Tour the city’s hidden lanes by bike.
See Bangkok from a new perspective to celebrate two decades of The Peninsula hotel.
Get to know a more cultural side of the Thai capital during special 20th anniversary celebrations for The Peninsula Bangkok (doubles from Bt7,000; experiences available until April 2019, from Bt8,700). The vaunted property is commemorating their birthday with 20 intrepid VIP experiences, ranging from bike treks and tuk-tuk adventures to cocktail trails to rarefied yoga and meditation sessions, each designed to facilitate a deeper connection to the city. Here are a few highlights:
+ Spirituality seekers can test their devotion at the sunrise Hatha and Vinyasa yoga session at the historic Gong Wu Shrine, perched on the Chao Phraya River. After rebalancing chakras, this complimentary experience offers private encounters with three Gong Wu statues, an energizing juice, and a short walk through Princess Mother Memorial Park.
+ Join a three-hour morning prayer with monks at Wat Pho and Wat Arun’s private special access chambers, known as kudis. Included is a Pali chanting blessing by ordained Theravada Buddhist monks.
+ If you’re looking for well-rounded wellness, sign up for the private muay Thai program: a 60-minute lesson from The Peninsula’s resident instructor that takes place in the shaded garden by the hotel’s sacred banyan tree, and includes a complimentary pair of boxing shorts. Your workout will be followed by a 90-minute traditional Thai massage in The Peninsula’s spa.
+ A six-hour bike tour of the city’s backstreets stops at secret sites, hard-tofind residential markets, and lesser-visited neighborhoods. Tour hidden laneways of royal Rattanakosin Island, and, across the river in the old capital of Thonburi, visit the fragrant Portuguese bakeries of Kudee Chin and the arty warehouses of Lhong 1919. — ADAM H. GRAHAM
Tai Kwun’s old Police Headquarters Block.
The D Hall prison is now home to a storytelling space.
Two new buildings house exhibition spaces.
Get your cultural kicks in a former Hong Kong prison.
After eight years’ work and an HK$3.8 billion investment, the old police offices and jail cells of Central Police station, Central Magistracy and Victoria Prison have reopened as Tai Kwun, a new hub for heritage and arts in Hong Kong. The revitalized site will offer a range of cultural and education programs, including exhibits, films and performances. The inaugural exhibition, 100 Faces of Tai Kwun, on until September 2, celebrates the storied past of the 150-year-old compound, immersing visitors in 100 narratives of former officers, offenders, shop owners and kaifongs (neighborhood associations). Of course, it wouldn’t be Hong Kong without the promise of good food: try Jiangnan cuisine at Old Bailey’s by the group behind Duddell’s; grab cocktails at famed Bangkok bar designer Ashley Sutton’s Dragonfly lounge; and David Thompson’s new modern Thai restaurant, Aaharn, opens here next month. taikwun.hk.
With its fairytale chocolate factory, this Sumba Island resort spa takes the sweet life literally.
Some luxury hotels brew their own beer; others raise their own Wagyu. Indonesian island eco-resort Nihi Sumba joins the locavore arms race with its own chocolate factory, run, delightfully, by a man named Charly. “Chocolate is good for endorphins and has mind-opening qualities,” says Charles “Charly” Esposito, who was invited to replicate his Bali-based chocolate factory on Sumba by Nihi CEO James McBride. “We built the factory in a spiritual area, so it helps people reconnect with themselves. But it’s also just about having fun.” While the workshops are aimed at younger guests—kids make organic chocolate from scratch using local cacao beans—the chocolate also features on Nihi’s spa menu, with a Chocolate Massage added to their wellness experiences last year. Guests can take part in yoga and meditation sessions before a gentle massage with cocoa butter and raw cacao. Chocolate’s high caffeine content is said to stimulate blood flow and tighten skin; an included mini cocoa facial rejuvenates skin from pollution. Charly is currently in talks to develop another Bali-based factory as well as one in China, at the famed Shaolin Monastery in Henan Province. Willy Wonka plus kung fu–master monks… what could be more magical than that? nihi.com; doubles from US$795; Chocolate Massage US$400 per couple. — JAMES DURSTON