Two years ago we found the perfect balance on Koh Lanta—a Thai island that wasn’t too developed or crowded but had enough facilities for us to live comfortably. On our latest visit to Thailand we couldn’t resist returning to the island we’d loved so much, but we knew there was a danger that it wouldn’t be the same.
We’re back on Koh Lanta which we think is the most relaxed but liveable island in Thailand. Last time we were here we met the lovely Swedish couple Mia and Matthius who created the Malee Seaview complex of villas and apartments on the quiet southern end of Long Beach. They were kind enough to invite us to stay in a couple of their places again including the Sai Naam apartments, the beachfront villa A2 (one of our favourite places in the world), and F5, an ultra modern stylish villa that we haven’t stayed in before.
Chiang Mai in northern Thailand is a popular location for expats, retirees, and digital nomads, who are tempted by the ease of living and the blend of familiar and exotic. It has everything you need from cinemas and shopping malls to international cuisine, but it’s not a bland Westernised city. It has a fascinating culture with hundreds of Buddhist temples, their golden spires shimmering on almost every street in the Old City; captivating Buddhist festivals; and a superlative food scene with abundant inexpensive food stalls and dozens of vegetarian restaurants.
Many visitors come to Thailand hoping to fulfil a bucket list dream—to ride an elephant. Unfortunately they don’t realise the cruelty of the act, the horrific abuse young elephants suffer during their training known as the crush, which quite literally crushes their spirit to make them submissive to humans by keeping them caged, sleep deprived, hungry, and beaten.
In our Slow Travel Manifesto we said that one of our most enjoyable ways to explore a new place is to wander aimlessly and be open to what we might come across. In a big city this can be overwhelming and the best way to focus your exploration is to choose a specific neighbourhood. Our favourite cities have distinct diverse neighbourhoods with their own characters, and we gravitate towards areas with independent businesses and restaurants, good food, an artistic creative vibe, beautiful architecture, or a village-like feel.