Review: Four Seasons Tented Camp Golden Triangle (Thailand)

Wednesday newsletters always feature a hotel or flight review.

I recently enjoyed a phenomenal holiday in Singapore & Thailand. You can read my trip reports here:


Today (March 18, 2020): Review of Four Seasons Tented Camp Golden Triangle (Thailand).

Hidden within exotic bamboo jungles overlooking Myanmar and Laos, Four Seasons Tented Camp Golden Triangle offers tailor-made, all-inclusive experiences close to some of Thailand’s oldest civilizations. The luxury resort comprises 15 beautifully appointed tents with leather-and-hardwood bush chairs, paddle fans, and a hardwood desk; some of them feature a custom-made wooden hot tub on the outdoor deck. At night, sundowners are offered at the Burma Bar, then afterwards, guests enjoy unforgettable dining experiences in a safari camp atmosphere at the Nong Yao Restaurant. A stay at the lodge includes a comprehensive list of activities, such as walking with the resort’s resident elephants, or absorbing the tropical tranquility with an open-air massage among the treetops.

Four Seasons Tented Camp Golden Triangle also features in my top 10 lists of the world’s most expensive hotels, the best luxury hotels in Thailand, and the world’s best glamping sites.

Have you ever stayed at Four Seasons Tented Camp Golden Triangle? If so, what was your experience? Leave a comment.

In this review (more info and photos below my Youtube clip & slideshow):


PROS & THINGS I LIKE
  • Four Seasons Tented Camp is located in the famed Golden Triangle, an area where the borders of Thailand, Laos, and Myanmar meet at the confluence of the Ruak and Mekong rivers. Historically the Golden Triangle has been an area well-known for the growing of opium, and the name comes from a US State Department memo on the practice. Over the past decades however, the area was reclaimed from the drug smugglers and blissed-out backpackers, and it is now a magnet for tourism, with dozens of temples, gilded palaces, secret grottoes, verdant jungle, and vibrant street markets. Golden Triangle sis 90 minutes by car from Chiang Rai airport.
  • Perched on a hillside in a dense bamboo forest, the remotely located Four Seasons property is reached by private boat. Upon arrival at Golden Triangle, guests are welcomed by the Four Seasons staff and whisked away to a small longtail boat on the Mekong River. Following a 10 minute magical trip on the Ruak River (an arm of the Mekong) through beautiful scenery, the boat docks at the hotel’s riverside welcome pavilion. Here, a large traditional gong is ringed three times: once for luck; once for health; and once for wealth. With this unique arrival experience, the atmosphere is effectively set for one of Asia’s most intimate escapes.
  • From the river-side welcome pavilion, a steep staircase leads to the camp’s heart, which comprises a breezy, thatched-roof pavilion that houses a bar and restaurant (more on that later). In front of the bar is an expansive terrace, which is decorated with a variety of elephant statues and which offers sweeping vistas of the landscape of Laos and Myanmar. The terrace’s sofas and seats are fitted with brightly colored pillows and cushions, and placed under large traditional cloth parasols. Next to the main pavilion is a wine cellar, a reception & concierge area, as well as small pool area set among the lush greenery.
  • The resort features 15 luxurious tents, scattered across half a mile (almost one km) of rolling forest-covered hillside, with superb views of Burma and the mountains of Laos in the northeast. Well-spaced for privacy and tranquility, the beautiful tents are connected by a quaint brick trail lined with bamboo. Conceived by the celebrated interior designer Bill Bensley, the tents are named after local hill tribes or fauna and flora. Although they share a common layout, each tent is uniquely decorated and furnished. Inside, there’s a king-sized bed, a standalone hand-hammered bathtub, and a separate toilet and outdoor shower. Each tent also has an expansive outdoor viewing deck, some of them equipped with a private wooden hot tub.
  • For a larger travel party, there is the magnificent Explorer’s Lodge, which is located at the far end of the Four Seasons property, clinging to a sunny ridge of the rain forest. Introduced in 2016 and sleeping a maximum of 6 guests, the Explorer’s Lodge comprises two pavilions (housing one bedroom each) which flank a small infinity pool that dramatically juts out into the lush jungle. Exquisite metal craftwork created by exemplary local artisans and an eclectic array of explorer-themed antiques – vintage compasses and rifles and primitive fishing implements – are just some of the delights in store at the Explorer’s Lodge.
  • The Four Seasons Tented Camp operates on all inclusive basis, and rates include three meals per night and beverages (including house wines and spirits), nightly sundowners, and nightly wine and cheese tasting. The Camp houses three venues for food and drink:
    • Located inside the lodge’s central pavilion is Nong Yao, the main restaurant which serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. There are two daily changing set menus each evening – one with western cuisine and the other showcasing the best of the region with Thai, Burmese and Laotian specialties.
    • In front of Nong Yao is the wine cellar, where guests can indulge a wine and cheese tasting session each night, either before or after dinner. The collection of collection of international and Thai wine inside the cellar is impressive.
    • At the far end of the property, next to the Explorer’s lodge, is Burma Bar, an open-air thatched-roof lounge with fireplace, overlooking Burma and the Ruak River. The bar is a great spot for a cocktail at sunset; the Lemongrass Martini is highly recommended.
  • The Four Seasons Tented Camp is known for its program for rehabilitated Asian elephants, nearly all of whom were rescued from mistreatment in Thailand’s tourism industry. The property is one of the funding member of the Golden Triangle Asian Elephant Foundation, which was set up primarily to provide a safe and healthy environment for elephants that cannot help themselves. The lodge allows its guests to interact with these gentle giants throughout the day via the ‘My Elephant & I’ program. Every morning, guests can feed the elephants during breakfast. Later in the day, mahouts (caregivers) take guests and the elephants on a peaceful hike through the jungle to the river, where the gentle giants take a bath in the water.
  • Designed to be in harmony with the surrounding rainforest, the open-air spa lies amidst the leafy bamboo jungle of the Golden Triangle. There are only two open-air salas, each one with double treatment room, spa beds and a bathtub. The spa offers traditional therapies inspired by the healing powers of mountain plants and local warming spices. For the ultimate in wellness pampering, book the signature Ruak Bamboo experience: after a foot bath of refreshing kaffir lime grown at the camp, local herbal oils and smooth natural bamboo sticks are used during a full-body massage to target deep-seated muscle tension.
  • The main draw for guests staying at the camp is to get up and close with rehabilitated elephants, but the resort also offers other activities, such as a hike to the hill’s highest point to watch the sunrise from behind the mountains of Laos, or a stroll into the camp’s natural surroundings with an expert guide to gather ingredients and learn about traditional herbal remedies. For those looking to experience the surrounding area, there are off-site excursions such as tailor-made city tours of Chiang Rai, trips to the markets and pagodas in the Burmese border town of Takilek, hikes that end with a dip into natural hot springs, and visits to Thailand’s hill tribe communities.

CONS & THINGS TO KNOW

Four Seasons Tented Camp Golden Triangle is one of the world’s most exclusive getaways. The tents are stunning, the setting is beautiful, and interacting with the elephants is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Yet, you need to know the following when considering a stay here:

  • The hillside property is spread out and getting to the tents requires some time as they are located along a half a mile (almost one km) walkway. A vintage military jeep is used to ferry guests around the property, but getting to the tents (and spa) still requires a lot of uphill and downhill walking, which may be very challenging for those that have difficulties with walking.
  • The camp does not have a gym, but with all the walking and with outdoor activities like the sunrise hikes up to the Camp Peak, a treadmill certainly won’t be missed.
  • The camp is set in the jungle and does net get a lot of sunshine, so it’s not the best place to work on a tan. In fact, most tents as well as the pool area are in the shade for most of the day.
  • While peaceful and relaxing, the swimming pool is small and looks a little dated. That said, most guests come here, not to enjoy a holiday along the pool, but to interact with elephants.
  • The Four Seasons Tented Camp Golden Triangle is one of the most expensive hotels in the world, although it does offer an all-inclusive package, which includes airport transfers, meals, drinks (including premium wines), and elephant trekking.

MY VERDICT
  • Location: 9/10
  • Design: 8/10
  • Pool: 7/10
  • Rooms: 8/10
  • Food: 8/10
  • Breakfast: 8/10
  • Spa: 9/10
  • Service: 9/10
  • Value for money: 8/10
  • Overall experience: very good 8,6/10

TIPS FOR FUTURE GUESTS & SAVE MONEY
  • Save money: get complimentary VIP perks when booking via Virtuoso (e.g. upgrade, daily breakfast, early check-in, late check-out, and $100 USD spa credit).
  • Save money: read here my tips for getting the best deal at a luxury hotel like Four Seasons Tented Camp Golden Triangle (and/or receive many free perks).
  • Room tip: all tents are similar in layout, so you cannot go wrong with any one of them. Book a deluxe tent if you want to enjoy a hot tub on your outdoor deck.
  • Read my tips for preparing your trip in time.

BEST TIME TO VISIT

The weather in Golden Triangle is significantly cooler than the lower elevations farther south in Thailand. The best time to visit is from November to April, when days are sunny and balmy and nights are cool. Slash-and-burn agriculture can cause haze in the air during February and March. The heat and (heavy) rains come in May and last until October.


HOW TO GET THERE

It’s a 90 minute ride from Chiang Rai Airport to Golden Triangle, followed by a 10 min scenic boat ride. Click here for a list of airlines that offer direct flights to Chiang Rai.


PHOTOS
TRANSFER FROM AIRPORT TO GOLDEN TRIANGLE
TRANSFER FROM AIRPORT TO GOLDEN TRIANGLE
BOAT TRANSFER TO FOUR SEASONS TENTED CAMP GOLDEN TRIANGLE
BOAT TRANSFER TO FOUR SEASONS TENTED CAMP GOLDEN TRIANGLE
BOAT TRANSFER TO FOUR SEASONS TENTED CAMP GOLDEN TRIANGLE
ARRIVAL AT THE HOTEL
ARRIVAL AT THE HOTEL
MAIN CAMP AREA: TERRACE
MAIN CAMP AREA: TERRACE
MAIN CAMP AREA: TERRACE
MAIN CAMP AREA: TERRACE
MAIN CAMP AREA: TERRACE
MAIN CAMP AREA: TERRACE
MAIN CAMP AREA: TERRACE
MAIN CAMP AREA: TERRACE
MAIN CAMP AREA: TERRACE
MAIN CAMP AREA: TERRACE
MAIN CAMP AREA: TERRACE (VIEW)
MAIN CAMP AREA: TERRACE (VIEW)
MAIN CAMP AREA: TERRACE (VIEW)
MAIN CAMP AREA: TERRACE (VIEW)
MAIN CAMP AREA: RESTAURANT
MAIN CAMP AREA: RESTAURANT
MAIN CAMP AREA: RESTAURANT
MAIN CAMP AREA: RESTAURANT
MAIN CAMP AREA: BAR
MAIN CAMP AREA: POOL AREA
MAIN CAMP AREA: POOL AREA
MAIN CAMP AREA: POOL AREA
MAIN CAMP AREA: POOL AREA
MAIN CAMP AREA: POOL AREA
MAIN CAMP AREA: POOL AREA
MAIN CAMP AREA: POOL AREA
MAIN CAMP AREA: POOL AREA
MAIN CAMP AREA: POOL AREA
MAIN CAMP AREA: POOL AREA
MAIN CAMP AREA: POOL AREA
MAIN CAMP AREA: POOL AREA
MAIN CAMP AREA: POOL AREA
MAIN CAMP AREA: POOL AREA
MAIN CAMP AREA: POOL AREA
MAIN CAMP AREA: POOL AREA
MAIN CAMP AREA: POOL AREA
MAIN CAMP AREA: YOGA PAVILION
MAIN CAMP AREA: RECEPTION AREA
MAIN CAMP AREA: RECEPTION AREA
MAIN CAMP AREA: RECEPTION AREA
MAIN CAMP AREA: WINE CELLAR
MAIN CAMP AREA: WINE CELLAR
RESORT MAP
JEEP FOR TRANSFERS WITHIN THE CAMP
WALKWAY TO TENTS
WALKWAY TO TENTS
WALKWAY TO TENTS
WALKWAY TO TENTS
WALKWAY TO TENTS
WALKWAY TO TENTS
WALKWAY TO TENTS
WALKWAY TO TENTS
WALKWAY TO TENTS
WALKWAY TO TENTS
WALKWAY TO TENTS
WALKWAY TO TENTS
WALKWAY TO TENTS
WALKWAY TO TENTS
WALKWAY TO TENTS
WALKWAY TO TENTS
WALKWAY TO TENTS
DELUXE TENT
DELUXE TENT
DELUXE TENT
DELUXE TENT
DELUXE TENT
DELUXE TENT
DELUXE TENT
DELUXE TENT: WELCOME AMENITIES
DELUXE TENT: WELCOME AMENITIES
DELUXE TENT
DELUXE TENT
DELUXE TENT
DELUXE TENT
DELUXE TENT
DELUXE TENT: SHOWER
DELUXE TENT: TOILET
DELUXE TENT: TERRACE
DELUXE TENT: TERRACE
DELUXE TENT: TERRACE
DELUXE TENT: TERRACE
DELUXE TENT: TERRACE
DELUXE TENT: TERRACE
DELUXE TENT: TERRACE
WALKWAY TO SPA
WALKWAY TO SPA
WALKWAY TO SPA
WALKWAY TO SPA
WALKWAY TO SPA
SPA
SPA
SPA
SPA
‘TRADING POST’ SHOP
‘TRADING POST’ SHOP
‘TRADING POST’ SHOP
BURMA BAR
BURMA BAR
BURMA BAR
BURMA BAR
BURMA BAR
BURMA BAR
BURMA BAR
SUNSET
SUNSET
CAMP AT DUSK
CAMP AT DUSK
CAMP AT DUSK
DINNER
DINNER
DINNER
DINNER
DINNER
DINNER
DINNER
DINNER
DINNER
DINNER
DINNER
DINNER
DINNER
DINNER
DINNER
DINNER
DINNER
DINNER
DINNER
BREAKFAST
BREAKFAST
BREAKFAST
BREAKFAST
BREAKFAST
BREAKFAST
BREAKFAST
FEEDING THE ELEPHANTS DURING BREAKFAST
FEEDING THE ELEPHANTS DURING BREAKFAST
FEEDING THE ELEPHANTS DURING BREAKFAST
‘THE ELEPHANT AND I’ EXCURSION AT FOUR SEASONS TENTED CAMP GOLDEN TRIANGLE
‘THE ELEPHANT AND I’ EXCURSION AT FOUR SEASONS TENTED CAMP GOLDEN TRIANGLE
‘THE ELEPHANT AND I’ EXCURSION AT FOUR SEASONS TENTED CAMP GOLDEN TRIANGLE
‘THE ELEPHANT AND I’ EXCURSION AT FOUR SEASONS TENTED CAMP GOLDEN TRIANGLE
‘THE ELEPHANT AND I’ EXCURSION AT FOUR SEASONS TENTED CAMP GOLDEN TRIANGLE
‘THE ELEPHANT AND I’ EXCURSION AT FOUR SEASONS TENTED CAMP GOLDEN TRIANGLE
‘THE ELEPHANT AND I’ EXCURSION AT FOUR SEASONS TENTED CAMP GOLDEN TRIANGLE
‘THE ELEPHANT AND I’ EXCURSION AT FOUR SEASONS TENTED CAMP GOLDEN TRIANGLE
‘THE ELEPHANT AND I’ EXCURSION AT FOUR SEASONS TENTED CAMP GOLDEN TRIANGLE
‘THE ELEPHANT AND I’ EXCURSION AT FOUR SEASONS TENTED CAMP GOLDEN TRIANGLE
‘THE ELEPHANT AND I’ EXCURSION AT FOUR SEASONS TENTED CAMP GOLDEN TRIANGLE
‘THE ELEPHANT AND I’ EXCURSION AT FOUR SEASONS TENTED CAMP GOLDEN TRIANGLE
‘THE ELEPHANT AND I’ EXCURSION AT FOUR SEASONS TENTED CAMP GOLDEN TRIANGLE
‘THE ELEPHANT AND I’ EXCURSION AT FOUR SEASONS TENTED CAMP GOLDEN TRIANGLE
‘THE ELEPHANT AND I’ EXCURSION AT FOUR SEASONS TENTED CAMP GOLDEN TRIANGLE
‘THE ELEPHANT AND I’ EXCURSION AT FOUR SEASONS TENTED CAMP GOLDEN TRIANGLE
‘THE ELEPHANT AND I’ EXCURSION AT FOUR SEASONS TENTED CAMP GOLDEN TRIANGLE
LUNCH
LUNCH
LUNCH
LUNCH
LUNCH
LUNCH
LUNCH
LUNCH
LUNCH
LUNCH
LUNCH
LUNCH

*** Follow me on InstagramYoutubeTwitter or Facebook for a daily moment of travel inspiration ***


 

2 Comments

  1. Hi, it is good to have a future trip to dream of in these difficult times … My husband and I were supposed to go to Bhutan in April but of course we were forced to postpone this vacation. At the same time, we had to make new arrangements for our flights to Bangkok and back. SWISS offered to put off the flights until the end of the year, so we decided to go to Thailand in December instead. FS Tented Camp sounds great but I consider it way too expensive. We did not even pay half of it when going to Botswana, admittedly 10 years ago and we opted for mid-scale hotels at the time … Any affordable alternatives to FS Tented Camp? Thanks … Cheers and stay healthy, Franziska

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.