Day 1 - Bangkok
Welcome to Bangkok! Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting in the evening of Day 1. Check the hotel reception or notice board for the exact time and place of the meeting. If you arrive early, why not take a riverboat to Chinatown and explore the crowded streets, or wander down the tourist mecca of Khao San Road, or indulge in some Thai massage? The list goes on.
Day 2 - Bangkok – Overnight Train
Visit the local Bangrak Market to see the rainbow of fresh fruit and vegetables (depending on market day). Then you'll cruise along the Chao Praya and watch life along the river en route to Wat Pho. This temple is one of the largest and oldest wats in Bangkok. Who can spot the most images of Buddha? Rumour has it there are up to 1,000. The afternoon is free for you to explore the sites of Bangkok as you please. Visiting the Grand Palace is recommended. Tonight, board your overnight train to Surat Thani (approximately 13 hours).
Notes: The train is basic but comfortable: bunk beds, shared facilities and air-conditioning.
Day 3 - Khao Sok National Park
Arrive in Surat Thani early in the morning, then transfer by bus to Khao Sok National Park. It's an amazing environment, so colourful and vivid it almost looks like it's been CGI'd. These dense rainforests are abuzz with exotic animals and plants, and some walking trails lead to awesome waterfalls alongside the huge Cheow Lan Lake. Cruise along it and see the limestone cliffs set against the jungle backdrop. On your first night here you'll stay in a simple raft house, which is literally ON the lake. Wait till you see the view when you wake up.
Notes: There are two seasons in Khao Sok National Park, the 'dry' season and the 'rainy' season. The dry season is from November until April, and the rainy season from May to October when most of the rain falls. All the walking trails will be muddy and slippery during the rainy season, and harmless leeches are everywhere but the scenery is beautiful and lush and green. Each of the seasons has its own charms and quirks.
Day 4 - Khao Sok National Park
Time for a change of scenery. Head for the hills and spend the night in a jungle bungalow. There are plenty of optional things to do (other than the obvious option of chilling out and taking in the soothingly exotic sights and sounds of Mother Nature). You can tackle one of the walking trails and go on a wildlife-spotting odyssey, or venture to Lake Cheow Lan which is not too far away.
Day 5 - Ao Nang
Travel by minibus to Ao Nang, Krabi, home to sweet white-sand beaches and limestone karsts jutting out of cerulean waters. The main street of this lively beachside town has heaps of bars and restaurants to grab a beer or meal at.
Day 6 - Ao Nang
Today is yours. You are free as a bird. An island-hopping day trip is a great way to get a real sense of just how amazing this part of Thailand is. You can take a long-tail boat out to stunning islands like Phi Phi, where the swimming is great and the views are even better. Like exotic, far-out film locations. You'll never tire of looking up at those karsts towering above the turquoise. The real adventure-types might opt to go rock-climbing. Either way you approach it, paradise is paradise.
Day 7 - Penang
Today is a long travel day by minivan. Sit back, relax and Thailand disappear in the rearview mirror. Next stop: Malaysia! Cross the border Wang Prajan (the Thai checkpoint) and Wang Kelian (the Malaysian checkpoint). Penang is Malaysia's prized island. You may have heard that people from Penang are serious about their food, and it is delicious, but there is so much more to this place, such as a gorgeous coastline and a colonial heritage which thrives amid the skyscrapers over Georgetown. The Georgetown area is a cool (and World Heritage-listed) blend of religious sites of worship.
Day 8 - Penang
Today your leader will take you on a guided orientation walk through the Georgetown area to check out the shophouses, Penang Museum, street art and clan jetties. When you have become old friends with this place, the rest of the day is yours. Time to go looking for delicious food. This place is famous for its cuisine, thanks to many cultures that have lived side-by-side here for ages. Be sure to try a refreshing ice kacang (a dessert made with crushed ice, syrup and a mixture of jellies, nuts and sweet beans), or a hearty nasi kandar (steamed rice accompanied by curries, fried chicken, seafood or vegetables). Check out Kek Lok Sii (the largest Buddhist temple in Malaysia), Khoo Kongsi (amazingly ornate and one of the oldest clan houses in Malaysia), Cheong Fat Tze Museum (fascinating if you have an interest in Feng Shui). Or take to the unspoilt trails of Malaysia's smallest National Park at Teluk Bahang.
Today’s challenge: see if you can find the hawker stall on Kimberley St where Lean Joo Sean has been selling char kway teow (stir-fried rice noodles) since 1954. You can’t miss his white chef’s hat and the queue of hungry punters.
Day 9 - Cameron Highlands
Travel by minivan to the seriously beautiful Cameron Highlands. This area was a favourite getaway of the colonial British for good reason. It's a great escape from the hot and sticky jungle. The area has also long been used to grow a favourite British drink, tea. Perhaps sample some of the local brew. Those less genteel and more adventure-seeking might take a some walks in the area, or a half-day trip to the second-highest mountain the highlands.
Day 10 - Kuala Lumpur
Travel by public bus to vibrant Kuala Lumpur (approximately 5 hours). This is the cosmopolitan capital of Malaysia (call it KL if you want to sound more worldly). Your leader will take you for a walk around the communities of Indian, Chinese and ethnic Malay people. You'll be staying right in the midst of the buzzing Chinatown night markets, the ideal spot. Tried a durian yet? They stink, but they taste pretty good. Make sure you get a map and venture out on some walking adventures. You can hit Bukit Bintang, the Golden Triangle (for shopping), or Menara Tower (entry fee applies). You might also like to head out of town to visit the famous Batu Caves, or go to the Lake Gardens to visit the Islamic Arts Museum and National Mosque.
Day 11 - Kuala Lumpur
Today is a free day to explore KL. Get up early to get your tickets to see two of the world's very tallest buildings, the Petronas Towers. Ask your leader how the system works! The evening is best spent at the night market sampling the different cuisines on offer and bargain-hunting among the stalls of the famous Petaling Street.
Day 12 - Melaka
An intriguing blend of Malay, Indian, Chinese and Portuguese cultures, Melaka has a wealth of interesting architecture, distinctive food and proud cultural heritage. Take a public bus there (approximately 3 hours in total) and enjoy a free afternoon. Once the most important trading port of Malaysia, Melaka attracted Chinese, Indian, Dutch, Portuguese and British traders, and this diversity is reflected in its overall vibe. Check out Harmony Street where these communities have their places of worship, with a church, mosque, and a couple of different temples all on the one street. Peace out!
Day 13 - Singapore
A public bus journey (approximately 5 hours) takes you to Singapore. Your leader will take you on a walk to give you an introduction to this ever-evolving city. There will be time to take in the retail hot spots and the 'booming cross-cultural culinary scene' before enjoying a final evening with your fellow travellers. It'll be a time to reflect. Who ate the most chilli? Who at the most durians? Who even ate one durian? When can we all pack up and move to Asia forever? Etcetera.
Day 14 - Singapore
Farewell your newfound friends as your trip comes to an end today.
Accommodation, Food (as stated), Transport, Selected Activities
Meals Included: Breakfast: 3 Lunches: 2 Dinners: 1
The excitement of cities like Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur can be overwhelming, but with the insider knowledge of your local leader you can cut through the chaos and bee-line it to the hottest spots
Khao Sok National Park is like stepping into another world – an essential experience in Thailand, nature-lover or not
A getaway to the Cameron Highlands offers not only amazing views but a refreshing and well-earned reprieve from the sticky heat
14 days of three different cuisines: Singaporean, Malaysian and Thai. Delish!
There's plenty of free time to make your own discoveries
Flights, Travel Insurance, Visa, Vaccinations or Personal Spending Money