Marvel at the best of Chiang Mai’s stunning temples; ancient treasures as well as living community centres. With a visit to the Hmong Hilltribe Lodge, immerse yourself in the wonders of an ancient tribal culture without compromising on creature comforts. See Bangkok from a different, quieter angle, with a dinner cruise down the Chao Phraya River; the ultimate escape from the bustling streets. Support an important animal welfare initiative and get close to incredible creatures at the Hospital of the Friends of the Asian Elephant
Enjoy Bangkok’s bustling streets and sights before heading north to the serenity of Chiang Mai’s temples. Dip in to the traditional lifestyle of the Hmong people in an overnight lodge stay. Learn about the history of the Burma Railway and cycle around the ancient Thai capital of Sukhothai before getting up close with some happy rehabilitated elephants at the Friends of the Asian Elephant Hospital in Lampang. There’s plenty of time to relax and enjoy Thailand at your own pace and to discover the wide range of food stalls, markets, experiences and sights.
Breakfast Included: 10 Lunches Included: 2 Lunches Included: 6
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 guided city walk of Bangkok, with an included visit to the Grand Palace – essential for any for first-time traveller here. You will also take a long-tail boat trip along the canals, a lovely way to witness daily Bangkok life. In the late afternoon, take a short flight (around 1 hour and 15 minutes) to Chiang Mai, Thailand's vibrant 'Rose of the North'. Awash with temples and quaint cafes, this city has a strong reputation for friendliness despite its size. Visit the vibrant night markets tonight to pick up a bargain or have a bite to eat of fresh cooked street food.
Please see important information in the "packing"' section of the trip notes regarding strict dress code for the Grand Palace visit.
Start the morning with a visit to a local market to pick up an offering to take to Wat Suan Dok Monastic temple. This temple not only has one of the oldest stupa built in 1371 but also has the most beautiful cemetery for family members of the King of Chiang Mai. At the same location you will find Mahachulalongkornrajavidyalaya University - a specific University for Buddhist Monks. Here you have a very unique opportunity to chat with some monks and learn the basics of Buddhism and you can ask them more about their schooling and lifestyle. This is a great opportunity for the monks to also practise their English and becomes a learning opportunity for everyone involved. if your lucky you may also hear some Buddhist monks chanting. Next stop, embark on a scenic, winding drive up a mountain (around 45 minutes) to one of the country's most stunning temple complexes, Doi Suthep. A 300-step naga-guarded stairway leads you to the temples, and the climb is well worth the effort. The sweeping views of the city make this a most memorable experience. Follow this with some leisure time in Chiang Mai. Your leader can help you to arrange optional activities - you might like to hire a bike and ride to a nearby temple, or indulge in a Thai massage or spa treatment, or simply relax by the pool. Dinner this evening is an authentic Khantohk feast, replete with tribal dancing in the traditions of Akha, Yao, Lahu, H'mong, Lisu and Karen.
You will have the opportunity to take part in a local cooking class today where you will uncover the secrets of aromatic Thai cuisine. You will learn everything from the most important ingredients (and what to use in their place if you can’t access them at home), to preparing dishes from a comprehensive book of recipes (that you will be able to take with you). Sitting down to feast on the fruits of your labour at lunch is the perfect way to finish the class. In the evening you might want to continue today’s food theme with a wander through the enormous, colourful Night Bazaar, or relax at a fine restaurant along the riverfront. Make sure to sample some delicious traditional northern Thai food – the signature dish is kao soy, yellow wheat noodles in a curry broth, traditionally served with chicken or beef.
Take advantage of a free morning in Chiang Mai before taking a 1-2 hour drive through rolling green countryside to the Hmong Hilltribe Lodge, your quarters for the night. 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 barbeque dinner in the lodge's open-air dining area, the day concludes with a cultural performance by the Hmong people. You'll gain an insight into the traditional lifestyle of the tribe, with a wedding ceremony enactment, shamanic ritual and makong (cotton ball) throwing.
Depart the hilltribe village this morning and head on to Lampang (approximately 1.5 hours), which is considered by many to be one of Thailand's last remaining paradises. Here you will visit the Friends of Asian Elephant Hospital, a short drive from Lampang. This is the first elephant hospital in the world to be established to care for sick and abused elephants, with the aim of preserving the animals' natural habitat and lifestyle. You will learn more about this important initiative and perhaps become acquainted with some of its resident patients. Next is to farewell your new friends before driving to the ancient capital of Sukhothai (3.5 hours) to spend to the night.
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.
Continue south today to the provincial town of Kanchanaburi (approximately 7 hours). While the township 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. There will be an opportunity tomorrow to visit some of these historical sites, which can be found in the surrounding countryside. The reward for your travels today is a lush tropical setting – with a chalet right beside the famous River Kwai. Today's travel day will have plenty of stops along the way to stretch your legs and there will be plenty of time for lunch at a local restaurant.
On a day trip around Kanchanaburi, you will visit the Hellfire Pass Memorial. Here you will learn more about the Allied prisoners of war and Asian conscripts that died while building the most dangerous and challenging sections of the Thai-Burma 'death' railway. To complete this experience, take a ride along the historic tracks of the railway. Beginning at the main terminal at Nam Tok, the journey takes you along scenic riverside tracks before crossing the original wooden viaduct, built by prisoners of war over the River Kwai. Tonight we return back to our resort by the river.
Return to Bangkok today via private minivan (approximately 3 hours). There is no better way to end your journey than with a relaxing cruise along the grand Chao Phraya River. From this vantage you'll see yet another side of Bangkok, as the jewels of the city light up when evening falls. You will cruise on a traditional antique teakwood rice barge, be served a Thai set dinner, followed by live Thai music and traditional dance performance.
There are no activities on this day and you are free to depart after breakfast.