Despite ideas by both Thai people and foreigners that Chiang Mai is the one place in Thailand were tradition and culture remain untouched, the actual city of Chiang Mai had been fairly well built up. Signs of development can be seen on nearly every street. However, if you’re looking for a country retreat deep within the surrounding forest covered mountains to soak in some of Thailand’s natural beauty, the Belle Villa Resort is a good place to do it. While it is equipped with many of the best amenities, it also boasts a beautiful and peaceful environment reminiscent of a more peaceful time.
You can find the Belle Villa tucked away in the mountains almost an hour from the airport and the city center. With lush forest surroundings, beautifully landscaped grounds, a lodge style lobby, and a very village-like feel, the Belle Villa makes for a break from the typical hotel and from the bustle of the city. They also offer an airport shuttle service for a price. This same shuttle leaves several times a day for the PornPing Tower hotel, which is located near the must see Chiang Mai night bazaar. While there is a price for the shuttle service, it’s a mere 50 baht per person. The van can also be booked during off hours at a rate of 150 baht per person; and after checking out, the shuttle service to the airport will cost you 600 baht (the same as a cab if you can manage to get one there, which is rare).
Rooms at the Belle Villa come in several different varieties, and for around 70 USD a night you can book a “Superior Deluxe” room. This superior room features a very spacious bedroom with your choice of bed; a balcony with wooden table and chairs; a huge bathroom with separate rooms for the toilet, shower, and washroom with a vanity; and a closet with a safe. The room boasts wood floors, beautiful wood décor, a fridge and a minibar with complementary water. Furthermore, the resort is equipped with wireless internet which can be purchased at the front counter. Unfortunately, purchasing a log-in password can be pricey; however, the upside is that you can use it in your room. Each room also has working AC, an essential during the summer months.
While you’re not lounging around the room or resting up for the next day, you can walk around the grounds. Next to the resort is a small elephant camp, and the elephants are out feeding daily. You can step out on the balcony or outside to watch them, feed them, and even pet them.
Down by the main restaurant is a sizable and well kept pool where you can swim day or night. The restaurant next to it serves drinks and refreshments that are perfect for an day of relaxation. A complementary breakfast is also served there in the morning, which is of both a Western and Thai variety. However, it is the dinner menu that boasts the best cuisine. If you happen to tire of Thai food though, an Asian BBQ restaurant is open by reservation in a nearby building.
For day excursions you can rent a van at 2,200 baht a day plus gas, and less for less time, of course. The driver will take you anywhere you want to go all day, so the deal is well worth it for a place like Chiang Mai where the attractions are quite spread out (waterfalls, elephant riding, temple visits, shopping, long-neck visits, etc).
Overall, Belle Villa offers comfort and convenience and at a god price. The view is spectacular, the atmosphere extremely laid back and peaceful, yet still within reach of the city. Upon a second visit to Chiang Mai, Belle Villa would be my first choice.