Feel like one of the locals on an overnight train from Chiang Mai to Bangkok. Grab some snacks from the on-board vendors, utilise your phrase book and embrace this unique journey.. Obsessed with the Tom Yam Goong at your local Thai joint? Imagine how much better it would be in Thailand, on a beach, with a cocktail, at sunset. Nice, eh?. Koh Samui is a 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.. Kick back for a few days in Ao Nang. Plenty of free time to take up optional activities like, cook some food in a Thai cooking class, cook yourself in some hot springs or paddle to a hidden lagoon on Koh Hong island.
Leave behind crowded Bangkok and head into parts of Thailand that lots of travellers never see. By the time they’re up and ready to shake off last night’s hangover, you’ll be on your way to Doi Inthanont National Park, where you will find Hilltribe villages, waterfalls and jungle. From there, it just keeps getting better. Sure, you’ll see the vaunted beaches of Koh Samui and Ao Nang, but you’ll also spend a night in a rafthouse in Khao Sok National Park and partake in a Muay Thai Class in Chiang Mai. Now THIS is Thailand.
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. If you do arrive early, perhaps take a walk around Chinatown and explore the crowded streets, or head to the magnificent Grand Palace. Once you’ve had your important meeting, it’s definitely time for food. Bangkok is known for its street food, so be sure to check out some roadside stalls for a delicious coconut curry, tom yum goong or pad thai. Later on, get wild in Bangkok’s nightlife and head out – some good places are Bed Supper Club or Vertigo. Ask your guide for directions or grab your new travel mates and attempt to navigate the Skytrain.
Ayutthaya - Overnight Train
Good morning! Time for an adventure. Take a train from Bangkok to Ayutthaya in the morning. Ayuthaya was the capital in the Kingdom of Siam, but now the ruins of this old city form the Historical Park: an archaeological site that contains palaces, Buddhist temples, monasteries and statues. Take local tuk-tuks on a visit to the Ayutthaya temple site, stopping by Wat Wanan Choeng (adorned with a huge 19-metre Buddha image), Wat Yai Chai Mong Koll (with its 62 metre Victory Pagoda), and the famous Wat Maha That (the Buddhist temple with a striking figure head swallowed by tree roots). You’ll have the chance to buy some of Ayuthaya’s famous Boat Noodles’ soup – trust us, they’re delicious. After your day exploring, hop on an overnight train up to Chiang Mai. You’ll have a few day-use rooms to share in Ayutthaya to freshen up before your train ride.
Arrive in Chiang Mai in the morning and transfer to your hostel. Even though check-in is at 2 pm, you’ll still be able to use the facilities, if you’d like. Chiang Mai is the perfect entrance to the Thai highlands, with misty mountains and colourful hillside villages awaiting you to explore. This will be your base for the next few days, as you’ll return here after your hillside trek. Today, spend the rest of the afternoon relaxing and exploring the city, then at night, why not get a group of you together and visit some of the trending bars in the happening Nimman area? You are on holiday, after all.
Chiang Mai - Hilltribe Trek
This morning at around 8 am, leave Chiang Mai in a songthaew (approximately 2 hours). Head to Wachirathan Waterfall, then on the way up to the mountain, visit Hmong Hilltribe Market at Baan Khun Klang. Lunch will be provided at a local restaurant. After lunch, start trekking at Doi Pha Tang, trekking for 2-3 hours along a relatively smooth trail, mostly walking downhill through the natural forest. On the trail, you will pass the Mai Phai waterfall which is a great spot to take a break. After a bit more of a hike, arrive at a Karen hilltribe village called Baan Tin Tok, where you’ll be staying for the night. Around 20 Christian families of Karen people live in this village. Enjoy dinner cooked by your host, then take a walk around the village to chat with the locals, perhaps checking out their art of naturally dyed clothes. You’ll stay in a wooden house, surrounded by an organic vegetable farm, with shared facilities. This is special.
Hilltribe Trek - Chiang Mai
The best thing about being deep in the jungle in the morning is to enjoy the natural wake-up sounds of wildlife calls to stir your sleep. After a hearty breakfast (you’ll need it!), get back on board for today’s hike. It’s a pretty easy walk through local agricultural practice and farmland for a couple of hours, before arriving at Mae Ya Waterfalls, the biggest waterfall in Doi Inthanont National Park. Lunch will be provided today as well – yeah! Then, you will also have time to visit Wat Phradhatu Sri Chom Tong Voravihara, which is highly respected because of the sacred Buddha relic that is enshrined here. The Wat Phra That Si Chom Thong was constructed halfway through the 15th century located where the Buddha relic was found. The oldest structure is the chedi, which was built around 1450. The chedi is a large golden structure with a square base and a spire on top of that. Afterwards, continue back to Chiang Mai (approximately 2 hours), arriving around 4 pm and checking into your accommodation. The rest of the day is free to relax and explore the city.
Today you're free as a bird in charming Chiang Mai. There’s a heap of optional activities to check out today, and you’re free to choose. Maybe 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. What is recommended is, at night, get the gang together and check out Chiang Mai’s famed night markets, where you’ll find everything from souvenirs to sweet treats on offer.
Chiang Mai - Overnight sleeper train
With another day to explore Chiang Mai, you’re spoilt for options. Included for today is your chance to learn one of the world legend Martial arts, Muay Thai (Thai Boxing) this morning. Spend 2 hours exercising and learning the basics of Muay Thai with the pros, plus how to adapt yourselves to be the weapons and guard. Later in the evening, board an overnight train for Bangkok (approximately 13 hours). Soft sleeper class trains are used for the overnight journey, and they’ve got all you’ll need! 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 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.
Bangkok - Overnight Train
Today, explore some of Bangkok's most famous sights. Take an included visit with your group to the temple complex of Wat Pho, which houses the famous 46-metre-long statue of the Reclining Buddha – he sure looks comfortable. And how will you get there? Well, in the best way possible: the humble tuk tuk. Pile in these traditional vehicles and take a ride from the hotel to Ratchawongse Pier, then take the Chao Phraya Express boar to Tha Tien Pier, pulling up right near the complex. Afterwards, the afternoon is free for you to discover more of the city, like the Grand Palace or Jim Thompson House (or just more food, up to you). In the evening, be ready to head south on an overnight train to Surat Thani.
Arrive into Surat Thani this morning, continuing on an approximately 4-hour journey by public bus and ferry to Ko Samui. The island of Ko Samui has been a tourist hotspot for decades, and with good reason. You can 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 party atmosphere that is Koh Samui's famous nightlife.
Spend a free day today however you’d like – swimming, lazing in the sun or more exploring. 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. Take a swim at popular Ko 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 Ko Tao and Ko Nang Yuan. Ko Samui is also home to an elephant sanctuary, and you are able to come close to these gentle giants if you please. Watch them bathe, roam the fields and socialise with other elephants, all knowing that they are in a caring and peaceful environment.
Khao Sok National Park
This morning, head from Ko Samui to Khao Sok National Park. Take a songtaew and catch an early ferry from Samui Pier for a 1.5-hour journey to reach Don Sak Pier. Then, jump in a private vehicle to Chiew Larn Lake (approximately 2 hours), and take a traditional longtail boat for a calm 1-hour journey to reach your rafthouse. Khao Sok National Park is the wettest spot in Thailand with some of the oldest jungle in the world. See loads of amazing limestone rock faces and, if you're lucky, monkeys playing here and there. Once you’ve enjoyed lunch, take a jungle hike around the park, and depending on the season, you’ll see cascading waterfalls or head up high to a panoramic viewpoint. Later on, take an evening safari with your group, where you’ll head by longtail boat deep in the jungle, keeping an eye and ear out for animals. This is when they are most active. Afterwards, enjoy a traditional southern Thai meal at the rafthouse with your group.