KHAO by Four Seasons, Chiang Mai

Set amidst emerald rice fields and surrounded by soaring mountains in the Mae Rim Valley; the Khao restaurant is one of a kind.

When you think of Four Seasons, you think of unparalleled luxury, and Four Seasons Chiang Mai is no exception.

Just a forty-minute drive outside of Northern Thailand’s capital, the Four Seasons’ Khao restaurant was calling my name. There was no way I was going to miss an opportunity to dine within twenty acres of the stunning Mae Rim Valley by candlelight.

As the car pulled up to the hotel, I just couldn’t wait to see what was awaiting me and leant my hand on the lever of the door before the car had even come to a stop. I hopped out and felt the warm humid air sweep across my icy cold air-conditioned skin.

I walked through the lobby with tunnel vision; completely overlooking everything around me. I had my eyes set on the mountain tops and I wasn’t going to stop until I’d seen the view. The sun had already begun its descent in the sky and was creating a hazy orange glow above the mountains in the distance. My eyes didn’t know where to look next, and before they’d had time to decide, the emerald green of the rice fields had caught their attention and took the decision away from them.

I could hear the clicking and clacking of tools coming from the farmers that were working in the rice fields. I shut my eyes and released a sigh, and with it I heard a gentle voice behind my shoulder “Miss Smith?”.

“Would you like to meet the buffalo?”, she asked. Baffled, I said yes. I had no idea what I’d just agreed to do but I was doing it.

I stepped just outside the hotel entrance to find two buffalo standing there staring me dead in the eye. The woman looked at me and said, laughing, “meet our two favourite colleagues”. Shocked and surprised, I was feeding the buffalo bananas before I even had the chance to respond.

Just moments ago I was watching the farmer’s working in the rice fields, and now I was watching them gather in front of me preparing for their daily Farmer’s Parade.

The Farmer’s Parade signals the end of the working day on the rice fields and is a daily tradition at Four Seasons Chiang Mai. Still dressed from head to toe in their blue uniforms, the farmer’s begin their parade at the hotel entrance and make their way down to the middle of the rice fields. Beating their drums and singing traditional Thai songs; they make their way through the field before retiring for the day.

If the Farmer’s Parade leaves you wanting to know more about the rice farming that takes place at the resort – which it will – then you’re in luck. At Four Seasons Chiang Mai you can slip into the same traditional blue uniform and wade into the shallow waters of the rice paddies to experience rice farming first-hand. Using methods handed down over generations, you’ll learn all about the harvesting process and even plant your own shoots.

Before I knew it, the Farmer’s Parade had been and gone and the sun had almost set behind the mountains. The sky was a luminous shade of orange and pink, and the flame-filled lanterns were flickering across the rice field. The air was completely still, and the outdoor terrace was completely silent.

After a cocktail or two outside, it was time to make my way indoors to the Khao restaurant where I would experience a traditional Thai Hotpot.

I wasn’t too sure what to expect, but when it comes to a Thai Hotpot I think it is best to leave all expectations aside because it’s like nothing you’ve experienced before.

A stove was placed on the table in front of me with a large pan of boiling Tom Yum and Tom Kha broths bubbling away on top. What followed was an array of meats, seafood, vegetables and noodles being laid out on the table. It was then explained to me that I was to choose myself what I’d like to eat and place it inside the broth and wait for it to cook. The concept was a do-it-yourself style meal and was an insight into traditional Thai culture.

While the hot pot continues to simmer, ingredients are continually placed into the pot and cooked at the table. So whilst I was enjoying Chicken with Shiitake Mushrooms, Royal Project Cabbage and Baby Corn with Yellow Egg Noodles, I also had on the go some Black Angus Sirloin, Bok Choi, Morning Glory and Soft Tofu.

My other half enjoyed placing a Lobster Tail into his hotpot, along with a few White Prawns. A Chilli Lime Sauce with Coriander Root, Fermented Tofu and Sesame was the perfect accompaniment, he told me. We both washed it all down with a couple of glasses of Thai wine and retired back outside onto the terrace for an after-dinner drink before heading back into the city of Chiang Mai.

The Four Seasons Chiang Mai is a true hidden gem in Northern Thailand that is not to be missed, while the Thai Hotpot at the Khao restaurant is an exclusive experience that should be had by all.

Unique and understated, the Four Seasons Chiang Mai does not disappoint.

@fschiangmai @fourseasons

 Mae Rim-Samoeng Old Road, Chiang Mai, 50180, Thailand