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How Thailand is upping its game

Without a doubt, now is the time to revisit Thailand. The country is a travel classic, known for its endless palm-swayed islands and beaches, glittering temples, tantalising food and warm welcomes. It's a favourite of backpackers who come to find paradise on a tiny budget. But Thailand isn't content to rest on its laurels. The forward-looking country is fast gaining a reputation as the place for affordable luxe, one-off experiences and a greater focus on eco-minded accommodation.

Want a private villa with your own butler (without a huge price-tag)? Tick. Want to learn cooking tips from the country's best chefs? You've got it. Want to walk and interact with rescued elephants in a sensitive – and sensational – fashion? No problem.

Our Thailand experts have unearthed a range of new properties and experiences that take you off the well-trodden path and enable you to enjoy this exotic country in a different way.

STAY

From luxury villas to some of the world's best-value five-star accommodation, Thailand is shaking off its outdated backpacker image. Here are a few of our favourite spots.

Six Senses Yao Noi

Perched on a secluded headland with jaw-dropping views over Phang Nga Bay's fantastical limestone karsts, Six Senses Yao Noi is an exclusive, secluded paradise. Made famous by The Man With The Golden Gun. This property is one of our favourite resorts in Thailand – one to book early to avoid disappointment at peak times.

Elephant Hills

This exclusive tented jungle camp was winner of the 2015 Thailand Green Award for Animal Welfare. It offers intimate and well-managed encounters with rescued elephants.

Panacea

Villas offer a home away from home. They are ideal for those wanting privacy, freedom and flexibility. Panacea, on idyllic Koh Samui, is one of our favourites. It's unique. Offering an ultra-luxury homestay in exquisite private houses that have infinity pools, butler service, executive chefs and spectacular 360-degree views. With extras such as a private theatre, boxing ring and tennis courts on site, it's ideal for families too.

Iniala Beach House

Hidden away on Phuket, this is arguably southern Thailand's most luxurious property. The Penthouse Suite and three Beachfront Villas here are a design revelation, with contemporary flair meeting traditional Thai. Extras include a private dining pavilion, pools, exclusive cinema and a giant fantasy playhouse.

Experiences

Get fit Thai style, gain greater insight into the past, and cook like a local – just some of the authentic experiences that have got us itching to visit Thailand.

Learn muay thai: The national sport of Thailand is one of the most striking martial arts there is. Fancy giving it a go? We can arrange for you to train with a local master at a top gym in Bangkok. You'll learn the basic techniques, including how to punch and kick like a pro. It will be the most physically intense and culturally fascinating workout of your life.

Explore Kanchanaburi: Around 100,000 labourers and Allied POWs died during the construction of the so-called 'Death Railway' in 1943. Touring the site under the guidance of a renowned railway historian is poignant.

Cook up a storm: Thanks to our special connections to the movers and shakers of Bangkok's culinary scene, we can arrange exclusive cookery classes with celebrity chefs such as award-winning Ian Kittichai at the mouthwatering Issaya Cooking Studio.

Eat extraordinaire: Rather just enjoy the food than prepare it? We can arrange truly special dining experiences – from 'Royal Thai' meals to funky modern fusions. In Bangkok, why not try a private chef's-table dinner, a five-course feast cooked up by a celebrity chef. Or head to the Writer's Secret in Chiang Mai for an exclusive alfresco lunch. This was once the refuge of acclaimed writer Rong Wong-Savun. It’s now a unique dining destination run by his widow Sumalee, who prepares her rare family recipes.