30 September 2016
This tour of Thailand takes you to all the country's most famous sights, including spectacular temples and the infamous Hell Fire Pass. However, it's also packed full of experiences to get you off the tourist trail and give you a unique insight into Thai life. You'll visit rural markets and villages, where you'll take part in hands-on experiences from rice harvesting to learning traditional crafts. The tour is a perfect blend of spectacular sights, tranquil relaxation and the chance to learn more about this intriguing country and its people.
You'll be met on arrival at the airport and transferred to your hotel. This evening you'll meet your guide and fellow travellers for welcome drinks and a tour briefing.
Today you'll tour Thailand’s vibrant capital, a thrilling mix of old and new. You'll catch the BTS Sky Train to the pier, from where you'll continue by boat, exploring the canals of Bangkok and Thonburi. You'll stop at the spectacular Wat Arun temple before continuing on to the Grand Palace, former residence of the royal family and home to the sacred Emerald Buddha. You'll also visit Bangkok’s oldest and largest temple, Wat Pho, and have a chance to admire its 46-metre reclining Buddha. This afternoon you're at leisure to continue your exploration of the city, sample the delicious local cuisine and perhaps pick up some souvenirs.
An early start this morning as you set off for the UNESCO-listed township of Amphawa, with a stop en route at the unique Mahachai seafood market to give you an authentic taste of the real Thailand. You'll travel along the "Salt Road", passing glistening salt fields and, if you're travelling between November and April, you'll be able to watch the salt-making process as seawater is pumped by windmills along canals and left to evaporate in the sun. After lunch you'll arrive at your resort on the banks of the Mae Klong River and will have the afternoon at leisure to relax in the peaceful gardens or to join a sightseeing trip. You may like to visit the King Rama II Memorial Park, a botanical park and garden with traditional stilt houses or one of the awe-inspiring local temples.
Your day begins with a trip to a nearby temple to join the locals in offering alms to the Buddhist monks. Next you'll travel north-west towards the River Kwai and the town of Kanchanaburi. You'll stop en route at a floating market, arriving before the tourist buses from Bangkok so that you have the chance to observe the store owners setting up for the day, locals bartering for their shopping and children heading off to school. Afterwards, you will continue towards Kanchanaburi, stopping at the Thai-Burma Museum and at the moving Allied War Cemetery. You'll then board a boat and continue on to your tranquil riverside resort, arriving by mid-afternoon, with the rest of the day at leisure to relax.
This morning you'll visit the infamous Hell Fire Pass and explore the museum which tells the moving story of the POWs who died constructing the Burma-Siam Railway. At Tham Krasae you will board the "Death Railway", travelling through lush forests and crossing the Bridge on the River Kwai. You'll arrive at your hotel in Kanchanaburi in the late afternoon and have time to relax before dinner at your hotel or in one of Kanchanaburi’s riverside restaurants.
You'll spend today driving through the scenery of Central Thailand to Sukhothai. Along the way you'll visit the 600-year-old city of Phitsanulok, where you'll be able to explore the beautiful temple Wat Phra Si Ratana Mahathat, home to the Phra Phuttha Chinnarat, one of Thailand's most revered Buddha images. You'll also visit the excellent Sergeant Major Thawee Folk Museum to learn more about life in this region. On arrival in Sukhothai, you'll have some time to relax by the hotel pool.
After breakfast this morning you'll explore Sukhothai by bicycle. This fascinating city, whose name means “Dawn of Happiness”, was founded in the 13th century, and is regarded by Thai people as the birthplace of the nation’s culture. All that now remains of its exquisite architecture are the ruins of Buddha statues and atmospheric temples, but your guide's expert knowledge will help you imagine the city as it stood before the invading armies from Burma and the north of Thailand took their toll. After lunch you will visit villages producing Sangkhalok pottery and Hat Siao cloth, and will have the chance to paint some pottery and weave some cotton yourself. In the late afternoon you'll join a cookery class at your resort and help to produce a sumptuous Thai dinner.
This morning you'll visit the Si Satchanalai Historical Park, an ancient walled city now World Heritage listed and considered the cradle of Thai civilisation. Afterwards you'll visit Ban Na Thon Chan, a small village outside of Sukhothai. Here you'll learn more about how the local community produces and markets textile products, sharing the profits equally among the village. Next you'll drive to the town of Lampang to visit the impressive Wat Phra That temple, built nearly 1,000 years ago as a fortress monastery. After lunch you'll visit the government-run Thai Elephant Conservation Centre, home to an elephant hospital and a breeding program that produces at least two baby elephants per year.
Today you're at leisure in Chiang Mai. You may like to take a walking tour of the old city, taking in the Chiang Mai Arts and Culture Museum, Pun Tao Temple and the colourful local markets, or you could choose to take a trip down the Mae Ping River, hit the shops or just relax by the pool. This evening you'll join your local guide for a foodie tour of the Sunday Walking Street Market, where you'll have the chance to taste specialties such as Khanom Jeen Naam Ngeow (handmade noodles in a northern-style curry with fresh vegetables) and pad thai, as well as the two varieties of local sausage: naem, a hand-rolled garlic sausage, and Sai-ua, a pickled pork sausage made with chillies.
This morning you'll drive through stunning mountain scenery and villages to Doi Inthanon National Park to meet the people of Mae Klang Luang, a local Karen tribe. You'll begin with a two-hour downhill trek through lush forest, rice fields and coffee plantations before visiting the local school and exploring the village. You'll join in with the day-to-day life of the village which, depending on the time of year, means you may have the chance to pick coffee beans, help with coffee cultivation and grinding, fish for crabs or help harvest the rice. In the late afternoon you'll visit Wat Prathat Doi Suthep, one of Thailand’s most sacred and famous temples, arriving after the tour coaches have left, to enjoy breathtaking views of the city at dusk, before tonight's farewell group dinner.
Today your tour comes to an end. A private transfer will take you to the airport for your onward travel.
Classic fr £1441pp
Rates based on twinshare
International flights not included unless otherwise stated