The night promises all the drama of a tropical storm as palm trees bow to the tumultuous weather gods holding court on the island of Koh Samui. Serene skies make way for the approaching monsoon season as the rain pounds sideways as everyone takes cover and prepares for the impending deluge. There was a time not that long ago when boutique accommodation, fine dining and day spas weren’t on Koh Samui’s tourist trail, and the island was famed for its fishing communities and coconuts. Now its staggering beauty fringed by aquamarine is a drawcard for loved-up couples and families.
Like a queen overseeing her subjects from her throne, Chiang Mai hovers high in Thailand’s north far away from the south’s madness. Initially conceived for her trade route to China, the northern capital remains largely independent from the rest of the country. Compact, walkable and friendly, Chiang Mai has all the cultural bases covered with its food, ruins, temples, scenery, elephants, adventure, crafts and continuing traditions.