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."
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.
"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.
"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."
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."
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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