Thailand is known for its beautiful beaches, spicy, flavoursome food and incredible spas – all of which make it a haven for travellers. Fitness editor Lizzy Dening visited Trisara on the paradise island of Phuket and felt inspired to bring back a few Thai-style healthy living tips.
Thailand’s spa secrets
Trisara means ‘garden in the third heaven’ and a trip to its in-house Jara spa certainly left me floating in the clouds. Fresh from the plane I was treated to a full-body massage (£156, 90min) and a traditional herbal wrap (£132, 90min) using Thai white mud, herbs and yoghurt, which left my skin feeling soft as butter as the mud draws out impurities.
<n> Slather your limbs in mud glorious mud with this decadent Cacao and Kaolin Thermal Clay Body Mask (£14.95).
Meditate with Thai stretching
Being a largely Buddhist country, Thailand has meditation at its heart and Trisara offers beachfront sunset stretching sessions with a former monk. The moves not only help improve your flexibility but encourage mindfulness, too, as the balance poses require concentration and focus, while the walking meditation encourages mental stillness.
Give these a try:
- Chair pose squats – This is a real test of balance, great for strong quads and improved concentration.
1) Stand with feet hip-width apart. Slightly bend your knees and cross your left ankle over your right thigh, just above the knee.
2) With your hands in a prayer position, bend your right knee to sink down, keeping your chest up and your hands together.
3) Hold for three seconds, then slowly straighten up, leaving your leg crossed. Repeat twice more then swap legs.
- Walking meditation – This exaggerated, slow method of walking really helps ground you in the moment and improves mindfulness.
1) Standing normally, slowly lift your left foot up behind you, to about a 45-degree angle.
2) Hover it there for a second or so, then gradually straighten the leg out in front of you, foot above the ground.
3) Place your foot down, slightly ahead of your body, then shift your weight onto it, ready to continue with the right leg.
Too easy? Try it with your eyes shut!
Swim yourself slim
When the heat and humidity get too much, the best way to cool off in Thailand is undoubtedly to hit the water. Trisana is every Cancerian’s dream thanks to a private pool in every room or villa, as well as a 45m saltwater pool and the beach itself. Starting your day with a swim to the viewing platform, where you can see the whole resort slowly waking up, beats coffee any day – especially when you finish with a fresh coconut or watermelon juice!
- DID YOU KNOW… even a slow swim can burn around 400 calories an hour? Why not head to the nearest lido for a few laps before work? You can’t beat that invigorating feeling of open-air swimming to set you up for the day.
Health benefits of snorkelling
I also headed out on a chauffeured speedboat ride to a small rocky island a few hundred metres out to sea, where there’s top snorkelling to be had. Slipping on masks and flippers, I dropped into the warm Andaman sea for 45 minutes of sun-kissed swimming, spotting bright blue starfish, shoals of colourful butterfly fish and striped angelfish.
- And breathe… If you won’t be seeing tropical fish on holiday, head to your nearest aquarium – a study from the journal Environment and Behavior found that spending time in one reduces your blood pressure and heart rate. Or go a step further and get a fish tank for a daily dose of calm.
Pick Thai spices and flowers
From sweet and sour marinades to creamy curries and spicy soups, Thailand packs a wealth of flavours. Most of the ingredients used at Trisara’s restaurant Pru are harvested from the resort’s farm, which guests can visit by bicycle. I’m given a tour by one of their chefs, who lets me pick and try various herbs, many of which are used in my meal that night.
Top Thai ingredients to add to you store cupboard:
- Krapow (Thai basil): This is a staple of many recipes including pad krapow, which is an aromatic chicken dish. It’s packed with antioxidants that keep arteries healthy and have anti-ageing benefits. If you’re unable to find it at the supermarket, Italian basil works just as well – but it’s not quite as strong.
- Galangal: This slightly citrusy, sharp relation of ginger and is added to curries, soups and as a marinade for meat. It’s great for digestive issues, packed with antioxidants and is rumoured to be good for male fertility too. Galangal paste is stocked in Waitrose but if you can’t get hold of any, you can replicate the taste with ginger or turmeric.
- Butterfly pea flowers: These are beautiful, purple and taste like fresh garden peas. They can be used in teas, cocktails or just eaten on top of a salad, and have similar antioxidant qualities to green tea. You can get herbal teas containing butterfly pea flowers – try Wild Blue Pea Hibiscus Tea (£4.99 for 20, ocado.com) – or why not buy some seeds (£2.99, thompson-morgan.com) and grow your own plant! The plant is ideal for trellises and the flowers attract plenty of bees!
Rates at Trisara start from £460 per night. To book, visit trisara.com. Flights with Thai Airways start at £548pp from London Heathrow to Phuket.