Discover a world of Thai food beyond the obvious (and delicious!) pad thai and green curry – from boat noodles in Ayutthaya to khao soi in Chiang Mai, and everything in between.. Let your group leader guide you through the best local hawker stalls and food markets of the country’s bustling capital, Bangkok.. Whip up northern Thai khantohk specialities just outside of Chiang Mai, and experience Thai life from a local’s perspective with a village homestay.. Encounter the eye-opening and surprising world of Thai food markets, filled with unpredictable tastes and found in unexpected places – on a river or set up on a railway track!
Indulge in the complex flavours, fresh aromas and heavenly spices that make Thai food so addictive. 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 train passing through in the Maeklong Railway Market, slurp noodles alongside locals in Bangkok, enjoy some home-cooking with a family in Chiang Mai, sit down to a Khantohk feast and tour all the must-see sights of Thailand. This is an incredible culinary journey through one of South East Asia’s most seductive food cultures.
Breakfast Included: 6 Lunches Included: 5 Dinner Included: 4
Sa-wat dee! Welcome to Thailand's capital, Bangkok – famous for its tuk-tuks, khlong boats, and street vendors serving up delicious Thai dishes. Your food adventure begins this evening with an important welcome meeting at 6 pm, but Bangkok has so much on offer that you might like to arrive a day or so early to explore: perhaps 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 welcome meeting, hit Chinatown for an introduction to the city's famous street food scene and get to know your fellow travellers over a few drinks at a local bar.
After an early breakfast, head to the Maeklong Railway Market (approximately 1.5 hours) to arrive in time for today's first snack. Sample the local favourites 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 paddleboat to explore the waterways further. The area is well known for coconut palm sugar production and you’ll stop in at a riverside operation to see how it is made. Afterwards, travel back to Bangkok, where you will have a free afternoon to shop, sightsee or simply relax at a cafe. Tonight, you'll take the train to a traditional night market. This vibrant shopping hub is a great place to sample some local street food, so ask your leader for their insight and recommendations. You might also like to browse the vintage stalls for a unique souvenir or enjoy live music at one of the quirky bars.
After breakfast leave Bangkok and drive (1 hour) to a local village and community farm for an epic day of cooking Central Thai regional specialities and feasting with your hosts. Learn about the age-old agricultural traditions still being practised today and enjoy the freshest ingredients straight from the garden. You will help to prepare a home-cooked lunch of local delicacies, such as kaeng som (green papaya soup), spicy fish cakes and watercress salad with chicken, followed by multiple desserts using ingredients like coconut, rice milk and crispy noodles! Later this afternoon board a longtail boat and cruise the Chao Phraya River to visit a Buddhist temple located on a small, remote island. Head to Ayutthaya city for a free evening to explore and – of course – eat more!
Ayutthaya / Overnight Train
Today we explore Ayutthaya, the second capital of Siam after Sukhothai, and once one of the most powerful cities in Asia. Stop by 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. Lunch today is a steaming bowl of guay-tieo-ruea, or boat noodles. The Ayutthaya take on this classic combo of fragrant pork broth, roasted slices of meat, Thai-style pork balls, sliced morning glory stalks, fresh green onion and a choice of rice noodles is considered the original and best. While the food is no longer served out of sampans on the river, the narrow rowboats are used as decoration at roadside eateries to indicate 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. Freshen up at a hotel and grab a bite to eat before boarding your overnight train to Chiang Mai (approximately 13 hours).
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 its 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 well be home to many of your favourite Thai dishes. Lunch today is khao soi: a curry noodle dish that is renowned in the region. Afterwards, enjoy some free time to relax. Meet up with your leader in the early evening and wander through town to Wat Chedi Luang temple. Visit a local restaurant for an included dinner. Afterwards, you might like to check out the Chiang Mai Night Bazaar, full of local handicrafts and fabulous Northern street food dishes.
Today, meet Aoi, your gracious host for an incredible homestay experience in a small Thai village for tonight. On the way to the village, stop for lunch at a restaurant specialising in the local delicacy of fermented rice noodles. 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! Over the years, a khantohk dinner has become the traditional way to welcome guests, the word 'khantohk' a reference to a raised tray used for serving food in Northern Thailand. Eleven dishes are featured on this traditional khantohk menu, so roll up your sleeves and spend a fun afternoon learning the ins and outs of this regional 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 and tomato chilli paste) against a backdrop of local musicians singing and dancing through dinner.
Wake up and enjoy a sumptuous Northern Thai breakfast of fried rice, sweet sticky rice and egg custard. Bid farewell to your homestay hosts and take a scenic, winding drive (1.5 hours) 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 chanting of Buddhist monks and the sweeping views of the city make for a memorable experience. Head back into town for a delicious local lunch recommended by your leader. This afternoon you might like 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 into daily life, as well as experience some of the ingredients and snacks unique to the regional cuisine. Taste your way through the stalls and be sure to try sai ua (Chiang Mai sausage) or bamboo worms.
There are no activities planned for today, and your delicious Real Food Adventure comes to an end this morning. You are free to leave at any time, but this doesn’t mean your own adventure has to end! If you would like to spend more time in Chiang Mai, we’ll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability).