Discover a world of Thai food beyond the obvious (albeit delicious) dishes of Pad Thai and Thai Green curry – from ‘boat noodles’ in Ayutthaya to khao soi in Chiang Mai.. Whip up northern Thai khantohk specialties with Aoi outside of Chiang Mai, and live Thai life from a local’s perspective with a stay in her home. Experience the eye-opening and surprising world of Thai food markets, filled with unpredictable tastes and found in unexpected places – floating on a river or set up on a railway track!. Get ready for a hands-on masterclass in Central Thai cuisine in Kanchanaburi, browsing the market to pick fresh produce before feasting on your creations
An adventure in flavour, experience the fresh aromas and heavenly spices that make Thai food a worldwide phenomenon. Explore bustling markets spread out over land and water, and taste exotic fruits and aromatic dishes whipped up in front of your eyes. Learn the trick behind making palm sugar, experience the thrill of a passing train in the Mae Glong railway market, slurp noodles alongside the locals in Bangkok, whip up a jungle curry in Kanchanaburi, enjoy home cooking with a family in Chiang Mai, sit down to a Khantohk feast and tour all the must-see sights of Thailand in one incredible culinary journey through one of South-East Asia’s most seductive food cultures.
Breakfast Included: 4 Lunches Included: 4 Dinner Included: 2
Sa-wat dee! Welcome to Thailand. Thailand's bustling capital, Bangkok is famous for its tuk tuks, khlong boats and street vendors serving up delicious Thai food. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 5pm on Day 1. Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask the hotel reception where it will take place, and have your insurance details and next of kin information ready for collection. Bangkok has so much to offer those with time to explore, so perhaps arrive a day or so early and 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. After the meeting tonight, jump in a tuk tuk for a moveable feast. The first stop is for pork satay from a place that's been serving it up for more than 40 years. Next, take a short walk to dine at a restaurant that’s a favourite of the royal family. Finish up with a popular Thai dessert of toast topped with cream (don't knock it till you've tried it!).
Head to the Mae Glong Railway Market (approximately 1.5 hours) for a breakfast of khnom krok (rice pudding) or khnom gui chai (fried Chinese chives rice cake). Prepare for stalls to be quickly pulled to one side when the train quite literally passes through the centre of the market. Continue by minivan to swap tracks for water at the Tha Kha Floating Markets. Walk past canals filled with sellers hawking their colourful fruits and wares at this authentic local market, then board a paddle boat to explore the waterways further. The area’s well known for coconut palm sugar production and along the way you’ll stop past a riverside operation to see how it is made. Travel on to Kanchanaburi (approximately 2 hours), stopping at Nakorn Pathom to witness the tallest stupa in the world – 120 metres high – while snacking on the popular regional dessert of khao lam, an enticing mixture of sweet sticky rice neatly wrapped in a bamboo tube. By mid afternoon, arrive in Kanchanaburi, famed as the location of the Bridge on the River Kwai and a beautiful town surrounded by verdant jungle, waterfalls and rivers. Choose to visit the Bridge on the River Kwai and the World War II Museum on a rickshaw tour, or relax at one of the floating restaurants along the river, watching the river traffic pass by. Tonight dine at the local night market, which is sure to get tastebuds singing.
Get ready for a hands-on masterclass in Central Thai cuisine today. Start at the markets to collect ingredients for the day's menu, then whip up some classic dishes including wing beans, banana flower cake, and jungle curry. Feast on your creations for lunch. The rest of the afternoon is free for your own exploration. You could continue your discovery of the area’s dark history with a moving visit to the Hellfire Pass Memorial, built to honour the Allied 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 25 miles 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. Then you can board a train at Nam Tok station, the main terminal of the Death Railway, and take a ride along the historic tracks along the Kwai Noi River. This passes through magnificent scenery and you can spend a moment reflecting on those who were forced to give their lives in the process of bending this environment to man’s will. Perhaps meet up with your group in the evening for dinner at a restaurant specialising in E-saan flavours found in north-eastern Thailand.
Wake early and travel to Ayutthaya (approximately 3.5 hours), the second capital of Siam after Sukhothai, and once one of the most powerful in Asia with over 1 million residents by AD 1700. Stop past a street food stall for a demonstration and tasting of roti sai mai, a dish synonymous with the Kingdom of Ayutthaya. It consists of a thin pancake wrapped around delicious, fine strands of thin-spun cotton candy. Also be sure to try a steaming bowl of guay-tieo-ruea, or 'boat noodles'. The combination of fragrant pork broth, roasted strips of meat, Thai-style pork balls and crackling skin, sliced morning glory stalks, fresh green onion and a choice of rice noodles served in Ayutthaya is thought of as the original and best. While no longer served from sampans on the river, these narrow rowboats adorn the roadside eateries as a marker of what's on the menu. See the remains and reminders of Ayutthaya’s golden age with a guided tour of the picturesque ruins and temples spread across the town. The rows of headless Buddhas at Wat Phra Mahathat, sacked by the Burmese in the 18th century, are very atmospheric, and a Buddha head surrounded by Banyan tree roots is perhaps the most photographed site in all of Ayutthaya. This evening you’ll head north to Chiang Mai on an overnight train journey, accommodated in soft sleeper class air-conditioned berths (approximately 13 hours).
Notes: Multishare compartments have bunk beds with sheets and a pillow provided. Your baggage travels in the carriage with you. There's a food and drink service available on board.
Arrive in Chiang Mai by mid-morning. 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. Most importantly, Chiang Mai is famous for its northern Thai cuisine and may just be home to many of your favourite Thai dishes. Lunch today is khao soi, a delicious curry noodle dish that is synonymous with the region. The rest of the day is free, and there are so many things to do – spectacular temples, an enormous night market, a picturesque river-front, and fantastic shopping. Join your leader on a walk through the old city, hire a bicycle, or simply loosen those muscles with some traditional Thai massage. Maybe take a scenic, winding drive up a mountain (around 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 for a memorable experience. In the evening, check out the Chiang Mai Night Bazaar, full of local handicrafts and fabulous northern street food dishes.
Wake early to offer alms to local monks before a breakfast of traditional congee. Later in the morning, meet Aoi, your gracious host for an incredible homestay experience in a small Thai village. Stop by a restaurant specialising in the local delicacy of fermented rice noodles for lunch. Next, head to the homestay via some producers, including a mushroom farm, where you'll pick up ingredients for a northern Thai cooking class. Journey on to Aoi’s home and get ready to cook up a feast – quite literally! Over the years, a khantohk dinner has become a traditional way to welcome guests. Khantohk technically refers to a raised tray used for serving food in northern Thailand. Eleven dishes are featured on this traditional Khantohk menu, so roll up the sleeves and spend a fun afternoon learning the ins and outs of this northern Thailand cuisine. Cut, chop and sizzle the day away, then tuck into dishes like northern style gai tod (fried chicken) and naam prig ong (minced pork & tomato chili paste) while listening to local musicians sing and dance traditional fare through dinner.
Note: You can leave your main luggage at the Chiang Mai hotel and pack an overnight bag for the homestay. As we will be staying in a traditional rural community, please be mindful to pack and wear conservative dress. The accommodation tonight is multi-share and basic, but the atmosphere is warm and welcoming. Beds are fold-out mattresses on the floor and bathrooms are shared.
Wake up and enjoy a sumptuous northern Thai breakfast of fried rice, sweet sticky rice and egg custard. Farewell your hosts then head back to Chiang Mai to check out the bustling Warorot Market (Kad Luang). One of Chiang Mai’s largest markets and a thriving social hub, this is the perfect place to get a glimpse of daily life in northern Thailand, as well as some of the ingredients and snacks unique to northern cuisine. Take a tasting tour through the stalls. Be sure to try sai ua (Chaing Mai sausage). Bamboo worms are for the more intrepid foodies... There will also be time for some final shopping, eating, and perhaps another massage. Perhaps meet up again in the evening for a final dinner at a restaurant along the Mae Ping River, and toast the end of this Real Food Adventure Thailand with a beautiful view over the water.
Your delicious Real Food Adventure ends this morning and you are free to leave at any time as there are no activities planned for today.