Support an important animal welfare initiative and get close to incredible creatures at Chang Chill Elephant Park.. See how the locals live on a bicycle ride through your homestay village. Ride past the rice fields and breathe in the fresh country air, with beautiful mountains in the distance.. Discover a different side of Kuala Lumpur – away from the skyscrapers – on a half-day street food tour through the alleyways, uncovering flavours you need to be a local to know.. Dive into a nature lover’s paradise at Khao Sok National Park, exploring, hiking, relaxing, and cruising by longtail boat on a limestone cliff-circled lake.
Visit South East Asia’s buzzing cities and pristine islands on a jam-packed journey through Thailand and Malaysia. Travel to Northern Thailand and experience the incredible hospitality of the Thai people on a rural homestay, and discover Chiang Mai – a treasure trove of glittering temples and mouth-watering cuisine. Relax in the laidback beachside bliss of Ao Nang, see a different side to the modern metropolis of Kuala Lumpur, and find food heaven in Penang and Singapore. By visiting rural communities, animal welfare initiatives and local cooking schools along the way, you’ll gain a true sense of what this region is really about and discover why South East Asia shines bright as a diverse and delightful place of adventure.
Sa-wat dee! Welcome to Bangkok, Thailand's bustling capital. Bangkok is famous for its tuk tuks, khlong boats and street vendors serving up delicious Thai food. With no planned activities until your important welcome meeting at 6 pm, why not head out and explore. You could take a riverboat to Chinatown and explore the crowded streets, uncover the magnificent Grand Palace and the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, wander down the tourist mecca of Khao San Road, or indulge in a Thai massage. After the meeting tonight, perhaps gather your fellow travellers together and tuck into some into world famous street food.
This morning, leave the current capital of Thailand and head north by train (approx 6 hours) and private mini van (approx 1 hour) to one of the first ancient capitals of Siam, Sukhothai. Located on a fertile plain, Sukhothai was established in the 13th century, and the name means the 'Dawn of Happiness'. It’s now famous for its World Heritage-listed historic park that celebrates the Golden Age of Thai civilisation. Tonight, be sure to head to the fascinating local night market and try the local dishes, like Sukhothai noodles.
Head out to the historical ruins of Old Sukhothai, set amid beautiful lakes and gardens. The religious art and architecture of the Sukhothai era are considered to be the most classic of Thai styles, and the Sukhothai Historical Park contains the remains of 21 historic sites, with awe-inspiring Buddha images and four large ponds often filled with stunning lotus flowers in full bloom. Upon arrival at the park, hire bicycles and enjoy a few leisurely hours feeling the breeze in your hair and learning about the history of this fascinating place. Enjoy a home-cooked picnic lunch somewhere along the way, and if you have enough free time, visit a local ceramics factory.
Travel by private minivan from Sukothai (approx 4 hours) to the warm and welcoming home of Intrepid's long-time friends in a small Thai village where you’ll spend the night. Accommodation at the homestay is multishare and basic (there will be fold-out mattresses on the floor and shared bathrooms), but there is no better way to better understand a country and its people. In the evening, you’ll be treated to a traditional northern Thai khantok dinner, accompanied by live music and dancing.
Village Homestay - Chiang Mai
In the morning, jump on some bikes and cruise around the homestay village. This is a great opportunity to see how the locals live, and you’ll make a few stops along the way to see small country industries in the area. Cycling past the rice fields and breathing in the fresh country air, with beautiful mountains in the distance, makes this morning a picture-postcard experience. Say goodbye to your new friends and travel on to Chiang Mai (approximately 45 minutes). The most vibrant city in northern Thailand, Chiang Mai has many famous temples and an interesting old city area. Renowned for dazzling beauty and extremely welcoming locals, the ‘Rose of the North’ will leave you spellbound. Chances are, you won’t want to leave. Tonight, why not head to the famous vibrant night markets!
Today you can enjoy a Thai cooking class! If you're a foodie, then you’ll discover some of the secrets of Thai cuisine, learn the key ingredients, how to use them, and what to use in their place if you can’t get them at home. As well as taking your own comprehensive recipe book with you after the class, you'll feast on the fruits of your labour for lunch. The rest of the day is free for you to explore Chiang Mai at leisure. Perhaps explore the famous temple complex of Doi Suthep. Drive along a scenic, winding mountain road that ends at an impressive 300-step naga-guarded stairway (approximately 45 mins). The rewards justify the climb with one of the most beautiful temples in Thailand on display, not to mention fantastic panoramic views of the city and the opportunity to listen to hypnotic evening chanting by resident Buddhist monks. Or maybe wander markets, meet monks, cruise the river, and slurp noodles on a Mae Ping River Experience.
Today, you’ll have a pretty special time visiting the ChiangChill elephant experience. Take a 1.5-hour drive out of Chiang Mai to ChiangChill, where you’ll begin to learn how this organisation supports the protection, conservation and lifestyle of free roaming elephants in the region. You’ll observe the daily patterns of these jungle giants from a safe distance, seeing how they graze and socialise with their other friends. The expert local guides will be able to give you a ‘live lecture’ on the elephants themselves, its sustainable tourism practices and conservation efforts in the area. Enjoy some refreshments nearby the elephant’s mud pit but be careful not to get a spray! Be treated to some lunch in a riverside sala (pavilion) alongside your giant friends, who will be enjoying a meal too. Return to Chiang Mai where the rest of the time is at leisure.
Today you will fly from Chiang Mai to Bangkok and then transfer to your hotel. Please note you will be unaccompanied on this flight. You will have the afternoon free to check out the fast-paced and fascinating Thai capital. Once checked in, why not take a riverboat to Chinatown and explore the crowded streets, uncover the magnificent Grand Palace and the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, wander down the tourist mecca of Khao San Road, or indulge in some Thai massage. Keep in mind that there will be a group meeting to discuss the next stage of your itinerary, usually around 6 pm. After your briefing, perhaps gather your fellow travellers together and tuck into some of the world-famous street food.
Bangkok - Overnight train
Begin the day with a river cruise down the Chao Phraya River to explore the famous ‘khlongs’ (canals) (approximately 1 hour). Life along these canals seems a world away from the chaotic streets of the capital. Pay a visit to Wat Pho, one of the Bangkok temples, with a 46-metre-long gold-plated Buddha reclining inside. 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. No trip to Thailand is complete without an overnight train journey and this evening you’ll head south to Surat Thani, accommodated in air-conditioned sleeping berths (approximately 12 hours). Multi share compartments have bunk beds, with sheets and pillow provided, your baggage travels in the carriage with you and there is a food and drink service available on board.
Arrive into Surat Thani in the morning and then travel by minivan to Khao Sok (approximately 2.5 hours). Set amid hectares of thick jungle, waterfalls, limestone cliffs and topped off with an island-studded lake, the national park of Khao Sok is a nature lover's paradise. Here you’ll have free time to explore one of the oldest rainforests in the world. Walk along the dirt trails that snake through the quiet park, looking out for wildlife as you head for rivers and waterfalls. The flora is also top-notch, with the rare Rafflesia Kerri, one of the world’s largest flowers, only found in Thailand here. There are longer hiking trails also available and in the rainy season there's an option to take to the water in inner tubes and float down the river through the rainforest. Spend a night in a rustic hut amid ancient gnarled rainforest trees.
Travel through pristine jungle, rubber and oil plantations before boarding a long tail boat for a ride across stunning Cheow Lan Lake, with one of its islands as your destination. With limestone karst hills rising almost 1000 metres into the air and surrounded by beautiful green waters, the area is incredibly picturesque. Trek to an island cave and discover its eerie stalactites and bats hanging from the ceiling, with subterranean streams at your feet. You’ll enjoy lunch in a local raft-house before having free time to relax, swim or kayak around the lake to search for wildlife – the water is clear and teems with aquatic life, and you might spot hornbills, langurs, macaques or gibbons above water. Return to your accommodation for the night.
Sit back and enjoy a private mini van ride to a small village in the Krabi province (approximately 3 hours). On arrival, enjoy a walk around the village, try out rubber tapping and enjoy the great food and hospitality of the region. Thailand is one of the world’s three largest producers of rubber, and you can try your hand at ‘tapping’ a rubber tree – skimming the bark off the tree to create a path for the milky white latex to run down. There is also an opportunity to assist with the preparation of tonight's meal – learn some of the delicious secrets of southern Thai cooking and enjoy a dinner that tastes all the better thanks to your handiwork! This is a wonderful opportunity to absorb some of the daily rituals of Thai culture. After dinner, make the short journey to Ao Nang (approximately 30 minutes) where you’ll spend the night.