Two years ago, I learnt about the existence of Master Mantak Chia. Born in Thailand from Chinese descent, he got into the Taoist approach of life since his early years. From Buddhist monks teaching to learning about Kundalini, Taoist yoga, Kung Fu, and theories based on the Five Elements or Inner Alchemy to name a few, he also studied the Western approach of anatomy and medical science.
Referred to as a “grandmaster”, he is the one behind the creation of the Universal Healing Tao system.
He is said to have a sincere approach by which he wishes for each individual to attain a state of harmony, at a body, mind and spirit level, and by sharing his knowledge, today there are over 1000 Certified Instructors and Practitioners on every continent, teaching his method and practice.
Mantak Chia founded the Tao Garden Health Spa & Resort near Chiang Mai, so when I moved to Thailand, this Health Resort was on top of my list! I spent a 3-day retreat there as I chose the Detox Package 3 Days 2 Nights plus Treatments during their low season in May 2017, and here in this “#laterpost” I wanted to share with you about my experience there.
Some “me” time
The variety of therapies offered at Tao Garden allows you to focus on the area of concerns you want to improve within yourself. Detoxing, Stress Relief, Slimming, Beauty Treatments or Pain Management are some of the offers available.
They sometimes have packages on promotion, but else, you can always contact the Resort & Clinic so they will help you build your personalised programme.
Depending on the time you can allocate for your retreat, and even if it is only for a day, I found that the purpose of doing something beneficial for yourself is being served at Tao Garden.
Before my trip, I had communicated with the Resort and I already knew about my detailed schedule during my stay. All I had to do is to check-in, enjoy my free time in between my treatments by doing some meditation, tanning by the pool or just relax in my room. The focus at Tao Garden is you and your well-being.
By the pool!
The “Pakua” Natural Healing Clinic is integrated into the Tao Garden Health Spa & Resort, and was the main purpose of my visit. Although options don’t lack in Thailand when it comes to Wellness, I was very confident that the over 16 years of experience in Healing, Holistic & Alternative Medicine and the reputation I learnt about their founder wouldn’t disappoint.
Here is what my programme looked like:
1 x Live Blood Analysis
1 x Doctor Consultation
1 x Chi Nei Tsang Abdominal Detox Therapy
1 x Lymphatic Drainage Massage
1 x Full Body Far Infrared Sauna
1 x Colon Hydrotherapy
1 x Foot Detox
1 x Detox Set (3 days)
I didn’t go for a very in-depth screening, but the live blood analysis helped me realise that I wasn’t drinking enough water, according the my blood cells being a bit too much clotted! A good reminder to stay hydrated – even if we know we should – we sometimes forget, right? So, I have lived these 3 days as a beginning to setting up better habits. The environment and support there were perfect for that.
Let me share about my colon hydrotherapy experience there (oh gosh!) Without sharing too many graphic details, I have to be honest with you and tell you it wasn’t a very pleasant one and I would hesitate to reiterate my experience there. I did try hydrotherapy while I was living in Singapore in a center dedicated to that, where I went for several sessions as they say it works more efficiently that way. Letting aside the very confusing sensation such a therapy provides – especially the first time – due to its invasive nature, I always left leaving fine as I think it is crucial for the therapists to have a professional tone, to explain the process to you, and to make it the least awkward and uncomfortable as possible. I didn’t feel that way at the Pakua Clinic, and I think the more old-fashioned equipment contributed to the discomfort. Having said that, it did the job, and I understand why it is included in a detox package. It definitely helps you feel lighter.
Moving on to the main therapy I was looking forward to: the Chi Nei Tsang. It is a manual therapy focusing on your abdominal area, and for that, I would totally go back to the Pakua Clinic.
The tummy is usually a part of the body that is not being touched when we go for a massage, as it can get uncomfortable, or even painful if the therapist is not qualified for such a treatment.
For about 30 minutes non stop (the massage is 45 min), the therapist has her hands on your abdomen, and works on your internal organs by a mix of massage and pressure movements. Does it feel great and soothing? Not exactly, as the focus is on a very restricted area, and I kind of wanted her to leave it alone at some point! But this technique helps to eliminate toxins, as well as releasing stress, physical and emotional blockages.
It is usually hard for me to let it go, but my therapist there had my trust! She had many years of practice and seemed to know what she was doing as a CNT massage is not the kind that can be improvised.
The visits to the clinic several times a day is what paces your stay at the Tao Garden. In between therapies and your bottles of chlorophyll water, you have options to use their space for Qi Gong and Tai Chi practice during the day, as well as meditation sessions planned daily.
Before planning your stay, you can check their courses schedule by visiting their events page, and if anything appeals to you, plan accordingly 🙂
Master Mantak Chia himself runs a certification programme, and some of the trained instructors have their own themes such as “Female Healing” or “Men’s Health Retreat” for instance.
My personal experience was more about resting! reading and listening to music by the pool, walking, contemplating, and I also took the opportunity to spend a few hours in Chiang Mai (about 45 min drive, the kind hotel staff will help you arrange for transportation).
Food & Beverages
My happy moments: when I eat good stuff! My appreciation of a stay highly depends on the success of the meals being served, that is no secret. I did like the food very much at Tao Garden, as well as the beverages as they met my expectations. I didn’t expect anything fancy, but to match with the atmosphere and my detox stay, all I wanted to have was fresh, clean and simple food, and this is what you get: a bit of salad, some soup, stir-fried and steamed vegetables, gaba rice and even some non-veg. options such as chicken or other lean meat.
The meals are served buffet style in an alfresco setting, surrounded by a pond and a lot of nature.
At every meal, you can have some fresh fruit or vegetable juices, several herbal infusions, and all the wholesome nutritious foods on the buffet have been chosen and prepared so as to balance the Five Elements according to the individual’s blood type.
No kidding, I think it is the first time I saw how pineapples actually grow! Tao Garden has an organic farm.
Different categories of accommodation exist: from simple to deluxe. All the rooms are in the same area of the Resort, and near the Clinic too. For that, it was very convenient. I picked the “simple natural room” as I went there on my own, and only for two nights, with the purpose of focussing on my health and the communion with Nature. It was good enough as again, I didn’t expect anything fancy!
My room was indeed quite simple, with A/C and a rather spacious balcony. It was clean and comfortable even if basic. Out of curiosity, I asked the reception to give me a tour of the other rooms to see the difference, but I didn’t like the higher categories better.
Overall, I felt the Resort was a bit old-looking and I don’t think they did any renovation soon before my stay but I could see some renovation work in progress by the Clinic area. Also because I went during a low season, there was not much energy nor a lot of attention given to keeping all areas neat, which was a bit unpleasant but I had no major issue.
Would I go back? I would go back to the Pakua Clinic for the Chi Nei Tsang and some other treatments, maybe even more for some deeper screening.
However, if there is a next trip, I would rather book an accommodation in Chiang Mai, and just make a day-trip to the Clinic instead of sleeping there too, as I would personally like a bit more options for some extra activities.
For a first time though or if you prefer the calm & quietness, their rooms standards are totally acceptable. The Tao Garden is worth a visit, and if you do go, I would be interested in getting your feedback.
Since Tao Garden is located near Chiang Mai, I would like to add a side note here…
For those traveling to Thailand and being enchanted by the idea of approaching elephants, please have in mind that you have basically two options to do so:
1- Go for one of the many elephant back rides, unfortunately widely available, which will contribute to an industry that is torturing them, “breaking” their souls and making them work until they drop. I realized that many tourists before reaching Thailand have no idea that this entertainment is actually a dark business, but it is!
2 – Or choose to go to one of the elephant sanctuaries, which will not only enable you to approach them even closer, feed them, play with them or bathe them, but your cover charge is used to maintain the space provided to rescue elephants and sustain their care providers initiatives.
Here are some of the sanctuaries, but there are many more across Thailand, make your research for a more sustainable & ethical contribution to Thailand tourism!
And the Save the Asian Elephant website: stae.org