Learn to kitesurf in Phuket
Along with Mui Ne in Vietnam, Chalong Bay and Nai Yang beach in Phuket have become some of South-East Asia’s most reliable kitesurfi ng spots, with different beaches suitable for the types of
wind at different times of the year. If you’ve got a long weekend to spare, international company Kiteboarding Asia (www.kiteboardingasia.com) runs three-day beginner courses for THB11,000/$446 at both beaches – Nai Yang beach from April to October, and Chalong Bay from November to March. You’ll learn to rig, launch, fl y and surf your kite, with most people zipping along independently by the end of the course.
Tiger Airways flies to Phuket from $180 return (www.tigerairways.com). The beaches are a short taxi
ride from the airport.
The Imperial Adamas Beach Resort (www.imperialadamas.com) is at the lower end of luxe, but good value, with rooms starting from THB3,028/$122 per night.
Turn off the power in Phuket
There’s no electricity except in the restaurant at Tenta Nakara (www.tentanaakra.com; rooms from $57 per night), a tiny hideaway on Naka Yai Island in Phuket where guests stay in permanent tents overlooking the beautiful Phang Nga Bay. The whole place is designed to be as eco-friendly and unobtrusive as possible, from the simple wooden buildings to the oil lamps and candles guests light their way with. Activities include kayaking and snorkelling, and you can get a Thai massage. Tiger Airways fl ies to Phuket from $180 return (www.tigerairways.com). From the airport, it’s a 20km cab ride to Ao Por, where a longtail boat can take you to the island for THB700/$28.
Get up close with elephants in Chiang Mai
Around 60km (an hour or so by car) from Chiang Mai, you can have a personal encounter with the 35 or so residents of the Elephant Nature Park (www.elephantnaturepark.org) – the park runs day trips from THB2,500/$101, and two-day overnight trips from THB5,800/$235, both of which involve scrubbing the elephants as you bathe with them. Meals and pick-ups to and from the hotel will be provided for both excursions, with accommodation in the park huts for the overnight stay. Book ahead, as spaces get booked up fast. Thai Airways flies to Chiang Mai from $680 return. See www.thaiairways.com. The homely, family-run Secret Garden Chiang Mai (www.secretgardenchiangmai.com) is about 12km north of the city, with rooms starting from THB1,700/$69.
Go on a yoga retreat in Koh Samui
Though South-East Asia has plenty of yoga centres, there are few places with a larger concentration of retreats than Koh Samui, arguably the new yoga capital of the region (just beware: flights are a little pricier, as none of the budget airlines fly here). Two in particular offer a high quality of instructors and facilities, though you’ll pay for the privilege: the plush Samahita Retreat (www.yoga-thailand.com), which focuses on the yoga courses (EUR790/$1,287 per week), but where you can stay for a few nights if you email; and the even fancier Absolute Sanctuary (www.absolutesanctuary.com), which looks like a five-star Mediterranean resort and where you can stay for THB8,200/$333. If you want to just stay on the island and drop in for yoga classes, Vikasa Yoga (www.evolutionofyoga.com/samui) is a serious centre with a Zen Garden and organic café, while Bikram Yoga Koh Samui (www.bikramyogakohsamui.com) offers twice-daily classes to get your sweat on.
Thai Airways flies to Koh Samui from $628 return. See www.thaiairways.com.