Thailand Travel Plans Choice
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Last updated: 02/19/2009
This Thailand itinerary has been designed especially by Thailand Travel Plan specialists, combining all of our favourite elements. It's a cocktail of adventure, culture, nature and relaxation.
Arrival in Bangkok
Upon your arrival in Thailand, you'll be collected from the airport and taken to a lovely hotel in central Bangkok, around 10min walk (or 5 minutes by tuk-tuk) from wonderful Khao San Road. You'll stay in a spacious room with air-conditioning. The hotel also has a swimming pool- so you can start your trip with a dip. Suitably refreshed, you can explore your fascinating neighbourhood. Those craving an instant culture fix can head straight to the Royal Palace. This is the No.1 place of interest for Bangkok visitors. The palace is only 10mins by taxi or tuk-tuk and the doors are open until 3:30pm. Remember to dress modestly - your knees and shoulders must be covered.
Bangkok - Cycle Tour
Today your morning is free to explore Bangkok - the City of Angels, with its temples, pagodas and street stalls. Don't miss the Royal Palace, and the awe-inspiring temple of Wat Phra Kaew. These can both be reached easily and quickly by express boat. Remember to dress modestly - knees and shoulders must covered. You can reach Chinatown via the Reclining Buddha at Wat Po, and gobble a quick bowl of tasty noodles.
Your cycle trip begins in Chinatown at 1pm. You'll cycle along winding, narrow lanes past traditional houses in the suburbs. You'll also take a walk through a pungent food market, where locals do their everyday shopping. This community is typical of Thailand- no air conditioning, no shopping centres and no traffic jams. After this, you'll cross the Chao Phraya River in a longtail boat. Soon, you'll find yourself in a green oasis that seems a world away from the bright lights of the city. Even the most important thoroughfares here are only small paths above the Khlongs (canals). You'll return from the trip around 6pm, surprised at the huge contrast between the centre and the outskirts. For dinner, you'll be taken by taxi to one of Bangkok's most colourful and quirky restaurants- Cabbages and Condoms.
Bangkok - River Kwai
You'll make an early start this morning. After a bite of breakfast, you'll be collected by air-conditioned minibus and head for the River Kwai with your English-speaking guide. On the way, you'll stop for an hour at the famous floating market to watch the rowdy traders in action. After this, you'll travel to the famous âBridge over the River Kwai'. Here, you'll start your train journey over the remaining stretch of the infamous Burma Death Railway.
On arrival at the small station, a tasty lunch will be served and you'll step into a longtail boat. This boat will drift along the River Kwai, deep into the thick evergreen jungle. Just 40 minutes later, you'll arrive at your floating bamboo bungalows on the river. You'll have your own room with a swimming ladder and hammock. There is no electricity in these bungalows, and you'll eat an ambient dinner by the light of flickering oil lamps. Seated at long tables, you'll share the meal with your fellow travellers and discuss your experiences so far, as the jungle around you breathes with life.
River Kwai - Kanchanaburi
After a night in the midst of the jungle, you'll climb back into the boat. You'll then travel back along the river, reaching the fairytale Erawan Waterfalls an hour later (400 Baht, approx Â£8 entrance fee paid locally). The waterfall cascades over seven different levels, with a staggering total height of 1500m. You'll reach the top of the falls, depending upon your walking speed, in about 1Â½ hours. Your efforts will be instantly rewarded, as you take in your enchanting location. You'll see sparkling waterpools in light blue basins against a backdrop of limestone rocks, in which the water has carved out a sort of cave. You'll have a few hours of free time by the waterfall to wander around wide-eyed or take a plunge in the shimmering pool.
The guide will then leave you at your hotel in Kanchanburi, which has a swimming pool in case you fancy a dip. You'll have enough time to visit the JEATH War Museum and the moving memorial dedicated to the victims of the infamous Burma Death Railway.
Kanchanaburi - Ayutthaya
Today, you'll take a minibus transfer to atmospheric Ayutthaya. This will take approximately three hours. Your friendly driver will drop you at Uncle Pan's Bungalows, where you'll stay for the night. The afternoon is free, allowing you to explore the historical city at your own pace.
Ayutthaya is a fascinatingly beautiful World Heritage Site. In the 12th century, this was one of the most important kingdoms in Southeast Asia- a huge network of palaces, temples, spectacular junks and royal elephants eating from gold bowls. Eventually, the city lost its power and the temples were ransacked during the war with Burma. In the evening we'll arrange for you a sunset tuk-tuk tour around the city, watch as the sun sets over the temples and ruins of this magnificent city.
Ayutthaya - Chiang Mai
Today, you can spend a few hours wandering wistfully amongst the mystical Khmer temples strewn around Ayutthaya. Wat Phra Si Samphet, Wat Mahatat and Wat Mongkol Bophit are some of the best known ruins, and are draped in history and heavy with mystery.You will often find yourself completely alone with plenty of time and space to daydream in these enthralling surroundings.
At about 5pm, you'll collect your luggage from the hotel and make your way to the railway station. You'll spend the night in a couchette on the overnight sleeper train to Chiang Mai. The couchette is comfortable and there is a good restaurant car onboard for your evening meal. You'll be gently rocked to sleep by the motion of the train as it weaves its way through the hills towards Chiang Mai.
This morning you arrive in Chiang Mai, the cultural capital of the North. You'll stay in a hotel with a swimming close to the city gates. It's not difficult to find something to do in Chiang Mai- there are plenty of options available. We can highly recommend a trip to Doi Suthep, a striking Buddhist temple 15km outside the city. It sits on the top of a 1600m mountain, towering over the landscape below. From here, you'll have a fantastic panorama of Chiang Mai and the surrounding mountains. The old temple is a sacred pilgrimage site and radiates with peaceful spirituality.
In the evening, you can take a walk to the lively night bazaar. The atmosphere is usually electric, and there is a huge amount of trading going on. You'll also find massage salons, restaurants, and even karaoke bars- a little something for everyone.
Jungle trek - Hill tribe stay
Today you'll begin your gentle two day trek in the breathtaking mountains surrounding Chiang Mai. At around 8am you'll be collected from your hotel and travel by minibus to the forestry elephant training camp to the north of Chiang Mai, where these magnificent beasts are taught to become proficient, trustworthy forestry workers. From the elephant training camp you'll walk through the jungle for an hour or so, to an Akha village. The Akha women wear colourful traditional dress and lots of large locally made jewellery. You'll be shown a nearby cave containing a mysterious white marble Buddha from Burma. After lunch, you'll travel further into the hills and jungle by sÄwngthÄew (converted pickup truck taxi). You'll hike the last section into a village of the Palong people, where your hosts will prepare a wonderful local meal for you. Your accommodation is simple - a small wooden hut, just like the villagers, with a mattress on the bamboo floor. A mosquito net is also provided.
Elephant trek - Chiang Mai
With a bit of luck the chickens scratching around the village will have laid some eggs for your breakfast. Afterwards you'll climb on your elephant for a 1Â½-hour journey through thick jungle, valleys and river crossings. Step by step, these impressive beasts negotiate their way on the difficult paths. High on their back you have a great view of the countryside, but keep an eye out for stray branchesâ¦ you don't want a slap in the face!
The elephants will bring you to a riverside camp where a bamboo raft is prepared for you. You'll take your place on the raft and the helmsman, armed with a long pole, will float you peacefully down the river. On the way back to Chiang Mai you'll stop to visit an orchid farm, arriving back into Chiang Mai at about 6pm.
Chiang Mai Today is completely free for you to relax and explore more of Chiang Mai after your energetic trek. You can take Thai cooking lessons, visit the surrounding villages on a bike with a guide, and of course try a traditional Thai massage, which we certainly recommend after you've been trekking. Chiang Mai is less chaotic and has a milder climate compared to Bangkok, with temples and colourful markets as well as a laid-back atmosphere. You'll spend one more night in your hotel before beginning your journey south to the islands.
Chiang Mai - Surat Thani You can make the most of the hotel pool until the late afternoon, when the time comes to head to the airport. We'll book a daytime flight back to Bangkok. When you arrive in the capital, you'll make your own way from the airport to Hualamphong Railway Station (photo left). Leave plenty of time for this transfer, as during the Bangkok rush hour it can take almost an hour.
Then, at about 7:30pm, your overnight train leaves for Surat Thani, the gateway to Southern Thailand. The journey will takes around 11 hours. You'll stay in a comfortable couchette, and you can stock up on snacks at the station. You'll be awoken by the train staff about an hour before you arrive in Surat Thani, giving you time to grab a coffee before your arrival.
Surat Thani - Khao Sok
When you arrive, you'll be met at the railway station and driven to Racha Praba Lake. Any luggage that you don't need for the lake will be taken straight to the lodge where you'll stay tomorrow. You'll need only an overnight pack for your floating cabin stay. Your Khao Sok trip includes all meals, and you'll have an English-speaking guide to lead you through the park. From the lakeside, a longtail boat will take you past spectacular rock formations that thrust up from the lake. An hour later, you'll arrive at your floating bamboo cabins in an idyllic location far from modernity as we know it. Sleeping mats, sheets, blankets, and towels will be provided. The lake is also your bath, so simply shampoo your hair and jump in! You'll have your own inflatable tube to float lazily about on the water. After lunch, you'll take a walk through the thick jungle, alongside bamboo shoots and giant trees. Then, you'll sit back and enjoy the sunset from the jetty by your floating bungalow. A wonderful dinner will be waiting for you.
This morning, you'll wake up to the exotic sounds of the jungle. Each bungalow has its own canoe, and after breakfast you'll paddle along the jungly shores in search of monkeys and other animals. Lunch will be served after your canoe trip. After lunch, you can either take a walk further into the rainforest or head for a hidden lagoon. The choice will depend largely upon the weather. From the dense greenery you'll hear the rising calls of monkeys and toucans. Later in the afternoon, you'll be taken deeper into the Khao Sok National Park by longtail boat. This will take about an hour. You'll be met on the shore and taken even further into the tropical wilderness. You'll soon come across the jungle bungalows, where the rest of your baggage awaits you. There is plenty of time to get settled into your bungalow, which has a private bathroom. There's no hot water, but in such high temperatures a hot shower will be the last thing you'll want. You can spend a while taking in your fabulously remote setting. Later you'll dine by the river, surrounded by lush mountains and the manifold sounds of the forest.
After breakfast you'll set off with your guide on a fascinating walk. You'll explore the tropical rainforest, and your guide will tell you all about the surrounding vegetation and wildlife. On the way, you'll enjoy a hearty lunch (included), served in a beautiful spot next to a river a waterfall. In the early evening, you'll return to your hut, weary but happy. On your peaceful veranda, you can mull over your experiences against a background of jungle murmurs. Find a good place to watch the sunset and make sure you have that camera handyâ¦
Khao Sok - Trang - Ko Hai
This morning you leave the Khao Sok National Park. We'll arrange a private transfer for you from your hotel to Pak Meng pier, just outside Trang, and from here you'll take the short 45 minute boat over to Ko Hai. There are far fewer travellers in this area of Thailand, giving you a truly authentic Thai experience.
You'll stay in very comfortable bungalows, constructed in Thai style. Each bungalow has its own veranda, where you can stretch out and enjoy the peace of laid back island life. The bungalows lie directly on a beautiful long beach, and not far from the shore you can swim among the underwater coral gardens.
Today you are completely free to enjoy the carefree atmosphere of the beach. If you are eager to explore, you can grab a snorkel and discover the amazing underwater world. As the islands of the Trang archipelago are far from the tourist trail, the coral here is unspoilt and vividly coloured. If you've never snorkelled before, you'll be amazed at the beauty you'll see just under the surface. The rainbow myriads of exotic fish and the stillness of their environment make this an absolutely unforgettable experience. The water temperature is around a lovely 27Â°C. Don't forget to use plenty of sunscreen when snorkelling, or even better wear a t-shirt.
Alternatively, you can follow in the footsteps of a near forgotten people- the sea nomads. In bygone days, the sea nomads were the largest group of people in this region. They earned their living by harvesting and selling valuable swallow nests found locally in the hidden lagoons. They still collect the nests today, using exactly the same fishing and boat building techniques. They spend less time at sea these days, and can be found in the villages. It is fascinating to hear about their heritage.
Ko Hai - Ko MuukToday you'll leave Ko Hai and transfer across to the pristine island of Ko Muuk. You can organise this very easily locally and the friendly staff on Ko Hai will be on hand to help. Ko Muuk is another tiny tropical paradise of golden sands, emerald greenery and azure waters. You'll stay at a lovely beach resort, consisting of several small bungalows on a stunning beach that stretches for 200m. You'll spend two nights here so there's plenty of time to relax on the beach, or stroll to island village.
Ko MuukOne of the highlights to our Thailand trip was a trip to the Emerald Cave on Ko Muuk,and you can ask reception to arrange this for you. You'll visit the cave where it's possible to swim down the 80 meter limestone tunnel and into a wonderful lagoon. There is a white sand beach which is encircled by tall limestone cliffs. Simply magnificent !
Return to Bangkok
Today, you'll make your own way back to the mainland and take a taxi to the airport at Trang. The short flight back to Bangkok takes around 1Â½ hours, and marks the end of this fantastic itinerary.
As most intercontinental flights leave Bangkok in the afternoon or evening, we'll try to arrange your connecting flight home on the same day (day 18). However, if this connection is not possible, we can easily arrange an extra night in Bangkok for you (additional cost), where you can indulge in some last minute shopping.
- Inclusions -
- Accommodation with breakfast, transport, English speaking guide, some extra meals as described in the daily itinerary
- Exclusions -
- International flights,drinks and extra meals, excursions and entrance fees not listed in the daily itinerary
- Extras -
- When to go? The best time of year to take this holiday is November until the end of June, when rainfall is at its lowest. From July until October, the rainy season hits the Trang Archipelago, and it often rains for a few hours at the end of every day. During this period tourism also slows down, making the resorts very peaceful indeed.
This is not a group tour and can be tailor made to create your perfect trip. We can play around with your itinerary until we get it just right.
Couldn't find what you're looking for? Check out more tours & excursions in Bangkok
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Email the tour operator - Thailand Travel Plans Choice
Important Notice : Avoiding Fraud
It's rare, but some helpful hints to watch out for with regards to fraud:
- It is important to NEVER wire funds or use/employ other fund transfer mechanisms such as western union: Always use a credit card to protect yourself against fraud. If owners pressure you into providing a deposit or refuse to accept credit cards, there is a high probability that this is a scam.
- If at all suspicious of fraud, ask to see their website, or any other literature they can provide or send to you. Ask them for contact details for guests who have previously stayed on their property insisting on telephone numbers. Be suspicious of emails that originate from free email services (yahoo, hotmail, gmail, etc)
- Research the property thoroughly on the internet to see if there is any history or mention of scams associated with the property.