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Four days after their Brooklyn, New York, wedding in October 2011, Ryan, a magician, and Mika, a yoga instructor, jetted off to this alluring Southeast Asian nation for what turned out to be the trip of a lifetime.
"We had tons of unforgettable moments -- sunsets on the Andaman Sea, $3 foot massages, Thai cooking classes," Ryan says. "And plenty of R&R."
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Trip Length: 15 nights; 4 in Chiang Mai, 2 in Phuket, 4 in Ko Phi Phi, 4 in Krabi, and 1 in Bangkok
Airline: Cathay Pacific
Flight Time: 28 hours from New York to Chiang Mai, with connections in Hong Kong and Bangkok
Hotel Booking: “We found great properties through Leading Hotels of the World,” says Ryan.
Protective spirit houses like this one on the island of Koh Phi Phi (pictured) are rooted in a mix of Hinduism, Buddhism, and Animism, and can be found all over Thailand.
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Where to Stay
"The Chedi in Chiang Mai was everything we'd ever wanted in a hotel," says Ryan. "It was beautifully positioned right on the river -- five minutes from the city's vibrant night market -- and our room was amazing, with a big soaking tub and a balcony overlooking a lily pond." (ghmhotels.com)
Pictured here, a bit of fun in the sun: Ryan snapped a shot of himself with Mika on Bamboo Island.
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"We spent a wonderful day with elephants [most are rescues] at Woody's Elephant Training in Chiang Mai," Ryan says. "The highlight was riding them bareback up into the mountains, and then into this rushing river where they started squirting each other -- and us -- with water."
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The couple were honored to watch their driver pay his respects at Chiang Mai's Wat Chedi Luang temple, shown here. But their favorite memory? "The two of us out on a long-tail boat, traveling through the limestone karsts on the Andaman Sea," says Mika. "It's such a powerful visual: the blue water, the wind in your hair, the driver at the back by the humming engine," says Ryan. "We both still have dreams about it."
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Bought from a street vendor in Krabi, this wooden carving is the pair's most prized souvenir.
As for food on their honeymoon, they found their best meal at a restaurant called Jasmine on a beach on Koh Phi Phi island, says Mika. "We ate there three different nights! The green-papaya salad was out of this world, and we loved the massaman curry."
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Word to the Wise
"Drink a fresh coconut a day -- it's like nature's Gatorade!” Mika says. "Carry a little compass," adds Ryan. "I used mine all the time on side streets."