Bangkok might not be the first place that comes to mind when choosing a wellness retreat, but if you’ve ever experienced one (or five) too many boat noodles, pad see ews, mango sticky rice and/or late nights in Thonglor, a wellness retreat is just what the doctor ordered.
Enter RAKxa, a world-class wellness and medical retreat just outside of Bangkok that’ll detox, destress and de-bloat you, pronto. This isn’t your typical yoga and rabbit food retreat, either – RAKxa offers a mix of Eastern healing techniques, Western medicine, and a full range of aesthetic treatments in ultra-luxe settings, meaning you’ll emerge feeling (and perhaps, looking) like a brand new you.
We recently visited RAKxa Wellness to try out their three-day Detox programme – here’s how it went:
RAKxa Wellness is located on Bang Krachao, aka. “Bangkok’s green lung,” an artificial island created by a bend in the Chao Phraya River. Taking about an hour to get there from both Suvarnabhumi and Don Mueang International Airports, or 45 minutes (pending traffic) from the city centre, the lush green oasis is a surprisingly quiet, charming and well-preserved area of Bangkok that harkens its pre-skyscraper days.
Checking in was a swift and smooth process at RAKxa’s wellness pavilion, where we were welcomed by a glass of chilled, natural jasmine tea and a breezy singing bowl ceremony facing the water. A buggy then whisked us off to our Garden Villa, our home away from home for the next three days.
With a total of 60 villas (40 garden villas and 20 pool villas) and two private residences, RAKxa can accommodate quite a lot of guests, but luckily, never gets too crowded thanks to its sprawling grounds.
Each villa is equipped with two white bicycles replete with wicker baskets, but for those who can’t cycle, walking or hailing a buggy is just as convenient to get around.
Our Garden Villa is a spacious 80 square metres (compared to 101 sqm for the pool villas) and is designed with a separate living room, bedroom, bathroom with a large shower and tub, sinks for two, plus an outdoor patio that faces the jungle palms. With plenty of space on the deck to bask in the sun, there’s also a small rock garden to enjoy some natural reflexology or hot stone healing, if you wish.
Other thoughtful details included tons of wardrobe space, a high-tech Japanese toilet, loose leaf tea bar in the pantry and colourful range of healthy juice booster shots in the fridge that are replenished daily.
Prior to our arrival, RAKxa had sent us a comprehensive health and wellness questionnaire that asked us about our goals and intentions, current and past medical conditions, health issues, lifestyle habits (such as hours of sleep, exercise and diet), as well as our mental health and stress levels. Like many, I suppose, my main goal was to “slim down, get healthy, and detox the body,” so based on that and my other health concerns, RAKxa’s Wellness Consultant Nok advised me to go with the Detox Programme.
RAKxa actually has 10 different programmes falling under three different categories: Weight Control & Detox, Rebalance Body & Mind and Wellbeing & Recovery. Within these categories are the Detox, Gut Health, Weight Management, Mobilisation, De-Stress, Discover RAKxa, Immunity Booster and Long Covid programmes – each retreat ranging from three to 14 nights.
My 3-day Detox Programme at RAKxa included:
- four doctor consultations (Western, Thai, Traditional Chinese and Ayurvedic)
- a functional fitness assessment at the medical gym
- six treatments at RAKxa Jai or RAKxa Gaya
- three treatments at VitalLife
- three wellness cuisine meals per day at UNAM
- one afternoon tea set at RAKxa Cha per day
- plus unlimited access to the daily group fitness classes and hydrotherapy zone consisting of hot and cold water therapy.
If that sounds like a lot to fit into three days, it certainly was, but the good thing was that my days never felt too stressful or rushed.
Most of my treatments were at RAKxa Jai, the holistic wellness centre of RAKxa that you could consider the resort spa. There, you’d find the hydrotherapy zone with an infrared sauna, two steam rooms, cold plunges and jacuzzis – where I would spend at least one hour per day, usually before another treatment – plus alternative therapies such as Thai and Ayurvedic massages, singing bowl healing, acupuncture, floatation, crystal healing, meditation and more.
Out of their extensive menu of treatments, I tried the Chi Nei Tsang, a vigorous stomach (and internal organs) massage to get to the root of stress and pain in the abdomen, Gua Sha and Cupping to rid my body of stagnant energy, Singing Bowl Therapy for stress reduction, an Ayurvedic Marma Healing Massage to stimulate the healthy flow of energy in my body, and Zen Natai, a combination of Chi Nei Tsang and cranio sacral massage to encourage detox and greater relaxation.
Over at VitalLife, which is the medical wellness centre of RAKxa run in partnership with the famed Bumrungrad International Hospital, guests have their vitals taken upon entry and must complete a doctor’s consultation before undergoing any treatments. After a live blood analysis, which showed that my red blood cells could use some improvement in their oxygenation levels, I chose to go for Colon Hydrotherapy, Cryotherapy and a 30-minute session in the Hyperbaric Chamber as my three VitalLife treatments.
I’ll spare you the details of the colonic, but the Cryotherapy was like a three-minute solo dance party in a hospital gown at minus 110 degrees, complete with a beanie, ear muffs, knee-high socks, slippers, gloves and pumpin’ tunes courtesy of the RAKxa attendant (aka. your personal DJ and cheerleader during the session). Used by professional athletes and anti-ageing proponents, the benefits of cryotherapy include increased circulation, healing and even weight loss as the body needs to work extra hard to keep your body warm.
As for the Hyperbaric Chamber, which looked like a cross between a spaceship and bobsled, I breathed pure oxygen for an hour in the pressurised setting, which is said to help the lungs take in more oxygen, fight bacteria and trigger the release of growth factors and stem cells. Hey, if it’s good enough for Lebron James, Christiano Ronaldo and Michael Phelps…
As for the four different doctors’ consultations, I was surprised at how even though each doctor assessed me from their own modality separately, (Western, Thai, Traditional Chinese and Ayurvedic) they still came up with the same medical and lifestyle recommendations for me. That included using a hot pad on my stomach and swapping raw vegetables for cooked veggies to improve my digestion, sleeping earlier (between 10pm and 12am, ideally) to reduce stress and hormonal weight gain, and to drink ginger, mint, licorice and safflower tea to help with my women’s cycle.
I was also told to reduce my caffeine intake to one cup of coffee per day – something I still think about as I sip my second or third cup (just kidding…sometimes).
So, what about the food? As mentioned earlier, there is no rabbit food served at RAKxa. Each day would begin with a generous breakfast spread at UNAM – the biggest meal of the day where we could choose unlimited portions of anything we wanted (without judgment from the team, thankfully).
Knowing this, our table quickly filled up with scrambled eggs, avocado salad, poke bowls, sea bass, vegan pancakes and French toast, homemade coconut yogurt, hot Americanos and frothy iced lattes created by the talented chef and presented as beautifully as you would expect from a fine dining restaurant in the city.
Lunch would be a three-course menu of moderate portions consisting of a welcome homemade kombucha (which tended to be quite sweet, albeit naturally), appetiser, main course and dessert, followed by a custom-blended tea with various health benefits. Again, everything was a treat for the eyes as well as the stomach, with much care taken in the presentation of dishes on a dazzling range of ceramic crockery.
At night, dinner was also a three-course menu similar to lunch, with light, palm-sized portions and beautiful settings to match. Served between 6pm and 8pm, this was to ensure that we didn’t end up too stuffed after eating, which would disturb our sleep and offset any benefits reaped during the day’s treatments. Even with the smaller portions, we never felt hungry at all, and could even order seconds or fruit platters to end our meal on a sweet note.
Carnivores need not worry at RAKxa, which offers a balanced range of high quality meats and seafood alongside a medley of colourful fruits and veggies. Moderation, not deprivation, is the key here, as dieting itself can be a source of stress that can raise your cortisol levels and harm your health. Amen!
There is a gorgeous pool next to RAKxa Gaya (the gym) and UNAM, the restaurant, but due to the packed schedule, we weren’t able to make much use of it. However, if your programme allows a few more days, we highly recommend parking yourself there on a sunny day to enjoy some down time.
Speaking of the gym, we should point out that it’s a medical gym and not your typical gym with a full set of weights and cardio equipment. Used mostly for functional fitness assessments, the equipment is minimal but complete, and can only be used under supervision during the gym’s opening hours.
Another place to spend any extra free time you have is at RAKxa Cha, the retreat’s dedicated tea lounge where you can grab a fresh coconut or custom-blended tea, along with some healthy snacks and treats. Next door, take a gander at the Rx store (next to RAKxa Cha) to shop their curated range of wellness products, or go for a walk around RAKxa’s landscaped grounds to get your steps in.
Meaning “to cherish, heal, and conserve” in Thai and a twist on the doctor’s prescription symbol, “Rx”, RAKxa literally has everything you need to get in better health, whether you’re looking to treat existing conditions, prevent illness, or get back on track with your healthy habits.
With their unique combination of Eastern and Western modalities we’ve yet to see combined at any other wellness retreat, RAKxa takes their philosophy of “Health is Wealth” seriously and offers it in the most holistic, inclusive and integrative way possible.
After three days at RAKxa, I felt not only refreshed and ready to take on the world (and all its deliciousness) again – I was also equipped with so much more knowledge about myself, my health and how to improve, balance and prioritise it with daily life.
Our rec? Go from gluttonous to glowing by pairing your next trip to Bangkok with a personalised retreat at RAKxa Wellness – now that’s what we’d call balance.
Learn more at rakxawellness.com
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