Day 1 - Bangkok
Sa-wat dee! Welcome to Thailand. Bangkok is a heady mixture of ancient traditions and slick modernity, where bazaars (obviously bustling) and world-class cuisine are only the beginning. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6pm today. Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask the hotel reception where it will take place. 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). If you're going to be late, please inform the hotel reception. Have your insurance details and next of kin information on hand for collection. With free time, acquaint yourself with this frenetic city of tuk tuks, street food and traditional khlong boats winding down the Chao Phraya River. Tonight you might want to experience the unique tourist mecca of Khao San Road.
Day 2 - Bangkok
You’ll start today with a visit to Wat Pho, home to the country's largest reclining Buddha and keeper of the magic behind Thai massage. Wat Pho is one of the ‘trinity’ of Bangkok temples, located practically next door to the Grand Palace, and inside lies a 46-metre long gold-plated Buddha. 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. The complex is considered the first public university in the country, and is home to the world famous Wat Pho massage school, the centre of the traditional practice. The rest of the afternoon is free for optional activities, and this city has so much to offer – perhaps head next door to the magnificent Grand Palace and the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, take a riverboat to Chinatown and explore the crowded streets, or travel by longtail boat down the Chao Phraya River to explore the famous 'khlongs' (canals) of Bangkok. Life along these canals seems a world away from the chaotic streets of the capital. Tonight you will board an overnight train southbound for Surat Thani (approximately 13 hours).
Notes: Sleeper trains are clean and air-conditioned, and beds are multi-share compartments with bunk bed 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 a food and drink service available on board.
Day 3 - Ao Nang/Krabi
Arrive into Surat Thani this morning and continue by bus (approximately 2.5 hours) to the resort town of Ao Nang. A lively beachside town in Krabi Province, Ao Nang has a main street with open-air restaurants, shops that light up the sidewalk and bars perfect for kicking back with a beer. It’s also in a great position to hop on longtail boats to beaches like Railay and idyllic islands. There's plenty of free time to relax on the beautiful beaches and get into the spirit of southern Thailand. 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. Rather than relaxing today you also might want to take advantage of some of the optional activities on offer, like a cycling trip that takes you on back country tracks, gets you close to local culture, and rewards you with a lovely afternoon dip in a beautiful waterfall. 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.
Day 4 - Ao Nang/Krabi
This morning you’ll enjoy an included 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, move slowly through the bays and canyons that are like passageways, discover inlets, caves and hidden lagoons, and check out the local wildlife up-close – the birds overhead and monkeys in the trees. If you have time today (or possibly on Day 3), you could explore the beautiful underwater world around Ao Nang with some scuba diving, which includes three dives. Maybe absorb Thai culture through the tastes of a Thai cooking class this afternoon. In the evenings, you can stroll the beaches or sample local fare at a seafood restaurant.
Day 5 - Ko Yao Noi
Transfer by vehicle and longtail boat to the island of Ko Yao Noi (approximately 2 hours). Set in the heart of Phang-Nga Bay, the chilled-out island of Ko Yao Noi is a great place to relax away from the tourist trail and absorb its natural wonders. It has unspoilt shorelines, beaches and coves, a dramatic mountainous backdrop, fantastic views back across to the limestone islands of Ao Phang-Nga, and friendly locals. The afternoon is free to take an island tour, along roads that may still be dirt, past dense green forest to visit fishing villages and rubber plantations to meet the locals, or perhaps simply appreciate the islands serenity and beauty, coupled with some swimming in the crystal clear waters.
Notes: In the event of unfavourable weather conditions, we may be unable to travel to Ko Yao Noi. Alternative arrangements will be made to stay on Phuket Island.
Day 6 - Koh Yao Noi
Today you’ll experience the beautiful underwater world that surrounds Ko Yao Noi with an included boat and snorkelling trip around the islands. Phang Nga Bay is filled with the small islands and dramatic limestone rock formations that are, for many, the iconic image of Thailand. Venture out into the bay to snorkel in the turquoise waters filled with ever-changing colours of coral and fish, and swim in the tropical sun. Enjoy a proper island-style picnic lunch on the beach at one of the many islands that are scattered around the bay, and follow it up with more swimming and snorkelling – what a tough life!
Day 7 - Phuket
Today you’ll leave the quiet and secluded nature of Ko Yao Noi for the tourist haven of Phuket, Thailand’s largest and most visited island. Travel James Bond style (who visited the nearby island of Ko Phing Kan in 1974’s The Man with the Golden Gun) by catching a speedboat to Phuket (approximately 1 hour). This island is certainly a brasher, more vibrant extrovert to the mellower sibling of the last few days. If a little modern pizazz is what you’re after with your dose of sunshine exotica, look no further – this island offers a little something for everyone. When you arrive on the island you’ll stop by the last untouched rainforest remaining on the island at the Khao Phra Thaeo Wildlife Sanctuary. Here you can drop into Bang Pae Waterfall for a refreshing swim and then pay a visit to the Gibbon Rehabilitation Centre. The centre takes in formerly captive gibbons and rehabilitates then for reintroduction to the wild. Operated by a local NGO, the project works to help ensure the continued existence of these furry little friends on the island. You’ll stay in the heart of Patong, where everything from shops to restaurants to nightclubs awaits.
Day 8 - Phuket
Phuket is ringed with beaches, each with their own distinct personalities, from a party vibe to perhaps something quieter and more romantic. If you can pull yourself away from the beautiful beaches and curving coasts, Phuket also has a range of activities to fill your day, from Thai boxing exhibitions to cabaret shows. If you love getting out on the water and exploring the islands, then perhaps use your last day to take a day trip out to the stunning Phi Phi and Khai Nok, a tiny island surrounded by white sandy beach perfect suitable for swimming and snorkelling. Perhaps gather together you fellow travellers tonight and enjoy a celebratory dinner as your Thailand west coast beach adventure comes to an end.
Day 9 - Phuket
There are no activities planned for the final day and you are able to depart the accommodation at any time.
Accommodation, Food (as stated), Transport, Selected Activities
Flights, Travel Insurance, Visa, Vaccinations or Personal Spending Money