Idyllic Retreats in Chiang Mai, Thailand


This story is part of our Spotlight on Thailand series, a collection of articles to help you plan your first, or next exciting trip to Thailand, “the land of smiles.” Also check out our piece on tours and activities in and around Chiang Mai, and planning your next scuba diving trip to the Andaman Sea!

Travel to Thailand, and you may hear people say, “take some Thai time.” The phrase, meaning relax, enjoy yourself, and don’t rush, is both an attitude and life outlook for many Thais.

If the philosophy doesn’t already appeal to you, a delicious Thai curry and fresh mango juice under the warm tropical sun, may soon change your mind.

Quick Facts:

  • Lang: Thai, English
  • Currency: THB, baht
  • Time zone: GMT +7 h
  • Tel. country code: +66

Take some well-deserved time off at a peaceful hideaway in the rainforest of Northern Thailand. Breathtaking scenery and first-class pampering can revive both the body and mind.

Visit one of these wonderful retreats in Chiang Mai, and experience the essence of time well spent.

Sukantara Cascade Resort

Find yourself deep in old-growth rainforest beside a slow, cascading mountain waterfall. The morning breaks with the rush of water, and the call of resident peacocks and a white-feathered cockatoo.

Open your cabin door, and you may find green sticky-footed geckos climbing the stalks of giant ferns and fiery-red ti plants near your balcony railing. In the garden, past the open-air massage tents, notice the stands of slender yellow bamboo guarding the entry to the Bridge of Love, a wooden rope bridge leading to a hiking path beyond. Simply enchanting.


At a location made for movies, Sukantara Cascade Resort offers guests an atmosphere of total relaxation. Indulge at the Chiida Spa for a private Thai massage, herbal body wrap or hydrotherapy session, dip in the tiled pool, or sit and enjoy the view from your private deck.

The courteous, attentive grounds staff add to the peaceful setting, providing towels poolside, luggage handling, and friendly service at the veranda restaurant overlooking the falls.

For a hike to neighboring falls or around the area, reception can arrange a private walking tour with a local guide. Other outdoor activities, such as golf, city tours, and elephant trekking are also available.

Don’t forget to sign the guest book before leaving. Many visitors from Thailand and abroad, including Angelina Jolie and son Maddox, have enjoyed their stay here.

Ban Sabai Village Resort & Spa

About fifteen minutes drive from Chiang Mai’s busy city center, you’ll discover the Swiss-owned Ban Sabai Village Resort & Spa, a small charming retreat wrapped in a dense forest of musa siam ruby and bulbous red heliconias.

pathway at ban sabai

Walk through the bamboo gates, and reception welcomes you to peaceful seclusion with a warm Thai greeting and refreshing juice.

The center-most guest cabins are surrounded by a tropical garden, near a pond filled with lily pads, and a bean-shaped swimming pool. Wooden lounge chairs, umbrellas, and towels are provided.

Encircling the grounds, a stone path covered by a verdant trellis of tangling vines connects each building to reception. Lanterns of scented lemongrass pepper the property helping to keep mosquitoes at bay.

With the resort’s proximity to the city, dinner reservations are easily arranged. To dine in, visit the Wild Orchid Restaurant upstairs. The helpful waitstaff serve all courses with a smile, and many dishes are prepared with local ingredients.

Catering to your physical and mental well-being is part of the Ban Sabai Village experience. Staff invite you to try their Health and Wellness program, fitness center, or choose from a large list of spa treatments including, among others, detox body wraps, foot massage, and aroma oil massage.

Both the Ban Sabai Village Resort & Spa and the Sukantara Cascade Resort offer transportation to and from Chiang Mai city. If you’d prefer to explore beyond the resort grounds, reception can provide advice, maps, and printed brochures about local festivals and markets or activity packages.

massage at ban sabai