Day 1 - Bangkok
Sa-wat dee! Welcome to Thailand. Thailand's bustling capital, Bangkok is famous for its tuk tuks, khlong boats and street vendors serving up delicious Thai food. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6pm on Day 1. Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask the hotel reception where it will take place, and have your insurance details and next of kin information ready for collection. Bangkok has so much to offer those with time to explore, so perhaps arrive a day or so early and take a riverboat to Chinatown and explore the crowded streets, uncover the magnificent Grand Palace and the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, wander down the tourist mecca of Khao San Road, or indulge in some Thai massage. After the meeting tonight perhaps gather your fellow travellers together and tuck into some into world famous street food.
Day 2 - Bangkok
Begin the day with a river cruise down the Chao Phraya River to explore the famous ‘khlongs’ (canals) (approximately 1 hour). Life along these canals seems a world away from the chaotic streets of the capital. Pay a visit to Wat Pho, one of the ‘trinity’ of Bangkok temples, with a 46-metre long gold plated Buddha reclining inside. Even the feet of this statue are incredible, three metres long and intricately decorated with mother of pearl. The temple grounds are equally fascinating, filled with beautifully decorated stupas, halls, and shrines. No trip to Thailand is complete without an overnight train journey. This evening you’ll head south to Surat Thani on an overnight train journey, accommodated in air-conditioned sleeping berths (approximately 12 hours). Multi share compartments have bunk beds, with sheets and pillow provided. Your baggage travels in the carriage with you. There is a food and drink service available on board.
Day 3 - Khao Sok National Park
Arrive into Surat Thani in the morning and then and travel by minivan to Khao Sok (approximately 2.5 hours). Set amid hectares of thick jungle, waterfalls, limestone cliffs and topped off with an island-studded lake, the national park of Khao Sok is a nature lover's paradise. Here you’ll have free time to explore one of the oldest rainforest in the world. Walk along the dirt trails that snake through the quiet park, looking out for wildlife as you head for rivers and waterfalls. The park is home to boar, gaur, gibbons, deer, wild elephants, and even the occasional tiger. The flora is also top-notch, with the rare Rafflesia Kerri, one of the world’s largest flowers, only found in Thailand here. There are longer hiking trails also available and in the rainy season there's an option to take to the water in inner tubes and float down the river through the rainforest. Spend a night in a rustic hut amid ancient gnarled rainforest trees.
Day 4 - Khao Sok
Travel through pristine jungle, rubber and oil plantations before boarding a long tail boat for a ride across stunning Cheow Lan Lake, with one of its island as your destination. With limestone karst hills rising almost 1,000 metres into the air and surrounded by beautiful green waters, the area is incredibly picturesque. Trek to the an island cave and discover its eerie stalactites and bats hanging from the celling, with subterranean streams at your feet. You’ll enjoy lunch in a local raft-house before having free time to relax, swim or kayak around the lake to search for wildlife – the water is clear and teems with aquatic life, and you might spot hornbills, langurs, macaques or gibbons above water. Return to your accommodation for the night.
Day 5 - Homestay
Sit back and enjoy a local bus ride to Krabi province – you’ll travel by private minibus to your village homestay (approximately 3 hours). When you arrive, enjoy a walk with your homestay host around the village, try out rubber tapping and enjoy the great food and hospitality of the region. Thailand is one of the world’s three largest producers of rubber, and you can try your hand at ‘tapping’ a rubber tree – skimming the bark off the tree to create a path for the milky white latex to run down. There is also an opportunity to assist with the preparation of tonight's meal – learn some of the delicious secrets of southern Thai cooking and enjoy a dinner that tastes all the better thanks to your handiwork! This is a wonderful opportunity to absorb some of the daily rituals of Thai culture.
Day 6 - Ao Nang
Make the short journey by private minibus to the stunning surrounds of Krabi and your base at Ao Nang (approximately 30 minutes). Famous for the incredible limestone karst scenery of the headland, sun-seekers will fall in love with Krabi's unspoilt beaches, the spectacular cliffs will tempt avid rock climbers, while scuba fans can embark on a Krabi diving adventure. If you love getting out on the water and exploring islands, then consider taking a trip by boat to explore Phi Phi and Khai Nok, islands surrounded by white sandy beach perfect for swimming and snorkelling. The area around Krabi is also home to some of the most spectacular climbing routes around. Whether you're a novice or a pro, being securely tied high up a limestone cliff-face looking down on jungle and crystalline seas is unforgettable. In the evening, look out for a beautiful sunset and consider dining on seafood in a beachside restaurant, followed by a drink in one of the many clubs and bars along on the beach.
Day 7 - Ao Nang
This morning you’ll enjoy an included half day Sea Kayaking trip to the mangrove forest of Ao Thalane. About half way along the coast between Than Bok Khoranee and Krabi town is a bay of mangroves that might just be the most beautiful bay in Thailand. Surrounded by towering karst formations and many small offshore islands, let the waterways become your pathway as you move slowly through the bays and canyons, discover inlets, caves and hidden lagoons, and check out the local wildlife up-close – the birds overhead and monkeys in the trees. If you do see a monkey, make sure you secure your belongings and any food! If you have time today in the afternoon, you could explore the beautiful underwater world around Ao Nang with some scuba diving, which includes three dives, or maybe absorb Thai culture through the tastes of a Thai cooking class. In the evenings, you can stroll the beaches, sample local fare at a seafood restaurant, enjoy a relaxing massage on the beach, or simply sit back with a good book and a cool cocktail to watch the sun slip beneath the waves.
Day 8 - Penang
Get out your best book or find your entertainment at the scenery out the window, as today’s a long day of travel (approximately 9 hours). The journey by private minibus sees you say goodbye to Thailand and wave hello to the cultural melting pot of Malaysia. The fascinating island of Penang was the first destination of the colonial British in 1786. They invited the Chinese, as well as others from all over Asia, to live on this island in the tropics. Today, this exotic fusion of cultures still exists and the World Heritage site of Georgetown contains a fascinating mix of religious places of worship. When you arrive, you’ll take an orientation walk around the blend of colonial buildings, tumble-down shops and hawker-filled alleyways to get your bearings. The food here might just be the best in Malaysia, so tonight why not seek out the endless food stalls of this food paradise. Your guide can give you some tips, or ask the locals! Look out for local specialties like Nasi Kandar, Penang Laksa, and Char Kway Teow.
Day 9 - Penang
This morning you’ll take a half day sightseeing walking tour around Penang and Georgetown, soaking up the relaxed pace of life and the mix of cultures on show in this heritage area. See the original 19th century shophouses, the street markets, and the strong cultural and religious identity still on display in each neighbourhood – Little India, Chinatown or the Muslim Quarter. Check out the street art that adorns the walls and stop by a clan jetty. Clans were formed by 19th century immigrants, banding together based on the area of China that they came from, and they built rival waterfront societies on wooden jetties. You’ll also pay a visit to Thai and Burmese temples, and see Kek Lok Si Temple, the largest Buddhist temple in South East Asia. You’ll have this afternoon free and, aside from sauntering along the interesting streets (or hoping in a trishaw for a ride that will take you back in time), you might visit Fort Cornwallis, built to defend the city from invasion, or see the clan house of Khoo Kongsi. Check out the ornate carvings on the walls, roof and pillars, and maybe see more Chinese architecture in the memorably blue Courtyard House of Cheong Fatt Tze, a fabulously wealthy merchant. Don’t forget to feast on the island’s culinary delights tonight.
Day 10 - Kuala Lumpur
Continue south on a local bus to Kuala Lumpur (approximately 5 hours). This is a great opportunity to try and chat with the locals and maybe get some tips out of them for your next destination. Kuala Lumpur, the cosmopolitan capital of Malaysia, is affectionately known as KL and you'll almost always hear locals refer to it by its acronym. Communities of Indian, Chinese and ethnic Malay people mingle peacefully, allowing travellers to get the best of all three worlds. KL has grown from a sleepy little village to a skyscraper-lined multi-million-peopled metropolis. The city can seem vast, but the main focus is the traditional core of the old town (the former colonial centre), the luxury hotel and shopping mall district of the Golden Triangle, and bustling Chinatown and Little India. Once again, you’ll be incredibly spoilt with the breadth and quality of dining options on offer. From simple-street side fare that attracts queues of customers eager to try the latest dish said to be the best around, to seriously high-calibre, world-class cuisine.
Day 11 - Kuala Lumpur
Take a half-day tour and absorb the fascinating multicultural mix that gives Kuala Lumpur such a uniquely cosmopolitan feel. You’ll also visit some of the city's most impressive architecture such as the National Monument (commemorating those who died in Malaysia's struggle for freedom and based on the Iwo Jima Memorial in the USA), the vast National Mosque, featuring a bold and modern design, and the Istana Negara (National Palace). You’ll also drop by the Royal Selangor Club, which looks like it’s come straight from Tudor England, and scale the 272 steps up to the Batu Caves, where shrines are filled with fascinating statues of the Hindu Gods. In free time, you might stroll Dataran Merdeka (Independence Square), or shop in Suria KLCC (one of Malaysia’s premier shopping destinations) and then head up to the Skybridge & Observation Deck of the iconic Petronas Towers. Those with a head for heights can also climb up the KL Tower at dusk and watch the city lights come to life. Lake Gardens is home to a number of sights, including the National Planetarium and the superb Islamic Arts Museum, home to a standout collection. If culture’s your thing then perhaps enjoy a cultural show, or try your hand at Batik, a technique of dying cloth that’s a real art form. Tonight, be sure to indulge in the myriad tasty food options Kuala Lumpur is famous for.
Day 12 - Melaka
Transfer by local bus to the old port town of Melaka (approximately 3 hours). Back when Penang, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore left little impression on a map, the historic city of Melaka was the most important trading port in Malaysia, attracting Chinese, Indian, Dutch, Portuguese and British traders. These visitors sought wealth or an opportunity to control the Straits of Malacca, a vital trading route between the Indian and Pacific oceans, which lead to 400 years of colonial rule. Today, Melaka's wealth of historical sites remind visitors of times gone by, and its multicultural past is revealed in its distinctive cuisine. Like Georgetown, the Melaka was declared a World Heritage Site in 2008, and like its Penang sibling, the city is a harmonic mix of cultures, a place where colonial buildings sit next to Chinese shophouses and temples.
Day 13 - Melaka
Today you’ll get to know this port city better with a quaint trishaw tour along the narrow winding streets. You’ll admire Chinatown's unique Peranakan architecture, get a taste of old Melaka, and learn about the ancient spice trade. Take in sites such as Harmony Street (so called because it contains the prayer houses of Malaysia's three main faiths), and stop by a mosque, Chinese Buddhist Temples, and a traditional Muslim house-museum. In your free time this afternoon there are plenty of historic sights and museums to check out. From 17th century Dutch buildings and ships, to museums that showcase the local history of ethnic Chinese-Malays, the travels of diplomat and explorer Zheng He, and even a museum that focuses on concepts of beauty in different cultures. If you’re looking to get more active then you could perhaps jump on two wheels for an Eco Bike tour around the city, or see Melaka from a different perspective with a boat tour along the river.
Day 14 - Singapore
Travel by local bus to your final destination of Singapore (approximately 5 hours). Singapore has few areas untouched by modernisation, but wandering the streets of Little India and Chinatown is a great way to see the old parts of the city. To explore further, check out the renowned shopping precinct of Orchard Road, or stop by Raffles to experience the old world charm of a Singapore Sling. An evening in Singapore is not complete without a stroll along Clarke Quay, or even a river cruise to learn more about the fascinating history of this city. Your accommodation tonight is a centrally located hotel, perfect for easy exploring. Whatever you choose today, maybe gather together your fellow travellers for a celebratory drink or meal as your Bangkok to Singapore adventure comes to an end.
Day 15 - Jakarta
The flight between Singapore and Jakarta is NOT included on this trip. It is recommended to book your flight well in advance to secure availability. Please book your flight to arrive to Jakarta this afternoon so that you can arrive in time to join the group meeting at 6.00pm.
Selamat datang! Welcome to Indonesia.
If you arrive early, Jakarta has some interesting museums, such as the Wayang (puppetry), Balai Seni Rupa (fine arts) and Maritime museums. The National Museum is also a good introduction for first time visitors. If you'd like to learn about Indonesia's more recent history, head to the Purna Bhakti Pertiwi Museum, where the life of Suharto is on display, along with many of the gifts that were given to him during his tenure in office.
Monuments abound in the city - don't miss Si Jagur, an old Portuguese cannon ornately decorated with sexual imagery, or the Monas (National Monument) dedicated to the spirit of the Indonesian people.
As this is a combination trip, your group leader and the composition of your group will change at this location. There will be a group meeting to discuss the next stage of your itinerary and you're welcome to attend, as this is a great chance to meet your new fellow travellers.
Day 16 - Jakarta
Familiarise yourself with the city on a morning walking tour with your local guide. Take in Sunda Kelapa port, where the Dutch first landed, temple-filled Chinatown and the old town of Batavia. Visit a Chinese mansion (Chandra Naya) and gain an insight into the beautiful Peranakan architecture. Wander about Fatahillah Square, then explore the religious side of the city at Cathedral Church and Istiqlal Mosque, the largest mosque in South-East Asia. Meander through the antique market at Jalan Surabaya.
Day 17 - Pangandaran
Today there's some distance to cover, so you will spend most of the day travelling. Travel by train to Pukuwerto City (approximately 5.5 hours), then take a private minibus to Pangandaran (approximately 3 hours). Pangandaran is a small fishing village popular with visitors looking for a coastal escape. The Penanjung Nature Reserve on the adjoining peninsula boasts some impressive flora and fauna.
Day 18 - Pangandaran
Set off on a tour of the local surrounds, villages, cottage industries and the impressive green canyon. Your day trip begins with a stop at a local market to check out the produce and home industries such as palm sugar and rice cracker production, as well as the famous Javanese 'Wayan Golek' (traditional wooden puppets). Then you'll continue to the Green Canyon. Hop aboard your boat and travel upriver (approximately 30 minutes) through superb jungle scenery, before stopping for a swim up into the canyon itself. This spot, whose water is green as its name suggests, is a popular hangout for locals, so take the opportunity to interact. Your day concludes at a nearby beach where you can take a break for lunch and swim in the afternoon before heading back.
Day 19 - Yogyakarta
Head inland by private minibus (approximately 1 hour) before catching a train to Yogyakarta (approximately 4 hours). This town is one of South-East Asia's real gems. It's Java's cultural heart, has a great atmosphere and is an Intrepid favourite. From batik workshops to the nearby Hindu and Buddhist temples, 'Yogya' offers a great array of cultural avenues to explore.
Day 20 - Yogyakarta
Rise early to catch the morning light and avoid the crowds at Candi Borobudur, the largest Buddhist structure on earth. This magnificent World Heritage site is set in a tranquil park. As you approach, you'll see the enigmatic temple rise before you, looming above the tropical foliage. With your local guide, follow the route of ancient pilgrims, circling the mandala-shaped structure from the early realms towards Nirvana. It's truly one of South East Asia's treasures. Afterwards, enjoy an afternoon of free time. You might like to visit one of Yogya's other heritage temples – this time perhaps of the Hindu variety. Prambanan Temple is the largest Hindu complex in Java.
This evening perhaps catch a performance of the epic Ramayana Ballet. Your leader will be able to check dates and availability for you.
Day 21 - Yogyakarta
Pedal out of the city on a cycling tour (approximately 6 km) through the rice fields and countryside surrounding Yogyakarta. See the locals in this area making various goods, from bricks to tofu to tempe. As well as palms and lush green grasslands, you will see the odd burst of yellow and pink flowers by the side of the road, which make for great photo opportunities. This cycling tour is on relatively flat ground, so it won't be too strenuous. There will be ample time to take in all the interesting scenes of slow-paced local life.
Day 22 - Seloliman Nature Reserve
Travel by train (approximately 4.5 hours) before transferring on a minivan (approximately 1 hour) to Seloliman Nature Reserve. The peaceful Seloliman Nature Reserve is situated on the slopes of the sacred Penanggungan volcano. Meet some of the volunteers working at the Seloliman Environmental Education Centre and eat delicious, locally grown organic produce cooked by their staff. The centre's accommodation is atmospheric, with open-air bathrooms built in harmony with the surrounding forest, so take this opportunity to relax. This is a beautiful spot to appreciate nature – be sure to sit under the stars tonight and take in the ambience of the mountainous surrounds.
Day 23 - Mt Bromo
Join reserve staff on a walk around the reserve, learning about the local environment and the Javanese tradition of herbal medicine (approximately 2.5 hours). You'll gain an insight into local flora and fauna, traditional farming methods, rice production, the mini hydro electricity plant and the local village coffee shop. Finish up with a traditional Jamu demonstration and a tasting of 'Javanese medicine'. Continue on to Mt Bromo, the timeless homeland of the Tenggerese (approximately 4 hours). The still-active Mount Bromo (2,329 m) is the most well known volcano of the Tengger massif. This region is also the homeland of the Tenggerese and the steep, cultivated hills of the Tengger Valley. Our guesthouse tonight is basic, but we stay here so we have a short drive before starting the hike tomorrow. Retire early tonight, in preparation for tomorrow's early start.
Day 24 - Kalibaru
Your early start today (around 3.30am) will be well worth it. You'll climb to a nearby hill for fantastic views over Mt Bromo. The ascent is not too difficult (approximately 45 minutes), but it can be very cold, so don't forget to bring extra layers of clothing. It's also worth bringing a scarf to cover your nose and mouth, as it can get dusty. If the weather is clear, the sunrise over this eerie sea of volcanoes is an unforgettable experience. Afterwards, catch a bus transfer to Probolingo and travel by train to Kalibaru (approximately 4.5 hours). You'll stop for lunch en route, then arrive in the afternoon, with time to relax by the pool or perhaps indulge in a local massage.
Day 25 - Pemuteran
Head out early in the morning to tour nearby coffee, cocoa and rubber plantations. You'll see how rubber is processed, how coffee is dried, and, if there's time, how cocoa is fermented. Before you set off, enjoy a nice cup of coffee or tea and snack on fried banana. Travel by minibus to the far eastern end of Java, Gilimanuk (approximately 3 hours). There is often a lot of heavy traffic on this stretch of road as it's the main entry point for Bali, so there may be some delays. Next you'll board a ferry across the Java Strait (approximately 1 hour), before boarding another minibus for a journey along the west coast of Bali (approximately 1 hour). Travel on to Pemuteran, your destination for the next two nights.
Day 26 - Pemuteran
Enjoy a relaxing day in this gorgeous beachside spot. Maybe start the day with a relaxing yoga class and then explore the local area at your own pace. Visit the surrounding monkey-filled temples, go swimming, snorkelling, or simply sit back, relax and watch the fishermen go about their work.
Day 27 - Ubud
Make the short journey to Ubud (approximately 5 hours). En route, stop in at Taman Ayun Temple, taking in the impressive Balinese architecture while you stroll around the tranquil gardens. Ubud is Bali's main arts and cultural centre, recently made famous by the Hollywood movie 'Eat Pray Love'. It's a wonderful place to experience the magic that has made Bali such a popular travel destination.
Day 28 - Ubud
Your trip comes to an end after breakfast this morning. There is plenty to see and do if you're staying longer. Hire a bicycle and explore the surrounding rice paddies and small villages; or visit galleries, museums and handicraft merchants in town.
Accommodation, Food (as stated), Transport, Selected Activities
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