Today is arrival day so there are no activities planned. You are free to relax, explore the city & adjust to the frantic 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 your CEO will ask to sight your travel insurance. 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.
Enjoy a one-hour long tail boat tour of Bangkok's famous klongs, or canals. Our boat trip finishes at the Royal Temple of Wat Po and the Grand Palace. Our included guide will introduce you to Thai Buddhist culture and show you the famous reclining Buddha and the infamous emerald Buddha. When your guided tour ends there will still be time for some afternoon shopping, a visit to Grand Palace or a stroll through the backpacker area. We will meet back at the hotel within easy walking distance to the train station where we board our overnight train to Chiang Mai. 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. 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. Approx travel time: Bangkok to Chiang Mai by sleeper train is 12-13 hours.
We arrive in the early morning and have free time to explore for the rest of the day. 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. A trip out to the countryside is available for those interested in riding elephants or cruising 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. Late afternoon we set off 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. We overnight in Chiang Mai. Our hotel is well 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.
From Chiang Mai we embark on a hilltribe trek where we visit minority groups, each with their own language, clothing and religion. On the trek we will get the chance to ride an elephant (approx 45mins) and test our rafting skills while bamboo rafting*. We will be walking at a leisurely pace to accommodate for various levels of fitness and allow you to soak up the amazing mountain scenery in Thailand's north. Each person is required to be able to carry their own overnight pack as our porters will be carrying food and water supplies. Our accommodation tonight 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 tonight. During the trek simple food is provided for breakfast, lunch and dinner. It can be cold during the evenings (especially December through to February) so make sure you have some warm clothes with you. We return back to Chiang Mai on the morning of day 5. *During the rainy season we may not be able to Bamboo raft because of high and dangerous water levels.
Returning in our private minivan this morning to Chiang Mai we check into our hotel and spend an interesting morning with craft activities and learning all about Thai food with a cooking class. After being introduced to all the ingredients and their uses we get to cook our own lunch under the supervision of a local culinary expert. For lunch today, sit down and enjoy the fruits of your own labour as you compare your cooking to the Thai cuisine you have sampled so far. On the morning of Day 6 we are off to the Zoo! Chiang Mai Zoo at the foot of the mountains is set in gorgeous tropical jungle where you will come across Monkeys, Hippos, Tigers and much more. Many of the animals in the zoo live deep in the jungle of Thailand and are rarely seen in the wild. The Chiang Mai Zoo recreates their natural habitat so that you can picture the way these animals act in the wild. After a busy day here we return to the hotel for a shower before heading to the train station for our overnight trip to Ayutthaya. Approx Travel Time: Thai hilltribe to Chiang Mai: 2 hours. Train from Chiang Mai to Ayutthaya: 10 hours.
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 take a leisurely bicycle ride around 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. The hotel is very centrally located within an easy distance of the Historical Site.
A short train trip returns us to the Capital this morning where we can take a short 5 minute walk to our hotel. After checking in we are off to the busy central district of Siam Square, where a series of shopping centres provide the ideal location to purchase some souvenirs from Thailand. It is in this area we visit Siam Ocean World to some of the underwater life which has made Thailand so popular as a snorkelling and diving destination. There are plenty of places to branch out after this visit, to walk through the bustling street stalls in Sukhumvit or take a stroll through Lumphini Park. Day 9 is a free day to relax by the pool or enjoy the sights of Bangkok before our final night dinner. 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. Approx Travel Time: Train from Ayutthaya to Bangkok: 2 hours.
After breakfast on day 10, the tour ends and you are free to depart at any time. We look forward to receiving your evaluation regarding this tour itinerary and your CEOs 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 in line and fill in this simple form. Thank you so much in advance.