Thailand Adventure West Coast (Nov - Apr)
From 01/11/2020 to 03/01/2022
Experience rural Thai life from a local's perspective with a homestay in a small village and a trek through scenic and enlightening hilltribe villages.
Even the transport on this trip is an adventure – discover the joys of travelling on overnight sleeper trains, longtail boats, songthaew and raft houses.
Visit the home of the infamous ‘Bridge over the River Kwai’, learn about its dark history and the construction of the railway during the war.
Discover a true slice of paradise on an included sea kayaking trip through the stunning inlets, caves and hidden lagoons of the Ao Thalane mangrove forests.
Get into the indulgent beach-loving life on the still untouched, chilled out island of Ko Yao Noi and, armed with a snorkel, explore the surrounding islands and waters on an included boat trip.
Meet some furry friends and learn about the great work done at the Gibbon Rehabilitation Centre.
Breakfasts Included: 9.
Lunches Included: 8.
Dinners Included: 3.
Resort (4 nights),Guesthouse (5 nights),Hilltribe village (2 nights),Hotel (7 nights),Overnight sleeper train (3 nights),Rafthouse (1 night).
Overnight sleeper train,Speed boat,Public bus,Private minivan,Taxi,Longtail boat,Songtheaw.
Age: min 15.
Group Size: 1 - 12.
Bangkok - Khlong boat canal tour.
Bangkok - Wat Pho.
Kanchanaburi - Erawan National Park.
Kanchanaburi - Kanchanaburi War Cemetery.
Rafthouse - Wat Baan Tham cave temple.
Kanchanaburi - Rafthouse experience.
Rafthouse - Wat Tham Suea temple.
Rafthouse - Wat Tham Khao Noi.
Ayutthaya - Temple Ruins entrance & guided tour.
Chiang Mai - Night Market.
Do Mae Salong - Local market.
Organic Farm - Farm To Plate Demonstration & Lunch.
Chiang Rai - 3 day Hilltribe villages trek.
Chiang Rai - Wat Rong Kun (White Temple).
Bangkok - Wat Arun (Temple of Dawn).
Ao Nang - Ao Thalane sea kayaking.
Ko Yao Yai - Home-cooked dinner.
Ko Yao Yai - Traditional dessert making.
Ko Yao Yai - Village visit & guided walk.
Koh Yao Yai - Phang Nga National Marine Park.
Koh Yao Yai - Boat trip & snorkelling.
Ko Yao Yai - Picnic lunch on the beach.
Phuket - Gibbon Rehabilitation Centre.
Phuket - Bang Pae waterfall.
Phuket - Khao Phra Thaeo Wildlife Sanctuary.
Itinerary / more information
Day 1 - Bangkok 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 6 pm tonight. 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, why not get some of your newfound travel pals together for a street food crawl.
Day 2 - Bangkok - Kanchanaburi Start the day with a one-hour river cruise down the Chao Phraya River to explore the famous ‘khlongs’, or canals. Life along these canals seems a world away from the chaotic streets of the capital. Pay a visit to Wat Pho, one of the ‘trinity’ of Bangkok temples, with a 46-metre long gold plated Buddha reclining inside. Even the feet of this statue are incredible, three metres long and intricately decorated with mother of pearl. The temple grounds are equally fascinating, filled with beautifully decorated stupas, halls and shrines. Afterwards, hop on a local bus and travel northwest to Kanchanaburi (approximately 4 hours). Located where the Khwae Noi and Khwae Yai rivers converge, Kanchanaburi is home to the infamous 'Bridge on the River Kwai'.
Day 3 - River Kwai - Erawan NP - Kanchanaburi This morning you’ll get an insight into the darker side of Kanchanaburi’s history with a visit to the Kanchanaburi War Cemetary (POW Cemetary) which was one of the first museums to attempt to educate the public and keep alive the memory of the Asian and POW workers who died constructing the infamous ‘Death Railway’. Then travel to Erawan National Park (approximately 1.5 hours each way), where you can explore the famous seven-level waterfall, and take a dip, if you’d like! The falls are considered the most beautiful in the whole country, with turquoise blue waters rushing through the forest into bamboo-shaded pools. If you want to make the climb all the way from level one to level seven it’s about a 90-minute hike, with the uppermost level usually quiet and with a stunning view over the jungle below. Be sure to pack your swimming gear, but also appropriate footwear if you’re going to make the walk. Level seven features a triple cascade that gives the falls their name – Erawan is the mythological three-headed white elephant that carries the Hindu god Indra.
Day 4 - Rafthouse Be ready for a cruisy day as you’ll spend today and tonight floating down the Mae Glong River in a raft house. The rafthouse is towed by a boat and is an ideal and relaxing way to travel down the river – definitely setting the scene for pure relaxation. Spend the afternoon temple-hopping down the river, stopping off to see the cave temple of Wat Baan Tham, the Chinese Wat Tham Khao Noi, and Wat Tham Suea. There’s also plenty of time for travel games, reading a book, listening to your favourite playlist or just watching the world go by with a view of the lush Thai countryside. Enjoy a Thai meal on board and watch day turn to night as you moor on the riverside and fall asleep with the gentle rock of the boat.
Day 5 - Ayutthaya - Overnight train After your river adventure, disembark and travel by private minivan to Ayutthaya, via Suphanburi (approximately 5 hours). You’ll have access to a day room, so you can freshen up before your overnight train later tonight. Ayutthaya was the second capital of Siam after Sukhothai, and it became one of the most powerful in Asia with over a million residents by the 18th century. Trading brought great riches to the city, and merchant tales tell of golden palaces, elaborate ceremonies, and breathtaking temples. You’ll see the remains and reminders of its golden age with a guided tour of the historic 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, head north to Chiang Mai on an overnight train journey, accommodated in air-conditioned sleeping berths (approximately 13 hours).
Day 6 - Chiang Mai The most vibrant city in northern Thailand, Chiang Mai has is most renowned for its 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 may not want to leave. When you arrive in Chiang Mai, your day will be free. There are a number of optional activities for you to choose from, so you can do as much, or as little, as you like. There are also many Thai cooking schools offering courses for budding chefs, sure to help you impress your friends when you return home. Or get active with a bicycle tour to discover the city and surrounding countryside from a different perspective. Tonight, you might like to get some of your crew together and tackle the famous night markets – your group leader can help you out with their recommendations.
Day 7 - Chiang Mai Today is another free day for you to spend how you wish. While Chiang Mai's markets, temples and cooking schools offer more than enough to keep visitors busy, there's also the option of a very special outing to an Elephant Nature Park. In a country where the cruel industry of elephant riding is still big business, elephant nature parks provide a sanctuary for rescued, injured and orphaned elephants. You’ll be greeted by an expert guide, who'll tell you stories of rescued elephants and explain the issues surrounding elephants in South East Asia. You'll then have a chance to feed the elephants from a viewing platform. Lunch on these activities is also provided, followed by elephant bath time. Sit back and watch these creatures so clearly enjoying themselves.
Day 8 - Doi Mae Salong Set off by road and travel by public bus from Chiang Mai to Mae Chan (approximately 4 hours), then transfer to a private minivan to continue onto Doi Mae Salong (approximately 1 hour). The atmosphere in the charming town of Doi Mae Salong is reminiscent of a small southern Chinese village, as it was settled by former Chinese Nationalist soldiers who fled from (then) Burma in the 1960s. The region is famous for its Chinese tea traders and you can enjoy a cup of tea in a traditional Chinese tea house overlooking the mountains and tea fields. Check out the interesting markets, where you may see produce and crafts made by hilltribe people like the Akha.
Day 9 - Chiang Rai Jump in a private vehicle and drive for about 1 hour into the Mae Chan District to reach the Ahsa farm stay. Here, take part in a farm to table cooking experience, where you’ll wander the property in search for organic eggs, fruits and vegetables. Then, continue back to the kitchen and begin whipping up a culinary storm – you’ll learn the secrets of a punchy chilli paste, hot and sour soups, a Thai-style stir fry and a traditional dessert. You’ll learn how to make these dishes from a local chef from the village, and then enjoy the fruits of your labour over a relaxed lunch. After your hunger is tamed, continue to Chiang Rai city, where you’ll arrive at your guesthouse for the evening. Chiang Mai's 'little sister', Chiang Rai boasts a relaxed atmosphere, a great night market, and a variety of good restaurants. This charming city has a small-town feel and is a great place to explore on foot.
Day 10 - Hilltribe Villages Trek Today marks the beginning of your trek through hilltribe villages which, for many travellers is the highlight of their Thai adventure. Visit various villages, each with their own unique language, clothing style and belief system. After breakfast, transfer to Karen village of Baan Yang Khamnu. After a short walk along the road, climb through bamboo forest for just over an hour to the top of a hill. Around 50 minutes later you’ll arrive at a lovely waterfall where you’ll break for lunch. Through more beautiful forest, crossing streams and climbing up a mountainside, you’ll reach the Akha village of Baan Pha Sert Nai mid-afternoon. There are around 46 families in the village, most of whom emigrated from Myanmar around 16 years ago, and you’ll stay with in a home near a stream with a forest view. You can join in with the villagers playing football, volleyball or other local games. Lend a hand to help your guide cook a delicious dinner of local food and enjoy an early evening meal in this memorable location and experience.
Day 11 - Hilltribe Villages Trek After breakfast, chat with local women and see the handicrafts that they sell, perhaps choosing to purchase some – spending your money on community enterprises directly can help support community development. Begin your trek around 9 am, with a distance of around 5-6 kilometres covered today. For the next 1.5 hours you'll walk up a hill though scenic bamboo forest, then descent down to a stream where you can break and splash on some refreshingly cool water. Relax and refuel with your snacks, then continue uphill to the main trail. Here you can see a Buddha image above a well of clean holy spring water that the locals drink from. Nearby is the Lisu village, with a beautiful view across the countryside to the village you’ll stay in. Pass some tea plantations, then an hour later reach Huay Kaew Waterfall. This last section can get quite hot in the dry season, so the waterfall is perfect for cooling off, so why not tackle a quick climb uphill and laze in the refreshing waters. Close by is the Akha village of Baan Khum Akha, where you’ll stay tonight. The village overlooks a majestic valley surrounded by native jungle, tea plantations and lychee farms. You’ll arrive around 2 pm and, after a walk around the village, have time to relax – maybe even with a recuperating massage. Flex your cooking skills as you help the guide with dinner tonight.
Day 12 - Hilltribe Villages trek - Chiang Rai Another 9 am trek start takes you uphill though lychee fields, then downhill on a hike that’s easier going than yesterday. Take it easy for the next 1.5 hours or so as you walk through scenery of rice fields and bamboo jungle, stopping in the village of Baan Ja-Jor to take a look around and maybe say hi to the local school kids. Then it’s not too far to the end of the trek at Pha Sert Hot Springs in Mae Kok National Park. You walk for a total of around 3 hours today. Here you’ll have lunch and can relax, swim and reward you muscles in the springs. Transfer back to Chiang Rai (approximately 40 minutes), arriving around 1 pm.
Day 13 - Chiang Rai - Chiang Mai - Overnight Train In the morning visit privately owned Wat Rong Khun, more commonly known as the White Temple – a must visit in Chiang Rai. This contemporary temple is constantly being updated, and its strange design features references to Buddhist mythology, human sin and pop culture icons such as Michael Jackson, Harry Potter and Superman. Afterwards, return to Chiang Mai by bus (approximately 4 hours). The rest of the day is free to explore, so perhaps take a scenic, winding drive up a mountain 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 this a most memorable experience. Keep in mind this evening you’ll get back on the rails for an overnight train to Bangkok (approximately 13 hours).
Day 14 - Bangkok Arrive back in Bangkok and spend your day shopping or sightseeing before meeting up with your group for dinner. Being a weekend, this is a great opportunity to visit the weekend market at Chatuchak – one of the biggest and busiest markets you will ever see. Your leader can also give you other ideas of what to do – places like Jim Thompson's House, the Grand Palace and Chinatown are all great to explore. There's a fantastic array of transport options available for getting around this traffic-choked city and although it's most efficient to stick to the canals, river, and Skytrain, a trip in a tuk-tuk is certainly an experience!
Day 15 - Bangkok Today you have a free day; you might want to consider doing an optional Urban Adventure. Or simply relax with a Thai massage and a bowl of pad thai. As this is a combination trip, your group leader and the composition of your group may change at this location. There will be a group meeting to discuss the next stage of your itinerary and you're welcome to attend, as this is a great chance to meet your new fellow travellers.
Day 16 - Bangkok You’ll start today with a visit to Wat Arun – Temple of the Dawn. Named after the Indian God of Dawn – Aruna, this impressive landmark of Bangkok sits on the west bank of the Chao Phraya River. The rest of the afternoon is free for optional activities, and this city has so much to offer – perhaps head next door to the magnificent Grand Palace and the Temple of the Emerald Buddha or Wat Pho, home to the country's largest reclining Buddha and keeper of the magic behind Thai massage. You may want to take a riverboat to Chinatown and explore the crowded streets, or travel by longtail boat down the Chao Phraya River to explore the famous 'khlongs' (canals) of Bangkok. Life along these canals seems a world away from the chaotic streets of the capital. Tonight, board an overnight train southbound for Surat Thani (approximately 13 hours).
Day 17 - Ao Nang/Krabi Arrive into Surat Thani this morning and continue by bus (approximately 2.5 hours) to the resort town of Ao Nang in Krabi Province. Ao Nang has a main street with open-air restaurants, shops that light up the sidewalk and bars perfect for kicking back with a beer. It’s also in a great position to hop on longtail boats to places like Railay Beach and the idyllic islands surrounding the bay. There's plenty of free time to relax on the beautiful beaches and get into the spirit of southern Thailand. You also might want to take advantage of some of the optional activities on offer, like a cycling trip that takes you on back country tracks, gets you close to local culture, and rewards you with a lovely afternoon dip in a beautiful waterfall. Otherwise, consider a relaxing massage on the beach (no kidding), or just sit back with a good book and a cool cocktail to watch the sun slip beneath the horizon. This is living.
Day 18 - Ao Nang/Krabi This morning, head on an included sea kayaking trip to the mangrove forest of Ao Thalane. About halfway along the coast between Than Bok Khoranee and Krabi town is a bay of mangroves that might just be the most beautiful bay in Thailand. Surrounded by towering karst formations and many small offshore islands, move slowly through the bays and canyons that are like passageways, discover inlets, caves and hidden lagoons, and check out the local wildlife up-close – keep an eye out for the birds overhead and monkeys in the trees. If you have time today, you might want to explore the beautiful underwater world around Ao Nang with some scuba diving, which includes three dives. Or, learn about one of the most important parts of Thai culture with a cooking class. Tonight, why not grab some travel pals and stroll down the main drag to find a seafood restaurant.
Day 19 - Ko Yao Yai Get ready to hop on island time today. Transfer by vehicle and ferry to Ko Yao Yai (approximately 2 hours). Set in the heart of Phang Nga Bay, the chilled-out island of Ko Yao Yai is a great place to relax away from the tourist trail and soak up all its natural wonder. Jump in a traditional songthaew to a local Thai village, and meet up with the locals who will show you how to make a traditional dessert of the region. Called Mor Khao Mor Kaeng Ling (‘Monkey Pot’), this small packaged dessert is made out of Nepenthes – a small pitcher plant – and then stuffed with sweet sticky rice and coconut milk. After tasting your creations and having a good old chat, continue on to a close by reforestation area, where a local guide will talk you through how the community has planted fruit trees to preserve their environment. Take an easy walk with the guide around the area, then head back in the village for a stroll and a home cooked lunch of typical southern style cuisine – hot and spicy! Continue to tonight’s beach resort for a relaxing afternoon.
Day 20 - Ko Yao Yai Today you’ll experience the beautiful underwater world that surrounds Ko Yao Yai with an included boat and snorkelling trip around the islands. Phang Nga Bay is filled with the small islands and dramatic limestone rock formations that are, for many, the iconic image of Thailand. Venture out into the bay to snorkel in the turquoise waters filled with ever-changing colours of coral and fish, and swim in the tropical sun. Enjoy a proper island-style picnic lunch on the beach at one of the many islands that are scattered around the bay, and follow it up with more swimming and snorkelling – what a tough life!
Day 21 - Phuket Today you’ll leave the quiet and secluded nature of Ko Yao Yai for the tourist haven of Phuket, Thailand’s largest and most visited island. Travel James Bond style by catching a speedboat to Phuket (approximately 1 hour). This island is certainly a brasher, more vibrant extrovert to the mellower sibling of the last few days. If a little modern pizazz is what you’re after with your dose of sunshine exotica, look no further – this island offers a little something for everyone. When you arrive on the island, you’ll stop by the last untouched rainforest remaining on the island at the Khao Phra Thaeo Wildlife Sanctuary. Here you can drop into Bang Pae Waterfall for a refreshing swim and then pay a visit to the Gibbon Rehabilitation Centre. The centre takes in formerly captive gibbons and rehabilitates then for reintroduction to the wild. Operated by a local NGO, the project works to help ensure the continued existence of these furry little friends on the island. You’ll stay in the heart of Patong, where everything from shops to restaurants to nightclubs awaits.
Day 22 - Phuket Phuket is ringed with beaches, each with their own distinct personalities, from a party vibe to perhaps something quieter and more romantic. If you can pull yourself away from the beautiful beaches and curving coasts, Phuket also has a range of activities to fill your day, from Thai boxing exhibitions to cabaret shows. If you love getting out on the water and exploring the islands, then perhaps use your last day to take a day trip out to the stunning Phi Phi and Khai Nok, a tiny island surrounded by white sandy beach perfect suitable for swimming and snorkelling. If you want to spend some time with Thailand’s magnificent elephants, take a visit to the Phuket Elephant Sanctuary. You will get to see the elephants in the safety and security of their natural home and get an insight into the behaviour and personal history of each elephant. Perhaps gather together your fellow travellers tonight and enjoy a celebratory dinner.
Day 23 - Phuket There are no activities planned for the final day and you are able to depart the accommodation at any time. That doesn’t mean your adventure has to end! If you’d like to continue to soak up the very best of Phuket, we’ll be happy to organise additional accommodation (subject to availability).
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