If you’ve been to Thailand recently, you might have noticed things are a little more crowded than before. It’s not your imagination. According to Pongpanu Svetarundra, Permanent Secretary to the Tourism & Sports Ministry, Thailand’s tourism industry might soon be struggling to cope with an expected near-doubling of visitors to 60 million by 2030.
According to Sventarundra, the visitors boom is partly due to the explosive travel surge from the newly wealthy Chinese, who make up almost half of the rise in tourists – from 15.9m in 2010 to 32.6m last year – mostly inspired by Lost in Thailand, a 2012 road trip film that won cult status in the Middle Kingdom.
“If we don’t do anything, we will get into trouble,” says Sventarundra. “The congestion will be more and more.” With plans being set in motion to improve infrastructure around ports, airports and railways in the future, right now you can expect bottlenecks and congestion in Thailand’s main centres.
Which is not great news, if you want to escape the crowded, bustling city centre you’re in, and you’re desperate to find a ‘paradise vacation’ in Thailand.
Take courage; if you want to escape the well-beaten tourist path, the Chiang Mai countryside has Thailand’s natural treasures on generous display, and no-one seems to know about it. Yet.
Baanpong Lodge, with jungles, lakes and mountains in its backyard, is the best choice if you’re in the Chiang Mai countryside.
For the adventurous, make use of the resort’s jungle buggies and motorcycles for exploring, or climb the famed Crazy Horse crags close by.
But, at it’s heart, this lodge excels at being what it is – a luxury retreat, set in the jungle, aimed purely at taking the heavy load off your shoulders and putting it quietly down beside you, so that you can exhale and recharge.
Dip your feet in the pool and enjoy being served cocktails or food at the poolside bar and restaurant.
Aircon and all the mod cons are provided in these king-bed private chalets.
Owner operated, Nim and John’s personal touch can be felt throughout the lodge – from the stylish and fun decor, the well-trained staff, the restaurant’s Thai and western dishes, down to the list of carefully selected craft beer.
They can be found most nights enjoying a chilled beer at the poolside bar after dinner – you’re welcome to grab a cold one and pull up a chair for a chat.
Personal service and limited numbers ensure that the lodge has a pleasantly professional atmosphere, but still feels like you’re visiting a friend in the countryside. It’s also one of the few truly family-friendly resorts in Chiang Mai.
To get here, fly to Chiang Mai airport and request the Lodge’s shuttle service to collect you from there.
There’s more to Thailand than the tourism hot spots of Bangkok and Chiang Mai city life, and now you know how to find the best hidden getaway in Thailand.