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. Dumbo isn’t the only elephant that needs saving. Travel by private minivan 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. Khao Sok National Park is like stepping into another world – an essential experience in Thailand, nature-lover or not
This 21-day epic takes you from the bustling streets of Bangkok to the hectic jungle of Khao Sok and ends in ultra-modern Singapore. Sleep on a raft, kick back at Krabi and eat your way through Penang and Singapore. If this trip was a dish it would taste like Singapore’s chilli crab. Hot enough to keep you on your toes with a whopping great serve of salty ocean on the side.
Breakfast Included: 5 Lunches Included: 2 Dinner Included: 1
Welcome to Bangkok, Thailand. Once you’ve hit Khao San Road, you’re officially on holiday. 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 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 arrive early perhaps take a riverboat to Chinatown and explore the crowded streets, or head to the magnificent Grand Palace. Our pick for cocktails is Bed Supper Club or Vertigo. Ask your guide for directions or grab your new travel mates and attempt to navigate the Skytrain.
Take a six-hour local bus to Sukhothai, AKA the ‘dawn of happiness’. That sounds like a pretty swell place to spend a day, right? Pick yourself up a pushy, 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. Apparently riding a bike helps build new brain cells in the hippocampus – the bit of your brain responsible for memory. This is great, cos now you won’t forget all the gorgeous temples you cycle past today.
Rise and shine for a five-hour private minivan drive to hillside Chiang Mai. Stop in at the Friends of the Asian Elephant Hospital in Lampang to meet some big-footed friends being nursed back to good health. Arrive in Chiang Mai in the late afternoon. With over 120 temples in the city centre alone, you can easily while away a few hours doing a temple run. On the other hand, if you’re all templed out, perhaps hit up the Night Bazaar and get haggling.
Today you're free as a bird, maybe get flying on the Flight of the Gibbon and negotiate the zipline and canopy course within the treetops. Or 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. It's totally up to you.
Doi Mae Salong
Doi Mae Salong is a seriously good-looking tea plantation way up in the hills of the Golden Triangle. Not only are the views incredible, you’ll also get to meet some seriously lovely hill-tribe villagers as you wander. Today travel by public bus and minivan to Doi Mae Salong via Mae Chan (approximately five hours in total). It's the perfect place to relax and kick back for the day. 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?
While the Golden Triangle may have gained a little unwanted notoriety in the 1920s for its opium trade, today it remains a lush, mountainous, traditional intersection of Northern Thailand, Laos and Burma. In the morning take a three-hour ride in a minivan to this famous border. 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.
Chiang Mai/Overnight sleeper train
Like your temples creepy and kooky and quirky and weird? Good thing we’re stopping in at the White Temple this morning. Although it can be crowded with tourists, this temple is a modern wonder. 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.
Your train is scheduled to arrive into Bangkok early this morning. Transfer back to the hotel where the trip started. As there are no more activities planned for today, Enjoy a free day in Bangkok. Check out the areas you missed the first time around, and a chance to eat some more delicious Bangkok street food!
The composition of your group might change today. Meet your new leader and group at the meeting at approx. 6 pm tonight.
Bangkok – Overnight Train
Explore some of Bangkok's oldest neighborhoods on a walking tour with your leader. Visit the local Talad Noi Market, Chinese Temple and find hidden street art installations. Pass by Wat Pho and perhaps stop in to see who can spot the most images of Buddha. Rumour has it there are up to 1000. Then you'll cruise along the Chao Praya, and 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).
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. Stay in a simple raft house, which is literally ON the lake. Wait till you see the view when you wake up.
This morning you will take a longtail boat back to the pier (approx 50 mins) and then travel by minibus to Ao Nang, Krabi (approx 2.5 hours) Home to sweet white-sand beaches and limestone karsts jutting out of cerulean waters Krabi is a picture perfect paradise. The main street of this lively beachside town has heaps of bars and restaurants to grab a beer or meal at.
That's the trouble with paradise – there's too many ways to enjoy it. Today's a free day, so that means time to kayak or climb the karst rock formations that surround this place. If you take an optional kayaking activity you can head to Ao Thalane and paddle through mangrove forests, coves and narrow karst-walled canyons, keeping an eye out for kingfishers, herons and crab-eating macaque monkeys.