Travel Partner: ATJ
Duration | 13 Days
Destination | Thailand
Starting Price | $14, 471
This iconic itinerary through Thailand recreates the spirit that first attracted global travelers to this sublime corner of Southeast Asia. This journey resurrects that spirit, embodying a masterful synthesis of iconic sights and unique, immersive, cultural experiences. A magical and gentle land, Thailand offers rich diversity: traditional Buddhist culture, exotic hilltribes, lively arts, exciting nightlife, upscale shopping, deserted islands, lush rainforests and one of the world’s greatest cuisines. From Bangkok’s glittering high rises and dazzling temples, to subdued Chiang Rai and Chiang Mai and the pristine beaches of the South, there are aspects of this beautiful country to suit every taste. Hike between hilltribe villages, soak up city live snorkel crystal-clear waters. Join locals in temples and monasteries and learn about Buddhist traditions directly from friendly monks. Cruise along rivers or explore the majestic ruins of ancient civilizations. A fascinating contrast of tradition and modernity, Buddhist and animist rituals, cities and countryside, Thailand still holds the same fascination that has attracted curious travelers for many decades. No matter what side of Thailand you explore, the gentle allure of the people is sure to entrance you. Known as the “Land of Smiles,” Thailand really is Asia at its most accessible and welcoming.
Welcome to Thailand! On arrival in Hanoi today a Fast Track Arrival service has been arranged thus ensuring your expedited processing through arrival formalities including Immigration and Customs, which will ensure a much quicker arrival.
Upon entering the Arrival Hall meet your private, English-speaking guide from ATJ and transfer to your riverside hotel for check-in with the remainder of the evening at your leisure.
This morning is free to enjoy a leisurely breakfast before reconvening with your English-speaking guide and departing on an afternoon of sightseeing. Today is planned as a relaxed day to explore a hidden part of Bangkok that few visitors ever get to see while simultaneously allowing to recover from the international flights.
Depart the hotel late morning and transfer by car to Nonthaburi, one of Bangkok’s most northerly suburbs. Transfer to a privately chartered long-tail motorboat for the journey up the River of Kings (Chao Phraya River) to the island community of Koh Kret which is a small, man-made island in the middle of the Chao Phraya River that is home to seven rural communities, all within sight of the Bangkok skyline.
Koh Kret’s inhabitants are mainly ethnic Mon people who have retained a distinct Buddhist cultural identity. They are also skilled pottery makers and visitors discover many examples of their beautiful work. Explore the island by bicycle or on foot, as there is virtually no traffic. Visit Koh Kret’s temples, the Tha-it mosque, kilns, pottery shops and local neighborhoods, and try local snacks and refreshments along the way. The island is also well known for its variety of special Thai sweets and the rural landscape makes for a picturesque upcountry-style experience.
Return to Nonthaburi by boat and continue back to the hotel by private car with the evening at leisure.
Following breakfast pick up from the hotel and depart on a full day exploration of the Thai capital. The epitome of a modern Asian city, Bangkok is a great introduction to Thai culture, history, art and religion. Today enjoy the opportunity to explore the rich treasures within the river front temples and palaces, and to wander through the active markets and streets.
First, travel on the River of Kings for a visit to the Pak Klong Dalat Flower Market. Then, continue to the Grand Palace, where an English governess tutored a young prince and may have influenced his powerful father. (The Thai people have enormous reverence for their royal family, and both versions of “The King and I” are banned as an insult to one of their great rulers.) The highlight of this mind-and-eye boggling spectacle is the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, the most revered shrine in the Kingdom.
Next to the Grand Palace is Wat Po, one of Bangkok’s oldest and largest temples. The temple houses the gigantic goldplated Reclining Buddha and is the headquarters for the Traditional Medicine Practitioners of Bangkok. After lunch, continue exploring Bangkok’s fascinating maze of waterways by longtail and rocket boats. The journey goes through the heart of the city, passing towering skyscrapers and the elegant Temple of Dawn, and into bucolic canals where life is slower and simpler. Stop at a neighborhood monastery to learn about Thai Buddhism and at an old wooden schoolhouse where the kids delight in visitors.
Return to the hotel late this afternoon with the remainder of the evening at leisure.
After breakfast check out of the hotel and transfer to the airport for the flight north to Thailand’s famous Golden Triangle.
On arrival in Chiang Rai early this afternoon immediately depart on the hour long journey into the deep countryside of the Golden Triangle, named as such because of the location at the confluence of the Thai, Lao and Myanmar borders, forming a geographic triangle, and the area’s notorious past as the opium capital of the world.
Arriving at the incomparable Four Seasons Tented Camp settle into your private, luxury, safari-style tent with the remainder of the afternoon and evening at leisure. Late in the day gather with other guests and enjoy sunset cocktails at the Burma Bar, followed by wine and canapes in the Wine Cellar, before a memorable dinner at the resorts Nong Yao Restaurant.
All stays at the Four Seasons Tented Camp include the following amenities and experiences:
Today continue to explore and enjoy the Golden Triangle. Spend the day exploring the wonders of the Mekong River, learning to train and drive an elephant, and trekking into the jungles. Return to your tent at Four Seasons Tented Camp followed by cocktails and dinner to top off the perfect day.
Following breakfast depart Chiang Rai on a full day, overland journey Chiang Mai stopping along the way to explore based on the suggestions of your private English-speaking guide.
Drive to the Kok River and board a longtail boat for the short trip to the Karen Village of Ban Ruammit. Stop at the village of Ban Mae Kampong, which is situated in a mountainous area with jungle surroundings, rich in biodiversity. Some of the more well-known plant species are forest-tea orchards and the terrestrial wild orchid that has been domesticated for sale. The community forest in Ban Mae Kampong was established in 1993. It covers an area of one square kilometer, serves as a source of non-timber forest products and is the campsite for ecotourism.
A nearby attraction is a small waterfall which originates from the natural stream in Ban Mae Kampong. It is divided into seven levels and offers spectacular views of the mountain range from a top. Access each level of the waterfall by a designated trail for those interested in some hiking.
Arriving in Chiang Mai late this afternoon transfer to the The Dhara Dhevi Chiang Mai located a short distance from downtown Chiang Mai for check-in with the remainder of the evening at leisure.
Founded in the 13th century, Chiang Mai has long played a role in Thai history. Currently a flourishing cultural and economic center, this is a city in transition. Historically influenced by Thai, Burmese, Lao and hill tribe forces, its culture reflects an exotic blend of styles.
Following breakfast, meet your English-speaking guide and depart on an in-depth and full day exploration of Chiang Mai. Begin the day with a visit to the Chiang Mai Gate Market, a traditional fresh-foods market where one can sample some typical Thai snacks. At the market area one will see the monks making their morning alms rounds to gather food for their only meal of the day. Then proceed to the riverfront Warorot Market, with its colorful flowers, pungent spices and friendly, bustling crowds. Stroll the alley next to the market, filled with textiles, hill tribe clothes, silks, hats and beads.
Next it is off to Tha Pae Gate, one of the four original city gates, where you will change transportation. Enjoy a samlor, or trishaw, which is similar to a tricycle but much larger. These pedaled trishaws 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.
Then spend the afternoon visiting some of Chiang Mai’s most famous and important temples—Wat Chiang Man, Wat Phra Singh and Wat Chedi Luang, with the opportunity to meet and speak with a local monk about Buddhism and his experiences in the monastery. You can stop briefly at each of these temples to learn about their importance to the local people and historical significance or spend more time based on your interests.
End the day with Chiang Mai’s most famous landmark—Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep, the temple located on the 1,676-meter high Doi Suthep. Climb the 300-step staircase, flanked by Nagas, or take the cable-car up. With clear weather, the views are wonderful, especially in the late afternoon.
Afterwards transfer back to the hotel with the remainder of the evening at leisure.
For visits to Chiang Mai during the weekend it is recommended to venture to the Chiang Mai walking street (Thanon Kon Dern) to find Chiang Mai at its best. Every Sunday from 15:00 to 22:00 the road is closed and full of merchants selling an enormous variety of articles, crafts and any merchandise one can imagine. There is live music, people painting portraits and traditional massage. It is a wonderful atmosphere and should not to be missed, given the opportunity.
Following breakfast reconvene with your English-speaking guide and transfer to the outskirts of the city and enjoy a leisurely, morning bicycle journey along the Ping River over quiet, narrow roads and through local fruit orchards, rice paddies and small villages. Occasionally stop to visit temples, markets, traditional northern Thai houses and a local Thai school. The journey will end at the seldom visited ruins of Viang Khum Kaam, which some consider to be the ancient city on which Chiang Mai was built. Alternatively, for those not interested in bicycling, alternative sightseeing and experiences are available based on interests and suggestions from your personal, English-speaking guide.
Return to the resort for lunch and a chance to freshen up. Then transfer to a rural suburb of Chiang Mai for a unique cultural and culinary experience. The Lan Na culture of Northern Thailand is considered the zenith of Thai culture. Spend that afternoon and early evening hours visiting the Raunkawe-Yanon family, who arrived in the region almost 150 years ago and most likely on elephant back, in their traditional teak home surrounded by gardens and orchards from which they grow their own fruits, vegetables, herbs and spices. Proud of their heritage and family this Lan Na family is determined to share the traditions of their forefathers in an ever changing and modernizing world.
Here visitors will learn about the Lan Na culture, their way of living and the history of the Lan Na-style architecture which is now synonymous with Thai-style throughout the world. Cook together as a family and create traditional dishes with authentic northern Thai flavors. Best of all, enjoy the opportunity to get to know a real Thai family and be honored house guests for the day and enjoy a delicious home-cooked dinner before returning to the resort with the remainder of the evening at leisure.
This morning is free to enjoy breakfast, the resort and some free time before transferring to the airport for the flight south to Phuket. Early this afternoon check out of the hotel and transfer to the airport.
On arrival transfer by private car to the beautiful COMO Point Yamu resort located on Phuket’s east coast overlooking stunning Phang Nga Bay.
Today is free to relax and enjoy the resort. Alternatively, several unique and remarkable excursions can be arranged depending on one’s interest including spending the day boating and kayaking through the limestone islands of Phang Nga Bay.
The azure blue waters and white sand beaches of Phuket have been attracting visitors for decades but there is also a unique history to the island which will be enjoyed this morning for an in-depth walking exploration of Old Phuket Town. On this one of a kind tour wander and explore the streets of Old Phuket Town which was first established during the mid-19th century. when tin was discovered on the island resulting in the construction of colorful 19th-century Sino-Portuguese shophouses and buildings. Spend the morning (or afternoon) walking through the streets of Old Phuket with an expert guide, observing local daily life. Visit local shrines where the guide will explain how locals pay their respects to the spirits as well as visit traditional herbal medicine-shops and pharmacies. The town’s old quarter is full of the historic Chinese shop houses as well as old-style barber shop. Parts of Phuket’s Old Town seem almost to be frozen in time: the printing shops, the old Indian cloth sellers; the hardware stores and Chinese apothecaries – all seem to be from another age. Enjoy lunch (or dinner) of Muslim style roti, Chinese street-noodles, a cuisine brought here by Hokkien immigrants in the 19th century. or maybe enjoy dinner in one of the area’s best restaurants such as Raya.
Return to the hotel this afternoon with the remainder of the day at leisure.
Your Thailand journey ends today. Your driver will depart, three and half hours prior to your international flight, for Phuket Airport.
Prices are per person, based on two people sharing. Room categories, dates of travel and changes to services will affect the price. Dollar conversions shown (if applicable) will fluctuate throughout the year. Contact the Andrew Harper Travel Office to customize this itinerary to fit your needs.
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