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Southeast Asia

12-Day Best of Thailand

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Itinerary

Day 1 : Arrive in Bangkok

Visiting: Bangkok, Thailand

On arrival in Bangkok International Airport, meet your guide and driver for a private transfer to your hotel in Bangkok. If arriving at night, the remainder of your evening is free at your own leisure. If arriving earlier in the day, enjoy a fun culinary adventure to Chinatown!

This afternoon, your guide will accompany you by tuk tuk to Chinatown, a culturally-rich district full of traditional, excellent food. Bangkok is an amazing city for its culinary side of life and 
there is no better place that showcases this than Chinatown's myriad of street food stalls. Discover delicious and amazing tastes of authentic Thai food at Chinatown, locally called Yaowarat. Taste a variety of dishes such as Hong Kong noodles, dim­sum (pan­fried taro cake, steamed pork rib with preserved soya bean), grilled jumbo prawn with Thai seafood chili sauce, fried battered mussels, Chinese bun, traditional Chinese herbal drink, black sesame dumpling in ginger tea, and Thai tropical seasonal fruit. After sampling all of these treats, you'll return to your hotel by tuk tuk.

  • Meals: D
  • Standard Lodging: Nouvo City Hotel, Deluxe room
  • Luxury Lodging: Riva Surya, Deluxe Riva room
  • Elite Lodging: The Siam, Siam Suite room

Day 2 : Discover Bangkok on a full-day private tour!

Visiting: Bangkok, Thailand

This morning, after an early breakfast, join your guide and begin your discovery of Bangkok by visiting Wat Po, one of Bangkok’s oldest and largest temples. We’ll arrive there just in time to hear the morning chanting of the monks. Continue to the Grand Palace Complex, which includes the Temple of The Emerald Buddha (Wat Phra Keow), unquestionably a "must" for every visitor to Bangkok. Within Wat Phra Keow is a fabulous Buddha image, carved from one piece jade, which is one of the holiest and most revered religious objects in Thailand today. The Grand Palace - built in traditional Thai architecture mixed with European designs - was once the official home of the Kings of Siam. For lunch, instead of a standard restaurant, explore the backstreets of Thammasat University! Your guide will take you for a culinary visit among hundreds of Thai students rushing to the numerous small street restaurants. Get ready for a memorable exploration of Thai food delicacies in these less visited streets of the capital. Finish your foodie walk with a refreshing local beer or freshly made smoothie with seasonal fruits by the river.

Then, in early afternoon, we depart by longtail boat and embark on a klong tour, a great way to observe local life along the canals and stop at a kind of local artist community; Khlong Bang Luang. Well preserved wooden homes more than a century old and historic but non-touristy temples join smaller art studios, vintage antique galleries, a few outstanding hole-in-the-wall noodle shops, a tiny guesthouse and several family-run cafes, convenience shops and barbers. The centerpiece of the Khlong Bang Luang community is Baan Silapin (Artists House), which occupies a traditional two-storey wooden building set beside the canal and centered around a 300-plus-year-old chedi. It typically houses casual exhibitions (usually paintings) while prints, drawings, photographs, sculpture and everything in between are on show as well. Don’t miss the traditional half hour Thai shadow puppet performance (usually daily show at 14.00, except Wednesdays). It is possible to arrange some interaction with artists, or simply relax at a table with some local snacks and few drinks (very nice place to chill!). Later, return to your hotel with the balance of your evening at leisure.

  • Meals: BL
  • Standard Lodging: Nouvo City Hotel, Deluxe room
  • Luxury Lodging: Riva Surya, Deluxe Riva room
  • Elite Lodging: The Siam, Siam Suite room

Day 3 : Free day in Bangkok / Overnight train to Chiang Mai

Visiting: Bangkok - Chiang Mai

Bangkok - Chiang Mai

Meals: B

Today is free at your leisure and explore this grand city on your own. Note that check out time is at noon (12.00 hrs) however you can leave your luggage at the hotel until your guide arrives for you transfer to Hua Lamphong Railway Station. With assistance, board your train and overnight on the night train, Bangkok – Chiang Mai, in a 1st-class A/C Sleeper cabin.

  • Meals: B
  • Standard Lodging: First-class sleeper cabin

Day 4 : Discover Chiang Mai!

Visiting: Chiang Mai

On arrival at Chiang Mai Railway Station, our guide will meet you and bring you to your hotel for a chance to refresh.

Founded in the 13th century, Chiang Mai has long played a critical role in Thai history. Currently a flourishing cultural and economic center, this is a city in transition. Historically influenced by Thai, Burmese, Lao and hilltribe forces, its culture reflects an exotic blend of colorful influences.

After some time at the hotel to freshen up, head into town for a fun highlights tour of the city. Begin with a visit to the riverfront Worarot Market, with its bright flowers, pungent spices and friendly, bustling crowds. Stroll the alley next to the market, filled with textiles, hilltribe clothes, silks, hats and beads. From the market drive to Thapae Gate, one of the four original city gates, where you will change transportation. Take a samlor, or rickshaw, which is similar to a tricycle but much larger. These pedaled trishaw’s are Chiang Mai's oldest form of transportation. Taking a ride in a samlor is an excellent way to take in the city sights, since they travel at about the same speed as a bicycle. You will visit Wat Chiang Man and Wat Phra Singh and Wat Chedi Luang temple where you will have the chance to visit with a local monk about Buddhism and his experiences in the monastery. Then, continue to what is probably Chiang Mai’s most famous landmark: Wat Prathat Doi Suthep. The temple is located at the summit of 5,000-foot-high Doi Suthep Mountain, which towers over the city. Climb the 300-step staircase, flanked by Nagas, or take the cable-car up. The cool air and spectacular sunset views make the trip worth the effort. Return to the resort with the remainder of the evening at your leisure.

  • Meals:
  • Standard Lodging: Karinthip Village, Deluxe Room
  • Luxury Lodging: U Chiang Mai, Deluxe room
  • Elite Lodging: 137 Pillars House, Rajah Brooke Suite room

Day 5 : Chiang Dao in Depth

Visiting: Chiang Mai - Karen Village

With your guide drive to the north and into the mountains. On the way, you'll stop at the Mae Ma Lai market. Your guide will do some shopping for the coming days. He'll take you along and will explain about the different ingredients used in the Thai kitchen.
 Following the market visit, continue to a riverside camp on the Tang River where a bamboo raft will be waiting for you. Your helmsmen will maneuver the raft through the gentle rapids.

After descending the river, reach the take-out and drive to Chiang Dao Cave and visit the cave. Lunch will be at a local restaurant. After that we drive to the Red Lahu village Pang Tong where will start trekking. We'll walk about 3 hours this afternoon until we arrive at our destination for today, the Karen village of Pha Lai.

On reaching the village, your guide will introduce you to a traditional Thai kitchen where he can explain the tasty herbs we use for the Thai dishes. After that, you're welcome to help him cook your dinner. After dinner the guide will take you to one of the local houses to share in the stories about daily life of the Karen and about the history of the village.

We'll overnight in a local home for the next 3 nights. The accommodations are very basic though the homestays have a Western style shared bath. This is a great way to experience real life in the village, however if staying in a comfortable hotel is a better choice for you, let us know: we can arrange day tours (elephants, villages, etc.) and then return to Chiang Mai for overnights.

Important Note: This 3-day trek included in the itinerary is fascinating but physically challenging. It's great for adventurous, fit people who love hiking and going off the beaten path. If you are not interested in the trek, we can easily adapt the itinerary to your style of travel!

  • Meals: BLD
  • Budget Lodging: Homestay
  • Standard Lodging: On Request
  • Luxury Lodging: On Request
  • Elite Lodging: On Request

Day 6 : Trek Karen Village – Palong Village

Visiting: Karen Village – Palong Village

After breakfast this morning we'll start trekking about 20 minutes to Lisu and Akha village in the area of Pha Lai. Your trekking guide will show you the fine local weavings. Enjoy a delicious picnic lunch in the forest. After lunch, we'll continue our trek through the forest to the Palong village Mae Chon. Your guide will take time along the way to explain more about the natural environment. Walking today will be around 5-6 hours. Arrive at the village later in the afternoon. Discover wild ginger, rattan and the pitcher plants in the forest and learn more about the all-important bamboo plant and its many traditional uses. Your guide will prepare the evening meal. Around the campfire after dinner, enjoy more time sharing more stories with your guide and the local Palong people.

  • Meals: BLD
  • Budget Lodging: Homestay
  • Standard Lodging: On Request
  • Luxury Lodging: On Request
  • Elite Lodging: On Request

Day 7 : Trek through lush Palong country

Visiting: Palong Village

Awake to the sounds of nature and the locals gearing up for the day while your guide prepares breakfast. After breakfast, join your guide for a pleasant easy stroll around the village. He'll explain the village shrine and about the ‘huja rawl’, the ‘village heart’. After this we will hike for about two hours to a waterfall where you will have time for a refreshing. Enjoy a delicious picnic lunch at the waterfall. After lunch we'll continue our trek through the forest about 3-4 hours to Huay Bong, another Palong village.

Once we've arrived in the village you can rest for a while or spend some time playing with the children. Your guide will prepare your evening meal for you all, and if you like you can join him in preparing dinner. Enjoy an easy-going evening around the campfire with the company of your guide and some of the local villagers.

  • Meals: BLD
  • Budget Lodging: Homestay
  • Standard Lodging: On Request
  • Luxury Lodging: On Request
  • Elite Lodging: On Request

Day 8 : Finish Trek / Return to Chiang Mai

Visiting: Palong Village - Chiang Mai

After breakfast,we trek for around two hours to the Karen village Thakilek. Along the way, we will stop at Lahu village Ban Huay Bong, where we will visit the intriguing spirit temple and a local black smith. After this we'll continue trekking to the Karen village and finish our walking journey.

From there, we drive to the restaurant where we can have lunch. Drive back to Chiang Mai with a brief stop en-route at a local orchid nursery to learn more about the diversity of the local rainforest.

  • Meals: B
  • Standard Lodging: Karinthip Village, Deluxe Room
  • Luxury Lodging: U Chiang Mai, Deluxe room
  • Elite Lodging: 137 Pillars House, Rajah Brooke Suite room

Day 9 : Fly to Koh Samui

Visiting: Chiang Mai - Samui

After breakfast, pick up by your guide and transfer to the Chiang Mai Airport and connect with the flight to Samui (flights separate).

Fly Chiang Mai (CNX) to Samui (USM) for example on Flight PG#242 (12:50-14:35).

Arrive in Samui, meet the driver and transfer to the hotel. Check in at the hotel then the rest of today is free at leisure.

  • Meals: B
  • Standard Lodging: Beach Republic Samui, Club Suite
  • Luxury Lodging: Mai Samui, Deluxe
  • Elite Lodging: W Retreat, Jungle Oasis

Day 10 : Free day on the beach

Visiting: Samui

Full day of beach R&R.

  • Meals: B
  • Standard Lodging: Beach Republic Samui, Club Suite
  • Luxury Lodging: Mai Samui, Deluxe
  • Elite Lodging: W Retreat, Jungle Oasis

Day 11 : Free day on the beach

Visiting: Samui

Free day of beach R&R.

  • Meals: B
  • Standard Lodging: Beach Republic Samui, Club Suite
  • Luxury Lodging: Mai Samui, Deluxe
  • Elite Lodging: W Retreat, Jungle Oasis

Day 12 : Fly back to Bangkok / Depart Thailand

Visiting: Samui

After breakfast, meet your driver and transfer to the Samui airport for the flight to Bangkok (flight separate). From there, continue by connecting with your onward flight home or extend to Cambodia, etc.

  • Meals: B

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