Planning your ultimate getaway or a quick break? Whether you’re beginning to
dream and scheme or refining your itinerary, Southern Cross Travel Insurance (SCTI) travel guides provide the inspiration and advice you need to make the most of your overseas escape. As New Zealand’s most trusted travel^ insurer, Southern Cross Travel Insurance has you covered. Before you’re even ready to dust off your suitcase, be inspired by the travel guides section at

Choosing luxury in Thailand

Thailand is a beautiful place to treat yourself with a special getaway. 

With captivating temples, incredible beaches, breathtaking tropical landscapes, and irresistible food, it's no surprise that Thailand is high on the must-do list for so many travellers. And if it’s luxury you’re looking for, there’s arguably no better place to indulge. Thailand’s five-star scene is often more accessible than other destinations, but with all the incredible amenities and exceptional hospitality you’d expect.  

However, luxury comes in many forms, so deciding what you’re looking for needs some investigation. This is where SCTI comes to the rescue – as a full-service travel insurance provider, SCTI has the knowledge and expertise to help plan your journey right from the get-go – from inspiration on the adventure itself through to the key information and, of course, comprehensive cover with its International Comprehensive policy.  

Banyan Tree Samui, Koh Samui

Banyan Tree Samui, Koh Samui

InterContinental Phuket Resort

InterContinental Phuket Resort

Good to know

To discover which luxury option might suit you, here are SCTI’s pick of the top 10 luxury resorts in Thailand. 

For secluded pampering: Banyan Tree Samui, Koh Samui 

Situated on Thailand’s second largest island, Banyan Tree Samui is an idyllic getaway. Guests relax in private villas dotted throughout the resort, which are tiered into the hillside with spectacular views overlooking the bay, and each villa has its own infinity pool. The food at Banyan is a significant drawcard – Saffron restaurant featured in the Michelin Guide Thailand 2024. 

For proximity to beaches, shopping, and culture: InterContinental Phuket Resort, Phuket 

If you want sun, sea and relaxation, plus the cultural wonders and charms of Phuket Old Town, the InterContinental Phuket Resort is a great choice. A luxurious hideaway at the heart of one of Thailand’s most popular tourist destinations, you can indulge in the pleasures of Kamala Beach or take a trip to do some retail therapy and absorb the atmosphere at Phuket’s markets.  

Four Seasons, Chiang Mai

Four Seasons, Chiang Mai

Six Senses Yao Noi

Six Senses Yao Noi

For earthy wellness: Four Seasons Resort, Chiang Mai 

Thailand’s beaches are famed for good reason but there are stunning settings inland too. At the Four Seasons Chiang Mai you’ll be among the picturesque rice fields of Northern Thailand. From yoga classes to fine-tuning your circadian rhythm and Soulful Awakening experiences, you’ll leave here fully relaxed and rested.  

For James Bond fans and romantics: Six Senses Yao Noi, Phang Nga Bay 

Six Senses Yao Noi at Phang Nga Bay is a short boat ride away from Khao Phing Kan, aka ‘James Bond Island’ – so called because it featured in one of the famous films. Take a speedboat to the island to indulge in some spy antics! Phang Nga Bay itself lies between southern Thailand's mainland and Phuket Island and offers a quiet retreat in a stunning location. 

JW Marriott Resort and Spa

JW Marriott Resort and Spa

For classic luxe: JW Marriott Resort and Spa, Khao Lak  

Beachside JW Marriott Resort and Spa at Khao Lak has a stunning granite and waterfall backdrop, with the pristine white-sand Khao-Lak Beach in front. This Thai-style beach resort provides five-star luxury on the shores of the Andaman Sea. It has 11 restaurants and bars, with options ranging from casual al-fresco to fine dining, with romantic private dining experiences also available. The resort boasts Southeast Asia's longest swimming pool, a 2.4-kilometre lagoon pool, which comes complete with a boat serving ice-cold coconuts. 

Australia by Sea

A cruise holiday might be one of the least stressful forms of travel – you only need to unpack once. And with modern cruise ships being more like full-scale resorts with delicious food options and top-notch entertainment, you’ll be spoiled. 

Cruising around Australia is an unbeatable way to experience a familiar destination in a new way. Popular cruise routes start with quick city visits for those who want to experience a taste of cruising without committing to something more intensive, such as itineraries of 20 days or more that circumnavigate Australia and everything in between.  

Australia features iconic ports such as Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, and Perth, each offering its own unique attractions, from the Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge to the Great Ocean Road and the Yarra Valley. 

The continent’s natural wonders are a major drawcard. A cruise can take you close to the Great Barrier Reef for snorkelling or diving adventures, to Kangaroo Island to encounter native wildlife, or to Tasmania for wilderness exploration. 

Good to know 

If it’s peace and quiet you’re looking for, you may want to consider an adults-only cruise. If you can’t find an entirely adults-only option that suits your travel plans, ask your cruise provider if they have kids-free areas onboard where you can relax undisturbed. Another top tip: check when reservations for stage shows, music concerts and dining will be available and book as soon as you can to avoid disappointment. 

What you pack for your cruise will depend on when and where you are headed and what you’ve got planned. Cruises around Tasmania will entail some warmer clothes compared to the far north where the last thing you’ll want is an extra warm layer. Bear in mind what you have planned – will you be enjoying visiting Australia’s best restaurants or red-sand horseback riding? New Zealand travellers will need their passport, but not a visa. 

Be prepared

  • Make sure you select the cruise add-on when buying your International Comprehensive travel insurance with SCTI and consider the total cost of your cruise when selecting your cancellation cover amount.
  • Buy your policy as soon as you’ve booked your cruise to ensure there's cover for unexpected cancellations or illness before you travel. New Zealanders enjoy a reciprocal health agreement with Australia for some healthcare services and there is a common misconception that this means New Zealanders don’t need travel insurance when visiting Australia. This is not the case.
  • Emergency hospital treatment can quickly become extremely expensive, especially when it causes disruptions to your travel plans. Uninsured travellers can also find themselves footing the bill for ambulance rides, blood tests, accommodation extensions and flight cancellations.
  • It can be very costly to extend your stay due to a medical emergency, which is why travellers should look to protect themselves with the right travel insurance for their situation when visiting Australia.
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Japan's Natural Wonders

Vast, diverse, and dotted with awe-inspiring landmarks, rural Japan is a revelation for travellers. Mt. Fuji is well known, but there are more treasures to explore. From the northern wonderland of Hokkaido to the subtropical islands south of Honshu, Japan is a gallery of inspirational Eastern vistas. Modern Japan may be known for its innovative technology and an ever-expanding city skyline, but its coastlines, forests, peaks, and valleys take you back in time and captivate the soul.  

The Japanese islands 

It’s well worth venturing beyond popular attractions Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto, and Mt. Fuji on the main island of Honshu. To get a feel for the island-chain nature of Japan, try visiting at least one of the other three islands in the “big four”: Hokkaido, Kyushu, or Shikoku. For those who want the full experience, you’ll be amply rewarded if you explore smaller islands such as Okinawa and Naoshima. 

Gardens and groves of Kyoto 

Another popular choice for travellers looking beyond Tokyo is the city of Kyoto in southwestern Honshu. Kyoto boasts natural wonders such as the picturesque Arashiyama district – home to the Sagano Bamboo Forest. Rickshaws operated by enthusiastic locals are a great way to explore the forest. Travellers are also drawn to Arashiyama’s temples, charming streets and the Hozu River. Soak it all in from the Sagano Scenic Railway, also known as the Sagano Romantic Train.  

Japan’s national parks 

There are 31 national parks across Japan, and these cover all manner of terrain. Forests, marshes, coastlines, underwater marine sanctuaries, and volcanoes are dotted throughout the country – making Japan an explorer’s playground. Three must-see parks for nature-lovers include Towada Hachimantai National Park in the Tohoku Region, Hokkaido’s Shiretoko National Park, and Nikko National Park in the Kanto region. 

Mt. Fuji 

Japan’s snow-capped volcanic peaks are as much a part of modern Japan as its busy inner-city intersections. 

Mt. Fuji is Japan’s most recognisable natural landmark. The highest mountain peak in Japan lies just two hours from Tokyo – and can even be seen from the city on a clear day. But it’s not just proximity that makes Mt. Fuji the crowning jewel of Japan’s impressive suite of national valuables. 

Keen climbers stride up the mountainside by the thousands, with the summer months of July through August being most popular. So prevailing is the hike up the mountain that there’s a post office at its summit. 

For those looking for a less strenuous day out, there are regular cable cars to the Fuji Viewing Platform in the Tenjo-Yama Park. 

Good to know 

Choose your season wisely. Japan’s weather can be extreme. In some parts of the north, infrastructure all but shuts down in the winter months between November and April. Time your travel for autumn and prepare for stunning autumnal colours. If it’s cherry blossoms on your must-see list , make sure you arrive between late March and early April (note: on Japan's southern subtropical islands, the blossoms often open as early as January, while in the far north the buds may still be in bloom well into May). 

Be prepared

With the right preparation, research and advice, your holiday to Japan will be a memorable one for all the right reasons. While it’s considered a safe and welcoming travel destination, there are several things that visitors should remember when exploring its sights and sounds.

  •  There are a few local Japanese laws that can take tourists by surprise, such as tourists are required to always carry their passport when travelling through Japan.
  • Some prescription medication you bring from home may be illegal in Japan, so ensure you keep a prescription note from your doctor and a letter explaining its purpose. It’s also a good idea to have a copy translated into Japanese.
  • Going skiing in Japan? Make sure you have skiing and snowboarding cover as part of your SCTI travel insurance policy, which is an optional add-on.
  • Unfortunately, Japan has suffered from several devastating weather events. Strong winds, heavy rains, snowstorms, and typhoons also have the potential to cause significant travel delays. You must make sure it’s still safe to travel to your destinations by checking for travel advisories on the SafeTravel website. You need to check this when you buy your insurance, again before you start your journey, and before leaving for each new destination.

Ready for your next adventure? Southern Cross Travel Insurance has you covered. Visit SCTI’s travel guides section at to start planning your next trip and organise your travel insurance.  

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