Living in Southeast Asia, we’re spoilt for choice when it comes to holidays. Not to sound ungrateful, but jostling for a spot at the egg bar or racing to reserve sun loungers at 6am is exhausting, right? And having to listen to someone else’s kids screaming? No thanks.
Well, we’ve found an alternative. Rice & Zen, just 30 minutes drive from Chiang Mai, is a brand new boutique resort with just two luxury villas on-site. It’s your new happy place – and we’ve got six good reasons why.
1. Nature at its most vibrant
Lush, uninterrupted views of greener than green rice paddies, majestic mountains, sparkling lakes and of course your own Lanna style villa. Located in Doi Saket, a charming, typical Northern Thai village, Rice & Zen is far away from the madding tourist crowd.
2. It’s impossible not to relax
Zen out and chill. It’s mandatory here. From your villa’s King-sized bed, bathrobes and slippers, these guys are serious about relaxation. Tip Tara Spa, just a few minutes away, gives great deals for Rice & Zen guests (pssst, their hot coal treatment is outstanding.) And just a stroll away is Tao Garden, a meditation and healing centre offering detox programs for body and spirit.
3. The pool is awesome
The state-of-the-art mineral pool has no chemicals and you swim in crystal clear water that cascades over the ‘infinity’ edge. Set in the property’s gorgeous gardens, it’s surrounded by striking sculptures, waterfalls and a pebbled Zen garden.
4. Explore the Thai villages
Jump on your free bike or motor-scooter and head out exploring. Experince rural Thai culture and shop their local crafts and roadside cooking. Rice and Zen sits in a beautiful valley and cycling is easy on flat well maintained roads
5. Beauty beyond nature
Doi Saket is home to a famous Buddhist Temple built in 1112. Decorated with incredible modern-style murals, this is a local must-see. Also worth a visit is Warorot Market, boasting gorgeous fabrics, fresh produce and quirky Thai curios like spirit statues and sticky rice steamers.
6. Fine dining with fine wines
Chef Maya is a huge Gordon Ramsay fan and every morning you’ll wake to breakfast, using local, seasonal ingredients. Fresh produce is sourced from nearby farms and markets, bread from the local bakery and eggs from the resident chilled out chooks. At dinner, be spoilt by superb wines and one of Maya’s signatures, like Roast Lamb with Anchovy and Thyme Marinade. Doi Saket has some great restaurants too – Thai style of course, but also European restaurants such as the Lombardy-region influenced Italian joint, Locanda (with resort transport provided).