As much as we love Bangkok with all its hearty hustles and buzzing bustles, it’s always good to get out of the Big Mango – even if only for the weekend. Every month, we put together a list of four weekend trip ideas to bring you a refreshing dose of travel inspo from around the region. Go on one of them or go on all of them, and prepare a big fat red marker to check off this one resolution for 2019 on the monthly: to travel brilliantly.

As we slip and slither into spring and summer, our theme for March is a sense of story. Be it hotels with a rich historical past, or hotels that tell their tales through distinctive design language, much like the season, we’re seeking an unravel of what lies beneath the surface. Why do we travel to the places we travel to? In search of adventure or familiarity? To escape or to embrace? From nestling into a tented cocoon to the Danang Bay on your private villa step, we’ve put together a narrative for where your weekends could and should lead you this month. Just a few flight hours away from Bangkok, write off your worries and wander in wonder at these haunts this March. 

[Hero image credit: 137 Pillars House Chiang Mai; Featured image credit: Wild Coast Tented Lodge Sri Lanka]

1
1.5 Hours Away: 137 Pillars House Chiang Mai

Between serenely lush greens and a creatively cool pop culture, it’s no wonder why Chiang Mai is a beloved weekend destination for the bummed-out-with-Bangkok city dweller. The Northern escape has much to offer in terms of both tranquility and tastebud-tantalising finds, and a rich history that goes back many centuries. A means to time travel in style, visit the recently refurbished 137 Pillars House Chiang Mai for a beautifully traditional Thai stay with much character. The award-winning 30-suite luxury boutique hotel is built around an original teak homestead which actually dates back to the 1800s, when it was the home of the northern headquarters for the British East Borneo Company. Stay in one of the new 85sqm David Fleming Macfie Suites, boasting plenty of space and many charming touches — from a Victorian freestanding claw foot bathtub to a rattan planter’s rocking chair. Elegant, oriental, and yet still honing a fine flair of modern luxury, it’s the perfect place to relax and unwind with a good book, or let its history inspire your own.

Eat: Khao Soi, Nam Prik Ong, and Sai Oua — The Chiang Mai staples
Play: Become one with the hipsters at the creative markets
‘Gram: The view from Baan Mon Muan at Doi Suthep

137 Pillars House Chiang Mai, 2 Soi 1, Nawatgate Rd., Tambon Watgate, Chiang Mai, +66 53 247788

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1.5 Hours Away: Intercontinental Danang Sun Peninsula Resort

Danang is so hot right now — and we’re not just talking tanlines. The coastal city in central Vietnam has become a serious hot haven for luxury hotels to set up ship on shore, welcoming guests to enjoy the beauty and serenity of the Southeast Asian beach town. For a picturesque stay you’ll collect the ‘gram likes of a lifetime for, stay at the Intercontinental Danang Sun Peninsula Resort. It was designed by the incredible Bill Bensley (who you may be familiar with if you already swoon for Bangkok’s The Siam, Chiang Rai’s Four Seasons Tented Camp, and Angkor’s Shinta Mani). Kick back in one of the opulent beach front villas and go for a dip in your own private pool or a nap on the dreamy day beds. All suites are fitted with large terraces to enjoy the sea breeze, as well as Vietnamese-inspired furnishings. Come Golden Hour, sip a sundowner with a view at the Citron bar, and end your day with a bespoke spa treatment at the HARNN Heritage Spa. Vitamin Sea has long proven to be very, very good for you, and we have an inkling that Danang is exactly what the doctor prescribes this March.

Eat: Mi Quang Vietnamese Turmeric Rice Noodles, Da Nang’s signature dish
Play: A bicycle ride around Son Tra Peninsula
‘Gram: The secret caves, tunnels, and shrines within the Ngu Han Son Marble Mountains

Intercontinental Danang Sun Peninsula Resort, Bay Bac, SonTra Peninsula, Danang City, +84 236 3938 888

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3.5 Hours Away: Wild Coast Tented Lodge Sri Lanka

Nothing sings ‘adventure’ like a stay in a tented lodge within a national park. Located ‘where the Indian Ocean meets the jungle’, Resplendent Ceylon’s Wild Coast Tented Lodge sits adjacent to Sri Lanka’s Yala National Park — a reserve renowned for its very dense leopard (yup) population. Embrace the glamping trend to the fullest and stay within the ‘Cocoon & Urchin’ tents, aptly named so by way of their charmingly arched fabric structures and use of natural materials. It’s truly a five star room with a canvas roof, boasting all the amenities (including air-conditioning) of their high-rise counterparts. Awaken with the sun and have breakfast at the bamboo-clad Dining Pavilion, before going for a swim in the free-form pool and a picnic on the sand dunes. During the day, explore the park with a guided tour and nature walks, and take part in workshops and lectures based around topics like elephant behaviour and bird watching. You’ll come back with some impressive dinner table ice breakers, and a vibrant picture book of memories, too. 

Eat: Appa or Appam Hoppers and Ambul Thiyal sour fish curry
Play: A guided tour of Yala National Park for elephant, sloth, and leopard-spotting
‘Gram: The ancient Buddhist temples sites nearby

Wild Coast Tented Lodge, Palatupana, Yala National Park, Sri Lanka, +94 47 703 6000

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4 Hours Away: The Middle House Shanghai

Not everyone is hot and sweaty for being, well, hot and sweaty. Where some prefer a live performance by cicadas in the outdoors, others prefer a swirl of Scotch at a sky-scraping jazz bar indoors. For a swift urban trip of the most stylish kind, head to Shanghai for a city break of vibrant lights and dimsum nights. Located in the bustling Jing’an District on Nanjing West Road, The Middle House is part of the acclaimed The House Collective (which you’ll know and love if you’ve ever visited Hong Kong’s infamous The Upper House), and follows a similar design story. Where The Upper House had André Fu, The Middle House sees the marrying of Piero Lissoni’s minimalist style with beautifully Shanghainese elements. Truly an intimate oasis of calm amongst one of Asia’s most dynamic concrete jungles, it’s the perfect place to unwind post a day of window- and not-so-window-shopping at Plaza 66, or a stroll on The Bund along the Huangpu River. Stay in the penthouse for the ultimate staycation-feel indulgence, and enjoy breakfast on your terraces with a panorama of kickass sweeping views. No worries in sight.

Eat: Soup dumplings or xiao long bao (of course)
Play: Shanghai rooftop bar La Terazza
‘Gram: A time-lapse of the Pudong skyline as the lights come on

The Middle House Shanghai, No. 366 Shi Men Yi Rd., Jing’an District, Shanghai, +86 21 3216 8199

Lisa Gries
Managing Editor, Bangkok
Lisa loves to travel, and is always on the lookout for the world’s best nap spots. She’s a serious Asian art history nerd, and has a knack for languages and coffee table books. She hopes to publish her own novels one day, one of which will likely be called ‘All The Great Conversations I Had In A Bangkok Speakeasy.’ It’s a work in progress.