Thailand: Beaches, Forests & Hill Tribes

Visit historic and bustling Bangkok, the idyllic beaches of the islands of Ko Tao and Ko Samui, visit hill tribes in the traditional north and zip-wire through the virgin forest near Chiang Mai during this action-packed, diverse 2 week trip

 

 

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Day 1-4: Bangkok

Upon arrival at Bangkok Airport you will be met by an English-speaking guide and transferred to your accommodation in Bangkok, where you will stay for 3 nights. The rest of the day will be spent at leisure, with a dinner cruise in the evening. The next morning you will be picked up at the hotel for your bike tour of a local Buddhist temple and a local craftsman’s shop before taking a short boat trip down the Chao Phraya river to see the river slums. Afterwards you will continue on to an open-air Muay Thai school (kick boxing) and a Burmese-style before riding through the greenest area of Bangkok. After lunch you will be taken on a tour of the Grand Palace, the official royal residence since 1782.

On your final day you will be taken to visit Thongburi Klong, the former capital of Siam, whose many canals had originally given Bangkok the name “Venice of the East”. You will also visit the Royal Barges and Wat Arun (The Temple of Dawn). After lunch you will be taken to visit the flower market before returning to the hotel.

 

 

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Info: Bangkok

Bangkok is a sprawling city of over 8 million people, luckily with most of its tourist sites within a relatively small area. Its historic, unique landmarks and lively outdoor markets, bars and street vendors make it a great place to wander around. It’s most famous tourist sites are the Royal Palace, a number of Buddhist temple complexes and it numerous markets, principally the vast, fascinating Chatuchak market and the more formal MBK shopping complex.

The other draw of the city is the food. Immigration and its status as a global city means that all types of Thai food are on offer, from the spicy, creamy Panang curry from the south to the iconic Pad Thai noodle dish. A number of exceptional, world-class restaurants are located around the city, and street vendors (for the more daring) serve a wonderful mix of dishes and snacks.

 

 

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Day 4: Phitsanulok

After breakfast you will depart by private transfer for Ayuthaya, visiting the Summer Palace en-route. On arrival you will be taken by boat to the archeological site, visiting a number of temples, with lunch at a local restaurant afterwards.

In the afternoon you will drive to your accommodation in Pitsanuloke, where you will spend one night. En-route you will stop to visit the sacred Phra Prang Sam Yod pagoda and have a wander around Lomburi for a couple of hours before continuing on to Pitsanuloke, where you will have the rest of the day at leisure, enjoying the hotel’s facilities or relaxing by the pool.

 

 

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Day 5: Lampang

After breakfast, and a visit to a Buddha-statues foundry, you will drive to Sukhothai, where you will visit the ancient ruins at Sukhothai Historical Park. The area is home to the original capital of what eventually became modern Thailand, being the seat of the Sukhothai Kingdom during the 13th-15th Century, and is nowadays a UNESCO World Heritage Site. After lunch at a local restaurant you will continue onwards to Lampang, where you will be taken on a tour of this old city by horse carriages. Visit Baan Sao Nak, a 100-year old teak-wood mansion, and Wat Chedi Sao, before being transferred to your accommodation in town for 1 night.

 

 

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Day 6: Chiang Rai

After breakfast at the hotel you will be transferred to Chiang Rai, stopping at a pineapple plantation and Prayao en-route. After lunch you will drive to Chiang Saen to visit some fascinating hill-tribe villages and the famous Golden Triangle, where the borders of Thailand, Myanmer and Laos converge. You will also be taken on a boat trip on the mighty Mekong River before returning to Chiang Rai to spend the rest of the day at leisure at your hotel.

 

 

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Day 7 & 8: Chiang Mai

After an early breakfast you will depart for Chiang Mai. Upon arrival in Chiang Mai, visit the Handicraft Villages, where you can watch artisans at work making things like Thai Silk. In the afternoon you will drive to Wat Doi Suthep and Wat Phra Singh, with the rest of the day at leisure. In the evening you have the option of enjoying a typical Kantoke dinner with a presentation of traditional dances from Northern Thailand.

On your second day you will visit the elephant camp, where you can watch elephants work in the forest and enjoy an elephant ride. Afterwards you will continue on to your Jungle Flight adventure, stopping en-route at an orchid farm. Jungle Flight consists of a large network of zip-wires and platforms through the virgin rainforest, which is both exhilarating and a great way to see Thailand’s unspoilt nature. As you are in the rainforest, you can also spot wildlife in the canopy and on the ground from the highest vantage points.

 

 

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Info: Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai is the most historically and culturally significant city in northern Thailand, having been the administrative centre of the Kingdom of Lanna from the 13th-18th Centuries and sitting on one of Asia’s major trade routes, along the Ping river. As a result, it is culturally and aesthetically distinct from Bangkok and Southern Thailand and recent immigration has brought in hill-tribesmen from the far north to add to this eclectic and fascinating mix of cultures and peoples. Also worth mentioning is the fact that northern cuisine is generally quite different from the rest of Thailand, with Khao Soi (egg noodle curry) Sai Oua (grilled herb sausage) worth trying when visiting Chiang Mai.

During your stay visit Wat Doi Suthep, tucked away in the mountains at 3,500 feet.The monastery is reached by a staircase with 300 steps and was completed by King Gue-Na in 1383. Wat Phra Singh is also worth a visit because of its famous Buddha image. The evening market in Chiang Mai is a great place to eat and buy souvenirs and there are some nice bars and restaurants along the old city wall.

 

 

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Day 9-12: Koh Tao

This morning you will be transferred to Chiang Mai airport for your flight to Ko Samui, from where you will be met and transferred by boat to the beautiful island of Koh Tao. The island is renowned for its small, village-like feel and its exceptional diving and snorkeling. Over the next few days you can enjoy diving lessons, be taken on a tour of the best snorkeling spots all over the island or enjoy a diving/snorkeling trip on the reef.

Turtles, reef sharks, rays and a huge range of tropical fish inhabit the reefs around the island and there are 5 or 6 excellent snorkelling areas all accessible by either moped or 4×4. The interior is still dominated by thick jungle, so keen bird-watchers may wish to explore by hiking or renting a moped to travel around the island’s more untouched areas.

 

 

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Day 12-14: Ko Samui

This morning you will be transferred back to Ko Samui for 2 nights. On the island you can relax on its world-famous, pristine beaches, enjoy the luxuries of the hotel or travel inland to explore the temples, villages and lesser visited area of the island. On your final morning you will be transferred to the airport for your return flight home or you can extend your stay and visit Ko Phi Phi, famous as the setting of the film ‘The Beach’.

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