Experience the natural and cultural diversity of Thailand, a country shaped by many influences. Explore the ancient sites of Bangkok, temples and night market in Chiang Mai, and beaches of Phuket. Also engage with elephants in Khao Sok and learn Thai cuisine in a home-style learning environment.
Welcome to Bangkok! Bangkok is Thailand’s capital and known for ornate shrines and vibrant street life. The boat-filled Chao Phraya River feeds its network of canals, flowing past the Rattanakosin royal district, home to the opulent Grand Palace and the sacred Wat Phra Kaew Temple. Overnight.
With just 24 rooms, Ariyasomvilla 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.
After breakfast, explore the amazing tastes and sights of Bangrak, A.K.A. Village of Love, the century-old culinary neighborhood. The 3.5-hour signature tour combines delectable food tasting with off-the-beat sightseeing. This tour is a delicious and fun way to explore Bangkok just like a local. As you journey along, you will meet and engage with restaurant owners, sample their generations-old artisanal recipes, and visit fascinating local attractions hidden away from major tourist path. Not only you will get full exposure to the Thai gastronomic tradition but your visit will also be a great support to local community.
In the afternoon, explore the highlights of Bangkok. This tour includes three of the most unusual Buddhist temples in Bangkok: Wat Traimit with its invaluable Golden Buddha; Wat Po, the most extensive temple in Bangkok, with its colossal Reclining Buddha; and the Chedis of the Kings.
The Grand Palace is one of the most beautiful samples of an ancient Siamese court. It used to be the residence of the Kings of Thailand. Here you will see palaces which were used for different occasions: Funeral Palace, Reception Palace, Throne Hall, Coronation Hall, Royal Guest House, and the beautiful Emerald Buddha Temple. Evening at leisure and overnight.
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 scenery along the Chao Phraya riverbanks while cruising back to Bangkok. Evening at leisure and overnight.
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 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.
After lunch, transfer to the airport for your flight to Chiang Mai. Upon arrival, transfer to your hotel. The former seat of the Lanna Kingdom, Chiang Mai is considered the cultural pulse of northern Thailand. Evening at leisure or you can explore the bustling Chiang Mai Night Market. Overnight.
In the morning, enjoy a cooking demonstration at Pantawan Cooking School. The program starts with a visit to the local market with the instructor. Return to your Thai-style classroom for further demonstrations before enjoying lunch in the garden.
In the afternoon, 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. Evening at leisure and overnight.
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, you will learn about exciting agricultural developments in the highland areas surrounding Chiang Mai at the Teen Tok Royal Project located near the school in a beautiful mountain setting. Return to Chiang Mai and overnight.
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.
Today, enjoy guided kayaking inside Phang Nga Bay with marine limestone karst islands, macaques, water monitors, kingfishers, and Sea Eagles. Be guided 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.
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 and 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.
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.
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 at leisure. You will be transferred the airport for your onward flight. Bon Voyage!