Support an important animal welfare initiative and get close to incredible creatures at the Elephant Nature Park. Visit the home of the infamous ‘Bridge over the River Kwai’, learn about its dark history and the construction of the railway during the war. Enjoy lunch on board a slow trip down the Mekong River, observing the stunning scenery and remote village life, and visiting a cave crowded with shrines – all at a relaxed pace. With a visit to the Hmong Hilltribe Lodge, immerse yourself in the wonders of an ancient tribal culture without compromising on creature comforts
Thailand, Laos and Cambodia are home to some of the most beautiful countryside, scenery, temples and architecture in the world. On the surface things may appear chaotic – particularly in Bangkok – but there’s a kind of quiet cohesion that makes everything click into place and keep moving along. Let yourself slip into this relaxed way of life and soak up the atmosphere as you boat along the Mekong River and see magnificent temples in Chiang Mai and Luang Prabang. Learn about the fraught history on the Thai-Burma Railway and then enjoy the whimsy of French colonial architecture meshed with Buddhist temples in Vientiane. Then, travel to Cambodia to discover the dark history of the Killing Fields of Choeung Ek and explore the once ‘lost’ ruins of Angkor, the archaeological treasure of the Khmers. You’ll have plenty of time to explore, discover, taste and experience South East Asia on this illuminating voyage.
Breakfast Included: 19 Lunches Included: 5 Dinner Included: 7
Welcome to Thailand. One of our transfer representatives will collect you from the airport and take you to your hotel. After settling into your room, your journey begins with an important meeting at 6 pm. Please check for the Peregrine noticeboard in the reception area of the hotel. Please advise your flight details at the time of booking so we can arrange your airport transfer. 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'll enjoy a welcome dinner at a great local restaurant.
Enjoy a day of sightseeing and activities in lively Bangkok. Visit Wat Po, a larger-than-life temple complex in the city. This is the home of the Temple of the Reclining Buddha. Wat Pho is among the six officially recognised highest calibre temples in Thailand, and it's certainly one of the most impressive. Also visit the majestic Grand Palace, which has been the official residence of the kings since the 1700s, and enjoy a boat tour of the city's khlongs (canals) to see another, more tranquil, side of Bangkok. The afternoon is free to do as you wish, perhaps visiting Jim Thompson house or enjoying a Thai massage. You’ll have a BTS day pass so you can use the Sky Train to help you get around.
Travel by private transport to Kanchanaburi (approximately 3.5 hours). While the town may appear modern, it holds a dark past. Many Allied prisoners of war and conscripted Asian labourers were engaged here to help build a rail route to Myanmar (Burma), including the passage infamously known as Hellfire Pass. Visit the memorial museum of the pass to learn more about this chapter in history, and take a historical train journey along a portion of this 'death railway'.
Make the short drive to the Erawan National Park and waterfall. Its radiant emerald green ponds, named after the three-headed white elephant of Hindu mythology, make for a lovely photo opportunity. On the way back to Kanchanaburi, stop in at the World War II cemetery and museum and spend some time there. This cemetery is the main resting place for the prisoners of war who laboured under Japanese rule in building the Thai-Burma Railway.
Uthai Thani - Nakhon Sawan
Depart Kanchanaburi in the morning and drive to Hup Pa Tat (approximately 3 hours). Spend an hour or so exploring this beautiful green area surrounded by limestone mountains. Legend has it that centuries ago this valley was a gigantic cave, until the ceiling caved in; massive chunks of limestone lying on the valley floor support the theory. Next you continue to Uthai Thani (approximately 1 hour). Enjoy lunch, while cruising on a traditional rice barge, watching village life along the riverfront stream by, as your travel through beautiful countryside. Afterwards, visit nearby Wat Tha Sung (Crystal Hall) before travelling on to Nakhon Sawan (approximately 1 hour) where you will spend the night. Perhaps head out to the local market in the evening where you can taste many different street foods from the region.
Travel by private transport from Nakhon Sawan to Sukhothai (approximately 3 hours). In the afternoon you have the option to visit the Organic Culture Project and spend a couple of hours joining in on traditional Thai farm activities. Check out the organic vegetable garden and attend a demonstration out in the rice fields.
Sukhothai, established in the 13th century, was one of the first ancient capitals of Siam. Famed for its World Heritage listed historical park, which captures the Golden Age of Thai civilisation, the capital's name literally means 'Dawn of Happiness'. Today we visit the historical park, which spans the ruins of the town. You will rent a bicycle and take part in a cycle tour. As you ride around, you'll learn more about the history of this former metropolis and its fascinating structures. Enjoy a home-cooked picnic lunch in the beautiful grounds of Sukhothai Park. The rest of the afternoon is free, you might want to simply read a book by the pool back at your resort.
Hmong Hilltribe Lodge (feature stay)
Travel from Sukhothai to Hmong Hilltribe Lodge, which will take approximately six hours in a private minivan. The Hmong are an ethnic minority in Thailand who originated in the south of China. Today they comprise the second largest hilltribe group in Thailand. After a barbecue dinner in the lodge's open-air dining area, the day concludes with a Hmong cultural performance. You'll gain an insight into the traditional lifestyle of the tribe, with a wedding ceremony enactment, shamanic ritual and makong (cotton ball) throwing.
Travel from Hmong Hilltribe Lodge to the Elephant Nature Park, approximately 1.5 hours by minivan. This is a unique project providing a sanctuary and rescue centre for elephants and other animals such as buffalo, dogs, cats and birds. Be greeted by an expert local guide and then learn the stories of the rescued elephants and the issues confronting elephants in South-East Asia. Witness how these elephants have become a happy herd and are finally free from abuse for the first time in their lives. You'll have a chance to feed the elephants from the viewing platform as well as a tasty vegetarian buffet lunch. Walk with the park staff to the river and watch elephants bathe and play as they are watched over by their personal mahouts. The park visit is all about spending quality time observing elephants and does not stick to a strict schedule so make the most of enjoying these beautiful creatures in a safe and protected environment. Return to Chiang Mai early afternoon (approx. 3-330). Freshen up at the hotel then head out for a street food tour in the evening. Hidden down the back alleys of the city’s old town district you will sample dishes like khao man gai and khao kha moo from many local shops unknown to the tourist eye. Chat with street food vendors who have been serving the same dishes for more than 20 years and understand the influences that Isan and Shan cultures have had on the Northern Thailand’s culinary scene. Your local guide will also suggest many other places you can eat during your time in Chiang Mai.
This morning you’ll have a very unique opportunity to chat with some monks from Mahachulalongkornrajavidyalaya University, a university specifically for Buddhist monks. Learn the basics of Buddhism and find out more about their schooling, lifestyle and world view. Enjoy a free afternoon afterwards to explore Chiang Mai further, perhaps getting out into the lush countryside or checking out more Buddhist temples. In the evening, your group will be treated to dinner at a nice restaurant to celebrate your Northern Thailand adventure.
You will be transferred to the airport, where you will say goodbye to your Thai tour leader and fly to Luang Prabang, Laos. Please note: you will be unescorted on this flight.
When you arrive in Luang Prabang you will be transferred to your hotel. A welcome meeting will be held in the evening. Please check for a welcome notice on the Peregrine notice board located in the reception area of the hotel. This will provide you with your leader's name and the exact time and location of your Welcome Meeting. Keep in mind that you will need to again bring your travel insurance details with you to the meeting.
After meeting the new travellers joining your group, take part in a Baci ceremony to welcome you to Laos, and balance your soul according to Lao tradition. The ceremony is based on an ancient belief that the body is made up of 32 different spirits – all inhabiting different organs. The ritual is intended to call back spirits that may have strayed from the body, bringing a sense of balance and health.
Wake early to participate in the alms giving ceremony, one of the most sacred Buddhist traditions in Laos, where locals offer food to monks in order to seek spiritual blessing. Alms giving takes place daily as the sun rises, beginning on the main street of Luang Prabang before spreading out to side streets. Follow the locals as they kneel down, ready to give offerings of rice, fruit and sweet snacks to the monks. Later that morning, spend time learning about Laos’ diverse ethnic groups at the Traditional Arts & Ethnology Centre. Afterwards, enjoy an essential activity in Luang Prabang – a boat ride on the Mekong River. It's a great chance to see the riverside from a different angle, with all its stately French villas, trees, and slow-paced two-wheeled traffic. Further along the stream, outside of town, you visit the Pak Ou Caves, located at the confluence of the rivers Mekong and Ou. Enjoy lunch on the boat along the way.