Day 1: arrive in Bangkok (Thailand) – dinner on Loy Nava
Arrive at Bangkok International Airport. Meet our guide and private transfer to hotel. Check in and free time at leisure. You can check in at hotel from 14:00pm onwards.
Evening, meet our guide and private transfer to enjoy Thai dinner on Loy Nava. Loy Nava, the originator of Chao Phraya dinner cruises and operator of the uniquely beautiful antique teakwood rice barge, the Tahsaneeya Nava, awaits with pleasure the opportunity to serve you with the same attention to detail and standards as we have offered to royalty, celebrities and visitors from all parts of the world over the past thirty years. We will take you on a journey through Thai history, culture and gastronomy in a truly romantic ambiance and guarantee that it will be an experience of Thailand you will never forget.
Day 2: Bangkok – full day city tour
Breakfast at hotel. Pick up from your hotel in center of Bangkok and explore this city of angels.
The Grand Palace is the historic royal mini-city located on the banks of the Chao Phraya River. It comprises dozens of buildings, courtyards, halls, temples, pagodas, garden and even a miniature mountain. The palace was the residence of the kings of Siam from 1782 to 1925 and among the attractions are the Funeral and Coronation halls while another big draw is the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, where a 45cm statue of the Gautama Buddha was carved from one piece of solid translucent jade.
Adjacent to the Grand Palace is the city’s oldest temple, Wat Pho, which is famed for the Reclining Buddha. This 43 metre-long figure is covered in gold leaf and reaches up to 15 metres at its highest point. There are also more than 1,000 images of the Lord Buddha as well as a sacred tree.
Conclude the tour at the Wat Traimit temple, which is home to a 5.5-tonne solid gold Buddha with an intriguing tale to tell. The Golden Buddha is believed to be about seven centuries old and at some point it was covered in plaster to hide its true value. Over time, this was forgotten and it was only when it fell in 1954 that its true composition was discovered.
Lunch at local restaurant. Afternoon, take a leisurely stroll to the Chao Praya River (River of Kings) to board a long tail and cruise along the river before entering Bangkok’s network of canals known as khlongs. In centuries past, Bangkok was often referred to as the ‘Venice of the East’ with its vast network of khlongs that were utilised as a transport network. While many Khlongs have been filled in and converted to roads for more modern forms of transport, in the Thonburi area of Bangkok many still survive. It is these we will weave through to gain an insight into the lives of people who call the khlongs home – seemingly a world away from the chaotic streets of Bangkok!
Day 3: Bangkok – Floating market – Kanchanaburi
07:00am meet our guide and leave Bangkok to explore the famous Damnoen Saduak Floating market and ride on a train in Kanchanaburi.
Start your day at the world famous floating market of ”Damnern Saduak”, which is located about 100 km southwest of Bangkok. There are countless floating markets throughout the country, many within a couple of hours of the capital. The colourfully clad merchants at these lively markets paddle along congested canals in sturdy canoes laden with fresh fruits and vegetables to sell to shoppers on the banks. There is a lot of chatter and activity – bargaining is common – that’s all part of the fun – but don’t expect to get the price down more than a few baht. From fruits and flowers to everyday needs, it leaves nothing to be desired, althought it is now somewhat over commercialized. You visit the lively market at its best, early in the morning, before the crowds arrive and the day’s heat breaks.
Then travel on to the town of Kanchanaburi and witness the famous bridge on the River Kwai. Visit the well-kept Wat Cemetery of Allied Prisoners, which contains the graves of an estimated 9,000 Allied soldiers who lost their lives while building the bridge and constructing the notorious “Death Railway”.
Lunch at local restaurant and then ride on a train across the historical bride from Tam Krasae. The train riding takes approximately one hour.
After the trip, transfer back to hotel in Bangkok.
Day 4: Bangkok – Ayutthaya – Bangkok
Discover the surreal world of Ayutthaya, a place that was largely destroyed by the Burmese and has since become a UNESCO World Heritage. The old capital of Thailand, or previously known as the Kingdom of Siam, is truly an unforgettable experience and a must-see place whilst in the area!
We will visite the Bang-Pa-In, the former Royal Summer Residence representing a fine example of Thai architecture. For a day of history, culture and ever-lasting memories from Thailand, join a day trip to Ayutthaya which is nothing short of spectacular.
Then visite Wat Phanancheng, Wat Mahatthat, Wat Pra Srisanphet and Wat Chai Wattanaram.
Day 5: Bangkok – fly to Chiang Rai
Breakfast at hotel. Private transfer from hotel in Bangkok and transfer to Bangkok Airport. Fly to Chiang Rai. Upon arrival Chiang Rai Airport, meet our guide and transfer to your hotel in the town.
The city of Chiang Rai, located near the intersection of of Thailand, Myanmar (Burma) and Laos, is rich in history, culture and diversity. Experience it yourself with this four-hour tour of the city.
Afternoon, get picked up from your hotel to begin your tour at Wat Rong Khun, known as the White Temple: designed by one of Thailand’s most famous artists – Chalermchai Kositpipat – this unique temple is white with small glass pieces that shimmer in the sun, representing the purity and wisdom of the Buddha. Next, learn about some of the surrounding areas at the Hill Tribe Museum, where you can explore exhibits touching on the area’s long history of opium and the effect it has had on the lives of the mountain people and hill tribe villages.
Finally, wrap up your tour with a visit to Wat Phra Kaew, Chiang Rai’s very own Temple of the Emerald Buddha, which features the most highly-revered Buddha image (also enshrined in the Wat Phra Kaew temple on the grounds of the Grand Palace in Bangkok). Explore this historical temple, which dates back to the time of Chiang Rai’s founding, before heading off to explore more of the city and its surrounding area on your own.
Day 6: Chiang Rai – Doi Mae Salong – Golden Triangle
Discover the rich culture of local hill tribes in the Mae Chan district from Chiang Rai. After getting picked up from your hotel, head 29 km north to a longstanding trading post between the Akha and Yao tribes. Peruse the incredible handicrafts for sale at the local shops and markets before heading further uphill to Doi Mae Salong and visit the Santi Khiri village, a community settled by former Chinese migrants well known for its picturesque scenery and tranquil atmosphere. Spend some time exploring this enchanting small town, sampling traditional Chinese dishes and visiting local tea, coffee and even fruit tree plantations, in full bloom in December and January.
Afternoon, drive to visit the Golden Triangle is one of the most popular tourist routes in northern Thailand, known for its alluring history at the centre of the opium trade. Visit a hill-top viewpoint above the junction of the Mekong and Ruak Rivers that forms a three-way border between Thailand, Myanmar (Burma) and Laos. After this fantastic photo opportunity, you’ll continue on to the Opium House, a museum that houses items such as opium pipes, knives and scrappers, while also depicting the history of the opium trade in the surrounding area. Finally, you’ll continue on to Mae Sai, the northernmost point of Thailand and an important trading city on the Thai-Burmese border. Learn about its history and visit the local market, where you’ll be able to purchase cheap jewelry imported from Myanmar (Burma), Chinese goods and all sorts of delicious local eats for your ride back to Chiang Rai.
Day 7: Chiang Rai – Tha Ton – Chiang Mai
Morning, speeding down the Mae Kok River in a long tail boat to Ban Tha Ton, passing through padifields and rivers. Stop on the way to visit the Hilltribe Villages en route; Akha, Lahu, Karen villages and also Elephant Village (exclude elephant ride).
Arrival Ban Tha Ton around noon and lunch is at a local restaurant. Afternoon, continue transfer to your hotel in Chiang Mai for check in and relax at leisure.
Evening, get a taste of what makes northern Thai food distinctive and famous even among Thailand’s iconic cuisine. Tonight’s outing is your chance to experience a unique and rather delicious Thai custom, the ‘Khantoke’ dinner. Served in large platters on low tables, enjoy a selection of iconic Northern-style dishes, including spicy chili dip with steamed vegetables, crispy pork skin, fried chicken wings, spicy sausage and the classic Burmese-inspired pork curry.
During your meal, enjoy a line-up of live dance and music performances by members of surrounding ethnic hill tribes, including Karen, Hmong, Lahu, Akha, Mien and Lisu. To cap off a memorable night, you’re invited to join in with the final act called ‘Ramwong’, where you can dance, smile and laugh alongside the local performers.
Day 8: Chiang Mai city tour
Chiang Mai, one of the largest cities in Thailand and the cultural and business centre of northern Thailand, is overflowing with ancient Buddhist Temples, each with their own unique design and history. In this half-day tour, visit four of the most iconic temples as well as a mountaintop temple, while driving past city markets, residential areas and Chiang Mai’s main street. After being picked up at your hotel, your first destination is Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep, a must-see temple and one of the most respected amongst all Thais. As the temple is located at the top of a mountain, challenge yourself to walk up the 300 steps of the intricately-carved mythical Naga Serpent Staircase, or take a cable car to the top for an incredible view over the stunning architecture, statues, murals and shrines of the city and surrounding areas. After you descend the mountain, drive through the city to begin your temple hopping. First up is Wat Chedi Luang, a Lanna-style chedi that was once one of the tallest structures in ancient
Chiang Mai. Next, visit Wat Phra Singh, or Temple of the Lion Buddha, where you can view a collection of classic Lanna art and explore an old library. Finally, wander the gardens at Wat Suan Dok, Flower Garden Temple, where you can check out a 500-year-old bronze Buddha statue, one of the largest in Thailand.
With Chiang Mai’s rich cultural diversity, there is no surprise you can find products from around the region at local handicraft markets. This tour will lead you to Sankampaeng District, the heart of the handicraft industry in the city. Many of Thailand’s major producers are located here and you’ll find all of the traditional crafts of both the old days and the new. Spend some time exploring the different craft shops and stalls, and even learn how some of Chiang Mai’s famous products are made, from silk umbrella painting, cotton weaving and lacquer ware, an ancient art form of decorating wooden objects with layers of black lacquer. Pick up some handicrafts to bring home, or buy some materials so you can try out your new craftsmanship skills on your own before your tour wraps up as you are brought back to your hotel.
Day 9: Chiang Mai – Chiang Dao Tour
Depart Chiang Mai for an area of jungle located around 60 kilometres away from the city, known as Chiang Dao. This area is home to the national animal of Thailand – the mighty elephant – roaming around designated areas. Watch as the elephants demonstrate their incredible power and intelligence in shows that showcase, but never over-exert, these magnificent animals. After the educational demonstrations, get up-close and personal with the elephants with a short ride across a river and through the jungle. Unlike other elephant camps in the country, Chiang Dao offers you the chance to see the animals in their natural environment, and it has also has been praised for efforts in promoting eco-tourism and elephant conservation. Afterwards, continue to the nearby Ping River, and enjoy bamboo rafting as well as lunch at a local restaurant. On the way back to Chiang Mai, stop off to stretch your legs with a visit to an orchid farm.
Day 10: Chiang Mai – Mae Kampong Village – Homestay
Witness the old-age agricultural techniques and local customs still thriving today at Mae Kampong, a village where life revolves around tea production. Take part in the village’s homestay project, too, promoting eco-tourism and helping villagers better understand the environmental impact of farming. Follow your friendly guide around the village before a walk through the forest, and then enjoy a farming demonstration by the locals. Afterwards, take time to relax and enjoy the breathtaking surrounding scenery of emerald hills dense of tea fields.
Put your feet up and let the skilled village masseuses ease away any aches and pains after lunch – perfect preparation for an in-depth look at the process of fermenting tea. You’re invited inside to one of the village homes in the evening, and help to cook your own dinner with the locals. Finally, tuck in as you watch the sun set over the mountains of Mae Kampong.
Note: Our accommodation for our home stay will be in a traditional teak home (approximately four people per house). Each person will be provided with a mattress, linen and a mosquito net. Basic shower and Western-style toilet facilities are available but are communal. The itinerary is subject to change based on the location of the home stay.
Day 11: Chiang Mai – Fly to Phuket
Enjoy breakfast with our host family and continue our journey towards back to Chiang Mai Airport for your flight to Phuket. Arrive at Phuket airport. Meet our guide and private transfer to hotel. Check in and free time at leisure.
Day 12-14: Phuket – free days at leisure
Breakfast at hotel and free days at leisure.
Day 15: Phuket – departure
Breakfast at hotel and free days at leisure. Private transfer with guide from your hotel to Phuket Airport and fly to Bangkok. Connect your international flight and fly back to your home.
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