5 Ways to Create Melanin Magic During A Visit To Thailand

(Image credit: Trisara hotel in Phuket)

Kristin Braswell Mar, 15, 2018

Whether you’re scrolling through your Instagram feed or reading travel magazines, it’s easy to see that Southeast Asia is having a moment. From Cambodia’s jungle vegetation to the Philippines’ crystal clear lagoons, one of the greatest benefits of traveling to this region of the world is its diverse landscape. For travelers looking to experience a bit of both beach and city, Thailand is a great start. The country, nicknamed The Land of Smiles, is bordered by Myanmar and Laos and has a year-round tropical climate. Add to this hotel options for literally every budget and full meals that cost less than ten dollars, and yes, you’ve struck travel gold. I spent ten days in the country, weaving through Bangkok in tuk-tuks and exposing my skin to the glorious sun in Phuket (this New York winter has been so cruel). 

If you too are ready to activate your melanin in an incredibly affordable and safe country, here the five ways to prepare for a trip through Thailand:

Kristin Braswell is a travel writer and founder of CrushGlobal Travel. Love this rundown of Thailand travel? Sign up to be the first to learn about a specially curated guide with every hotspot HERE, and follow her adventures on Instagram, @crushglobal
 

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(Image Credit: Tourism Authority of Thailand)

All travelers owe it to themselves to learn about the region they plan to visit beyond its most famous landmarks. One of the most interesting facts about Thailand is that it’s the only country in SouthEast Asia that was never colonized by Europeans -- in part due to successful diplomatic efforts. Thai culture is incredibly laid back, and people will often greet each other with a “wai” where your hands are in a prayer position around chest height. The national language of Thailand is Thai, and the currency is the “Thai Baht” (THB) or “Baht” for short. 1 U.S dollar equals roughly 31.37 THB. About 85% of the population is Buddhist, and you’ll find over 40,000 stunning temples around the country. Many people visit Bangkok for its street food and big city vibes, but Chiang Mai in the north is an incredible opportunity to experience traditional customs and the cultural heritage of Thailand against a lush, hilly setting. And then there’s the beaches...

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(Image credit: Trisara Resort)

THE LAYOUT

Ah yes, the beaches. Thailand first-timers should begin in Phuket, where luxury to budget accommodations, ten dollar beach massages, and nightlife that goes until morning are all at your fingertips. To understand some of Phuket’s layout: there is Patong, the main tourist area, and probably the least relaxing (though shopping and nightlife bring many visitors here). Think of it as New York’s Time Square, island style. Next up is Phuket Town, located in the center of the island and home to Thalang Road or “Old Town.” Here, streets are lined with busy markets and colorful 19th-century buildings. If you’re looking for more a more remote location with fewer people, head to Rawai. For what many consider to be the island’s best beach, make your destination Kamala.

WHAT TO DO

You’ve probably seen the iconic long boat photos and idyllic beaches that Thailand is known for. To experience it yourself, take a day trip from Phuket to Phi Phi islands, or the less crowded Phang Na Bay (nicknamed the James Bond Island). You’ll be overwhelmed by the amount of Instagrammable moments against jutting limestone caves and crystal blue water. For a cultural experience in Phuket, visit the Big Buddha, which sits on a massive hilltop with views of the whole island. To catch an incredible sunset (and work on your tan in style) visit Baba Nest at Sri Panwa Phuket -- one of the best rooftop bars in the world.

WHERE TO STAY

For a luxury baecation or soothing solo experience, check in to one of Trisara’s 39 palatial villas, nestled in a jungle oasis with jaw-dropping views of the ocean below. The hotel (which in Thai means The Garden in Third Heaven) is miles away from Phuket’s overcrowded main city, making it a perfect escape to rest for the discerning traveler. There’s virtually nothing to fault here, from its location to friendly staff. The signature ocean view junior suites have their own private infinity pool, oversized king bed, en-suite bathroom, and a living and dining area. In the evening, a sunset straight out of a multi-colored water painting is best viewed from the property’s Deck restaurant. Order the Tom Kha Gai, a traditional Thai soup with coconut, mushrooms, chicken, and lemongrass for a taste of local flavor. There is also a six-course and wine pairing dinner at PRU restaurant, with ingredients sourced from the property’s nearby farm, Pru Jumpa. After a day of exploration, book a spa treatment at JARA Spa, where traditional western and Thai methods are performed in calming gardens and ocean-facing views.

If you’re headed to Phuket with friends, take a cooking class at Anantara Mai Khao’s Spice Spoons cooking school. After visiting a local market to source ingredients, your group will learn how to create traditional Thai dishes in the kitchen. If you want to break a sweat, Anantara offers memorable private Muy Thai boxing lessons with a professional trainer in an outdoor pavilion. Of the property’s five restaurants, it’s La Sala’s take on a local Phuket favorite, curry crab, that should not be missed. Spicy, with huge chunks of blue crab on a coconut broth, it’s a dish you’ll be dreaming of weeks later. Wine lovers can experience exclusive Thai wines at Sea.Fire.Salt. paired with fresh seafood creations from Chef Darren Lauder. Some of the options are even prepared and served on salt bricks imported from the Himalayas (get the grilled Phuket lobster). Anantara’s sister property Layan Phuket Resort, is another worthy alternative, with 15 exclusive pool residences that are architecturally masterful and perfect for groups.

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(Image Credit: Tourism Authority of Thailand)

Bangkok is the third most visited city in the world for a reason. Explore the hipster vibes and growing scene in the city’s Thonglor neighborhood. Take a traditional longboat through the Chao Phraya river to see landmarks. Have a tuk-tuk (traditional, open-air taxi) ride at night into one of Bangkok’s famous food markets (start with Chinatown). For hour-long massages under twenty bucks, head to the Siam district and take your pick. And of course, don’t miss the Buddhist temples, particularly one of the city’s most famous: Wat Pho. For hotels, Mandarin Oriental Bangkok is a shining example of Thai-style luxury (and a perfect Wes Anderson movie), with views of the river and manicured grounds. Put on your best cocktail dress and have a Thai mojito at the uber sexy Bamboo Bar or a dainty hat for afternoon tea at the famous Authors Lounge. Next door to Bamboo, the hotel's casual cafe has some of the best Pad Thai in the city (for under $15!)

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(Image Credit: Tourism Authority of Thailand)

When it comes to eating in Thailand, the issue will not be how to afford it, but where to begin. The country is well-known for its intricate markets and street food, serving up everything from steaming traditional dishes to fresh fruit. To begin your journey into streetside dining, get familiar with satay-- grilled meat threaded on a bamboo stick and served with peanut sauce, cucumber, shallots, and sugar syrup or, for vegetarians, som tam, which includes shredded green papaya, tomatoes, carrots, peanuts, string beans, sugar, garlic, fish sauce, lime juice, and chilies. If you haven’t guessed by now, you’ll never have to worry about flavor in Thai food.

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5Yina’s Enlighten Hydrolat

A fact that cannot be sugar-coated: the travel time to Thailand is long. But once you arrive, the hours up in the air are well worth it. To make it as comfortable as possible, don’t forget to take your vitamins. Try HUM’s Collagen Love to keep your skin plump and Uber Energy to stay alert once you arrive. To regulate digestion, Probiogen’s Daily Digestive probiotics are incredibly effective and don’t have to be refrigerated. The first place jetlag often hits is the face, and stocking up on serums and in-flight masks can set the right tone (literally). SkinCeuticals ’ CE Ferulic is full of yummy Vitamin C to protect melanin and keep it bright. Spray your face to rejuvenate it with 5Yina’s Enlighten Hydrolat (my latest travel obsession). The aloe and rose flower in it will help soothe your skin. For general moisture Stratia’s Liquid Gold, is literally just that-- packed to the brim with ingredients to fight against the free radicals that flights and city pollution can cause. When you return, Som Sleep is a great way to reset your snooze cycle and get back on track. Finally, and perhaps the most critical, for the most comfortable airline options, opt for Cathay Pacific’s impeccable onboard service (bonus: a layover in Hong Kong’s gorgeous airport in their business class lounge, The Pier) or Etihad Airways, which has over 1,000 movie options and affordable Wi-Fi to get you through that final leg. Their full-size comforters and flat beds in business class don’t hurt either.

Kristin Braswell is a travel writer and founder of CrushGlobal Travel. Love this rundown of Thailand travel? Sign up to be the first to learn about a specially curated guide with every hotspot HERE, and follow her adventures on Instagram, @crushglobal

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