Welcome to the Land of Smiles! Your trip begins with a transfer to your hotel and welcome meeting at 6pm. If you arrive early, take the chance to explore the city. Take a trip to Chinatown and explore the crowded streets, visit the famous Khao San Road, where you can sample some street food. Optional activities include a Tuk Tuk or cycling tour for an additional cost.
Today you’ll delve into Thailand’s chaotic capital, starting with a cruise down the Chao Phraya River. Take in the city’s sights from the water and sail along the maze-like khlongs (canals). Back on land, you’ll visit the famous Grand Palace, which was once home to Thai royalty and boasts a collection of ornate temples, statues and gardens. A highlight is Wat Phra Kaew, the most sacred Buddhist temple in the country which houses the Emerald Buddha.
Take the rest of the afternoon to explore independently, relax, shop or have a traditional Thai Massage. A private minibus will take you on the two-and-a-half-hour journey to Kanchanaburi, a town set in the beautiful Thai countryside surrounded by mountains, rivers, rice fields and home to the infamous Bridge on the River Kwai.
Kanchanaburi - The River Kwai
Learn about Kanchanaburi’s moving WWII history and its Death Railway, so-called because an estimated 240,000 Asian labourers and allied prisoners of war died while constructing it. You’ll visit the excellent Hellfire Pass Memorial, one of the most difficult stretches of the Thai-Burma Railway where men were forced to cut through rock 18-metres deep. Often, they worked into the night by the light of ‘hellish’ fires, many dying in the process.
Pay your respects at the Kanchanaburi War Cemetery and board the train at Nam Tok station to ride along the historic tracks of the original death railway. The journey will take you through spectacular countryside and across the Bridge over the River Kwai. After your day of exploring, relax in town and explore the rows of street vendors and take in views of the bridge illuminated by night.
Travel four hours by private minibus away from Kanchanaburi to Ayuthaya, once considered to be the second capital of the Siamese Kingdom. After lunch you will travel to the Historical Park which is rich in ancient temples, historical ruins and Buddha statues. You will visit the sites of Wat Yai Chai Mongkol, Wat Maha That and Wat Panun Choeng, all beautiful different Buddhist temples.
Sukhothai, which means ‘dawn of happiness’, is famous for its UNESCO-listed historic park stuffed with temples and ruins. The city was established in the 13th century and is one of Thailand’s most historic sites. Start the day by taking a traditional songthaew (Tuk Tuk taxi) to the train station where you will board a day train to Phitsanuloke (approx. 5 hours). Upon arrival you will take a minivan for an hour and a half to Sukhothai, the historic capital of Siam, stopping at Wat Yai Phitsanuloke along the way. Once you have arrived enjoy some free time.
This morning you will visit the historical ruins of Old Sukhothai set amongst beautiful lakes and gardens. The religious art and architecture of the Sukhothai era are considered to be the most classic of Thai styles. Tour the grounds by bicycle to learn about Sukhothai’s fascinating history and discover the remains of 21 archaeological treasures set among gardens and lakes. Look out for religious art typical of that era, Buddha statues and ponds filled with lotus flowers. After the tour, enjoy a delicious lunch followed by some free time in the afternoon before heading to a local house for a Thai style cooking class. Learn how to cook some traditional food from the Sukhothai region such as chilli pastes, fragrant curries, spicy soups, steamed fish cakes and Thai custard before sharing them out amongst the group.
Breakfast, lunch and dinner included.
Hmong Hilltribe Lodge
A mini-van will take you on a 4-and-a-half-hour journey north to the Hmong Hilltribe Lodge, which is set in a forested valley surrounded by a mountain range. Take in the sights and sounds of the jungle, look out for wildlife and marvel at the misty mountain views. This traditional lodge belongs to the Hmong people, a Thai ethnic group who originated from Southern China. Rooms are simple, rustic and blend with the environment, including an open-air dining area where you’ll enjoy a barbeque dinner and watch a cultural performance which depicts a traditional wedding ceremony, makong (cotton ball) throwing and a shamanic ritual.
Breakfast and dinner included
Chiang Mai is a cultural hub known for its art and culture scene, orange-robed monks and walled Old Town, which is surrounded by a moat. Transfer by private vehicle for one and a half hours to the vibrant city. The city is dotted with over 300 stunning temples, late afternoon you’ll take a trip up to the most impressive, Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, which sits on top of Suthep mountain and offers fantastic views over Chiang Mai. Walk up the 300-step staircase, guarded by dragon-like creatures called naga, to the golden temple at the top where you can light some incense and listen to Buddhist monks chant.
Today you will the ChangChill elephant experience where you will learn about how the organisation supports the protection, conservation and lifestyle of free roaming elephants in the region. You will observe their daily patterns, see how they graze and socialise with each other followed by a live lecture from the local expert guide. Enjoy lunch and refreshments being careful not to get sprayed by the mud from the elephants in the mud pit. On your way back to Chiang Mai you will stop by the Kaomai Estate 1955 café for a coffee, this eclectic tobacco factory turned café has received a Cultural Heritage Conservation for New Design accreditation from UNESCO. In the evening enjoy a final meal together with the group in town and celebrate an unforgettable experience.
Breakfast, lunch and dinner included.
There are no activities planned for the day and you can depart the accommodation at any time.