25 people to check. A lot of fingerprints and pictures. Very slow. We would have made it just in time for boarding (barely), but our plane was late leaving to get to Chiang Rai. Not sure if I did it again, I would risk such a tight schedule. Doable, but…dicey. Then in Chiang Rai, the helpful staff of Air Asia funneled us all to the “Domestic baggage” which I thought was odd since we hadn’t cleared customs. Then after our bags didn’t come out, they took a group of people over to the International side to pick up our baggage. No explanation, no apologies. On the return trip to Singapore, DMK airport was once again a disaster. Air Asia was 3 hours late leaving to Singapore. From the gate, you board a bus that takes you to the plane. The entire time we were waiting for the bus, the overhead monitor (the only source of information) was flashing “Boarding, Boarding” for our flight. At the same time, the split screen was also showing another flight leaving from our bus gate as “Boarding, Boarding.” Confusion in sued. No apologies or explanations from Air Asia.
What to Bring. We are guilty of being planners. We spent a lot of time and thought on what to wear when riding elephants and packed accordingly. Four Seasons has clothes and shoes to wear for that purpose, so we had a lot of junk we didn’t need. So hopefully you can now save room in your suitcase. If you are going to Temples on excursions, women are required to cover their legs and shoulders. Four Seasons will also arrange to throw some drapes on you if you forget. Also, bring ear plugs. We went in early November which apparently is the time of celebration at some of the temples in Myanmar. So you could here celebratory music over bad load speakers hung to the top of telephone poles so the whole city could hear to 11:00 p.m. Then the all night chanting started. The chanting ended at 5:00 a.m. Four Seasons supplied ear plugs that night (a clue something wasn’t right), but I found the airplane ear plugs more effective.
Staying with friends in Chiang Mai, we drove up to the Golden Triangle to spend a few nights in the cooler highlands. After a morning visit to the excellent Opium Museum nearby, we were hoping to be admitted into Four Seasons’ renowned elephant camp for lunch. Between checkouts and arrivals, our timing was perfect, and after agreeing we could cover the per-person lunch charge (we spent around 4,000 baht for lunch, cocktails, rose and beer), in we went!
We spotted four elephants on the drive in; lunch was served on a shaded safari-style balcony overlooking the river, with a view of Myanmar’s mountainous border and lush green jungle beyond. Our greeting was Four Seasons signature: warm and gracious, despite our being “outside” surprise guests. The friendly manager, Tobias Emmer, came by the table to introduce himself and have a chat, while I continued to order their signature lemongrass martini on the rocks, served in a sexy elephant-etched crystal tumbler, with a chili-salt rim. My Thai beef salad was perfect, as were the pomelo salad and “Burmese lasagne.” A bottle of rose, a few beers, and more lemongrass martinis encouraged post-lunch shopping—I just had to have a pair of those sexy ele tumblers—and the four of us were treated to a fast fun boat ride down to the shop, where wine glasses in the same elephant pattern and other beautiful offerings were on display. We were driven back to our car in their safari-style Jeep, but before leaving, ordered a couple more lemongrass martinis to go! The highlight of our trip to the Golden Triangle! A beautiful property with superbly friendly, welcoming staff. Thank you!
Was not sure what to expect at a tented camp, dont worry this place was over the top. Excellent facilities, food and beverage service was top notch and the room (tent) was excellent. A/C worked like a charm, bed was one of the most comfortable I have had and the outdoor shower is a great touch also. Dont miss the spa facility either, a bit rustic for some but the open air experience in a remote setting was excellent.