Northern Thailand Experience
Day 1 Bangkok
Today is arrival day so there are no activities planned. You are free to relax, explore the city and adjust to the frantic pace and humid heat of Bangkok. Please arrive at our start point hotel before 6pm for an important group welcome meeting where you will meet you Chief Experience Officer (CEO) and the other group members. Please look for a sign on the hotel's notice board to confirm the time and location of your group meeting. After your meeting, you may choose to head out for an optional group dinner to further get to know your CEO and fellow group members. We spend this evening in Bangkok. Our hotel is located in China Town, next to the central train station and MRT (Subway), and is only a short USD2 taxi ride from Khao San road and the central shopping area of Siam Square, MBK, Siam Paragon, etc. All rooms are double or twin share with air conditioning and en suite bathroom. The hotel has a small pool and wifi is available at extra cost.
Days 2-3 Kanchanaburi (2B,1D)
Traveling by private van to Kanchanaburi, the evening of Day 2 sees us staying on basic raft accommodation. The rooms are quite small and contain a double mattress in each room. Groups of over 8 people will be divided onto 2 raft houses. On Day 3 we visit Erawan National Park. The park contains the waterfalls of the same name (seven tiers of blue clear water with little fish that nibble at your feet), is well worth a visit. You can see Erawan, the 3 headed elephant that carries the Hindu God Indra, when you reach level seven (use your imagination!). Situated alongside the River Kwai Yai amongst limestone hills, Kanchanaburi (golden city) is most famous (or infamous) for the death railway that was constructed during WWII using prisoners of war and Asian labor. The bridge on the River Kwai, the war cemetery, Thai Burma war museum all make up the major attractions of this town. Many veterans and descendants of the POW’s return here to honor those that died during the construction of the railroad. Around 100,000 Asian laborers and 16,000 POW’s died during its construction with the track only running for about 20 months. Kanchanaburi province itself is the third largest province in Thailand and possesses some of the best preserved natural sites in Thailand – partly due to the fact that it is still sparsely populated. Our hotel on Day 3 is located on the banks of the River Kwai. Our rooms here are all double / twin share with air conditioning and an en suite bathroom. The hotel also has a swimming pool to help unwind after a long days sightseeing. Approx travel time: Bangkok to Kanchanaburi, 2 hours.
Day 4-5 Ayutthaya/Train (2B)
Ayutthaya served as Thailand’s capital from the 14th to 18th centuries, when it ranked as one of the most magnificent cities in the world. Late in the 17th century its population reached one million, and foreign visitors wrote awestruck accounts of its size and splendour. Located 86km north of Bangkok, the ruins of this World Heritage Site include various pagodas and Buddha images. We arrive into this spectacular town early in the morning and transfer to our hotel by local songthaew. Once we have checked in, had some breakfast and cleaned up we will visit the Historical Park and look at the wonders of this ancient capital city. Our accommodation this evening is double / twin share with air conditioning and an en suite bathroom. This hotel has free wifi available. The hotel is very centrally located within an easy distance of the Historical Site. Note: Due to disruptions of Thai trains in the north during the monsoon season, trips running July through October may be upgraded to a flight and extra hotel night in Chiang Mai.
Day 6 Chiang Mai
We arrive in the early morning and have free time to explore Chiang Mai. To fill your free time you can chose from a large range of optional activities or stroll the city independently. Surrounded by rolling hills, Chiang Mai is the cultural center of Thailand. Enclosed by a moat and crumbling walls, the old city features great cafes, shops and over 300 temples. Many visitors come here to attend cooking courses, massage classes or yoga lessons. It is also a mecca of handicraft production, with a long history of silverwork, woodcarving, pottery-making and weaving. Late afternoon we set off in private transport to visit the temple complex, Doi Suthep. Here we can delve deeper into Thai Buddhist culture and we may be fortunate enough to witness the chanting of the monks. Our hotel is located within walking distance to Chiang Mai Night Bazaar and other city destinations. All rooms are double or twin share with air conditioning and en suite bathroom. Free wifi is available. Approx travel time: Chang Mai to Doi Suthep temple: 45 mins each way.
Days 7-9 Hilltribe trek (3B,3L,3D)
From Chiang Mai, we start a 3-day/3-night hilltribe trek where we visit various hilltribe minority groups, each with their own language, clothing and religion. Enroute we stop for a local market tour for last minute supplies and your CEO will explain fruits and quirky market food. Over the 3 days we will get the chance to feed and bathe the village's elephants and test our rafting skills while bamboo rafting*. We walk approximately 4-5 hours each day along sloping hills and valleys. We leave our big packs in storage and take an overnight bag. Each person is required to be able to carry their own pack as our porters will be carrying food and water supplies. Accommodation is group share, where you will be sleeping on the floor of the village huts. Toilet and washing facilities are very basic in most of the villages so be prepared to rough it for a few days. During the trek simple food is provided for breakfast, lunch and dinner. It can be cold during the evenings (especially from December to February) so make sure you have some warm clothes with you. It is possible to rent trekking gear in Chiang Mai before the trek in case you have forgotten to pack something vital. Please note that trekking times are highly dependent on each groups level of fitness. The path that we follow may be changed to suit the groups fitness level or the weather during rainy season. *During the rainy season we may not be able to Bamboo raft because of high and dangerous water levels.
Day 10-11 Chiang Mai/Overnight train (2B)
We return to Chiang Mai on Day 10 with free time for further exploration of the second largest city in Thailand. Take the afternoon to have a traditional Thai massage at the women's prison rehabilitation centre, or cruise down a stream on a bamboo raft. The fun does not end when the sun goes down, as the night bazaaar opens. The bazaar is a series of covered markets, shops and stalls that offer the best selection of handicrafts in Thailand. Accommodation on the night of Day 11 is an overnight sleeper train. Beds are dormitory style, with bunks on two layers along the side of the train carriage. There are curtains along each bunk for privacy. Your luggage will be accessible during the journey. The train has air-conditioning and clean bedding is provided for each bunk. There are both western style and asian style toilets at the end of each carriage. Food and drinks are served on the train but you can always bring your own food from the shops and restaurants in the train station. Please note: Due to disruptions of Thai trains in the north during the monsoon season, trips running July through October may be upgraded to a flight and extra hotel night in Chiang Mai instead of the overnight train. Approx travel time: overnight train from Chiang Mai to Bangkok: 12-13 hours.
Day 12 Bangkok
Arrive back into Bangkok train station (or airport, depending on the season) at approximately 8am where our tour finishes upon arrival. You are free to depart from here at any time. If you are departing Bangkok today please do not book any onward travel until after 3pm, in case of delays. We are able to arrange post-tour accommodation for those who would like to spend a little more time in Bangkok - please ask at time of booking.