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In the heart of Thailand, where the echoes of history blend seamlessly with the modern world, the age-old tradition of river exploration is being rekindled. Chiang Mai, the historical capital of the once-majestic Lanna Kingdom, stands as a testament to time, with its temples, museums, and sites that narrate tales of yesteryears.
Nestled on the prime riverfront of the Ping River, the Anantara Chiang Mai Resort is set to elevate the river cruising experience. Introducing the “Nam Jai” – a term in Thai that translates to “water from the heart.” This vessel isn’t just any boat; it’s an antique teak rice barge, painstakingly restored by hand, exuding an aura of authenticity and elegance. With comfortable seating for a select eight, it promises an intimate and premium river cruise experience.
From the resort’s newly constructed private pier, the Nam Jai embarks on a journey that offers passengers a chance to immerse themselves in the actual destination. As the boat gently glides on the water, passengers are treated to an ever-changing tableau: majestic teak houses standing tall in their resplendent glory, stretches of verdant greenery, and the serene rhythms of local life along the riverbanks.
For those seeking an early start, the sunrise cruise, departing at 9:00 am, is a journey to the nearby Wat Ket Karam. This region, one of Chiang Mai’s oldest communities, boasts diverse houses of worship standing harmoniously side by side. As the morning sun casts its golden hue, passengers can witness Buddhist monks in their daily routines. And for the culinary enthusiast, a stop at the Michelin-mentioned roadside stall, Lung Kajohn, offers a taste of delectable steamed rice dumplings, known locally as Khao Kriab Pak Moh.
For those who find magic in the twilight, a 5:00 pm departure sails north, past iconic city bridges and quaint temples, eventually leading into the lush embrace of nature. This twilight voyage isn’t just about the sights; it’s an experience. With free-flowing sparkling wine, gourmet canapés, and an ambience of romance, it’s a journey to remember.
Pitak Norathepkitti, the resort’s General Manager, shares his enthusiasm, “River cruising is intrinsically Thai. It offers a gentle, immersive lens into the soul of Chiang Mai. With the Nam Jai, we’re elevating this experience, crafting memories that are as luxurious as they are authentic.” Starting at THB 1,800++ per person for the sunrise cruise and THB 2,800++ for the twilight voyage, this is luxury redefined.
Read More: Hidden Charms of Chiang Mai
Beyond the river, the Anantara Chiang Mai Resort itself is a beacon of contemporary luxury. Located on the banks of the Mae Ping River and a stone’s throw from the bustling Night Bazaar, its historical significance as the former British consulate adds another layer to its charm. As a part of the DISCOVERY loyalty programme, Anantara promises not just a stay, but an experience. This river cruise is an unmissable journey for those seeking a unique perspective of Chiang Mai. ◼
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© This article was first published online in Sept 2023 – World Travel Magazine.