The Anantara is one of the Golden Triangle's top addresses, a true symphony of styles created by Thailand's leading interior designer Bill Bensley. Mythical figures line the way to a palatial entrance, which leads into a vast, open-plan, two-floor area encompassing an excellent restaurant, opulently furnished lounge, and reputedly the longest bar in northern Thailand. Rooms are luxuriously furnished in indigenous woods and draped with handmade Thai fabrics. Louvered glass
doors lead to bathrooms with terra-cotta tubs big enough for a pool party. Beds are equally huge, and a choice of seven different types of pillows is offered. Picture windows opening onto private balconies command spectacular views of the confluence of the Mekong and Ruak rivers. The former Opium Den Bar has become the best Italian restaurant north of Chiang Mai. Daytime activities include riding the hotel's own elephants (a male born in 2010 is a great attraction), mahout training courses, excursions to the Golden Triangle, boat trips on the Mekong, and cooking lessons.