It wasn't that long ago that Bangkok, Thailand, was named the number one party destination in the world. The bustling Thai city's red light district is world-famous for its debauchery, so much so that its fame found its way into pop music in 1984 (“One night in Bangkok and the world's your oyster...”).
But if you think all there is to a holiday in Thailand is Bangkok's red light district and the young and definitely debauched party scene, you would be very wrong. Thailand has a very different side to it – a side much quieter than the Phuket surfing scene and the Bangkok bars. In Thailand, you can take a number of holidays whose primary focus is not debauchery but detoxing.
Yoga retreats in Thailand are increasingly popular ways to relax and rejuvenate in the tropical kingdom. There are many places in Thailand where you can slow down and stretch with yoga, while enjoying beautiful scenery and luxurious accommodations. These programs range from beginner yoga retreats all the way up to intensive, advanced yoga courses designed for more experienced yoga practitioners. These yoga retreats are sometimes owned and operated by Thai natives, but more often, they are run by western expats who are yoga experts.
A yoga retreat in Thailand isn't the same as doing yoga at your resort's fitness centre. Far from it. These yoga retreats, led by professional and sometimes world-renowned yoga sinstructors, include multiple sessions of yoga each day (with extra time for R&R, of course).
A place like Chiva-Som, overlooking the Gulf of Thailand and frequented by the likes of Angelina Jolie, Ella Macpherson, Liz Hurley, Julia Roberts, and Lawrence Dallaglio, is the kind of place you visit only when you're prepared to be completely and totally pampered. From the floral necklaces threaded with jasmine you'll get when you check in, to the three-tiered basket of dim sum waiting for you in your room, Chiva-Som is luxury beyond luxury. While visiting, you can learn to meditate, practice yoga, and strengthen your core with Pilates. When you're looking for something a little more up-tempo, you can join the kick boxing class (something else the Thais are famous for), or pump iron at the gym. When you're finished, you can lounge beside the pool.
Chiva-Som has even more to offer to help you detox: classes there will even teach you how to overcome emotional issues and certain addictions. Although you won't find that many Mai Thais at a place like Chiva-Som, you will find plenty of fresh juices, all in the name of detoxing.
As opulent as Chiva-Som sounds, it's not the only wellness centre of its kind. All over Thailand you can find similar wellness centres, only a stone's throw from the beach and filled with yoga, meditation, and diets designed to detox your body and your mind.
The area of Koh Samui is one part of Thailand thick with spas, yoga retreats, and detox retreats. Kamalaya Koh Samui is one of these, and in fact won the 2008 Best Wellness Retreat from Spa Asia Crystal Awards, and the Best Destination Spa from Asia Spa Baccarat Awards. The Times (UK) also named them as one of the Top 5 Exotic Detox Retreats. The menu on offer at Kamalaya Koh Samui is one of emotional balance, physical balance, meditation, and even “Asian Alchemy” -- a chance to work with wellness practitioners who specialize in Aryuvedic medicine, Chinese medicine, and traditional Thai healing practices.
Whether you're still young at heart and want to enjoy one night in Bangkok before relaxing at a yoga retreat, or whether you want to skip Bangkok altogether and detox at a place like Kamalaya Koh Samui or Chiva-Som, you will find the ultimate relaxation at one of Thailand's yoga or detox retreats.
To help you plan your trip we have listed some of the most popular yoga and detox retreats in several destinations in Thailand