Itinerary Details: 12 days/11 nights
Day 1: Bangkok Arrival
Welcome to Bangkok! Upon exiting customs, meet our representative and transfer to your hotel. Bangkok, the capital of Thailand, is a bustling and vibrant city of contrasts. Evening at leisure and overnight in Bangkok.
Day 2: Bangkok
In the morning, depart Bangkok for Samut Songkhram province to explore the rural Maeklong Railway Market. The nickname of the market, Talad Rom Hoop, roughly translates to closing an umbrella. As the name Maeklong Railway Market suggests, part of the market is situated on the railway. Every morning until late in the evening, this market springs to life selling a variety of fresh fruits, vegetables, meat, seafood, snacks, clothes and accessories. However, what makes the market unique and exciting is the fact that a train will run through the market eight times a day, every day of the week. As soon as the siren signals the arrival of the train, everything stops. Shoppers will hop off the tracks and vendors will quickly pack their goods and prepare to close/retract their awnings from the train tracks.
Continue to Tha Kha Floating Market (depending on opening days alternatively Damnoen Saduak Floating Market). View traditional Thai houses and the way locals live and travel by boats. You will also visit Nakorn Pathom, site of the highest Chedi in Thailand called “Phra Patom Chedi” which is the largest pagoda in Southeast Asia. Return to Bangkok for an afternoon at leisure.
ST's Hotel Recommendation
With just 24 rooms, Ariyasom Villa specializes in the guest experience. The heritage hotel was converted from a 1940's family residence and is brimming with authentic Thai touches like teak floors and silk drapes.
Day 3: Bangkok – Ayutthaya - Bangkok
Today, enjoy a full-day tour of Ayutthaya. Be introduced to Ayutthaya's rich historical and architectural heritage, starting at Bang Pa-In Summer Palace and temple ruins of the 14th and 16th centuries. You will then embark on the Grand Pearl Cruise for the return journey to Bangkok. A lunch buffet is included on the boat. Enjoy the nice scenery along the Chao Phraya riverbanks while cruising back to Bangkok downtown. Evening at leisure and overnight.
Day 4: Bangkok – Chiang Mai
Morning at leisure. Optional tours and activities available, including a traditional Thai cooking lesson. Visit the local markets to sample the fare, and then continue to a home-style learning environment. In the afternoon, transfer to the airport and fly to Chiang Mai. Upon arrival, transfer to your hotel. Chiang Mai is the largest and most culturally significant city in Northern Thailand. It has emerged as a leisure destination and attracts visitors from all over the world. Overnight in Chiang Mai.
Day 5: Chiang Mai
After breakfast, enjoy a temple tour. Drive up the serpentine road to the magnificently situated Wat Doi Suthep. Perched on a forested mountain, this most sacred Chiang Mai temple (3,280 ft) provides a superb view over the city, as well as a wealth of images and frescos. You will then pass the city's biggest market, Talat Warorod, before visiting two important temples - Wat Chedi Luang and Wat Phra Sing. In the evening, explore the popular night market. Overnight in Chiang Mai.
Day 6: Chiang Mai
Day at leisure. Optional: Spend an incredibly rewarding day assisting in the teaching of basic English in a Chiang Mai district rural school to enhance struggling academic programs and increase the students future professional opportunities. In the afternoon, after returning to your hotel, you will learn about exciting agricultural developments in the highland areas surrounding Chiang Mai city at the Teen Tok Royal Project located near the school in a beautiful mountain setting. Evening at leisure and overnight.
Day 7: Chiang Mai – Phuket
In the morning, transfer to the airport for your flight to Phuket. Upon arrival, transfer to your hotel. Phuket is Thailand's oldest island and was once on the major trading route between China and India. It is an oasis of clear waters, sandy beaches and a traditional Thai way of life. Optional excursions available, including a bike ride through the Northeast of Phuket Island, an area known for its small traditional Thai villages. You will also have an opportunity to visit Phuket's Gibbon Rehabilitation Center and see how gibbons are cared for before being released back in to the rainforest. Cycle on small country roads and bike off-road through palm, pineapple and rubber tree plantations along dirt tracts. Overnight.
Day 8: Phuket
Today, enjoy guided kayaking inside Phang Nga Hong with marine limestone karst islands, macaques, water monitors, kingfishers and Sea Eagles. Self-paddle through tunnels and lagoons. When darkness falls, the stars shine overhead in the circle of black night, fireflies flash in the cliffside jungle and, most of all, the sea glows with phosphorescence. Enjoy a spiritual ceremony with your own made Krathong before boarding the escort boat back to the land. A truly magical experience! Return to your hotel and overnight.
Day 9: Phuket – Khao Sok
In the morning, transfer to Khao Sok. Khao Sok is part of the largest area of tropical rainforest in southern Thailand. It connects with Klong Phanom and Si Phangnga national parks as well as Klong Naka and Klong Seng wildlife sanctuaries. Proceed to Phang Nga province passing small rural villages, rubber, and oil palm plantations. Explore the rivers that cut through the mangrove forest by dinghy with outboard motor (speed cat). There is a maze of channels between the island and along the coast. Emerging further along the coast, meet up with our classical Burmese junk where lunch will be served. Spend the afternoon on a deserted beach, swimming, relaxing or paddling canoes. The panoramic views of distant mangroves and banyan trees stretch to the horizon. Few people live in the area and little has changed here in hundreds of years. Cruising on the junk gives the feeling of traveling back in time when nature was untouched. Late afternoon transfer to Khao Sok for dinner and overnight at a luxury tented property.
Day 10: Khao Sok
When the sun comes up and clears the mist over the mountains and jungle, the gibbons start to make their morning territorial calls that echo down the valley. After breakfast, transfer to elephant camp where you will see, touch, and learn about Thai elephants and the conservation initiatives. Your guide will also explain about the life of the mahout, the man who takes care of the elephant. After lunch, take a jungle river canoe trip down the Sok River. Drift along the jungle river passing limestone mountains and cliffs covered with exotic tropical vegetation. Sometimes hornbill can be seen flying high overhead or reptiles basking in the sun on the riverbanks. Dinner and overnight at your resort.
Day 11: Khao Sok – Phuket
After breakfast, explore the jungle by foot! This is a great way to discover the ecology of the rainforest, to see a great variety of exotic plants, tropical hardwood trees with huge roots, orchids, palms, ferns, bamboos, mosses; the variety is unlimited. Weather permitting, lunch will be served in the rainforest cooked in bamboo, a tradition of jungle explorers for centuries past. In the afternoon, return to Phuket. Overnight in Phuket.
Day 12: Departure
Day at leisure. You will be transferred the airport for your onward flight. Bon Voyage!