We begin in Bangkok - the ancient capital of Thailand (formerly Siam), known for its magnificent temples, network of canals and palaces of stone and marble. From here we visit the UNESCO World Heritage site of Ayutthaya - once one of the world's wealthiest and most cosmopolitan cities with treasure-laden palaces and gilded temples. Today the many partially restored ruins offer a tantalizing glimpse into its glorious past.
We then fly to Sukhothai (“Rising of Happiness”) where classic Thai art and architecture flourished during the golden age of Thai civilization. It is one one of the most visited ancient sites in Thailand. From here we travel to Lampang - a rural town that still uses horse carriages as a means of transportation and boasts elegant mansions of former lumber barons, as well as amazing timber-based Lanna-era temples. Then we proceed to Thailand’s peaceful northern capital - Chiang Mai, where we visit an elephant camp for a ride through the jungle and an opportunity to see these magnificent animals enjoy their morning bath. Next we travel through splendid mountain scenery and tropical jungle to Chiang Rai, with a stop at a popular hot springs. We will see the incredible “White Temple”, visit the northern hill tribes and marvel at stunning views of the Mekong Valley and famous “Golden Triangle” - the epicenter of the opium trade between Laos, Myanmar (Burma) and Thailand.
We finish our tour on the resort island of Phuket for a relaxing stay in this tropical paradise, including an enchanting cruise of Phang-nga Bay and time to unwind.
* Those joining any of our tours to Asia must be able to walk fairly long distances and climb stairs easily.
Itinerary / Excursions
Day 1: Departure
We depart for Bangkok via Hong Kong.
Day 2: Bangkok
We arrive in Bangkok and transfer to our hotel. The rest of the day is free until our Welcome Dinner.
Day 3: Bangkok
We first visit the Grand Palace - an architectural wonder of golden stupas, walls and pillars encrusted in colourful mosaics. We will see the Coronation Hall, the Royal Guest House and Wat Phra Kaew - considered Thailand’s most sacred Buddhist temple. Later we will enjoy a cruise along the Chao Phraya River to see local homes, temples and scenes of river life. This evening we take an exciting Tuk Tuk ride to discover Bangkok’s magical atmosphere at night. We will visit famous local eateries to sample the local street foods, explore the colourful flower market and visit a beautiful temple with spires glistening in the night light.
Day 4: Ayutthaya / Bangkok
We travel through beautiful scenery to the ancient city of Ayutthaya - the former capital of Siam, where many ancient ruins can be seen. We will see the Muslim Quarter where many Muslim-Indian and Persian traders once lived, with interesting lanes and pathways, and little shops selling delicious Muslim-Thai food. We return to Bangkok by boat and enjoy lunch on board while cruising down the Chao Phraya River, watching life on the river.
Day 5: Sukhothai / Lampang
We fly to Sukhothai and on arrival visit Sukhothai Historical Park - a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We will see the glory of the old Kingdom of Sukhothai - the first capital of Thailand, at the well-preserved ruins. Then we drive to Si Satchanalai Historical Park - the northern outpost town of the Kingdom, to visit Wat Chang Lom and Wat Chedi Jet Thew. We overnight in Lampang.
Day 6: Lampang
We explore this rural city by horse-drawn carriage and visit Ban Sao Nak House - a residence raised on a base of pillars built in 1895 by a prosperous teak merchant (it is now a museum). Later we visit Wat Phra Dhat Lampang Luang - one of Thailand’s most important temples, and Lampang Herb Centre where many healthy toxin-free herb products are grown.
Day 7: Chiang Mai
We travel by coach to Chiang Mai and visit the popular artisan’s street where traditional decorative objects are made, including jewelry, parasols, woodcarvings and silks.
Day 8: Elephant Camp / Chiang Mai
We visit an elephant training camp, beginning with an elephant ride in the jungle, followed by a viewing of the elephants bathing in the running stream and elephants at work. After lunch we continue to an orchid plantation surrounded by unique natural beauty. This evening we explore Chiang Mai’s Night Bazaar with its various handmade products offered by local hill tribe people.
Day 9: Chiang Mai
On our tour of Chiang Mai we see the old city walls, gates and city moat, as well as the Three Kings Monument, the most important temples and the Arts and Cultural Center. Lunch will be a Northern Thai specialty - Khao Soy. Later we drive up Mount Suthep and take a cable car to the top for magnificent views over the Chiang Mai valley.
Day 10: Chiang Rai
We travel through splendid mountain scenery and tropical jungle to Chiang Rai, with a stop at Mae Ka Jan - a popular hot springs. We then admire the beauty of the temple Rong Kun or “White Temple” with its famous bridge, and visit Mae Fah Luang Art and Cultural Park which has the finest collection of religious and secular art and artifacts found in Thailand. We finish at the Oub Kham Museum - a unique exhibition of Northern Thailand's tribal history with jewelry, costumes and sculptures.
Day 11: Golden Triangle / Chiang Rai
We take the scenic road to Doi Mae Salong, with breathtaking views of the jungles of Thailand, Myanmar and the Mekong Valley. We will visit the hill tribe villages and a tea plantation, then continue to Chiang Saen - the oldest city in northern Thailand which features wonderful temples. Finally we arrive at the famous Golden Triangle - the beautiful portion of the Mekong River that divides the countries of Laos, Burma and Thailand. This was the centre of the opium trade for hundreds of years.
Day 12: Phuket
We fly to the tropical island of Phuket and transfer to our beach resort hotel. The rest of the day is free to enjoy the resort facilities and beautiful beaches.
Day 13: Phuket
We sail the enchanting Phang-nga Bay on board a traditional Chinese junk boat. The cruise takes in James Bond Island, before we transfer to a long-tailed speed boat to visit the sea gypsy village of Koh Panyi, which was built on stilts by nomadic fisherman in the 18th century. We will also see a mangrove delta and the Grotto Cave, and enjoy a sumptuous Thai buffet while viewing the amazing seascapes. There will be time for a swim before returning to the hotel.
Day 14: Phuket
A day at leisure to enjoy the resort’s facilities.
Day 15: Bangkok
This morning we fly back to Bangkok. Afternoon at leisure for some final sightseeing and shopping. Our Farewell Dinner will be at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, known internationally as one of the world’s greatest hotels dating back to 1879. We will dine on pillows at low tables in the glittering, bronze-trimmed, teak and marble main hall sampling finely crafted Thai cuisine accompanied by classical music and traditional dancing.
Day 16: Home
We fly home via Hong Kong.
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