A Thai billionaire has turned 60 acres of farmland on the eastern outskirts of Chiang Mai into one of Asia's most extraordinary hotels, re-creating a walled Lanna city surrounded by a moat. Guests can sip their evening cocktails while watching farmers work the rice paddies with buffaloes. Various traditional buildings house hotel amenities—the spa, for instance, is an exact replica of the royal palace in Mandalay, Myanmar. The suites and the regal, two-story "residences,"
with private gardens, are the last word in luxury; the most expensive even have pianos. U.S. President George W. Bush stayed here during his Chiang Mai visit in July 2008. Even if you're not staying the night, book a table for dinner and visit the pavilion-like restaurant; it's known as the "king's room," because the king once dined here.