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A month after their September 22, 2013, wedding at The Roundhouse at Beacon Falls, a boutique hotel in New York’s scenic Hudson Valley, Courtney and Brian Miller, of Brooklyn, New York, departed on a dream vacation to Thailand.
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Length: 12 days
Breakdown: Six days in Chiang Mai and six on Phuket.
Flight time: 16 1⁄2 hours from New York to Hong Kong, 2 1⁄2 hours from Hong Kong to Chiang Mai, and 2 hours from Chiang Mai to Phuket.
Airlines: Cathay Pacific; Dragonair; Thai Airways
The couple traveled with a Lonely Planet phrase book and a Fodor’s guide in hand: “We loved the layout, and the inclusions were spot-on,” Courtney says of the guidebook.
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Hotel They’d Move Into If They Could
The Sala Phuket Resort and Spa (from $230/night). “It was all white, airy, and minimal, with a beautiful infinity pool where the staff would come by with fruit and iced tea,” says Courtney. Adds Brian, “Our room had an outdoor bathroom with a bathtub the size of a hot tub.”
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Riding an elephant at Thai Elephant Conservation Center (“we felt such a connection to them, we both got emotional,” says Brian); playing with cubs at Tiger Kingdom (“their beauty is unfathomable,” he says); and island-hopping by private speedboat off Phuket (“Brian floated on his back forever in Pileh Lagoon,” Courtney recalls).
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“I loved the temples, night markets, and street food in the city of Chiang Mai,” says Brian. Courtney, on the other hand, is more of a beach person. “I adored the shore of Mai Khao on the island of Phuket, where our hotel was located,” she says. “It was so relaxing: We’d get lemongrass- or lavender-oil massages and order drinks; I was sipping mai tais, Brian was drinking Chang beers.”
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Their Most Mouth-Watering Meals
The rice congee at Sala’s insane breakfast buffet “reminded me of my mom’s,” says Courtney. Brian felt their lantern-lit riverside dinner at Chiang Mai’s The Gallery was tops: “We had prawn sticks, red curry, and blue crab,” he says.
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“By going in October, we hit the sweet spot,” Brian says. “Monsoon season was winding down, but it was before high season picked up.”
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If They Could Go Back
“We would have gone to Bangkok if we had another five days,” he says. “And we heard great things about the Similan Islands,” she says. “They’re known for their reefs.”
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