Tips for Kamalaya
Visiting Kamalaya is a commitment. It’s a commitment to healthy living and well, it’s a commitment to stairs and walking uphill. Because Kamalaya is on a hill. A big one. Get ready for all the uphillness! If you’re planning a long stay — I’m not the only person who stayed two weeks — I have a couple of tips and pieces of advice for you that may make your visit easier and more enjoyable. I searched in vain for tips for Kamalaya before my stay and found very few, so I hope the wonders of the Internet bring this post to the attention of all those who are planning a Kamalaya visit.
- Bring books. Paper ones. On the detox program, you will spend a lot of time in the infrared sauna, which is 45 degrees C. A lot of people complained about boredom, but I had a bunch of great paperbacks with me so my 30 minute sessions sped by. I also spent a lot of time in the two pools, and loved lazing around with my paperbacks.
- Bring slip-on shoes. As you go from treatment to treatment, you will constantly be taking your shoes off and putting them back on again. Sneakers are a hassle. I prefer sandals with ankle straps, and even those were a pain. In hindsight, I wish I had brought a pair of Birkenstocks or something.
- Get a Thai SIM card at the airport. While there is wireless in your room and in the reception area — and if the breeze blows the right way, you can also get a connection at the cafe during lunch and at the main pool — having a Thai SIM card made me the envy of many a guest. I bought 15 GB of data at the airport on one of the tourist SIMs they sell right after baggage claim. Surprisingly, I only used about 4 GB of data, and that’s with a lot of Snapchat. (In NYC this summer, I was using 2 gb of data a day sometimes!) I know Kamalaya wants everyone to digitally detox but I really wanted to easily stay in contact with friends and family.
- Pick your disposable underwear wisely: During your treatments, there are two types of disposable underwear: regular and g-string. I found the g-strings deeply uncomfortable, so I learned early on to ask for the “big ones” if the room setup looked like it only had g-strings.
- Get that big betal leaf starter at dinner. There’s one starter that gives you a bunch of (delicious) betal leaves and then a cornucopia of seeds and other little bits to put in each leaf and eat. It’s very prettily presented — an Instagram moment — and it’s very filling and delicious too.
- Bring bug spray. The American in me brought a ton of bug spray — Zika fears — and I really went overboard. But definitely bring some. While the resort does a great job of spraying and putting mosquito repellant candles and incense around, nothing beats a good bug spray. I found that my bites generally occurred at dinner or on the way back to my room after dinner.
- Don’t be afraid of the community table: As someone who tends to lean more towards the introvert end of the spectrum, tt took me a good six days to join the community table, but then I am so glad I did. Guests from all over the world, and I met Dan Lepard’s sister too!! (Dan is a well-known baker.) I found that people didn’t tend to join the community table until around 7:30 pm or so. This is one of my biggest tips for Kamalaya.
- Ask a mattress topper: The beds are pretty darn firm. While I do like a firm mattress, this was definitely too firm for me. The resort offers mattress toppers to those who ask. While it wasn’t perfect — a Tempurpedic would have been better — it was a lot better than the regular mattress.
- Don’t buy a hat at the gift shop. My last minute emergency hat purchase — we were heading out on a boat ride — cost me $173 USD. Yes, you read that correctly. The hat is, uh, handwoven in Ecuador, so there’s that. But I am an IDIOT. I was not paying attention to the exchange rate. I just wanted a hat. 🙁
- Take the boat ride! It was truly gorgeous. There was a masseuse on board and the food was delicious and we went snorkeling and we saw the sun set and the staff were lovely and kept bringing us more and more snacks.
- Wear sunscreen. This probably goes without saying. But even when it is overcast, the Thai sun is surprisingly strong.
- Call the buggy. On a few days of my detox, I was definitely feeling sluggish and low. Conquering the hill after lunch was just not going to happen. The staff will very happily send a golf cart for you and it will seriously be there in two minutes. Do it.
- Get a Reiki treatment: “Hah,” I thought. “Laying of the hands??? I doubt it.” Well, I’m a convert now. My two reiki sessions with Jos were strange and weird and wonderful all at the same time. For hours afterwards, I felt amazing, and my poor right ankle — which I’ve sprained multiple times over the last few years — has never been better. All very strange, really. But good strange.
- Don’t overbook yourself. My schedule was super action-packed. Three treatments a day most days. I could have used some more downtime. If I go back, I think I’ll do a 7-day package of treatments, booked over ten days of stay. Seriously. This is one of my most important tips for Kamalaya. Unwind. Relax!
- Pumpkin everything. The pumpkin curry and the pumpkin dumplings at dinner were particularly, pumpkinly outstanding.
- Bring your own shampoo. If you’re on a program with a lot of treatments, you will take a lot of showers and particularly, if you have the Indian head massage, the natural shampoo that the hotel offers just doesn’t cut the coconut oil in the Indian head massage enough. It took me two days and six shampoos before my hair felt normal again.
- Embrace the coconut. I don’t think I’ve ever drank so much coconut juice in my entire life. It was always there for me. I have a new appreciation for the coconut. It’s delicious. At one point, I escaped the resort for a few hours with a couple of Australians. We stumbled into a beach bar and, still on the detox program, I asked the staff for some lemongrass tea. “No tea here. Coca-cola!” was the depressing response. “Ah but you must have a coconut,” I replied. And yes, it was delivered.
- Get a long massage the evening you arrive. I had a 90 minute oil massage on the evening I arrived and I went to bed afterwards and slept 12 hours. It was amazing. I had ZERO jetlag in Thailand. Amazing.
- Pick up a glass of water at the lunch cafe before heading to the pool. Staff don’t always service the main pool, so I learned early on to ask for a big cup of water before I set up shop. Also, there are extra towels in the restroom by the pool.
I am sure there are more tips for Kamalaya I can share — and I welcome any questions — but for now, those are my tips for Kamalaya. I hope you enjoy your stay!