Engage with the locals on this lifestyle journey to the heart of Thailand. In addition to visiting the magnificent temples and ancient sites, you will make pottery with artisans, harvest rice at an organic farm, and make merit with monks. Also visit the Golden Triangle, where the borders of Thailand, Myanmar, and Laos meet.
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.
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 the hotel for lunch.
In the afternoon, tour 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. Overnight in Bangkok.
After breakfast, drive from Bangkok to Ayutthaya and explore this first capital of Thailand by Tuk Tuk (unique motorized 3-wheeler) to discover the magnificent ruins and ancient temples in the historical park. Stop to sample the traditional sweets and view Buddha's head entrapped by the roots of an overgrown banyan tree, an icon of Ayutthaya at Wat Maha Dhat.
Continue to Lopburi for lunch and visit Narai Raja Nives Palace, the Prang Sam Yod (Sacred Three-Spired Pagoda) and Monkey Temple. Then, continue to Phitsanulok and transfer to your hotel. After dinner, take a trishaw ride to explore the city night market. See the famous food vendors and sample the diversified delicacies. Overnight in Phitsanulok.
After breakfast, visit Wat Maha Dhat with Thailand's most beautiful Buddha image, Phra Buddha Jinaraj. Depart for Sukhothai, Thailand's first capital (1257-1379) and visit Sukhothai Historical Park. It was once a walled city surrounded by a moat and has been declared as World Heritage Site by UNESCO. The park contains almost 200 ruined chedis in remarkable condition.
Visit the Sangkhalok pottery village to see local artisans throwing and hand-painting dishes and other objects made in ancient kilns. You will have an opportunity to learn and practice your hand painting on the pottery dishes. Continue to Sri Satchanalai, a northern outpost town of the Kingdom of Sukhothai, built by King Ramkamhaeng. Visit Wat Chang Lom, Wat Chedi Jet Thaew, Wat Nang Phya and Wat Phra Sri Ratana Maha Dhat on the site of the Khmer fort "Chalieng." Evening at leisure and overnight.
After breakfast, drive to the Sukhothai Organic Agriculture Farm. View the demonstration of rice planning and the Thai rice farmers' traditional way of life. You can participate in the organic rice farm transplanting, rice seedlings, harvesting, or milling. There is also an opportunity to plough the paddies with water buffalo. Then, enjoy a local organic lunch in traditional Thai style at the open Sala overlooking the rice field.
Continue to Chiang Mai via Lampang. Visit Wat Phra Dhat Lampang Luang, housing the only Emerald Buddha other than the one at Wat Phra Keo in Bangkok. Evening at leisure in Chiang Mai or visit the bustling night market. Overnight.
An early start and a wonderful chance to make merit with the monks at a neighborhood temple. Thai Buddhists believe that by making merit they earn happiness, peace in life, and the chance to progress in their next life. This sacred experience creates a harmonious way to start the day.
Later, 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. Overnight in Chiang Mai.
After breakfast, depart Chiang Mai to visit an orchid farm. Proceed to Thatorn via Chiang Dao and Fang. En route, visit Chiang Dao Cave at Wat Tham Chiang Dao. The caverns are full of sacred Buddha images and natural formations. The main cavern is illuminated by electric lights, while deepest recesses can be explored with oil lanterns.
Later, arrive in Thatorn, a small village just a few kilometers from the Myanmar border. Evening at leisure and overnight.
Depart Thatorn to visit Ban Lorcha, a Phami Akha hilltribe community center. The community-based tourism project promotes sustainable, self-reliant development to improve the quality of life of villagers of the Akha community.
Drive to Ban Pha Tai and board a motor-powered traditional boat for a three-hour journey down Kok River, passing tiny hill tribe villages and bamboo huts in the jungle. Arrive in Chiang Rai and transfer to your hotel.
Later, visit the famous Wat Rong Khun or White Temple, with its unique "kanok" architecture and fantastical sculptures designed by National Artist Chalermchai Kositpipat. Continue to the statue of King Mengrai who built Chiang Rai City and a local market before returning to the hotel. Overnight in Chiang Rai.
After breakfast, depart Chiang Rai to visit the Golden Triangle where the borders of Thailand, Myanmar, and Laos meet. Also enjoy a short boat ride on Mekong River. Later, transfer to the Chiang Rai airport for your flight to Bangkok. Upon arrival, connect for your onward flight. Bon Voyage!