Whip up a culinary storm in Sukhothai, creating and tasting delicious local dishes at a cooking class with a local host.. Pay your respect at the memorials by the infamous ‘Bridge over the River Kwai’ – learn about its dark history and the construction of the death railway in Kanchanaburi during the war.. Immerse yourself in the wonders of an ancient tribal culture with a night in the Hmong lodge, treated to a barbecue dinner and Hmong cultural show.. Experience an unforgettable day in the company of the giants of the jungle, Asian elephants, on a journey that will teach you about conservation and animal protection in this region.
Thailand’s stunning beauty and charming culture are ever present on this ten-day small-group adventure. The welcoming nation conjures up images of spicy delicacies, majestic elephants, golden Buddhas, colourful hilltribe villages, fantastic shopping and exotic hideaways – so why not experience it all at once. Witness traditional hilltribe life in a Hmong village, support the rehabilitation of the endangered Asian elephant, step back in time in the ancient kingdom of Sukhothai and try your hand at creating some delectable Thai dishes. This is your chance to capture the adventure and essence of timeless Thailand.
Breakfast Included: 9 Lunches Included: 2 Dinner Included: 3
Sa-wat dee! Welcome to Thailand. Thailand's bustling capital is famous for its tuk tuks, khlong boats and street vendors serving up delicious Thai food. Your adventure begins with an important welcome meeting at 6 pm. Bangkok has so much to offer those who have time to explore, so perhaps arrive a day or so early and take a riverboat to Chinatown and explore the crowded streets, wander down the tourist mecca of Khao San Road, or indulge in some Thai massage. After the meeting tonight why not gather some of your travel crew together for a group dinner at one of the many restaurants surrounding your hotel.
Begin the day with a river cruise of about an hour or so down the Chao Phraya River to explore the famous ‘khlongs’ (canals). Life along these canals seems a world away from the chaotic streets of the capital. Pay a visit to the magnificent Grand Palace and the Temple of the Emerald Buddha. The sprawling royal complex houses numerous ornate structures that highlight the grand architectural traditions of Thailand. Have some lunch at a nearby local restaurant, and then travel south by private minibus to Kanchanaburi (approximately 2.5 hours). Located where the confluence of the Khwae Noi and Khwae Yai rivers, Kanchanaburi is home to the infamous 'Bridge on the River Kwai'.
This morning, make tracks for the Erawan Waterfalls. These terraced falls, named after the three-headed white elephant of Hindu mythology, cascade into a series of emerald green pools, and are a great place to walk around and discover the natural beauty in arguably the most famous national park in Kanchanaburi Province of Thailand. Enjoy lunch at the park, and then drive for an hour or so to the Hellfire Pass Memorial, built to honour the Allied Prisoners Of War (POWs) and Asian conscripts who died while constructing some of the most difficult stretches of the Thai-Burma Death Railway. You can head out to a teak observation deck and look across to Myanmar just kilometres away. You’ll also see the eponymous pass, cut through rock 18 metres deep, that got its name from the hellish fires used to light the work at night. Boarding at Nam Tok station, the main terminal of the Death Railway, take a ride along the historic tracks along the Kwai Noi River and travel over the original wooden viaduct (the Bridge on the River Kwai) constructed by the allied POWs. Pass through magnificent scenery and spend a moment reflecting on those who were forced to give their lives in the process of bending this environment to man’s will. Tonight, you can explore the rows of street vendors in town and perhaps grab a drink overlooking the River Kwai.
Head away from Kanchanaburi to Ayuthaya in a private minivan this morning (approximately 4 hours). You will most likely arrive in Ayuthaya just in time for lunch. In the afternoon, head with your group leader to the Historical Park, which is rich in ancient temples, historical ruins and Buddha statues. You will visit the site, seeing temples including Wat Yai Chai Mongkol, Wat Maha That and Wat Panun Choeng. Between the 14th and 18th centuries, Ayuthaya was considered the second capital of the Siamese Kingdom and grew to be one of the largest cosmopolitan urban centres in the world, and you’ll see its historic grandeur on full display today.
Buckle up for a bit of travelling today. Take a traditional songthaew from your accommodation to the train station, then board a day train to Phitsanuloke (approximately 5 hours). From there, take a 1.5-hour minivan to Sukhothai, the historic capital of Siam, stopping off at Wat Yai Phitsanuloke along the way. Be sure to have your music, podcasts or movies downloaded or a good book handy, as you’ll be sweeping through the countryside on a relaxing travel day. Once arrived at your resort, spend some time in the open air and perhaps have a swim in the onsite pool!
Located on a fertile plain, Sukhothai was established in the 13th century as one of the first ancient capitals of Siam, 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. 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 striking 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 delicious lunch at the end of your ride. Have some free time this afternoon before heading to a local house for a Thai-style cooking class. You’ll learn some traditional food from the Sukhothai region such as chilli pastes and fragrant curries, spicy soups, steamed fish cake and Thai custard. Your host will help you prepare these dishes and will assist you in making a delicious spread to share at the end.
Hmong Hilltribe Lodge
Take a minivan on a drive north to the Hmong Hilltribe Lodge in picturesque hilly countryside (approximately 4.5 hours). Set in a peaceful valley of a scenic mountain range and surrounded by stunning natural landscapes of jungle and mountains, the Hmong lodge offers a unique and tranquil experience. It's a great escape from the hustle and bustle of busy tourist spots. The rooms are simple and rustic, fitting perfectly with the natural environment. Be sure to pack a warm jumper as the weather will be mild and cool year-round due to the lofty mountain location. 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 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.
Transfer by private vehicle to Chiang Mai (approximately 1.5 hours). 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. In the late afternoon, embark on a scenic, winding drive up a mountain (approximately 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 hypnotic atmosphere of chanting Buddhist monks and sweeping views of the city make this a memorable experience. Your leader can help you to arrange optional activities for your free time today – you can get active with a bicycle tour to discover the city and surrounding countryside from a different perspective, indulge in a Thai massage or a spa treatment, or just read a book by the pool.
Today, you’ll have a pretty special time visiting the ChangChill elephant experience. Take a 1.5-hour drive out of Chiang Mai to ChangChill, 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. On your way back to Chiang Mai, stop by Kaomai Estate 1955 café for a coffee – this eclectic tobacco factory-turned-café hasn’t just got a Cultural Heritage Conservation for New Design accreditation from UNESCO for nothing! At night, get your travel crew together for a group dinner in town and celebrate today’s unforgettable experience.
With no activities planned for today, you are free to leave the accommodation at any time.