Panviman Chiang Mai Spa Resort: Northern Thailand’s Breathtaking Retreat
I simply couldn’t believe what I was seeing when my shuttle pulled into Panviman Chiang Mai’s gates. Sure, I had seen photos of the resort online, but, prior to my arrival, I had little idea just how resplendent it would be in person. Set atop a lush hill in a remote region about 45 minutes from downtown Chiang Mai, Thailand, I knew as soon as I arrived that Panviman was the luxury retreat that had been calling to me all my life.
There’s a lot to love about the frugal backpacker life. Spending $10 U.S. or less per night on accommodation is what enabled me to spend months traveling Southeast Asia without completely depleting my funds. I enjoy the challenge of stretching my savings as far as they can go, and, with just a little caution and problem-solving, you can experience some amazing adventures with a limited budget. That said, throughout my Southeast Asia trip, I had a few forays into luxury lodging, and oh what a treat they were. I couldn’t wait to see what Panviman Chiang Mai Spa Resort had in store for me.
Upon arrival, everywhere I looked, I was in awe of the attention to detail of this impeccably designed resort – and I hadn’t even seen most of it yet! After I checked in and chatted with the resort’s incredibly friendly manager, feeling like a celebrity, I hopped on board a golf cart and was chauffeured to my room. The expression “my jaw dropped to the floor” is usually an exaggeration, but I’m not entirely sure it was in this case. As the bellhop left me in peace to explore the room, I couldn’t help but mutter aloud, “Oh my God. Oh my GOD!” There may have been a few appreciative expletives thrown in as well.
As a guest of Panviman, of course I’m encouraged (though never required) to pen a positive review. But I can assure you that my effusive raving in this post is entirely genuine. And, yes, budget hostels had set my bar low, but I’d also stayed at several impressive five star hotels while in Southeast Asia and had toured others throughout my life. But I can honestly say that no hotel or resort I’ve ever seen is as gorgeous and grandiose as the Panviman Chiang Mai. And the wild thing is rooms start at just over $100 U.S. per night.
I had the pleasure of staying in a Jacuzzi Villa, which occupied 1000 square feet/91.5 square meters and was adorned with elaborate Thai decorations. Its bathroom was larger than some of the bedrooms I’ve lived in, and the bed was one of the biggest, most comfortable I’ve ever experienced. But wait! It gets better! As if the resort’s public areas (which I’ll get to shortly) weren’t enough, I also had my own gargantuan, private balcony with – wait for it – a spa overlooking the surrounding green hillsides. Surely I had built up some good karma somewhere.
The villa alone was enough to delight me beyond my wildest dreams, but there was so much more to see. The resort was basically a city unto itself, featuring a two-story swimming pool, spa, fitness center, games area with a giant chess board and archery, yoga studio, jogging track, and a restaurant with panoramic jungle views.
After doing a bit of exploring, I headed to the resort’s spa. Nestled aside a pond, surrounded by verdant vegetation, even just a stroll around the spa offers a world of tranquility. Panviman’s spa offers a variety of massages, body scrubs, herbal treatments, and other stress releases, as well as daily yoga and meditation classes. I reveled in a relaxing oil massage and left feeling even more enamored by the resort.
As the sun set over Panviman, I headed to the resort’s Panorama Restaurant. There, I watched the fog roll in over the hills while sipping on Thai iced tea and enjoying a green curry. The restaurant serves a variety of meals and cocktails, as well as an impressive continental breakfast, all at a surprisingly fair price considering the quality and surroundings.
Since Panviman is just 45 minutes from Chiang Mai, it’s easy to travel into the city and explore its temples and markets. But since I would be spending subsequent days staying in the heart of Chiang Mai, I made the most of my stay at Panviman and spent the whole second day making use of its facilities. I sunbathed by its enormous, two-story pool, swam under its waterfalls, and then ambled through the resort’s meditation cave. Wandering around the grounds, I checked out the outdoor fitness center and stumbled upon an organic vegetable garden. And then I took a dip in what was easily my favorite part of the resort: the jacuzzi on my private balcony and its stunning views.
Although I was eager to continue exploring Thailand, saying goodbye to Panviman was tough. But the two nights I spent enjoying my extravagant private villa, the resort’s magnificent facilities, and the idyllic surrounding valleys were one of the biggest highlights of my time in Southeast Asia. I could not recommend Panviman Chiang Mai enough for anyone passing through Northern Thailand, and Thai prices make luxury affordable even for those on a budget.