Travel around Thailand and be immersed in the intoxicating culture.

Discover the riches of Thailand in this epic trip from north to south. On this adventure we take you from the bright lights and crazy sights of Bangkok city to the serenity of the rainforest, from atmospheric ruins to tropical sun-drenched islands like Samui, Tao and Pha-Ngan. If you're after the idyllic Thailand getaway with the perfect blend of northern adventure and southern relaxation, then this tour is definitely for you.

Start
Bangkok, Thailand
Finish
Phuket, Thailand
Countries
Thailand
Themes
Explorer
Code
TTZEC
Physical rating
Cultural rating
Ages
Min 15
Group size
Min 1 Max 12
Carbon offset
708kg pp per trip


Highlights

  • Experience local village life on a homestay
  • Learn about the Golden Triangle’s past
  • Discover beachside bliss in Krabi

Itinerary

Sa-wat dee! Welcome to Thailand.
Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6pm on Day 1.
Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask the hotel reception where it will take place. If you can't arrange a flight that will arrive in time, you may wish to arrive a day early so you're able to attend. We'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability). If you're going to be late, please inform the hotel reception. We'll be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so please ensure you have all these details to provide to your leader.
Thailand's bustling capital, Bangkok is famous for its tuk tuks, khlong boats and street vendors serving up delicious Thai food.
Bangkok has so much to offer those with time to explore - why not 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?
Travel by longtail boat down the Chao Phraya River to explore the famous 'khlongs' (canals) of Bangkok (approx 1 hr). Life along these canals seems a world away from the chaotic streets of the capital.
Pay a visit to Wat Pho, home to the country's largest reclining Buddha and keeper of the magic behind Thai massage.
Travel by local bus to Kanchanaburi (approx 4 hrs).
Located where the Khwae Noi and Khwae Yai rivers converge, Kanchanaburi is home to the infamous 'Bridge on the River Kwai'.
Enjoy a saamlaw (bicycle rickshaw) tour around the town of Kanchanaburi - the perfect way to take in the splendour of this city and the monuments to its tragic past.
Explore the Jeath War Museum and the Allied War Cemetery.
Travel to Erawan National Park (approx 1.5 hrs each way), where you can explore the famous seven-level waterfall or simply swim and relax.
We spend a day and night floating down the Mae Glong river in a raft house. The raft house is towed by a boat, and it becomes our transport down the river, our lounge room for the day to sit back and enjoy the sights and our bed for the night. This is an unique way to travel and sets the scene for pure relaxation. We spend the afternoon temple hoping down the river stopping off to see the Wat Baan Tham which is a cave temple, a Chinese temple called Wat Tham Khao Noi and a Thai temple called Wat Tham Suea. There is plenty of time for card playing, reading a book or just taking in the view down the river. This really is an Intrepid style of travel!

The raft house has Western style toilets and shared bathrooms with showers. There is an open plan living area which is fully covered so offers plenty of shade, but the sides are open to take in the views and to feel the breeze as we move down the river. At night time the raft house will be moored and the living room becomes our sleeping area. Thai style thin mattresses are placed on the floors with sheets provided and we all sleep in the one area. Mosquito nets are also provided. Delicious Thai food will be served on the raft house.
Travel by private songtaew via Suphanburi to Ayuthaya (approx 5 hrs).
Day rooms will be arranged as we take an overnight train later tonight.
There's time for a guided tour of the picturesque ruins and temples spread across the town. The ruins at Wat Phra Mahathat provide many photo opportunities and the Buddha head surrounded by Banyan tree roots is perhaps the most photographed site in Ayutthaya.
Board an overnight train bound for Chiang Mai (approx 11 hrs). We use soft sleeper class trains for all of our overnight train journeys. Multishare compartments with air-conditioning and bunk beds - sheets and a pillow are provided. Our baggage travels in the carriage with us. There's a food and drink service available on board.
The most vibrant city in northern Thailand, Chiang Mai has many famous temples and an interesting old city area. This 'Rose of the North' is also known for its beauty and the friendliness of the local people.
In Chiang Mai there is the chance to have a traditional Thai massage before heading down to the famous Chiang Mai Night Bazaar, a shopaholic's dream.

The Chiang Mai Thai Cookery School offers courses for budding chefs and will definitely allow you to impress your friends upon your return. A novel way to see the surrounding countryside is to take a cycling tour, on which you will visit temples and ruins, the McCain institute for handicapped artists, and possibly a sticky rice factory among other sites.
Explore the famous temple complex of Doi Suthep. Drive along a scenic, winding mountain road that ends at an impressive 300-step naga-guarded stairway (approx 45 mins). The rewards justify the climb with one of the most beautiful temples in Thailand on display, not to mention fantastic panoramic views of the city and the opportunity to listen to hypnotic evening chanting by resident Buddhist monks.
We set off early (approx 8am) and drive along Mae Taeng Valley to Elephant Nature Park (approx 60 km), a unique project providing a sanctuary and rescue centre for elephants.

Greeted by an expert guide we learn about the story of rescued elephants and elephants problem in South-East Asia. After that you will have a chance to feed the elephant from the viewing platform.

Lunch is provided before elephant bathing time. After a safety briefing you can join in to scrub and bathe the elephant (bring some shorts/swim gear and change of clothing) or alternatively just kick back and enjoy watching the elephants bathe.
Set off by road to the Golden Triangle region.
We travel by public bus from Chiang Mai to Mae Chan (approx 4 hours) and then transfer to a songthaew to continue onto Doi Mae Salong (approx 1 hour)
The atmosphere in the charming town of Doi Mae Salong is reminiscent of a small southern Chinese village. 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. Check out the interesting markets, full of produce and crafts made by hilltribe people.
Using local songthaews, visit the point of the Golden Triangle where the Thailand, Burma and Laos borders meet. Stop at the border town of Mae Sai, which is full of colourful shops stacked with Chinese goods.
Pay a visit to the House of Opium Museum for a deeper insight into this area's problematic past.
Head to a small Thai village to stay in the home of some local friends. There's plenty of time to experience the quiet village life before sampling a traditional northern Thai khantohk dinner. This evening enjoy a traditional Thai musical performance from our local friends children's band. Staying here is a true privilege and a chance to experience the real Thailand - something very few travellers are able to do. Our basic multishare homestay is in a local village. There will be fold-out mattresses on the floor and shared bathrooms.
Walking through hilltribe villages and meeting the locals is, for many, the highlight of this trip. Visit various villages, each with their own unique language, clothing style and belief system.

Please note that you should be fairly fit as we hike across hilly countryside and rain or hot, humid weather pose extra challenges. We walk for up to 5 hours each day so there's no great rush. The terrain is rural rather than jungle - the hilltribes grow rice and other vegetables on the slopes - and we trek along village tracks. There's also the possibility of some shallow river crossings. Please note, there may be times during the trek when the use of video and/or still cameras may be inappropriate. Your group leader will advise you further. Each person carries their own pack for the whole trek (see the 'What To Take' section for luggage requirements). All meals are included while trekking, but you'll need to purchase and carry your own water (please allow approximately US$10 to cover your water purchase for the trek).
Accommodation is multishare, sleeping on your rented roll mats on the floor of the wooden/bamboo huts typical of the villages. There are shared squat toilets and basic washing facilities (a hose or water pipe) in most villages. We may also be able to wash in a nearby stream. Warmer clothing and sleeping bags are recommended from November to January as the nights are usually quite cool during this period.
Sleeping bags can be rented locally please ask your leader to organise this for you at the group meeting.
Trek for around 3 hours before transferring to Chiang Rai.
Chiang Mai's 'little sister', Chiang Rai boasts 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. Or you may wish to explore the town from the Mekong River on a boat trip.
Travel by bus to Chiang Mai (approx 4 hrs).
The rest of the day is free to explore.
Board an overnight train for Bangkok (approx 13 hrs). We use soft sleeper class trains for all of our overnight train journeys. Multishare compartments with air-conditioning and bunk beds - sheets and a pillow are provided. Our baggage travels in the carriage with us. There's a food and drink service available on board.
Arrive back in Bangkok and have free time for shopping or sightseeing, 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!
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.
Pay a visit to Wat Pho, home to the country's largest reclining Buddha and keeper of the magic behind Thai massage.
We head southbound for Surat Thani on an overnight train, accommodated in air conditioned sleeping berths (approx 13 hrs). Multishare compartments have bunk beds; sheets and pillow provided. Our baggage travels in the carriage with us. There is a food and drink service available on board.
Arrive into Surat Thani and continue by mini van bus (approx 2.5 hrs) to the resort town of Ao Nang.
A lively beachside town in Krabi Province, Ao Nang has a main street with restaurants, shops and bars, and is close to many idyllic islands.
Enjoy an included Sea Kayaking trip to the mangrove forest of Ao Thalane. About half way along the coast between Than Bok Khoranee and Krabi town is a bay of mangroves that may be the most beautiful bay in Thailand. Here, bays and canyons are like passageways.
There's plenty of free time to relax on the beautiful beaches and get into the spirit of southern Thailand. Perhaps you might want to enjoy a relaxing massage on the beach, or simply sit back with a good book and a cool cocktail to watch the sun slip beneath the waves.
Transfer by vehicle and longtail boat to the island of Ko Yao Noi (approx 2 hrs).
Set in the heart of Phang-Nga Bay, the chilled-out island of Ko Yao Noi is a great place to relax away from the tourist trail.
The afternoon is free to take an island tour, visit fishing villages and rubber plantations to meet the locals or perhaps some swimming in the crystal clear waters.
Venture out into the bay to snorkel and swim in the tropical sun. A picnic lunch on one of the many islands that are scattered around the bay is followed by more swimming and snorkelling.
Please note, in the event of unfavourable weather conditions, we may be unable to travel to Ko Yao Noi. Alternative arrangements will be made to stay on Phuket Island.
We travel James Bond style catching a speed boat to Phuket (approx 1 hour)
The tourist haven of Phuket is Thailand's largest and most visited island. It has a range of tourist-oriented activities on offer, such as Thai boxing, cabaret shows or the colossal cultural theme park that is Phuket Fantasea.
Stop at a waterfall for a refreshing swim and visit Phuket's Gibbon Rehabilitation Centre, which is operated by a local NGO to help ensure the continued existence of our furry little friends.
We stay in the heart of Patong, where shops, restaurants and nightclubs await.
There are no activities planned for the final day and you are able to depart the accommodation at any time.
View trip notes to read full itinerary

Inclusions

Meals
8 breakfasts, 7 lunches, 4 dinners
Transport
Bus, Overnight sleeper train, Songthaew, Speed boat, Taxi, Van
Accommodation
Guesthouse (6 nights), Homestay (1 night), Hotel (3 nights), Overnight sleeper train (3 nights), Rafthouse (1 night), Resort (4 nights)
Included activities
  • Bangkok - Khlong boat (canal) tour
  • Bangkok - Wat Pho Temple
  • Kanchanaburi - Erawan National Park
  • Kanchanaburi - Jeath War Museum and the Allied War Cemetery
  • Kanchanaburi - Wat Baan Tham
  • Ayutthaya - Temple Ruins Guided Tour
  • Chiang Mai - Elephant Nature Park day trip
  • Chaing Rai - Opium Museum
  • Homestay - Thai Musical Performance
  • Hill-tribe - 3 day trek
  • Koh Yao Noi - Snorkelling
  • Koh Yao Noi - Phang Nga National Marine Park
  • Phuket - Gibbon Rehabilitation Centre & Bang Pae Waterfall

Dates

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Important notes

1. A single supplement is available on this trip. See Trip Notes for more information.

Trip notes

Want an in-depth insight into this trip? Your trip notes provide a detailed itinerary, visa info, how to get to your hotel, what’s included - pretty much everything you need to know about this adventure and more.

View trip notes

Reviews

Our Thailand Adventure West Coast (nov - apr) trips score an average of 4 out of 5 based on 1 reviews in the last year.

Thailand Adventure West Coast (nov - apr) , March 2016

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