Spa Girl Abroad: Sanctuary Thailand

DSC01093It’s not simply the fly-ferry-longtail boat¬†journey to The Sanctuary
that will leave you wanting to disappear into this lush jungle-beach ‘alternative’ resort forever (and ever…).

(Don’t worry, you can also arrive by speed boat…check out the spa’s website for further info ūüôā

Longtail Taxi Boat

Longtail Taxi

I adore Sanctuary Thailand! In wintertime, I found myself dancing around a moonlit beach bonfire, rocking in the New Year alongside the most eccentric and varied group I’d ever met: de-toxers and re-toxers, jet-setters, yogis. During my summer visit, I loved the young, health conscious, and flashpacker (upscale backpacker)-solo-traveler vibe.

The Sanctuary Thailand boasts a full-service Spa and Wellness Center, a full-on yoga and meditation schedule with classes held in a gorgeous open-air shala over looking lush jungle, accommodation ranging from mat-on-floor dorms to luxury tree houses, a delicious restaurant, and a Wellness Center offering a comprehensive detox program.

spa time for a thai massage

Spa time!

Gorgeous houses and private rooms are scattered throughout the jungle-beach property. Several accommodation-spa-yoga packages are available.

I’ve stayed in the gorgeous dorm above the restaurant for 200 baht per night ($4!), and in the Wellness Center’s Detox Dorm during a week-long cleanse.My 5-day detox (3.5 days fasting) was a less than $500 and included dorm, cleanse, my “last meal”, plus yoga, spa treatments, and unlimited steams (the clove-spiced steam room before or after a thai massage is to-die-for!).

the dorm gets a clean up

Dorms at Sanctuary

The Wellness Center not only offers 2-14+ day detoxes, but also sells Kombucha, wheatgrass shots, and hosts plenty of reading material which can be enjoyed from any hammock or cushy chair on the property.

The restaurant’s menu includes tasty and healthy food which would appeal to any Modern Day Wildwoman (or man). You can order anything
from Thai to Indian, vegetarian to meat-eating with salads, salmon,
and steak. I indulged plenty in the Raw food section which not only
caters to detoxers, but anyone! And trust me, raw food tastes
especially delish during the hot Southeast Asian summer. I sampled
raw treats like ‚ÄúNot yogurt‚ÄĚ (blended raw papaya, full of good-for-you enzymes) to ‚ÄúRaw Pad Thai‚ÄĚ (made with raw radish) and raw soups.

Raw Pad Thai

Raw Pad Thai

striking a pose<br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
like the good ole days in LA LA la

Coconut kisses,


Endless Southeast Asian Summer: Haad Tien Beach, Koh Phangan

Day 4 of my vacation and I’m getting into a good groove and finally relaxing.

The “schedule”:

 yoga at 8:30am,



 swim in the ocean,

 lay in the sand,

 hang with amazing people,

 (repeat as necessary),

¬†a Thai massage (hey, when it’s 250 baht, or $5, why the heck not get a massage everyday?),

 maybe take another yoga class,

 sometimes meditation at 6pm,

 eat something Thai for dinner and hang with more incredible people,

 practice ukelele while everyone eggs me on (thanks for putting up with my newbie uke skills,everyone),


I found myself practicing yoga at the Blooming Lotus studio near my hut at Haad Yuan, then taking a quick hike over the hill and spending most of my days at The Sanctuary “Alternative” resort on Haad Tien Bay.

                              Haad Tien Bay

A few things attracted me to this side of the Bay. One was the floating hut in the water. I’d swim out a few times a day and either hang with whoever happened to be there (all were cool, save for one grabby Frenchman who I quickly swam far away from), or if I found myself alone, I took the time to appreciate a quiet moment, the scenery, and meditate. Away from any resort noise, away from any ambiance music.¬† Just me and the big open sea.

                                          The Hut at sunset
Lounging at The Hut, just me, the ocean, and my trusty h2o-proof camera case.

Another bonus: the restaurant has a Raw food section on their menu. I’ve always aimed to eat at least a percentage of my diet “raw” and love creating new raw recipes myself, so to have a special raw menu to nourish and inspire me was perfect. The menu included things like “Not yogurt” (blended raw papaya, full of good-for-you enzymes) to “Raw Pad Thai” (made with raw radish) and Raw soups.

And the Wellness Center (which offers 2-10 day fasting cleanses, but no! I was eating on this vacation!) sells Kombucha, the probiotic tea that I’ve loved since my UCSD days (could buy it with meal points on campus, feeling a kombucha buzz between classes),¬† and have recently started brewing my own batch in Korea.

The Sanctuary basically was screaming my name loud and clear.

As I spent more time there, and started talking to more and more folks, I found other solo femme travelers and yoginis. I liked where I was staying up at Bamboo Huts on Haad Yuan. The people and food were spectacular, too, and everyone was so encouraging with the new ukelele. However, I loved the young, health concious, and solo female traveler tribe that seemed to be forming over at Haad Tien. The guys were awesome, too! So, I asked my new amigas and amigos over at Haad Tien where they were staying and some of them said dorm. I’d questioned the whole dorm idea but then I took one look at the gorgeous “dorm” above the restaurant and I was sold.¬† For 200 baht a night ($4!), it was cheaper than my private hut by just enough to justify an extra Thai massage or two, and I wasn’t spending time in my room anyways!

                                   Dorms at the Sanctuary

Packed up my backpack and headed over the hill to Sanctuary…

I checked into Sanctuary’s dorms and was given a welcome glass of their Ginger Lemonade. Cleansing and refreshing after lugging my giant backpack up and down the steep hill in the hot, humid, and lovely I might add, weather. And a 50% off coupon for their spa.¬† Sweet.

It was stillearly and my dormmates were still asleep, so I quietly plunked my backback down, whispered “hello” to one gal who was just waking up, stripped down to the bikini, and headed out. On the way to the water, I rented snorkel gear. It was the first 100% clear day since I’d arrived and I wanted to explore the crystal water.

Over the next 3 days, I finally settled in.  Funny things start happening when you slow down.

First, I found this meditation in the August ’10 Yoga Journal. It became the meditation I used the entire trip out on the little floating hut.¬† Ha, yes, I tried meditating myself. For about 5 minutes at a time, but hey it’s a start!¬† I hope this meditation will help me thrive for the rest of my time in Korea, because it really rang true when I read it: “a lotus blooms even in the muddiest of waters”. I want to thrive even in a city as (well, to me) as urban and unnatural as Seoul.

Om Shrim Mahalakshyraim Namah: The mantra of Goddess Lakshmi, the goddess of all the wealth and prosperity in the world.


Then, taking a walk through the jungle, I saw this:

No other astrological signs were present on other coconuts.  I know, I know, it seems silly, but I really saw this as a sign for my Gemini self. Be mindful, be present, observe and learn how you effect others, and nature. What you do helps or hinders the world going round.

I met a superb group of gals and wish I could have spent more time there with this group. It seemed like each day was full of meaningful (or silly) chats, a sauna/steam here and there thrown in, a dip in the sea. Every young woman here had a lot going for her. Each girl I spoke with was striving to make her mark on the world; from UN humanitarian efforts to teaching underprivileged kids to working with NGO’s in Africa teaching sustainability, saving sea turtles to simply following her dream to teach yoga. The guys I met were also equally incredible, with fantastic travel stories all over India and Asia and all over the world, with brand new ideas and dreams for themselves. I’m just so inspired by this trip and the people I met.

Hammock-ing with Din from Israel:

The rest of the vacay was spent relaxing.

 Swimming.  Eating.  Chatting.  Snorkeling.  Beach. Sunning.  Hammock-ing.

¬†Yoga-ing: I mixed it up and took a few yoga and meditation classes at the Sanctuary’s yoga shala, just as gorgeous as Bamboo Huts. Again, the only (very welcome) “distraction” was jungle noises: a symphony of cicadas humming through the jungle as the sun went down. I learned a few dancing/moving meditations by Osho, which I thought were really cool–15 minutes of shaking, 15 mins of dance, 15 mins sitting meditation, and 15 mins savasana/yoga relaxation pose.


jungle-ing and pulling a Columbus (exploring ūüôā¬†¬†in ‘flops and ‘kini.


After only three short days on Haad Tien, and just beginning to recharge, I started the journey back to Korea by saying goodbye to Koh Phangan Island and taking a ferry to Koh Samui, where I’d stay for the day/night and catch an early plane back “home”.¬† Stay tuned for a tale about that adventure…

Haad Tien from above, the lil floating hut in the bay