Today is arrival day so there are no activities planned. You are free to relax, explore the city & adjust to the frenetic pace and humid heat of Bangkok. Please arrive at our start point hotel before 6pm for an important group 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 for the time and location of your group meeting. At this meeting you CEO will ask to sight your travel insurance and complete some other paper work. After your meeting, you may choose to head out for an optional 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.
On Day 2 we head off on a long tail boat to explore the canals of Bangkok en route to Wat Po, home of the giant reclining Buddha. After lunch we depart by public bus to the town of Sukhothai. Located about 450km from Bangkok, the ruins of Sukhothai date back to the mid-13th century, when the site became the capital of Thailand’s first kingdom. Sukhothai is viewed as representative of 'the Golden Age' of Thai civilization. The religious art and architecture of the era are considered to be the most classic of Thai styles. The ruins contain the remains of 21 historical sites with awe-inspiring Buddha images and 4 large ponds often filled with stunning lotus flowers in full bloom. On day 3 we head out on bikes to explore the remains of this ancient royal realm, now one of Thailand's Cultural World Heritage sites. Our hotel is located approximately 3 km from Sukhothai Historical Park and has comfortable twin share rooms with air conditioning and en suite bathrooms. The hotel has a pool and free wifi in the lobby area. Approx Travel Time: Public bus from Bangkok to Sukhothai: 5 hours
We take a public bus drive to Lampang. Located approximately 100kms from Chiang Mai, Lampang was an important trade town during the Dvaravati period (around the 7th century), and was supposedly founded by the son of Queen Chama Devi of the Hariphunchai Empire (she was the first ruler of the state which was one of the important ancient towns of the Khmers). The state was eventually absorbed into the Lanna kingdom in the 13th century when King Miengrai (the founder of Chiang Rai) defeated the Khmers. The city of Lampang was an important trade centre for teak wood both domestically and internationally. During that time (1900’s), Britain still controlled Burma (who possessed great knowledge about teak), sent a large company over to Lampang to ply their trade resulting in the construction of several temples. Lampang was made the temporary capital of the Lanna kingdom between 1776 and 1791 when Chiang Mai was deserted as a result of successive wars with the Burmese. Arriving around mid day you have a free afternoon to explore Lampang. Our hotel in Lampang is situated in the city center and has comfortable twin share rooms with air conditioning and en suite bathrooms. Wifi and computers are available for use at an extra cost. Approx travel time: Public bus from Sukhothai to Lampang: 4 hours
As we drive to Chiang Rai Province we stop at the Lampang Elephant Conservation Centre where we tour the facilities of the elephant hospital and see how sick elephants are cared for. All the money raised by this centre goes towards the care of the elephants. We have the opportunity to take a ride on the back of these majestic animals, an experience which many find to be a highlight of their visit to this enchanting country. We then head onwards to Chiang Saen in the area known as the Golden Triangle, our home for 2 nights. This is an ideal base from which to explore the remote area where Myanmar, Thailand and Laos meet. Mountains form a natural border between Thailand and Myanmar, while the mighty Mekong River divides Thailand from Laos. This region has long been associated with the opium trade, although poppy fields have now given way to vegetable plots. A visit to the border town of Mae Sai on day 6 gives you the opportunity to see some local Burmese traders and pick up a few souvenirs. Pay a visit to the Opium Museum to understand the history of the region. Our hotel is located in Chiang Saen just a short distance from the Golden Triangle and 45 minutes away from Chiang Rai city. Chiang Saen is a quiet town with limited amenities. The hotel has comfortable twin share rooms with air conditioning and en suite bathrooms. There is free wifi in the hotel lobby. Approximate travel time: Private bus Lampang to Chiang Rai: 4 hours driving time.
Using a private bus, we head to Chiang Mai. Surrounded by rolling hills, Chiang Mai offers both pretty surroundings and architecture. Enclosed by a moat and crumbling walls, the old city features great cafes, shops and accommodations. An important Buddhist centre since the 14th century, Chiang Mai is home to more than 300 temples. Many visitors come here to attend meditation retreats, massage classes or yoga lessons. It is also a centre of handicraft production, with a long history of silverwork, woodcarving, pottery-making and weaving. Not to be missed is the Night Bazaar, a series of covered markets, shops and stalls that offer the best selection of handicrafts in Thailand. We arrive mid morning of day 7, and have free time to explore for the rest of the day. In the late afternoon we set off to visit the famous temple complex of Doi Suthep about a 45 minute drive from the center of the city. Doi Suthep is one of northern Thailand's most sacred temples. Our local guide explains the history of the temple to us. A naga (mystical serpent) staircase of over 300 steps leads to the temple at the top of the mountain from which there are wonderful views of the surrounding countryside. Day 8 gives you free time to catch up on shopping or maybe a cooking class before catching the overnight train back to Bangkok. Day 7 accommodation in Chiang Mai is located just outside of the Chiang Mai Gate of the old city of Chiang Mai and withing walking distance of the famous night markets. The hotel has comfortable twin / double rooms with en suite bathrooms. Day 8 accommodation 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. Approximate travel time: Private transport from Chiang Rai to Chiang Mai: 4 hours Train ride from Chiang Mai to Bangkok: 12-13 hours Private transport to train station: 20 min
Arrive back into Bangkok at roughly 8am where you have a free day to continue to explore the capital city. We spend this evening in Bangkok at the same hotel as Day 1 of the trip.
(While it is our intention to adhere to the route described below during the designated seasons, please note that trips that are in April/May and October/November may be changed to the opposite itinerary due to weather conditions. Our goal is to visit the area with the best optimal weather conditions.)
After our short flight on day 2, we arrive in Koh Samui. Lying off of Thailand’s east coast in the Gulf of Thailand, Koh Samui offers everything you could possibly want in a beach retreat: white sandy beaches, coconut palms, fresh seafood and warm, clear waters. With an area of 247 square kilometers, Koh Samui is the largest island in an archipelago of around 80 islands. Like Phuket, Koh Samui attracts many visitors but still has plenty of out-of-the-way spots for those wishing to get away from it all. We stay for 2 nights in a resort in Koh Samui. Our resort is located a stone's throw away from the beach and has all the amenities that you may require, including a bar and swimming pool. All of our rooms are twin share and come with an en suite bathroom and free wifi. Approx travel time: Bangkok hotel to airport: 45 minutes. Flight to Koh Samui: 40 minutes. Transfer from Koh Samui Airport to the hotel: 40 minutes.
A short boat ride take us to the small island of Koh Pha Ngan where we have the next few days to explore the islands waterfalls, swim in its lagoons or just relax. Koh Phangan is also internationally famous for the full moon party which take place on the island beach. Thousands of Thais and foreigners flood to this island to enjoy the festivities. But you do not have to be on this island during the full moon to enjoy the nightlife, Koh Phangan has plenty to enjoy all year around. We stay for 2 nights in Koh Phangan. Our accommodation is basic huts right on Bottle Beach. All of the rooms are twin or double share and come equipped with an en suite bathroom. Approx Travel Time: Koh Samui hotel to ferry terminal: 20 minutes. Ferry to Koh Phangan: 30 minutes. Transport from Koh Phangan ferry to the hotel: 20 minutes.
We leave Koh Samui and take a ferry once again over to Koh Tao. The reputation of Koh Tao's natural beauty, especially its marine life and coral reefs, has spread the world over. Spend your days discovering sea-life and the night partying at one of the many beach-side cafes and bars. On day 8 we transfer to the mainland by boat where travel to the train station to board an overnight train to Bangkok. You could even take this opportunity to dive in one of the top ten diving spots in the world. If you have your Padi license bring it along, or if not take this opportunity for a learner's dive. We will stay for two nights in Koh Tao at a resort which is located on the southern tip of Koh Tao on Chalook Baan Kao Beach. The resort has all the amenities that you will require including a swimming pool, bar and hotel restaurant. All of the rooms are twin share and come equipped with an en suite bathroom. Free wifi is available at the resort. On day 8 we will transfer by boat to Chumporn where we board our overnight train to Bangkok. Tonight's accommodation 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. The overnight train is very comfortable and food is served on board the train at a reasonable price for anybody who requires it. Approx travel times: Koh Phangan hotel to the ferry terminal: 20 minutes. Ferry to Koh Tao: 1.5 hours. Koh Tao ferry terminal to the hotel: 15 minutes each way. Ferry Koh Tao to Chumporn: 2 hours - depending on the boat. Overnight train from Chumporn to Bangkok train station: 7 hours.
Our train will arrive in Bangkok early in the morning. Your tour ends at the train station, where your CEO can help you arrange onward transport. To explore more of the sights around Bangkok, book some post trip accommodation and take in some of the temples, life on the river or even head North on a trekking trip with us. Thailand is extremely diverse and there is always more to see! If you are leaving Bangkok today we recommend that you do not book onward travel until after 3pm, in case of train delays. We look forward to receiving your evaluation regarding this tour itinerary and your CEO's performance. We value your input into what we could improve to make this trip even better and of course love hearing about what we are already doing well! You will be sent a post tour email on your return with details on how to go on line and fill in this simple form. Thank you so much in advance.