Essential Thailand

Thailand,

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16 people
16 days
Code: GTTDC
Activity and Adventure, Adventure, Beach, Tours
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Overview of Essential Thailand

A super trip through Thailand. Temples in the north (Chang Mai, Chang Rai etc etc) to the sweet, sweet island-y beaches of the south (Koh Samui, Ao Nang). Rad.

Departures from 1st of January 2017 to 29th of December 2017 duration of this trip is 16 days
Departures from 30th of December 2017 to 31st of December 2018 will be 17 days

Trip Summary for Essential Thailand

Start Location: Bangkok,   End Location: Ao Nang

Countries Visited: Thailand, 
Meals Included: Breakfast: 5   Lunches: 1   Dinners: 0
Highlights:

    • Dumbo isn’t the only elephant that needs saving. Travel by private mini van (not in the trunk) to the Friends of the Asian Elephant Hospital and witness the awesome work these guys do on a daily basis
    • Bike? Check. Shades? Check. Wind in your hair? Check. Sukhothai’s Historical Park is the kind of dreamscape you don’t have to wake up from. Unless the park closes that is
    • Muck around in kayaks, coves and canyons in the mangrove forests of Ao Thalane. Don’t let the local troublemakers (macaque monkeys) steal your camera
    • Koh Samui is a nice slice of paradise. Cruise the island, go chasing waterfalls and feel peachy on the beach before carving up the dance floor in one of Koh Samui’s famous bars

 

Day 1 - Bangkok
Welcome to Bangkok, Thailand. There’s a welcome meeting at around 6 pm tonight. Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask the hotel reception where it will take place. If you're going to be late, please inform the hotel reception. We'll be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so please ensure you have all these details to provide to your leader. If you arrive early perhaps take a riverboat to Chinatown and explore the crowded streets, or head to the magnificent Grand Palace. As one of the world’s largest marketplaces, Chatuchak Market is also a great place to visit. In the evening, maybe indulge yourself with a Thai massage.

Notes: If you can't arrange a flight that will arrive in time, you may wish to arrive a day early so you're able to attend. We'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability).

Day 2 - Sukhothai
In the morning, take a six-hour local bus to the small city of Sukhothai (which translates to 'Rising of Happiness'). Arrive in the afternoon and head out on a guided cycle tour of Sukhothai’s Historical Park and World Heritage-listed ancient city. Roll your bike around the temples and other archaeological relics within the area. The rest of the day is free for you to do as you please.

Day 3 - Chiang Mai
Start the day early with a five-hour drive in a private minivan to Chiang Mai. On the way, stop off at the Friends of the Asian Elephant Hospital in Lampang. This is a non-government organisation that aims to protect and conserve the welfare of elephants both domesticated and wild. Arrive in Chiang Mai late in the afternoon. You'll have the evening free to explore. Perhaps check out the night market for souvenirs and some spicy street food. 

Day 4 - Chiang Mai
Today is a free day to explore. Discover the northern city of Chiang Mai, which features over 120 temples in the centre alone. Take an optional excursion to the temple at the top of Doi Suthep, which offers fantastic views over the city. Perhaps spoil yourself with a traditional Thai massage or try your hand at a local cooking class. You might like to take part in one of our Urban Adventures, such as the 'Mind and Soul' or 'Mae Ping River Experience' day tours. To really get the blood pumping, head to the Flight of the Gibbon and negotiate the zipline and canopy course within the treetops.

Day 5 - Doi Mae Salong
Today travel by public bus and mini van to Doi Mae Salong via Mae Chan (approximately five hours in total). The atmosphere in the charming town of Doi Mae Salong is reminiscent of a small southern Chinese village. It's the perfect place to relax and kick back for the day. The region is famous for its Chinese tea traders, so make sure  you enjoy a cup of tea in a traditional Chinese teahouse overlooking the mountains. Check out the interesting market, which is full of produce and crafts made by hill tribe people. For something a little more adventurous, why not climb up the 719 steps to see the town’s Buddhist temple?

Day 6 - Chiang Rai
In the morning take a three-hour ride in a minivan to the Golden Triangle, which is where the borders of Thailand, Burma and Laos meet. Pay a visit to the House of Opium Museum for a deeper insight into this area's problematic past. Continue your travels for around two hours to Chiang Rai, where you’ll stay the night. Perhaps head to Chiang Rai's night market, which is a great place to pick up some hill tribe handicrafts. 

Day 7 - Chiang Mai / Overnight sleeper train
This morning visit the impressive Wat Rong Khun (commonly known as the White Temple). Although it can be crowded with tourists, this temple is a modern wonder. Art is continually being added to it. In the afternoon, take a three-and-a-half-hour public bus back to Chiang Mai and board an overnight train for Bangkok (approximately 13 hours). Soft sleeper class trains are used for the overnight journey. The compartments are multi-share with air-conditioning and bunk beds that come with sheets and a pillow. Baggage travels in the carriage with you, and there's a food and drink service available on-board.

Day 8 - Bangkok
Your train is scheduled to arrive into Bangkok in the early morning on Day 8 of the trip. The rest of the day is free to explore. As this is a combination trip, your group leader and the composition of your group may change at this location. There will be a group meeting to discuss the next stage of your itinerary. You're welcome to attend, as this is a great chance to meet your new fellow travellers.

Day 9 - Bangkok / overnight train
Today explore some of Bangkok's most famous sights, including the Grand Palace and the adjoining Temple of the Emerald Buddha (Wat Phra Kaew). Make an optional visit to the temple complex of Wat Pho, which houses the famous 46 metre-long statue of the Reclining Buddha. Enjoy a free afternoon to discover more of the city in your own time. This evening, head south to Surat Thani on a 13-hour overnight train.  

Notes: Sleeper trains are clean and air-conditioned, and beds are padded berths with sheets, pillow and blanket provided (although some people prefer to bring their own sleeping sheet). Please note that you may be sharing compartments with locals of the same or opposite gender. Your baggage will travel in the carriage with you. There's also food and drink service available on board. Some people may find the air conditioning a little too cold so we recommend you bring a warm layer of clothes for this journey.

Please see important information in the "packing"' section of the trip notes regarding strict dress code for the Grand Palace visit.

Day 10 - Ko Samui
Arrive into Surat Thani this morning, continuing by public bus and ferry to Koh Samui (approximately four hours). The island of Koh Samui has been a tourist hotspot for decades, and with good reason. Swim, snorkel or relax in the waterfalls at Na Muang. Take a trip with the group around the island, visiting the 15-metre tall Big Buddha (Wat Phra Yai). In the evening, perhaps feast on a delicious curry with the group and then join in the carnival that is Koh Samui's famous nightlife. 

Day 11 - Ko Samui
Spend a free day today swimming, lazing in the sun or exploring Koh Samui. You may like to take an optional day tour to Ang Thong Marine National Park by either slow boat or speedboat. The park is an archipelago of over 40 islands in the Gulf of Thailand, featuring pristine beaches, jungle, mangroves and limestone mountains rising out of the sea. Join the hoards of tourists tanning on the beach at Koh Mae island and check out the saltwater lagoon of Thale Nai (Emerald Lake). For a quieter experience and some great snorkelling opportunities, head to the nearby islands of Koh Tao and Koh Nang Yuan. 

Day 12 - Khao Sok National Park
Today travel to Khao Sok National Park by songtaew, ferry and mini van. The journey will take a total of about five hours. The park is the wettest spot in Thailand and encloses some of the oldest jungle in the world. See limestone islands rise out of the water and, if you're lucky, monkeys playing by the water's edge. Stroll along trails past waterfalls and spend the night in a guesthouse in the jungle. 

Day 13 - Ao Nang Beach
Depart by public bus from Khao Sok to the beach town of Ao Nang (approximately three hours). On arrival, settle into your hotel and hit the local beach. Swim or snorkel in the clear water, relax on the sand with a book and sip a cocktail as the sun goes down. You have plenty of free time to do as you please.

Day 14 - Ao Nang Beach
This morning head out on a half-day sea kayaking trip to Ao Thalane. Transfer from your hotel in Ao Nang to Thalane Bay in a van, passing through rural villages on the way. Paddle through mangrove forests, coves and narrow karst-walled canyons, keeping an eye out for kingfishers, herons and crab-eating macaque monkeys. Be careful with your belongings, as the cheeky monkeys can steal them. After some time on the water, return to the pier and enjoy lunch at a local restaurant with a great view over the area. After lunch, transfer back to your hotel in Ao Nang. Enjoy free time for the rest of the afternoon. 

Day 15 - Ao Nang Beach
Enjoy a free day to relax on the beach or participate in a variety of optional activities. Perhaps unwind with a massage or cook up something delicious in a Thai cooking class. Take a tour out to some of Krabi's naturally-formed crystal pools and hot springs, swimming in the clear waters of the Emerald Lagoon while fish nibble at your toes. You might like to take a trip out to the quiet, pristine island of Koh Hong, where you can snorkel in the shallow reefs and kayak past cliffs to a hidden salt-water lagoon. 

Day 16 - Ao Nang Beach
Today your Thai adventure comes to an end. There are no activities planned and you are free to depart at any time.

Accommodation, Food (as stated), Transport, Selected Activities
Meals Included: Breakfast: 5 Lunches: 1 Dinners: 0
Highlights:

Dumbo isn't the only elephant that needs saving. Travel by private mini van (not in the trunk) to the Friends of the Asian Elephant Hospital and witness the awesome work these guys do on a daily basis
Bike? Check. Shades? Check. Wind in your hair? Check. Sukhothai's Historical Park is the kind of dreamscape you don't have to wake up from. Unless the park closes that is
Muck around in kayaks, coves and canyons in the mangrove forests of Ao Thalane. Don't let the local troublemakers (macaque monkeys) steal your camera
Koh Samui is a nice slice of paradise. Cruise the island, go chasing waterfalls and feel peachy on the beach before carving up the dance floor in one of Koh Samui's famous bars

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