Expertly guided from start to finish for never more than 16 guests, our expert Thai Trip Leader will show you more of the history, culture and tribal villages of this exotic and friendly land. And every night, you’ll delight in our handpicked hotels and resorts – even your own private floating villa on the River Kwai.
Day 1 - Welcome to Bangkok
On arrival, you’ll be warmly greeted and escorted to the deluxe Eastin Grand Hotel Sathorn.
Day 2 - Tour the Grand Palace
Your morning tour begins with the glittering halls and pavilions of the magnificent Grand Palace, including Coronation Hall and the Royal Guest House. At Wat Phra Kaew, home to the famed Emerald Buddha, you’ll discover one of Thailand’s most venerated Buddhist temples. Continue to Wat Pho, one of the city’s largest temples. In addition to being one of the country’s oldest institutions of learning, this spectacular complex is home to beautiful murals, ornate architectural detail and an enormous 150-foot long gilded image of a reclining Buddha. Your guided touring ends with an excursion along Bangkok’s famous Klongs; venturing out in a traditional long-tail speed boat is a delightful way to experience the sights and sounds of life along the city’s bustling canals. Then step off at the Temple of Dawn and have lunch at the Supatra River House. The rest of your afternoon is free to relax, shop and explore as you wish. Dine this evening at your hotel. Meals B+L+D
Day 3 - Remarkable Markets + On to Kanchanaburi
Leaving the busy capital behind, our first stop this morning will be Thailand’s famous Railway Track Market. Here you’ll be amazed by the sight of local merchants who come daily to set up their stalls along 100 yards of train track! Up to 8 times per day, vendors and shoppers alike have to scramble fast to avoid the passing trains. This is an active rail network, so you’ll have to pay close attention to your guide and surroundings! Continuing into Ratchburi Province, we’ll visit the floating market at Damnoen Saduak, one of the country’s busiest and most colorful. Hundreds of vendors ply the canals in their traditional wooden boats selling everything from tropical fruits and produce to daily staples and even souvenirs.
Then journey into the lush forests of Kanchanaburi Province, the site of the infamous Bridge over the River Kwai – immortalized in book and film. Begin your exploration here at the Thailand-Burma Railway Center and then visit the Allied Cemetery to learn more about the thousands of prisoners of war who lost their lives during the construction of the Bridge and the Death Railway.
You’ll have a chance to see the world-famous bridge before traveling by boat to the Float House River Kwai. Here on the edge of the gently flowing river against a forested mountain backdrop, you’ll check in to your unique and spacious floating villa. Take some time to enjoy your private terrace on the river and the extraordinary setting of our evocative resort. Later this afternoon, rejoin your guide to venture by boat through spectacular river gorges into the jungle to visit a Mon tribal village. Enjoy dinner and a performance of Mon music and dance at our resort before retiring to your floating room. Meals B+L+D
Day 4 – Sai Yoke Yai National Park + The Infamous Death Railway
Lush forests of evergreens, bamboo, teak and other deciduous trees cover the slopes that rise steeply from the banks of the River Kwai. This is the captivating scenery that will surround you on our morning expedition upriver into Sai Yoke Yai National Park. The wildlife here can be elusive and the tropical vegetation is thick and lush – making the wildlife hard to spot. But with good luck and sharp eyes, you might observe some of the Park’s denizens including macaques, large sambar deer, gibbon and even elephants! We’ll cruise all the way to the lovely Sai Yoke Yai Waterfall before returning to shore for lunch.
In the afternoon, you’ll board the Death Railway at the River Kwai Bridge Station. As you make the journey toward Nam Tok, you’ll discover some of the region’s most spectacular scenery. Captivating though these landscapes are, this rail adventure also offers a powerful look into World War II history. In particular, as the train makes its way through rocky gorges dug at the cost of numerous POW lives and over the original wooden viaducts that hug the steep cliff walls, you’ll gain a very personal understanding of this tragic chapter of the War. Meals B+L+D
Day 5 - Ayutthaya #WHS# + Phitsanulok
After breakfast, you’ll embark on a scenic journey through the fertile farmlands and jungle-clad mountains that lie along Thailand’s eastern border with Myanmar. Our destination this morning is Ayutthaya c, where vast ruins bear witness to the splendor of the ancient kingdom of Siam that flourished from 1350 until 1767. Here in this erstwhile royal capital, you’ll delve into fascinating history and explore fabulous ruins including Wat Phra Sri Sanphet. This was the holiest temple on the site of the ancient Royal Palace and its still intact stupas attest to Ayutthaya’s former glory!
After lunch, you’ll continue on to Phitsanulok to visit Wat Yai, beloved for its golden statue of Buddha. Then check in to the Pattara Resort here in Phitsanulok with time to refresh before dinner. Later this evening, set out in a traditional samlor to visit the city’s bustling and exotic Night Market. Filled with everything from souvenir t-shirts to exotic tropical fruits, the energetic and colorful Phitsanulok market is famous – or infamous! – for its wide variety of edible insects that the adventurous may wish to try! Meals B+L+D
Day 6 – Phitsanulok + Sukhothai #WHS# + Chiang Mai
Check out after breakfast and travel to Sukhothai, the venerated first capital of the Kingdom. Recognized as a World Heritage Site, its fabulous ruins date back to the 13th century. With our expert guide, we’ll explore this evocative archaeological site set in a tropical landscape of sweeping lawns, waterways and forests. We’ll also explore the lively historical center of the nearby town of Sukhothai to learn about its thriving arts scene that includes everything from traditional ceramics to vibrant street art.
After lunch, continue overland to Chiang Mai. Embraced for its beauty as the Rose of the North, it’s beloved by the Thai people for its long heritage of art, culture and deep spirituality. This evening’s Khantoke Dinner features the region’s Lanna-style cuisine and the music and dance of the northern hill tribes. Enjoy two nights at the lovely U Chiang Mai Hotel. Meals B+L+D
Day 7 – In and Around Chiang Mai
This morning we’ll take you into the countryside to spend time with local farmers. Learn the many steps of rice cultivation as practiced for centuries throughout the region, and even try your hand at planting this important staple. Then sit down to a delightful al fresco lunch surrounded by sweeping rural vistas and rice paddies. In the afternoon, we’ll hop aboard a traditional Songthaew, a popular form of local transport, and travel deeper into the countryside. Spending time at a White Hmong village offers an intimate look into their daily life – and how it has changed since the Thai Royal Family introduced initiatives to eradicate opium cultivation and replace it with other sustainable agriculture. Next we’ll visit the lavish Doi Suthep Temple; set on a hill top at an elevation of 3,500 feet, this venerated complex offers spectacular views of Chiang Mai and the surrounding valleys.
This evening, our guests will enjoy a very special cultural encounter at Wat Suan Dok. Dating back to the 14th century when it was built by a local King as a retreat for a revered monk from Sukhothai, this historic complex is now home to Buddhist meditation center. Engaging with the resident monks offers enriching, personal insight into their daily life, cultural traditions and the meditation techniques they practice daily. Meals B+L
Day 8 - Chiang Dao Caves + Chiang Rai
Join Chiang Mai residents early this morning as they "gain merit" with food offerings to young saffron-robed monks walking silently through the city streets; its an ancient ritual that offers rich insight into an enduring facet of Buddhist culture. After breakfast, youll travel into the lushly forested, mountain landscapes of Chiang Dao National Park where an experienced guide will show you the impressive stalactites, stalagmites and other geological formations of the Chiang Dao Caves. Venerated for centuries by local residents, the entrance to these caverns is marked by statues and other Buddhist offerings. In a nearby hill tribe village, youll experience the daily life and cultural traditions of the Hmong people. Then continue on to the Legend Chiang Rai, our enchanting resort overlooking the Mae Kok River. Meals B+L+D
Day 9 - Hill Tribes + Temples
After breakfast, we’ll take you deeper into the rolling countryside outside of town to spend time with Akha villagers, whose ancestors originated in Tibet. Then at Baan Dam, you’ll discover an extraordinary complex created by Thawan Duchanee, a famous 20th century Thai artist. Built around a large wooden temple, you’ll tour other structures exhibiting his unique artwork. After lunch at a local restaurant, you’ll visit Wat Rong Suea Ten, renowned for its magnificent blue interior, colorful murals and an immense white Buddha image. Your sightseeing ends at the unusual Wat Rong Khun. Also known as the White Temple, this contemporary, extravagantly embellished Buddhist and Hindu complex was designed by the famous Thai artist Chalermchai Kositpipat in 1997. Its white plaster walls are embedded with pieces of glass, so that the structures sparkle brilliantly in the sunlight. Then return to your luxury hotel where the evening is free to enjoy and dine as you wish. Meals B+L
Day 10 - Into the Golden Triangle
Venturing over land and by long-tail boat is a delightful way to explore the tranquil and pastoral beauty of the Golden Triangle, where the borders of Burma, Laos and Thailand come together. The region, of course, was once infamous as the center of Southeast Asia’s poppy cultivation and the opium trade. Now you’ll find farmers growing a variety of food crops and residents selling souvenirs and handicrafts from small shops along the road. Ascend to a hilltop vantage point for sweeping views over the countryside and then hop aboard a traditional long-tail boat for a delightful excursion along the lovely Mekong River. Then explore Chiang Saen, a charming riverside town rich with historical artifacts including temple carvings and ancient Buddhist statues. Return to our hotel in Chiang Rai where the rest of this afternoon and evening are yours to enjoy. Meals B+L
Day 11 – Fly Back to Bangkok
After breakfast, we’ll take you to the airport for your included flight to Bangkok. Upon arrival, you’ll be met and escorted once again to the deluxe Eastin Grand Hotel Sathorn. Meals B
Day 12 - Depart Bangkok
You’ll be escorted to the airport today for your onward flight. Meals B