Thailand - Hike, Bike & Kayak Trip Notes

Thailand - Hike, Bike & Kayak

These trip notes are valid for departures from 01 January 2016 to 31 December 2016. View the trip notes for departures between 01 January 2017 - 31 December 2017


Last Modified: 21 Sep 2016
Thailand - Hike, Bike & Kayak
Trip code: TTXF
Validity: 01 Jan 2016 to 31 Dec 2016
Fancy some outdoor activity in a tropical paradise? Now's your chance as we launch into the remote highlands of Northern Thailand from Bangkok, one of Asia's most cosmopolitan cities. Travel into steamy rainforests on foot to visit colourful hilltribes, cruise down the River Kwai on kayaks and explore the lesser-known side of Chiang Mai from a bicycle. The diversity of exciting outdoor options makes Thailand a haven for adventurers.
Table of Contents
StyleAccommodationFinish point description
ThemesAccommodation NotesFinishing point instructions
Is this trip right for you?Meals introductionEmergency contact
Why we love itMealsVisas
MapTransportWhat to take
ItineraryMoney mattersClimate and seasonal information
Itinerary disclaimerGroup leaderHealth
Physical ratingSafetyTravel insurance
Included activitiesJoining pointA couple of rules
Important notesJoining point descriptionResponsible Travel
Group sizeJoining point instructionsThe Intrepid Foundation
Your fellow travellersFinish pointFeedback
Style
Original
Themes
Cycling, Explorer, Walking & Trekking
Is this trip right for you?
- This is an active trip designed for those with a good level of fitness. Be prepared for some serious physical activity. The majority of activities included on this trip – cycling around Bangkok, trekking in Chiang Mai, kayaking down the River Kwai – will be challenging. The fitter you are, the more you'll enjoy this trip.
- Some accommodation on this trip is basic. This includes an overnight sleeper train, two homestays – the best way to really understand a country and its people – and one night of camping.
Why we love it
- Cycle off the main streets and into the heart and soul of Bangkok with a backstreets bike tour
- Even the transport on this trip is an adventure – travel like the locals on an overnight sleeper train, a real Intrepid experience and a great chance to interact with the Thai people
- Get the heart pumping on a 3 day trek through scenic and enlightening northern hilltribe villages, and experience rural Thai life from a local's perspective with two nights in village homestays
- Explore areas of Chiang Mai rarely seen by visitors with 2 days cycling through local neighbourhoods, discovering everyday Thai life that thrives in the backstreets
- Uncover a different side to the River Kwai with 2 days peaceful kayaking down its waters, through tropical forest and with beautiful mountain views
Map

Itinerary
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 6pm on Day 1. Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask the hotel reception where it will take place, and have your insurance details and next of kin information ready for collection. 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, wander down the tourist mecca of Khao San Road, or indulge in some Thai massage. After the meeting tonight perhaps gather your fellow travellers together and tuck into some world famous street food.
Optional Activities
  • Bangkok - Grand Palace - THB500
  • Bangkok - Chinatown Food Discovery Urban Adventure - THB2149
  • Bangkok - Temple & River of Kings Urban Adventure - THB2465
  • Bangkok - Tuk Tuk Experience Urban Adventure - THB1790
  • Bangkok - Thai Massage - THB250
    Accommodation
    Hotel (1 nt)
    Day 2 Bangkok / Overnight sleeper train
    Take to the streets of Bangkok on bikes and explore some of the quieter parts of town on a half day tour. Cross Rama VII Bridge and cycle through the suburbs of Bangkok Noi, down the small alleyways that house the local residents. This is a great chance to get away from the tourist areas of Bangkok and into the heart and soul of this lively city. Pass the King’s Royal Barges, the Bangkok Noi Canal, a local market, and ride on to Wat Arun. There’s a brief stop for an optional visit inside the impressively towered Wat Arun, before crossing Chao Praya River to Pranakorn via the Memorial Bridge. Head past Wat Suthat, and make a stop for those who wish to see the largest sitting Buddha image in Thailand. Your final stop on this ultimate Bangkok bike tour is the giant swing Sao Ching Cha, which represents the movement of the God Shiva and was reserved for performances at grand ceremonies. Travelling around by bike allows you to move through the city quite easily and at a pace where you can peer into the daily lives of those who call Bangkok home. Today’s total distance cycled is around 17 kilometres. Take the afternoon to relax and maybe wander the streets a little more to soak up Bangkok’s unique city life. This evening take an overnight train to Chiang Mai (approximately 13 hours). Multi share compartments are air-conditioned, with bunk beds; sheets and pillow provided. Your baggage travels in the carriage with you. There is a food and drink service available on board.
    Included Activities
    • Bangkok - Cycling day tour
      Accommodation
      Overnight sleeper train (1 nt)
      Day 3 Hilltribe Trek
      Arrive in Chiang Mai and check into day rooms to prepare for your trek into the remote surrounding regions. You destination today is the Karen village of Ban Pong Noi, stopping for lunch at the Mok Fah Waterfall. On the way you’ll drop into Mae Malai local market to buy some fresh food for the trip, then drive for 1 hour to Mork Fah Waterfall. Have lunch and rest by the gushing waters, and maybe also take a quick dip, before heading to Baan Mae Sae, which marks the starting point of the trek (approximately 2 hours). Today is a relatively simple 2.8 kilometre hike to Ban Pong Noi, and you’ll arrive in the village in the late afternoon. You’ll have your first homestay tonight, a brilliant opportunity to experience rural Thai life first-hand.

      Notes: 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 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. You 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.
      Accommodation
      Homestay (1 nt)
      Meals
      1 lunch, 1 dinner
      Day 4 Hilltribe Trek
      Today, there’s an early morning start to take a tour the village before breakfast. Then trek through jungle, rice paddies, rotation dry farms, streams, rivers and waterfalls on a nature trail through Karen villages. The first leg of the trek is steep up and down hill through bamboo forest, a total walking time of around 3 hours. You’ll enjoy a picnic lunch en route, and then continue for another 2-3 hours to a Lahu village, where you’ll spend the night. The total walking distance today will be approximately 11 kilometres. In the Lahu village, you might have the opportunity to reward trek-tired muscles with a soothing tribal massage.
      Accommodation
      Homestay (1 nt)
      Meals
      1 breakfast, 1 lunch, 1 dinner
      Day 5 Hilltribe Trek / Chiang Mai
      After breakfast, take a morning walk around the village, with the opportunity to buy some local handicrafts – spending your money on community enterprises directly can help support community development. Then begin today’s trek through the storybook landscape of farmland and jungle (approximately 3-4 hours) to a Thai village for lunch, where you’ll meet with your transport. Take your time returning to Chiang Mai (approximately 2 hours), and this evening perhaps indulge with another traditional Thai massage before heading down to the famous Chiang Mai Night Bazaar, a shopaholic’s dream. Make sure to sample some delicious traditional northern Thai food. The signature dish is kao soy, yellow wheat noodles in a curry broth, traditionally served with chicken or beef.
      Accommodation
      Hotel (1 nt)
      Meals
      1 breakfast, 1 lunch
      Day 6 Chiang Mai
      The most vibrant city in northern Thailand, Chiang Mai is renowned for dazzling beauty and extremely welcoming locals. The ‘Rose of the North’ will leave you spellbound. You’ll get to ride right into it with two days of cycling narrow lanes through local neighbourhoods, past beautiful houses and to areas rarely seen by visitors. You’ll be cycling for around 55 kilometres today, so an average level of fitness is suggested. The terrain is mostly flat with occasional hills, down quiet country roads and lanes, through beautiful changing scenery, picturesque rice paddy fields and orchards. You’ll see the Thai countryside and Thai way of life, pausing at local markets, temples, villages and anywhere that deserves a photo stop or that’s worthy of stretching the legs. Start by biking from the Chiang Mai FC Stadium along the canal road to Huay Tung Tao Lake. Then take the northern route following the Mae Ping River. Bike along paved roads through the local villages and their farmland to Mae Jo University, before stopping to relax and refuel with lunch in the area. Before and after lunch, along the cycling trail you'll see the variety of countryside landscapes that make up the Mae Ping River basin, from paddy fields to fruit orchards. You’ll arrive at your accommodation, Royal Ping Resort, around 4pm. Before your included dinner tonight you can relax by the swimming pool and take a well-deserved and refreshing dip.
      Included Activities
      • Chiang Mai - 2 day cycling tour
        Accommodation
        Guesthouse (1 nt)
        Meals
        1 breakfast, 1 lunch, 1 dinner
        Day 7 Chiang Mai
        Saddle up again this morning with a ride to the gigantic temple of Wat Ban Den, where you’ll discover the beautiful temple arts and architectures of Lanna modern temple buildings. Each of the 12 chedis here is dedicated to one of the 12 animals of the Thai zodiac, and Buddhists from all over Thailand make the pilgrimage to this special temple. Then, drop by another highlight of the Mae Tang Valley, Mae Ngat Dam. Here you can bike on the ridge of the dam, giving you panoramic views of the valley. Take a lunch break and refresh, then continue cycling to the ‘sticky waterfall’, Nam Tok Buatong. Hidden in the lush green forest of Sri Lanna National Park, the waterfall gets its name from the porous limestone that’s surprisingly easy to climb on. Today you’ll cycle around 35 kilometres, passing though teakwood plantations, with teak being one of the most economic logging industries in Thailand. You’ll spend some time relaxing at the waterfall before returning to Chiang Mai around 4pm. The rest of your afternoon and evening is free for you to enjoy the city’s atmosphere.
        Accommodation
        Hotel (1 nt)
        Meals
        1 breakfast, 1 lunch
        Day 8 Chiang Mai / Overnight sleeper train
        You’ll have a free time until an overnight train tonight to relax and enjoy the city. Options abound in Chiang Mai, from wandering the Old City to visiting some of the 300 temples which dot the Chiang Mai landscape – maybe take a scenic, winding drive up a mountain (around 45 minutes) 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. There are also many Thai cooking schools offering courses for budding chefs, sure to help you impress your friends when you return home. This evening you’ll get back on the rails for an overnight train to Bangkok (approximately 12 hours). Conditions are the same as Day 2 – soft sleeper class.
        Optional Activities
        • Chiang Mai - Thai cooking course - THB800
        • Chiang Mai - Urban Adventures - Mind & Soul - THB2300
        • Chiang Mai - Urban Adventures - Mae Ping River Experience - THB2460
        • Chiang Mai - Flight of the Gibbon zipline - THB3999
          Accommodation
          Overnight sleeper train (1 nt)
          Meals
          1 breakfast
          Day 9 Kanchanaburi / River Kwai
          You’ll arrive in Bangkok early in the morning and transfer to the bus station. Travel by local bus to Kanchanaburi (approximately 2 hours). Located where the Khwae Noi and Khwae Yai rivers converge, Kanchanaburi is home to the infamous 'Bridge on the River Kwai'. Today you can enjoy the views over the river, explore the rows of street vendors in town and grab a drink overlooking the Kwai.
          Accommodation
          Guesthouse (1 nt)
          Day 10 Kanchanaburi / River Kwai
          This morning you’ll get an insight into the darker side of Kanchanaburi’s history with a moving visit to the Hellfire Pass Memorial (approximately 1 hour), built to honour the Allied POWs and Asian conscripts who died while constructing some of the most difficult stretches of the Thai-Burma Death Railway. You can head out to a teak observation deck, and look across to Myanmar just 25 miles away and the eponymous pass, cut through rock 18 metres deep, that got its name from the hellish fires used to light the work at night. You then have time by the river for lunch before jumping aboard kayaks to enjoy paddling at a leisurely pace on the smooth waters of the River Kwai Noi for the next two days. The time it takes can depend on the water level but you’ll usually kayak for approximately 3-4 hours on the first day and 4-5 hours on the second day. The scenery is stunning, and kayaking through tropical forests and beautiful limestone mountain views is unique and unforgettable. You’ll overnight on the River Kwai Noi in basic huts, with sleeping mats supplied.
          Included Activities
          • Kanchanaburi - 2 day kayaking trip
            Accommodation
            Camping (with basic facilities) (1 nt)
            Meals
            1 lunch, 1 dinner
            Day 11 Kanchanaburi
            You’ll continue your wonderful kayak down the river this morning, floating down the river (with the help of a bit of arm power) for around 3 hours this morning, or approximately 13 kilometres. After a rest and refuel for lunch you’ll get another good workout with 5 hours at a leisurely pace in the afternoon. The kayaking finishes at Kaeng Pralom Bridge in the afternoon, and you’ll drive back to Kanchanaburi for a well-deserved cold drink.

            Notes: There will be a support vehicle with you for these two days, just in case anyone gets tired and would like a rest from kayaking. The amount of kayaking done on Day 11 can depend on the group’s wishes and fitness. It can be 35 kilometres, but it may also be possible to finish kayaking after lunch and visit the seven-tiered Erwan Waterfalls in the afternoon.
            Accommodation
            Guesthouse (1 nt)
            Meals
            1 breakfast, 1 lunch
            Day 12 Bangkok
            Travel back to Bangkok by public bus (approximately 2 hours). You are free to depart at any time after arriving. If you are booking flights or other transport out of Bangkok on this day, please keep in mind that delays are frequent and we strongly recommend that you don’t book a flight earlier than 2pm. Please note no accommodation is included in Bangkok on this day. There are shared day rooms available for your use until midday. Additional accommodation is available to book – please enquire at time of booking.
            Itinerary disclaimer
            ITINERARY CHANGES Occasionally our itineraries are updated during the year to incorporate improvements stemming from past travellers' comments and our own research. The information given in this itinerary may be slightly different to that in the brochure. It's very important that you print and review a final copy of your Trip Notes a couple of days prior to travel, in case there have been changes that affect your plans. If you have any queries, please contact your travel agent or our staff. We are here to help you! Please note that while we operate successful trips in this region throughout the year, some changes may occur in our itineraries due to inclement weather and common seasonal changes to timetables and transport routes. This can happen with little notice so please be prepared for modifications to the route. The order and timing of included activities in each location may also vary from time to time.

            OPTIONAL ACTIVITIES: A selection of optional activities are listed in the day-to-day itinerary. This isn't an exhaustive list and should be used as a guide only. Prices are approximate and are for entrance only and don’t include transport to and from the sites or local guides unless indicated. All activities are subject to availability and it may not be possible to do all the activities listed in the time available at each destination. Where activities are considered medium or high risk, we work with operators whose safety and credentials we have sighted and assessed. This means that it is possible that you may find the same activity cheaper with another operator on the ground, however we cannot vouch for the safety or quality of that operator. Activities not listed above have not been assessed by us and as such our staff and leaders are unable to assist you with booking these activities. The decision to partake in any activity not listed is at your own discretion and risk.

            MINIMUM AGE: Due to the trekking component the minimum age on this trip is 15 years old.

            FINISH TIME If you plan to leave Thailand on the last day of the tour, please do not book flights before 2pm as we are travelling back to Bangkok on that day.
            Physical rating

            A reasonable level of fitness is required for this trip. You should be able to complete a 20 kilometre walk in a day and be comfortable on a full day's bike ride (3 days of bike activities are included). No prior kayaking experience is needed.

            We recommend that you undertake regular aerobic exercise in the months before you travel, particularly if you are not in the habit of regular exercise. Doing mountain walks or climbing long stair cases with a pack is good preparation (try putting a few bricks in your pack for real training). Walking, jogging, swimming or riding a bike are all good ways to increase your aerobic fitness, which will allow you to enjoy the trek to its fullest.

            If possible, take some extended day rides before travelling on this trip, the more preparation you can do for this type of trip, the more you will enjoy it.
            Included activities
            Bangkok - Cycling day tour
            Chiang Mai - 2 day cycling tour
            Kanchanaburi - 2 day kayaking trip
            Important notes
            1. This trip finishes on arrival in Bangkok at midday on Day 12. Please do not book flights on this day untill after 2pm.
            2. A single supplement is available on this trip for some nights. Please see trip notes for further information.

            Group size
            Maximum of 12 travellers per group.
            Your fellow travellers
            GROUP TRAVEL
            As you travel on a group trip you will be exposed to all the pleasures and maybe some of the frustrations of travelling in a group. Your fellow travellers will probably come from all corners of the world and likely a range of age groups too. We ask you to be understanding of the various needs and preferences of your group - patience with your fellow travellers is sometimes required for the benefit of everyone's travel experience. Remember too that you have responsibilities to the group. If you are requested to be at a place at a certain time, ensure that you don't keep the rest of the group waiting. We have found time and time again that the very best trips we operate are those where the dynamics within the group work well - this takes just a little effort on your part. Due to privacy reasons we are unable to provide you with contact details and any personal information about your fellow travellers booked on your trip prior to departure.

            SINGLE TRAVELLERS:
            Our group trips are designed for shared accommodation and don't involve a compulsory single supplement. Single travellers share with people of the same gender in accommodation ranging from twin to multishare. Some of our itineraries have accommodation booked on a mixed gender share basis and where applicable this will be specified in our Trip Notes. On a selection of our trips, you have the option to pay a single supplement to ensure that you have your own accommodation (where available). Please note that this only applies to accommodation during the tour - pre-trip and post-trip accommodation will be booked on a single room basis.

            A single supplement is available on this trip. Please note the following nights are excluded
            Day 2 overnight train
            Day 3 homestay
            Day 4 homestay
            Day 8 overnight train
            Day 10 Camping
            Accommodation
            Camping (with basic facilities) (1nt), Guesthouse (3nt), Homestay (2nt), Hotel (3nt), Overnight sleeper train (2nt)
            OCCASIONAL ALTERNATIVE ACCOMMODATION
            The style of accommodation indicated in the day-to-day itinerary is a guideline. On rare occasions, alternative arrangements may need to be made due to the lack of availability of rooms in our usual accommodation. A similar standard of accommodation will be used in these instances.

            TWIN SHARE / MULTI SHARE BASIS
            Accommodation on this trip is on a twin/multishare basis. Please note there may be times where facilities will be shared rather than ensuite and rare occasions when you share a room with passengers travelling on different Intrepid trips than your own.

            CHECK-IN TIME
            Throughout the trip we request that our hotels prepare rooms in time for our arrival, especially if we're arriving prior to normal check-in time. However this isn't always possible which means we won't be able to check-in immediately on arrival at some hotels. Instead, we can store our luggage and explore our new destination.

            PRE/POST TRIP ACCOMMODATION
            If you've purchased pre-trip or post-trip accommodation (if available), you may be required to change rooms from your trip accommodation for these extra nights.
            Meals introduction
            While travelling with us you'll experience the vast array of wonderful food available in the world. Your group leader will be able to suggest restaurants to try during your trip. On our camping trips we often cook the region's specialities so you don't miss out. To give you the maximum flexibility in deciding where, what and with whom to eat, generally not all meals are included in the trip price. This also gives you more budgeting flexibility. As a rule our groups tend to eat together to enable you to taste a larger variety of dishes and enjoy each other's company. There's no obligation to do this though.
            Meals
            6 breakfasts, 7 lunches, 4 dinners
            Transport
            Bus, Overnight sleeper train, Songthaew

            OVERNIGHT TRAINS
            Overnight sleeper trains in Thailand are air-conditioned with sleeping berths down both sides of the carriage. The carriage is multishare, and there are curtains that close over the beds. A sleeping sheet and a pillow are provided, and our luggage travels in the carriage with us. There is a western and Asian-style toilet located at the end of the carriage, with carriage lights staying on during the night.
            Money matters
            SPENDING MONEY:
            When it comes to spending money on the trip, every traveller is a little different. You know your spending habits better than we do, so please budget a sensible amount for things like meals not included, drinks, shopping, optional activities and laundry. It's always better to bring a little more than you think you'll need. Also make sure you've read your trip details thoroughly so you know what's included in the trip price and what isn't. This should make budgeting a little easier. You'll find this info in the Inclusions section of your Essential Trip Information (that's this document).

            We recommend USD200 for meals not included

            EMERGENCY FUNDS:
            We try to plan for every eventuality, but there are still some things beyond our control. Please make sure you bring an extra USD500 for emergencies (e.g. natural disasters or civil unrest). Sometimes these things necessitate last minute changes to our itineraries, and we can’t guarantee there won’t be some extra costs involved.

            TIPPING
            If you're happy with the services provided a tip - though not compulsory - is appropriate. While it may not be customary to you, it's of great significance to the people who will take care of you during your travels, inspires excellent service, and is an entrenched feature of the tourism industry across many Intrepid destinations. Although can be difficult to source we advise you to carry small notes of local currency each day to make tipping easier.

            The following amounts are per person suggestions based on local considerations and feedback from our past travellers:

            Restaurants: Local markets and basic restaurants - round your bill up to the nearest US$1. More up-market restaurants we suggest 10% to 15% of your bill.

            Local guides: Throughout your trip you may at times have a local guide in addition to your tour leader. We suggest US$2-US$3 per day for local guides.

            Drivers: You may have a range of drivers on your trip. Some may be with you for a short journey while others may be with you for several days. We would suggest a higher tip for those more involved with the group, however we suggest US$1-US$2 per day for drivers.

            Your Tour Leader: You may also consider tipping your tour leader for outstanding service throughout your trip. The amount is entirely a personal preference, however as a guideline US$2-US$4 per person, per day can be used. Of course you are free to tip more or less as you see fit, depending on your perception of service quality and the length of your trip. Remember, a tip is not compulsory and should only be given when you receive excellent service.

            In total, we recommend you budget approx US$5-US$10 per day of your trip to cover tipping.

            Optional Tipping Kitty:
            At your group meeting on Day 1 your tour leader will discuss with you the idea of running a group tipping kitty, whereby everybody contributes an equal amount and then your tour leader pays the tips while keeping a running record of all monies spent (except restaurant tips). The record can be checked at any time and any money remaining at the end of the tour returned to group members. This is often the easiest way to avoid the hassles of needing small change and knowing when and what is an appropriate amount to tip. Participation in this kitty at your own discretion.

            Please don't tip with coins, very small denomination notes, or dirty and ripped notes. This is regarded culturally as an insult

            The receipt of commissions or kickbacks in exchange for recommending particular shops or services is ingrained in the culture of the tourism industry. Rather than turning a blind eye to this unavoidable issue in some areas, Intrepid has established a centralised fund whereby contributions from recommended suppliers are collected and distributed back into the business. Intrepid aim to provide the best value trips in the market, and this fund assists in keeping operating costs and trip prices low to you.

            A priority in establishing this fund is that the experience of our traveller - you - is not compromised in any way. Please let us know via the feedback form completed after your trip if we are successfully meeting this objective.
            Group leader
            All Intrepid group trips are accompanied by one of our group leaders. The aim of the group leader is to take the hassle out of your travels and to help you have the best trip possible. Intrepid endeavours to provide the services of an experienced leader however, due to the seasonality of travel, rare situations may arise where your leader is new to a particular region or training other group leaders.

            Your leader will provide information on the places you are travelling through, offer suggestions for things to do and see, recommend great local eating venues and introduce you to our local friends. While not being guides in the traditional sense you can expect them to have a broad general knowledge of the places visited on the trip, including historical, cultural, religious and social aspects. At Intrepid we aim to support local guides who have specialised knowledge of the regions we visit. If you were interested in delving deeper into the local culture at a specific site or location then your leader can recommend a local guide service in most of the main destinations of your trip.
            Safety
            Many national governments provide a regularly updated advice service on safety issues involved with international travel. We recommend that you check your government's advice for their latest travel information before departure and ensure that your travel insurance covers you for all areas your itinerary covers. Please refer to our website's safety page for links to major travel advisories and updates on safety issues affecting our trip.

            We strongly recommend the use of a neck wallet or money belt while travelling, for the safe-keeping of your passport, air tickets, cash and other valuable items. Leave your valuable jewellery at home - you won't need it while travelling. Many of our hotels have safety deposit boxes, which is the most secure way of storing your valuables. A lock is recommended for securing your luggage.

            Your leader will accompany you on all included activities, however during your trip you'll have some free time to pursue your own interests, relax and take it easy or explore at your leisure. While your leader will assist you with the available options in a given location, please note that any optional activities you undertake are not part of your Intrepid itinerary, and Intrepid makes no representations about the safety of the activity or the standard of the operators running them. Please use your own good judgement when selecting an activity in your free time. Please also note that your Leader has the authority to amend or cancel any part of the trip itinerary if it's deemed necessary due to safety concerns.

            For more details on the type of conditions and safety standards you can expect on your trip, please refer to Intrepid's operational safety policy on our website. We recommend that you take a moment to read through this information before travelling, and would appreciate any feedback on how well it's being implemented in the field:

            FIRE PRECAUTIONS:
            Please be aware that local laws governing tourism facilities in this region differ from those in your home country and not all the accommodation which we use has a fire exit, fire extinguishers or smoke alarms.

            SEAT BELTS:
            Please be aware that local laws governing transportation safety may differ from those in your home country and not all the transport which we use is able to provide seat belts.

            PETTY THEFT AND PERSONAL SAFETY:
            While travelling there is always the risk of pick-pocketing and petty theft, particularly in the more touristy cities. We recommend that you exercise caution when walking alone at night and encourage you to walk together and only on main, well-lit thoroughfares. Be particularly vigilant on public transport. Simple measures like carrying your day pack on your front, not hanging your bag over the back of your chair or on the floor and wearing a money belt will reduce any chance that your valuables should go missing.
            Joining point
            Nouvo City Hotel (Canal Wing)
            2 Samsen Road
            Banglumphu
            Bangkok
            10200
            THAILAND
            Phone: +66 22815596
            Joining point description
            Centrally located and close-by the famous Khao San road, the Nouvo City Hotel is within walking distance of many of the area's main attractions such as: Grand Palace, National Museum and Wat Po. Rooms are equipped with private en-suite, Formerly known as the New World City Hotel they have changed their name on the 1st of December 2014 to merge with the Nouvo City Hotel. We use the "canal wing" for all of our Intrepid Original trips that stay at this property.
            Breakfast is not included but a buffet breakfast can be purchased in the hotel's restaurant.
            Please note that no alcohol is served in this hotel but there are lots of great bars across the road
            Joining point instructions
            Metered taxi ranks are located outside the airport entrance on the 1st floor (gate 4 and 7). Go out of the customs hall, down to the 1st level and walk outside the airport where there is a table with a sign saying "metered taxis". The cost is the metered fare plus a THB50 surcharge. If the taxi uses the toll way it is up to an extra THB75. The total fare should be about THB400 Baht (US$11). Non-metered taxis are also available, where you will be given a docket to pay the driver a set price of THB700 (US$20).

            Alternatively Intrepid offer a pre arranged transfer service option. Enquire with your agent and advise your flight arrival details at least 14 days prior to your trip departure. If you have purchased an arrival transfer you will be met after exiting customs. Look for exit door 6 and our representative holding a sign with your name on it.

            If you have any problems and cannot locate our transfer representative on arrival please go to the ATTA Counter (Association of Thai Travel Agents) near exit door 6 on the same floor and ask them to call our transfer operator World Travel Idea 24hr number 081 658 2727 or 081 566 9324.

            Check in time at the hotel is after 14.00
            Finish point
            Nouvo City Hotel (Canal Wing)
            2 Samsen Road
            Banglumphu
            Bangkok
            10200
            THAILAND
            Phone: +66 22815596
            Finish point description
            Centrally located and close-by the famous Khao San road, the Nouvo City Hotel is within walking distance of many of the area's main attractions such as: Grand Palace, National Museum and Wat Po. Rooms are equipped with private en-suite, Formerly known as the New World City Hotel they have changed their name on the 1st of December 2014 to merge with the Nouvo City Hotel. We use the "canal wing" for all of our Intrepid Original trips that stay at this property.
            Breakfast is not included but a buffet breakfast can be purchased in the hotel's restaurant.
            Please note that no alcohol is served in this hotel but there are lots of great bars across the road
            Finishing point instructions
            A pre-booked departure transfer is available. Please inquire with your agent.

            If you have a transfer to the Bangkok Airport your transfer driver will collect you from your Hotel 3 hours before your flight time. If your transfer has not arrived within 15minutes of the scheduled pickup time please ask the hotel / guesthouse reception to call our transfer operator World Travel Idea 24hr number 081 658 2727 or 081 566 9324.

            A taxi to the airport will cost about THB700 (US$20). The hotel or your leader can help you organise a taxi.

            Normal check out time is 12 noon. If you are departing later, you can arrange luggage storage at the hotel.
            Emergency contact
            While we always endeavour to provide the best possible holiday experience, due to the nature of travel and the areas we visit sometimes things can and do go wrong. Should any issue occur while you are on your trip, it is imperative that you discuss this with your group leader or our local representative straight away so that they can do their best to rectify the problem and save any potential negative impact on the rest of your trip.

            We recognise that there may be times when your group leader/local partner may not be able to resolve a situation to your satisfaction - if this is the case, please ask the leader to speak to their direct manager.

            You may also choose to provide details in your online feedback, which we ask you to complete within 30 days of the end of your trip. But we do ask you to be aware that it is very difficult for us to provide any practical help after the trip is complete.

            For general enquiries or questions about your booking, please contact your agent or adventure specialist, or visit us at www.intrepidtravel.com/contact-us

            In case of a genuine crisis or emergency, you can reach our local operator on the number below.


            Intrepid's Thailand Office: +66 898 103 722
            Visas
            As a general rule most countries expect that your passport has a minimum of 6 months validity remaining. Please ensure the name on your passport matches the name on your booking and airline tickets. Your passport details are required to complete your booking. Your consultant will contact you when this is required.
            Take a copy of the main passport pages and other important documents with you, and leave another copy at home with family or friends.

            Visas are the responsibility of the individual traveller. Entry requirements can change at any time, so it's important that you check for the latest information. Please visit the relevant consular website of the country or countries you’re visiting for detailed and up-to-date visa information specific to your nationality. Your consultant will also be happy to point you in the right direction with acquiring visas. Visas can take several weeks to process, so familiarise yourself with any requirements as soon as you have booked your trip to allow for processing time.

            THAILAND:
            If entering by air most nationalities will be granted a 30 day stay on arrival.

            If entering by a land border, you will be granted a 15 day stay only (some exceptions are citizens of the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, France, Italy, Germany and Japan who are eligible for 30 day visa at land borders). A visa extension can be obtained in Thailand at an immigration office for approx. 2000THB or alternatively you can apply for a Thailand visa in advance from your embassy or consulate that will allow a 30 day stay when entering at an overland border.
            If planning to enter Thailand via a land border multiple times during your travels, we recommend you pre-obtain a 60 day multiple entry visa from you embassy or consulate before you travel rather than attempting to obtain a visa at the border on multiple occasions which may result in being denied re-entry into the country.
            What to take
            What you need to bring will vary according to the trip style you have chosen, the countries you are visiting and when you are travelling. Generally speaking you should pack as lightly as possible. On the vast majority of our trips you are expected to carry your own luggage, although you won't be required to walk long distances with it (max 30 minutes).

            Most travellers carry their luggage in a backpack, although an overnight bag with a shoulder strap would suffice if you travel lightly. Smaller bags or backpacks with wheels are convenient although we recommend your bag has carry straps. You'll also need a day pack/bag to carry water and a camera etc for day trips.

            Below we have listed the essentials for this trip:

            FOR THE TREK:
            During the trek we leave our main piece of luggage at the guesthouse and collect it at the end of the trek. You will need to bring along a comfortable overnight pack (about 30-35 litres/8-9 gallons) for trekking. This should be big enough to carry a spare set of clothes and basic necessities for the trek, including a sleeping bag which should be a warm one in the colder months from November to February.

            To avoid carrying excess luggage, most trek equipment can be rented in Chiang Mai before the start of the trek. Backpack, roll mat, sleep bag, re-hydration salts and water bottle holder will cost approximately US$25 for the three days.

            We don't allow video cameras when trekking in the hilltribes as they can be perceived by the local people as highly intrusive.

            http://www.intrepidtravel.com/pdf/trips/packinglist.pdf
            Climate and seasonal information
            SONGKRAN FESTIVAL 2nd of April 2016 departure
            The Songkran Festival is celebrated in Thailand as the traditional New Years Day from 13 to 15 April. The meaning of the word Songkran is to pass or move into, therefore it is the movement from one year to the next. Traditionally it was celebrated with the young sprinkling water onto the hands of the elders to wish them luck for the New year. The young would also buy presents for the elders. This is also time for people to do a spring clean to their house and at the local temples they would clean the Buddha images for a fresh start for the new year. The water has always been a symbol of cleansing and now today the water has become a huge part of the festival. During Songkran you will now see children with water guns spraying anyone who comes close, locals locals standing with a hose waiting to spray anyone who passes and you may even see streets lined with pick up trucks full of locals armed with buckets of water.

            Our advice is to be prepared to get wet! Your leader will discuss the festival activities upon day one at the group meeting. Our 2nd of April 2016 departure will experience the Songkran Festival.
            Health
            All Intrepid travellers need to be in good physical health in order to participate fully on this trip. When selecting your trip please make sure you have read through the itinerary carefully and assess your ability to cope with our style of travel. Please note that if, in the opinion of our group leader or local guide, any traveller is unable to complete the itinerary without undue risk to themselves and/or the rest of the group, Intrepid Travel reserves the right to exclude them from all or part of a trip without refund.

            You should consult your doctor for up-to-date medical travel information or for any necessary vaccinations and anti-malarial requirements before departure. We recommend that you carry a first aid kit as well as any personal medical requirements (including a spare pair of glasses) as they may not easily be obtained at the locations on this trip. For legal reasons our leaders and guides are prohibited from administering any type of drugs including headache tablets and antibiotics. Please ensure that you are adequately prepared.

            DENGUE FEVER:
            Rare instances of dengue fever have been reported in this region. This virus is transmitted by mosquitoes. There is no vaccination against it, but there are preventative measures that you can take such as wearing long clothing, using repellent and being indoors particularly around dusk and dawn.

            Zika Virus
            Thailand is experiencing ongoing transmission of the mosquito-borne Zika virus and we advise all travellers to protect themselves from mosquito bites. Given possible transmission of the disease to unborn babies, and taking a very cautious approach, pregnant women should consider postponing travel to Thailand or talk to their doctor about possible implications.

            Please see further information about the Zika virus (and our current cancellation/change policy) on our safety page of the Intrepid website at http://www.intrepidtravel.com/contact-us/safety
            Travel insurance
            Travel insurance is compulsory for all our trips. We require that, at a minimum, you are covered for medical expenses including emergency repatriation. We strongly recommend that the policy also covers personal liability, cancellation, curtailment and loss of luggage and personal effects.

            When travelling on a trip, you won't be permitted to join the group until evidence of travel insurance and the insurance company's 24 hour emergency contact number has been seen by your leader.

            If you have credit card insurance your group leader will require details of the participating insurer/underwriter, the level of coverage, policy number and emergency contact number rather than the bank's name and credit card details. Please contact your bank for these details prior to arriving in-country.

            http://www.intrepidtravel.com/insurance.php
            A couple of rules
            Illegal drugs will not be tolerated on our trips. Possessing or using drugs not only contravenes the laws of the land, but also puts the rest of the group at risk. Smoking marijuana and opium is a part of local culture in some parts of the world but is not acceptable for Intrepid travellers. Intrepid's philosophy of travel is one of respect towards everyone we encounter and in particular, the local people who make our destinations such special places. The exploitation of prostitutes is completely contrary to this philosophy. Our group leader has the right to expel any member of the group if drugs are found in their possession or if they use prostitutes.

            Everyone has the right to feel safe and secure on their trip. We don’t tolerate any form of sexual harassment at Intrepid, either between passengers or involving our leaders or local operators. Sexual relationships (consensual or otherwise) between a leader and a passenger are unacceptable. If you ever feel another person is behaving inappropriately please inform us immediately by contacting the emergency contact number detailed in these trip notes.
            Responsible Travel
            We believe strongly in low impact or rather positive impact tourism. Broadly speaking this means that we try to minimise the negative aspects of tourism on the local cultures and environments that we visit and highlight the positive aspects. Please visit our website for further details and suggestions on how you can be a responsible traveller.

            http://www.intrepidtravel.com/ourtrips/rt/responsibletraveller

            ELEPHANT PERFORMANCES & ELEPHANT RIDING:
            While we respect each individual’s decisions while travelling, Intrepid does not include elephant rides or unnatural performance activities on any itinerary, and we recommend you bypass these activities should they be offered to you during your stay. Professional wildlife conservation and animal welfare organisations, including the World Animal Protection (formerly the World Society for protection of Animals) advise that contrary to common belief, captive elephants remain wild animals and despite good intentions, unfortunately many venues are unable to provide the appropriate living conditions elephants require and this ultimately impacts their well-being. While there is some merit in the argument that the money that you pay for the activity goes towards keeping the elephants and their mahouts employed, we know that it also fuels demand for elephants to be captured in the wild or captive bred. We thank you for your support in improving the welfare of these majestic creatures. Further information is available on the below link:

            http://www.intrepidtravel.com/pdf/rt/51033_Elephant_Welfare.pdf

            LOCAL DRESS:
            When packing be aware that dress standards are conservative throughout Asia, especially outside major cities. To respect this and for your own comfort, we strongly recommend modest clothing. This means clothing that covers your shoulders and knees. Loose, lightweight, long clothing is both respectful and cool in the predominantly hot Asian climate. In many rural areas in Asia women will need to wear modest clothing even to swim. Singlets, tank tops and topless sun bathing are all unacceptable. When visiting religious sites men often need to wear long trousers and women a long skirt or sarong.

            The Intrepid Foundation
            Since Intrepid Travel commenced operating in 1989 we've been committed to giving something back to the communities we visit. One way has been through our support for local humanitarian, development and conservation projects. Many of our travellers want to contribute something too. Whilst it is often tempting to give hand-outs to those less fortunate, this has the potential to promote a culture of begging and dependency. Handouts are not a sustainable way for individuals or communities to live. That’s why we established The Intrepid Foundation – to make it easier for travellers wishing to give back to communities in an effective and meaningful way.

            The Intrepid Foundation is a not-for-profit fund offering a selection of excellent grassroots organisations which you can contribute to. All donations to The Intrepid Foundation will be matched by Intrepid Travel dollar for dollar (up to AU$1,000 per donor and a total of AU$400,000 for all donors in each financial year, excluding emergency appeals). And every cent gets there as Intrepid Travel pays for all the administration costs. Donating is simple and secure. Please ask your leader for information on the projects we support through The Intrepid Foundation or go to our website:

            Organisations and projects currently supported by The Intrepid Foundation in Thailand include:

            * Friends of the Asian Elephant aims to protect and conserve the welfare of elephants - both domesticated and wild. FAE's elephant hospital provides free medical care and transportation, and is in the process of establishing a nursery in an effort to reduce the high infant mortality rate of domesticated working elephants.
            www.theintrepidfoundation.org/projects/friends-of-the-asian-elephant/


            Feedback
            After your travels, we want to hear from you! We rely on your feedback. We read it carefully. Feedback helps us understand what we are doing well and what we could be doing better. It allows us to make improvements for future travellers.

            http://www.intrepidtravel.com/feedback