See the country through the eyes of a local as you travel with an experienced leader who will share stories, provide historical context, and of course know all the best places to eat.. Enjoy lunch on a traditional rice barge, eat a barbecue dinner by a campfire in the hills, have a relaxing picnic in the park and see the best of Bangkok’s culinary scene.. Stay in the beautiful Lisu lodge, a community-based project employing Lisu villagers, immerse yourself in local culture and enjoy creature comforts. . Support an important animal welfare initiative, speak with local experts and get close to incredible creatures at the Elephant Nature Park.
Discover a land of mouth-watering food, stunning landscapes, fascinating history and incredibly hospitable locals on this Intrepid Premium journey through Northern Thailand. Get to know the innermost essence of Thai culture as you travel from city streets to mountain tops with a local leader, spend time with Lisu and Lahu hill tribes, visit grand temples and moving historical sites.
Breakfast Included: 11 Lunches Included: 4 Dinner Included: 5
Welcome to Thailand! Your journey begins in Bangkok, where you’ll be collected at the airport and transferred to your hotel. After settling into your room, your journey begins with an important meeting at 6 pm. Please check for the Intrepid Premium noticeboard in the reception area of the hotel. If you arrive early, take some time to enjoy Bangkok’s irresistible energy. By day you’ll encounter a city steeped with history and tradition, but by night Bangkok is taken over by a flood of music and neon lights. Watch torrents of tuk tuks zip by while traditional khlong boats slowly wind down the Chao Phraya River. After your meeting, join your small group for a welcome dinner at an excellent local restaurant where your leader will introduce you to a food scene that’s bursting with local flavour.
Rise early for an optional exclusive experience away from Bangkok’s well-trodden tourist track. Join the locals at sunrise for to a visit to a temple along the Chao Phraya River, where you’ll “make merit” by bringing an offering to the temple’s monks – a truly unforgettable moment. Today your leader will take you for a day of sightseeing and activities in lively Bangkok. Tour Wat Po, a larger-than-life temple complex in the city - home of the Temple of the Reclining Buddha. Also visit the majestic Grand Palace and learn about the site which has been the official residence of the kings since the 1700s, and enjoy a boat tour of the city's canals as your leader shows you how Bangkok’s locals live today. The afternoon is free to do as you wish, perhaps check out the art collection at the Jim Thompson house or relax with a Thai massage.
This morning head to Ayutthaya, one of the ancient capitals of Siam and a World Heritage site. Give your camera batteries a workout as you explore the photogenic 14th-century temple of Wat Yai Chai Mongkhon while your leader shares knowledge of the complex’s history. Continue to the ornately decorated Wat Phanan Choeng, one of Ayutthaya's oldest temples and home to a 19-metre-high Buddha. Then you’re in for a real treat - the past will come to life as you board a traditional rice barge and explore Chao Phraya River while tucking into a delicious Thai lunch. Continue on to the 13th-century ruins of Wat Phra Mahathat and discover rows of Buddhas beheaded by the Burmese. Look out for the displaced Buddha head suspended in the roots of a Banyan tree - one of the country’s most photographed images. Return to Bangkok for the evening and enjoy some of the many amazing restaurants on offer.
Travel by private transport to Kanchanaburi, a modern riverfront town with a dark past. Located at the meeting point of the Khwae Noi and Khwae Yai rivers, Kanchanaburi is home to the infamous 'Bridge on the River Kwai'. 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. Visit the memorial museum of the pass where your leader will provide more information about this chapter in history. Take a historical train journey across a portion of this 'death railway' along the Kwai Noi River and travel over the original wooden viaduct, known as the Bridge on the River Kwai, constructed by the allied POWs. Pass through peaceful and naturally beautiful scenery as you learn of those who lost their lives building this rail route. The evening is yours to explore the town.
Make the short drive to the Erawan National Park, named after the three-headed white elephant of Hindu mythology, and visit the magnificent seven-tiered waterfall. Take a dip in radiant emerald green waters, climb the tiers to find different cascades at every level, or sit back and snap pictures of the luxuriant vegetation. On the way back to Kanchanaburi, stop in at the World War II cemetery and museum for a guided tour with your leader, who will share stories and explain the cemetery is the main resting place for the prisoners of war who laboured under Japanese rule in building the Thai-Burma Railway. Enjoy a free evening in Kanchanaburi - perhaps wander through the rows of street food vendors in town, or reflect on the day with a drink overlooking the River Kwai at one of many charming riverfront establishments.
Uthai Thani - Nakhon Sawan
Depart Kanchanaburi in the morning and drive to Hup Pa Tat. Explore the beautiful valley surrounded by limestone mountains with your leader on hand to help spot wildlife and rare plants. Legend has it that centuries ago this valley was a gigantic cave, until the ceiling caved in; massive chunks of limestone lying on the valley floor support the theory. Continue to Uthai Thani where you’ll lunch enjoy lunch cruising on a traditional rice barge, watching village life along the riverfront stream by as your travel through beautiful countryside. Afterwards, stop by the transfixing glass temple of Wat Tha Sung before travelling on to Nakhon Sawan where you will spend the night. This evening perhaps check out the local market where you can get your hands on a range of enticing regional street food.
Today you will leave Nakhon Sawan and travel to the town of Sukhothai, stopping en route in the historic city of Phitsanulok. Here you will have the chance to pick up some lunch, and perhaps visit the temple of Wat Phra Sri Rattana Mahathat, famed for its beautiful golden Buddha statue. Continue to Sukhothai, where the rest of the afternoon is free for your own discoveries. You may like to relax by the pool or unwind with a Thai massage, and for dinner this evening be sure to ask your leader where you can get a bowl of Sukhothai’s famously tasty noodles.
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'. Visit the historical park, which spans the ruins of the town, where you will rent a bicycle and take part in a cycle tour. As you ride around, your leader will let you know 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 to explore the town, or you might want to simply read a book by the pool back at your accommodation. This evening, regroup and head to the home of one of our local friends where you’ll enjoy a wonderful homecooked dinner and a unique insight into life in this part of the country.
Travel from Sukhothai to the Mae Taeng region. Draped between tranquil rice fields and fruit orchards, you’ll find the echanting Lisu Lodge, your feature stay accommodation for the evening. The lodge is a community-based project that trains and employs Lisu villagers from the nearby hill tribe and aims to preserve their cultural heritage. The Lisu people are a Tibeto-Burman ethnic group and one of the six main hill tribes of Northern Thailand. Meet the colourfully dressed villagers and learn more about the Lisu way of life - a truly special experience that is sure to be one of your enduring memories of Thailand. The lodge offers gorgeous guestrooms decorated in the traditional Lisu style with modern comforts. Savour unforgettable views of the surrounding hillside and valley, and enjoy a tantalising dinner of Thai food mixed with traditional Lisu dishes. You don’t have to look for a cultural experience here - it’s all around you.
Travel to the Elephant Nature Park - a unique project that provides sanctuary for elephants and other animals. Be greeted by an expert local guide and learn the stories of the rescued elephants and the issues they face in South-East Asia. Feed the elephants from a viewing platform, walk with the expert staff to watch elephants bathe and play, and enjoy a vegetarian buffet lunch. Then head to the village of Kup Kap, home of the Lahu people. Explore the village on foot as your leader provides insight on the Lahu way of living and what makes this hill tribe different. Experience a personal and intimate interaction as you are welcomed into a Lahu villager’s home for tea and coffee, then go on to learn how the local coffee is produced. This evening gather around the campfire for a traditional barbecue dinner on return to your feature stay accommodation.
This morning you will visit Wat Ban Den, a sprawling complex filled with intricately decorated sacred temples. Enjoy views of the countryside as you pass through colourful buildings and whimsical statues. Carry on to Chiang Mai, a laidback city that has retained a mellow atmosphere and authentic feel. The rest of the afternoon is free for you to explore - perhaps dive into Chiang Mai’s street food scene or check out more Buddhist temples - be sure to ask your leader for recommendations. In the evening, your group will be treated to dinner at an excellent local restaurant to celebrate your Northern Thailand adventure.
With no activities planned for today, your adventure comes to an end after breakfast. If you would like to extend your stay in Chiang Mai we can help arrange extra accommodation (subject to availability).