It’s not every day that you have the option to take a sunset trek atop elephant-back through the bamboo forest or have breakfast in Burma, lunch in Laos, and dinner in Thailand, but if you’re visiting the Anantara Golden Triangle Elephant Camp & Resort, all of this and more is possible. Many places offer luxury, but this place offers luxury plus one-of-a-kind experiences. We were so impressed with this resort, it’s stunning location, and the unique activities that it offers, that we visited twice in two years with young kids.
Unique Experiences at the Anantara Golden Triangle Resort
Rightly so, the elephant camp takes center stage at the Anantara Golden Triangle Elephant Camp & Resort. Guests can choose from a variety of elephant encounter experiences from learning how to guide an elephant to practicing yoga with the gentle giants.
During our stay, we opted for the half-day mahout training experience in which we learned how to communicate with and drive our own elephant through the bamboo forests of the expansive resort grounds and down to the river for a bath. The entire experience is unforgettable, but entering the river with the elephants and taking part in their bathing and water play rituals left us not only seriously wet (never was a laundry service at a hotel so valuable), but thoroughly exhilarated! The resort has perfected elephant encounters tailored to suit guests of all ages and interests.
A tremendous highlight for younger kids is the baby elephant that greets guests every morning at breakfast. Children can feed the elephant with fruit and other goodies provided by the hotel staff. They can hop on the elephant’s back for a photo.
They can meet and talk with the mahout who trains and cares for the elephant. Younger children will also enjoy the ability to walk down to the elephant camp, which is only steps away from the guests rooms, and interact with elephants in their natural habitat.
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On the second day of our visit, one of the hotel staff went above and beyond and gave us our own private jeep tour of the resort grounds. He took my son hand-in-hand to see the resort’s resident water buffalo. He then took us down to the valley to watch elephants bathe in the river.
We continued on our journey and met with mahouts who were tending to their elephants in the forest. Our son was able to wash and feed the elephant with the mahout’s guidance. It was a highly private and unique experience – all impromptu and free of charge. The staff at the Anantara goes the extra mile to create wonderful memories for their guests, particularly the younger ones, and this was one of many moments that impressed us and solidified our commitment to return to the Anantara Golden Triangle Resort for a second time.
For those looking to go beyond elephant encounters, the resort features a range of organized and do-it-yourself area excursions that let you see beyond the boundaries of the hotel. Area excursions include longtail boat trips along the Mekong River, shopping trips to Laos and Burma, and cultural visits to Thai hill tribe villages. The resort also offers mountain biking, a Thai cooking class, rice planting, yoga, and conservation activities such as native tree planting.
When we arrived at the resort, we felt as if we had been removed from the hustle and bustle of everyday life and transported to a serene wilderness. The resort sits atop a ridge overlooking the hills of Thailand, Laos and Burma. Each room has a balcony that offers spectacular views of the the valley and wildlife below. From our balcony, we could hear elephants trumpeting in the distance.
This is such a special and memorable place for children. It is majestic in the early morning, captivating during the day, and enchanting at night. We spent hours listening to and spotting nature not only in the early morning as mist lifted off the mountains, but in the evenings before and during dinner when you could hear wildlife from pool-side or from your outdoor dining table.
After a day of elephant activities, we retreated to the infinity pool, which is cited as one of the most idyllic pools in all of Asia by the global travel media. The inviting pool offers an adjacent Jacuzzi and a separate bubble area (which, by the way, is a huge hit with kids of all ages). Servers come around with chilled face towels, sorbets, snacks, and juices.
The other option, of course, is a visit to the award-winning spa. The spa is beautifully set facing the hills of Thailand and Burma and offers a range of luxurious treatments.
We have stayed in both the Deluxe 3 Country View Room and 3 Country View Suite. All rooms are beautifully and richly furnished with Thai silks, teakwood floors and terrazzo tubs. They also have spacious balconies, a king bed, and down duvets. While the 3 Country View Suite offers more room than Deluxe 3 Country View Room, we found that our family was more comfortable staying in connecting Deluxe 3 Country View Rooms.
If you are looking for an incredible, unique experience, the Anantara Golden Triangle Elephant Camp & Resort can deliver. Fascinating experiences coupled with luxurious accommodations and superior amenities will make your vacation one to always remember.
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Editor’s Note: Photos by Loren Braunohler.