A Thai wellness retreat with a focus on nature
Hong Kong is well known for its ‘work hard, play hard’ mindset. The long hours and constant events can be great for your career and social life, but if you don’t make time to take a break, they’re not so great for your overall well-being. Anyone who’s spent time in this crazy, bustling city will have felt that oh-so familiar feeling of exhaustion, when that on-the-go mindset gets too much. Fortunately for me, when I got to this point earlier this year I was invited to visit Museflower Retreat & Spa in Chiang Rai, Thailand.
I’ll readily admit that I’m no yogi. I’ve tried a couple of beginner yoga classes, but I’ve never kept up the practice regularly (I only just about mastered the art of child’s pose). So I was a bit hesitant when I was invited to try the ‘Yoga Retreat‘ at Museflower. This holistic, eco-conscious retreat in rural Chiang Rai focuses on wellness and reconnecting with nature, offering a variety of wellness treatments and classes. Despite my slight apprehension and my city-dwelling skepticism, I decided to go with an open-mind and give it a try.
The Setting & Rooms
Museflower offers a number of packages, from spa to spiritual to eco retreats, or you can customise your stay. Whatever you choose to do, airport transport is included, which makes it so easy for you once you touch down in Chiang Rai’s little airport. Located about half an hour away from the airport, you’ll find Museflower hidden down a long and windy path lined with trees and unruly plants. You’ll then enter a clearing where you’ll be greeted by well-looked after gardens and several quaint buildings, which include the reception, spa, rooms, ‘Soul Food Corner’ and pagodas. Beyond the buildings is a stretch of land belonging to Museflower, which houses their own organic farm and Aquaponics system as well as a peaceful lake.
Immediately you feel welcome and I found that being surrounded by nature and the countryside instantly started to effect my mindset, helping me to unwind. Museflower isn’t a luxury retreat, so don’t expect over-the-top, five-star accommodation. It’s all about getting back to basics and appreciating the simple things. The rooms have everything you need, the furnishing and fittings all comfortable and clean (although do note that some rooms don’t have aircons, just fans). And… the rooms don’t have wifi or TV either! So be prepared to fully unplug. Though it was a bit of a struggle not scrolling through my phone as I lay in bed, I relished the opportunity to dive into a novel every night instead, which I hadn’t had the chance to do in a while.
All meals are included for guests too – you’ll be treated to a homemade veggie buffet at Soul Food Corner. I was excited to go veggie for four days, but surprised at just how flavourful, creative and delicious the food was! Don’t expect plain old rice and veggie curry (although the veggie curry is divine!), we had a huge range of dishes that included all types of fresh, vibrant veggies, many of them straight from the organic farm. They grow everything from mushrooms, pumpkins and aubergine, to fresh herbs and chillies… and they even have their own ducks that lay the most gorgeous golden-yolked eggs.
Highlights from the food (I was literally excited for every meal) include the Egg’s Benedict with duck eggs, mashed potato, salad and hollandaise, Fried Mushroom Crisps, Tofu Steak with sesame sauce and Japanese inspired Okonomiyaki, to name just a few. Delish. And don’t forget to wash your meal down with one of the many herbal teas on offer.
My yoga package included two yoga classes daily, one in the morning at 7am (early, I know…) and one at 4pm. I was so nervous for the first one, as I knew my yoga skills left a lot to be desired. But thankfully the classes were small (maximum five people in a class), the yoga teacher ‘A’ was so warm and welcoming, and I was able to follow easily. Some moments were challenging, but as a beginner I couldn’t recommend these yoga classes enough. I loved the spiritual focus of the practice and how it wasn’t about showing off what crazy moves you can do, like a lot of classes in Hong Kong are. If only I could find the same kind of instructor back in HK!
We also had two meditation sessions, which were rather challenging in the heat (especially when the pesky flies kept buzzing around our ears!). That being said, I felt like I learnt so much from just these two sessions about myself, how I think and worry about things, and about appreciating the present.
Included in my package was one spa session and one ‘wellness’ session of my choice. Museflower Spa is simple but has everything you need, set around a cute courtyard. First I was treated to a herbal steam room and shower, before my ‘Solar Massage‘ which used essential oils of my preference. It was one of the best massages I’ve ever had, using stretching techniques that really loosened up my muscles and made me feel so relaxed.
For the wellness session, I opted for the Reiki, which also used the same treatment rooms as the massages. Though I wasn’t entirely convinced how effective the crystals being laid out on my body were, I did feel very peaceful and relaxed. I also was able to try Hado Water Therapy, which was definitely interesting as I had no previous knowledge about it. Though I wasn’t quite sure I understood how it worked and I did feel a little skeptical, it was nice to try something different and reinforced the idea of going with an open mind.
Museflower is not only about personal wellness but also about community and sustainability. I was there over Earth Day, so was invited to help plant a number of trees along the banks of the Museflower lake. Working together with the other guests and staff was an experience I won’t forget, and made me appreciate the eco-conscious efforts of Museflower even more – it was so great to reconnect with nature in that way and feel like you were contributing to the place.
In addition to the spa, Museflower also has a ‘Living Room’ where you can watch films, read and relax, as well as a Himalayan Crystal Salt Water Swimming Pool (sans chlorine) with sun loungers, a Creative Area and a Gym that you can use any time free of charge.
I left Museflower feeling noticeably calmer, lighter (not just in body but in spirit!) and focused. When I got back to Hong Kong, friends and colleagues even commented on how ‘refreshed’ I looked! I’m not someone who is super into holistic practices, but I genuinely walked away with a new perspective and outlook. I’ve taken on board some of the things that I learnt and I’ve even found that they have had a positive effect on my daily life. I’m taking a few minutes each day to appreciate the moment, unplug from my phone and spend some time being more self-reflective. Cheesy I know, but true, and it’s definitely helped me manage any stressful moments when the city gets a bit overwhelming!
I’m already longing to go back to this little Thai oasis, where you can fully re-charge in a relaxed, friendly and unpretentious setting. You never feel pressured to do anything and you can customise your experience to suit your preferences and needs. The staff are so kind, helpful and always on hand to recommend things to do in Chiang Rai as well – although it’s pretty hard to leave the retreat once you get into that ‘zen’ zone! If you are in need of some TLC for the soul, you need to book a stay at Museflower now. I’ll see you there!
Museflower Retreat & Spa, 159/1 Moo 1 Ban Samanmit, Donsila Sub-District, Wiang Chai District, Chiang Rai, Thailand 57210. For enquiries, email: [email protected], call: +66-(0)93-137-0414.