26 February 2017
It's tempting when going on holiday to Thailand to head straight to one of the popular beach resorts to relax and soak up the sun. But there is so much to see and do in this fascinating country and this 10 day discovery tour is a great way to see so many of the iconic sights and get to know the friendly people. Beginning in the colourful capital city Bangkok and ending at Chiang Mai, you visit the River Kwai and cross the infamous bridge as well as staying in lots of towns and villages.
On arrival at Bangkok you will be met by one of our tour representatives and driven to your hotel in the city. Relax after the journey or go out and explore on your own and tonight meet your fellow travellers and your tour leader for welcome drinks and a briefing. This is a great chance to get to know your fellow travellers and talk about the adventures that await you. You will also be given a welcome pack containing all the details of this exciting tour.
With a population of seven million Thailand’s capital is interesting, provoking but most of all exhilarating. Known as the City of Angels this bustling metropolis, although modern, is unmistakably Thai. Today you visit some of the top attractions. Explore the canals by boat then continue onto the Grand Palace, the former residence of the much loved Royal family and the resting place for the sacred Emerald Buddha. Visit the huge reclining Buddha in Wat Pho temple and the afternoon is free to discover the local cuisine or go shopping
Your travels over the next three days will take you through some of the most beautiful rain forest in Thailand - the area around the River Kwai and the pleasant town of Kanchanaburi, a journey of two and a half to three hours. On the outskirts of Kanchanaburi you will enjoy a once in a lifetime experience with Thailand’s royal animal, the elephant. There are many elephant camps in Thailand however very few allow you to interact with them like Elephant World. The sanctuary, which is set in a natural valley, bordered by a river and surrounded by forested mountains, offers a timeless glimpse of rural life. It is unique in the sense that their philosophy is to ensure that sick, old, abused, illegal and street elephants receive rest and care. This is not an elephant camp where you will find the elephants doing tricks, paintings, nor can you ride them. You will feed the elephants, cut or wash food for them, cook rice for the older ones, take them to the river and have the time of your life while swimming around them and climbing on their backs (which is only done while you are at the river bareback). In the afternoon, following a quick shower and change of clothes continue on by road to your resort.
Leave your river accommodation for the infamous Hell Fire Pass to visit an Australian-commissioned museum which stands as a moving monument to the wartime POWs who died while building the Burma-Siam Railway. Board the ‘Death Railway’ train, one of Thailand’s most scenic and most popular train rides. Though the views are lovely, it’s the history that makes the ride so special. You travel across the Wang Po viaduct, where a trestle bridge clings to the cliff face – almost every man who worked on this part of the railway died.
This morning you travel east towards Ayuthaya, the epicentre of a far-reaching and powerful empire from 1350 to 1767. Like Bangkok, the city was built around an inter-connecting canal system and on arrival board your converted traditional teak rice barge to drift slowly along the majestic Chao Phraya River enjoying a selection of Thai food for lunch. Then at your atmospheric boutique hotel relax by the pool before visiting some of the World Heritage-listed temples. Tonight enjoy a special dining experience on a picturesque terrace.
A half day drive through central Thailand scenery brings you to Sukhothai, the cradle of ancient Thai culture. On arrival check in to your hotel and enjoy some time relaxing by the pool. In the afternoon, explore Sukhothai by bicycle seeing some of the country’s most classical examples of art and architecture. Afterwards, return for an interactive cooking class in the lush surrounds of your resort, learning about the many ingredients commonly used in Thai cooking and then enjoy your creations for dinner.
After breakfast you visit villages still engaged in the production of Sangkhalok Pottery as well as Hat Siao cloth, for a fun interactive pottery painting and cotton weaving class before continuing your journey north, stopping in Lampang. Here, visit what is arguably the most beautiful wooden Lanna temple in northern Thailand, the open-sided Wihan Luang, which dates back to 1476 and has stories of the Buddha’s previous lives painted on panels. In the afternoon continue on to Chiang Mai.
After breakfast take a local songtaew to Warorot Market to join the bustle of locals as they buy their fresh food and spices at this popular market. Continue on to Ton Lamyai markets and visit a Chinese shrine and hear the story of the Chinese settlement in Chiang Ma. Then visit one of the most visually stunning Buddhist temples. For lunch, enjoy Khao Soi Soup before departing for one of Thailand’s most famous temples - travelling up a mountain to visit Wat Prathat Doi Suthep and taking in the breathtaking views of the city at dusk.
After all the travelling and sightseeing, today you are free to enjoy Chiang Mai at your own pace. You can shop till you drop, take a trip down the Mae Ping River or just relax by the pool . . . the choice is yours. If the fancy takes you, why not jump in a rickshaw for a ride through the old city, exploring the narrow alleyways and winding pathways passing markets, temples and a vast array of unique 'street life'. Then spend your last night enjoying a group dinner with a chance to say farewell to new found friends.
Today your wonderful discovery tour of Vietnam comes to an end. Possibly time for some more sightseeing or shopping for souvenirs before you are picked up from your hotel and driven to the airport to catch an onward flight or begin your journey back home. This comprehensive tour is a great way to get an insight into the real Vietnam and will leave you with lots of great memories. It also makes a great add on to any longer visit to south east Asia.
Classic fr £1449pp
Rates based on twinshare
International flights not included unless otherwise stated