It may sound strange, but it turns out there is something rather relaxing about scrubbing a water buffalo.

Our bizarre task for the morning was to wash the docile animal – affectionately named Mr Tone – with a sponge, cool him off with fresh water and feed him handfuls of mini bananas.

The pampered beast is one of the star attractions for families at the magnificent Four Seasons Resort Chiang Mai, living a charmed life by the peaceful lake and lush paddy fields in the grounds of the resort.

It was just one of the weird and wonderful experiences on our exhilarating family trip to the northern Thai city, which took in this spectacular outlying resort and a superb villa right in the heart of the bustling Old Town

Our first stop was the blissful Four Seasons – an easy 30 minute transfer from Chiang Mai’s airport – having flown in on a stress-free flight with Thai Airways.

On arrival, the super-friendly staff handed us cold flannels and a refreshing drink as we took in the sweeping grounds, which have to be seen to be believed – tropical gardens teaming with birds and butterflies, a lake, paddy fields and even a croquet lawn.

An electric buggy took us to our home for the next two nights – a Private Retreat, complete with a plunge pool, tucked away in dense woodland close to the lake.

Part of the attraction of the resort is the number of activities it has in-house, from cooking lessons and botanical tours to meditation sessions and yoga by the lake. Guests can even try their hand at rice planting – showcasing how in-tune the resort appears to be with its surroundings.

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