Travel to Thailand and Malaysia and visit Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur

Visit South-East Asia’s buzzing cities and pristine islands on a highlight packed journey through Thailand and Malaysia. Explore these distinct cultures, from the laidback beachside bliss of Krabi to modern Kuala Lumpur. Travel to Northern Thailand and experience the incredible hospitality of the Thai people on a rural homestay. Discover Chiang Mai, a treasure trove of glittering temples and mouth-watering cuisine, before heading south to the beach haven of Penang. Contrast the sights and sounds of South-East Asia by ending the trip in ultra-modern Singapore, a glimpse of the future and a great place to explore.

Start
Bangkok, Thailand
Finish
Singapore, Singapore
Countries
Malaysia,
Singapore,
Thailand
Themes
Explorer
Code
TTSLC
Physical rating
Cultural rating
Ages
Min 15
Group size
Min 1 Max 12
Carbon offset
184kg pp per trip


Highlights

  • Soak up the frenetic vibe of Bangkok city
  • Try fried bugs at Sukhothai's night market
  • Experience Thai culture and adventure in Chiang Mai
  • Spot wildlife in Khao Sok National Park
  • Walk through Penang’s colonial Georgetown

Itinerary

This itinerary is valid for departures from 01 January 2016 to 31 December 2016. View the itinerary for departures between 01 January 2017 - 31 December 2017

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?
This morning, leave the current capital of Thailand and head north by local bus to one of the first ancient capitals of Siam, Sukhothai (approximately 6 hours). You’ll make a short stop midway through for a chance to stretch the legs and buy some lunch. Located on a fertile plain, Sukhothai was established in the 13th century, and the name means the 'Dawn of Happiness'. It’s now famous for its World Heritage-listed historic park that celebrates the Golden Age of Thai civilisation. Tonight, be sure to head to the fascinating local night market and try the local dishes, like Sukhothai noodles.
Head out to the historical ruins of Old Sukhothai, set amid beautiful lakes and gardens. The religious art and architecture of the Sukhothai era are considered to be the most classic of Thai styles, and the Sukhothai Historical Park contains the remains of 21 historic sites, with awe-inspiring Buddha images and four large ponds often filled with stunning lotus flowers in full bloom. Upon arrival at the park, hire bicycles and enjoy a few leisurely hours feeling the breeze in your hair and learning about the history of this fascinating place. Enjoy a home-cooked picnic lunch somewhere along the way, and if you have enough free time, visit a local ceramics factory.
Travel by private minivan from Sukothai to your overnight homestay (approximately 4-5 hours). On the way, stop off at the Friends of the Asian Elephant Hospital located in Lampang. This is the first elephant hospital in the world established to care for sick and abused elephants, with the aim of preserving the animals' natural habitat and lifestyle. You’ll learn more about this important initiative and perhaps become acquainted with some of its resident pachyderm patients. Continue 1.5 hours to the warm and welcoming home of Intrepid's long-time friends in a small Thai village. Accommodation is multishare and basic (there will be fold-out mattresses on the floor and shared bathrooms), but there is no better way to better understand a country and its people. In the evening, you’ll be treated to a traditional northern Thai khantohk dinner, accompanied by live music and dancing.
In the morning, jump on some bikes and cruise around the homestay village. This is a great opportunity to see how the locals live, and you’ll make a few stops along the way to see small country industries in the area. Cycling past the rice fields and breathing in the fresh country air, with beautiful mountains in the distance, makes this morning a picture-postcard experience. Say goodbye to your new friends and travel on to Chiang Mai (approximately 45 minutes). The most vibrant city in northern Thailand, Chiang Mai has many famous 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 won’t want to leave. Your accommodation has both ensuite bathrooms and air conditioning, and is perfectly located right by the famous vibrant night markets.
Today you have the choice of doing a half day Thai cooking class or a half day cycling tour around Chiang Mai. If you're a foodie, then you’ll discover some of the secrets of Thai cuisine, learn the key ingredients, how to use them, and what to use in their place if you can’t get them at home. As well as taking your own comprehensive recipe book with you after the class, you'll feast on the fruits of your labour for lunch. If you’re feeling more active then you might want to saddle up for a half day cycling trip. After a short safety briefing and bicycle fitting, navigate the light downtown traffic as you cycle south, a pleasant ride along the green banks of the Ping River. Make a stop at a former leper colony turned rehabilitation centre, where you’ll get to know some of the daily life of the missionaries who worked here over a hundred years ago. The trip continues along various fruit orchards, and cycling down small country roads and meandering around the villages on the outskirts of Chiang Mai you’ll discover the real rural Thailand and encounter the Thai way of life. Explore the temple ruins of Wiang Kum Kam, the former capital of Lanna, before you cycle back to Chiang Mai.
Today is free for you to explore, but there are also a few optional activities you can join if you want. Perhaps 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 (approximately 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. You could also join an Urban Adventure and allow yourself to be spirited away on an early morning Chiang Mai tour that puts you at the epicentre of Buddhist rituals. Learn to meditate, offer alms to monks, and make an offering at a temple. Or maybe wander markets, meet monks, cruise the river, and slurp noodles on a Mae Ping River Experience. Tonight you’ll board an overnight train for Bangkok, accommodated in air-conditioned sleeping berths (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.
Our train is scheduled to arrive in Bangkok in the early morning. We then transfer back to our Bangkok hotel.

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 at 6.00 pm this evening 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.

Notes: We have shared day rooms available for our use until 12 midday, until check in this afternoon.
Begin the day with a river cruise down the Chao Phraya River to explore the famous ‘khlongs’ (canals) (approximately 1 hour). 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.

This evening you’ll head south to Surat Thani on an overnight train journey, accommodated in air-conditioned sleeping berths (approximately 12 hours). Multi share compartments have bunk beds, with sheets and pillow provided. Your baggage travels in the carriage with you. There is a food and drink service available on board.
Arrive into Surat Thani in the morning and then and travel by minivan to Khao Sok (approximately 2.5 hours). Set amid hectares of thick jungle, waterfalls, limestone cliffs and topped off with an island-studded lake, the national park of Khao Sok is a nature lover's paradise. Here you’ll have free time to explore one of the oldest rainforest in the world. Walk along the dirt trails that snake through the quiet park, looking out for wildlife as you head for rivers and waterfalls. The park is home to boar, gaur, gibbons, deer, wild elephants, and even the occasional tiger. The flora is also top-notch, with the rare Rafflesia Kerri, one of the world’s largest flowers, only found in Thailand here. There are longer hiking trails also available and in the rainy season there's an option to take to the water in inner tubes and float down the river through the rainforest. Spend a night in a rustic hut amid ancient gnarled rainforest trees.
Travel through pristine jungle, rubber and oil plantations before boarding a long tail boat for a ride across stunning Cheow Lan Lake, with one of its island as your destination. With limestone karst hills rising almost 1,000 metres into the air and surrounded by beautiful green waters, the area is incredibly picturesque. Trek to the an island cave and discover its eerie stalactites and bats hanging from the celling, with subterranean streams at your feet. You’ll enjoy lunch in a local raft-house before having free time to relax, swim or kayak around the lake to search for wildlife – the water is clear and teems with aquatic life, and you might spot hornbills, langurs, macaques or gibbons above water. Return to your accommodation for the night.
Sit back and enjoy a local bus ride to Krabi province – you’ll travel by private minibus to your village homestay (approximately 3 hours). When you arrive, enjoy a walk with your homestay host around the village, try out rubber tapping and enjoy the great food and hospitality of the region. Thailand is one of the world’s three largest producers of rubber, and you can try your hand at ‘tapping’ a rubber tree – skimming the bark off the tree to create a path for the milky white latex to run down. There is also an opportunity to assist with the preparation of tonight's meal – learn some of the delicious secrets of southern Thai cooking and enjoy a dinner that tastes all the better thanks to your handiwork! This is a wonderful opportunity to absorb some of the daily rituals of Thai culture.

Notes: Please be aware that this is a Muslim region so conservative dress standards are appreciated. Your homestay is located in a small friendly village, in basic multishare rooms with mattresses and mosquito nets provided. Bathroom facilities are shared.
Make the short journey by private minibus to the stunning surrounds of Krabi and your base at Ao Nang (approximately 30 minutes). Famous for the incredible limestone karst scenery of the headland, sun-seekers will fall in love with Krabi's unspoilt beaches, the spectacular cliffs will tempt avid rock climbers, while scuba fans can embark on a Krabi diving adventure. If you love getting out on the water and exploring islands, then consider taking a trip by boat to explore Phi Phi and Khai Nok, islands surrounded by white sandy beach perfect for swimming and snorkelling. The area around Krabi is also home to some of the most spectacular climbing routes around. Whether you're a novice or a pro, being securely tied high up a limestone cliff-face looking down on jungle and crystalline seas is unforgettable. In the evening, look out for a beautiful sunset and consider dining on seafood in a beachside restaurant, followed by a drink in one of the many clubs and bars along on the beach.
This morning you’ll enjoy an included half day 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 might just be the most beautiful bay in Thailand. Surrounded by towering karst formations and many small offshore islands, let the waterways become your pathway as you move slowly through the bays and canyons, discover inlets, caves and hidden lagoons, and check out the local wildlife up-close – the birds overhead and monkeys in the trees. If you do see a monkey, make sure you secure your belongings and any food! If you have time today in the afternoon, you could explore the beautiful underwater world around Ao Nang with some scuba diving, which includes three dives, or maybe absorb Thai culture through the tastes of a Thai cooking class. In the evenings, you can stroll the beaches, sample local fare at a seafood restaurant, 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.
Get out your best book or find your entertainment at the scenery out the window, as today’s a long day of travel (approximately 9 hours). The journey by private minibus sees you say goodbye to Thailand and wave hello to the cultural melting pot of Malaysia. The fascinating island of Penang was the first destination of the colonial British in 1786. They invited the Chinese, as well as others from all over Asia, to live on this island in the tropics. Today, this exotic fusion of cultures still exists and the World Heritage site of Georgetown contains a fascinating mix of religious places of worship. When you arrive, you’ll take an orientation walk around the blend of colonial buildings, tumble-down shops and hawker-filled alleyways to get your bearings. The food here might just be the best in Malaysia, so tonight why not seek out the endless food stalls of this food paradise. Your guide can give you some tips, or ask the locals! Look out for local specialties like Nasi Kandar, Penang Laksa, and Char Kway Teow.
This morning you’ll take a half day sightseeing walking tour around Penang and Georgetown, soaking up the relaxed pace of life and the mix of cultures on show in this heritage area. See the original 19th century shophouses, the street markets, and the strong cultural and religious identity still on display in each neighbourhood – Little India, Chinatown or the Muslim Quarter. Check out the street art that adorns the walls and stop by a clan jetty. Clans were formed by 19th century immigrants, banding together based on the area of China that they came from, and they built rival waterfront societies on wooden jetties. You’ll also pay a visit to Thai and Burmese temples, and see Kek Lok Si Temple, the largest Buddhist temple in South East Asia. You’ll have this afternoon free and, aside from sauntering along the interesting streets (or hoping in a trishaw for a ride that will take you back in time), you might visit Fort Cornwallis, built to defend the city from invasion, or see the clan house of Khoo Kongsi. Check out the ornate carvings on the walls, roof and pillars, and maybe see more Chinese architecture in the memorably blue Courtyard House of Cheong Fatt Tze, a fabulously wealthy merchant. Don’t forget to feast on the island’s culinary delights tonight.
Take a local bus to Kuala Lumpur (approx 5 hrs).
Kuala Lumpur, the cosmopolitan capital of Malaysia, is affectionately known as KL and you'll almost always hear locals refer to it by its acronym. Communities of Indian, Chinese and ethnic Malay people mingle peacefully, allowing travellers to get the best of all three worlds.
Take a half-day tour and absorb the fascinating multicultural mix that gives Kuala Lumpur such a uniquely cosmopolitan feel. You’ll also visit some of the city's most impressive architecture such as the National Monument (commemorating those who died in Malaysia's struggle for freedom and based on the Iwo Jima Memorial in the USA), the vast National Mosque, featuring a bold and modern design, and the Istana Negara (National Palace). You’ll also drop by the Royal Selangor Club, which looks like it’s come straight from Tudor England, and scale the 272 steps up to the Batu Caves, where shrines are filled with fascinating statues of the Hindu Gods. In free time, you might stroll Dataran Merdeka (Independence Square), or shop in Suria KLCC (one of Malaysia’s premier shopping destinations) and then head up to the Skybridge & Observation Deck of the iconic Petronas Towers. Those with a head for heights can also climb up the KL Tower at dusk and watch the city lights come to life. Lake Gardens is home to a number of sights, including the National Planetarium and the superb Islamic Arts Museum, home to a standout collection. If culture’s your thing then perhaps enjoy a cultural show, or try your hand at Batik, a technique of dying cloth that’s a real art form. Tonight, be sure to indulge in the myriad tasty food options Kuala Lumpur is famous for.
Transfer by local bus to the old port town of Melaka (approximately 3 hours). Back when Penang, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore left little impression on a map, the historic city of Melaka was the most important trading port in Malaysia, attracting Chinese, Indian, Dutch, Portuguese and British traders. These visitors sought wealth or an opportunity to control the Straits of Malacca, a vital trading route between the Indian and Pacific oceans, which lead to 400 years of colonial rule. Today, Melaka's wealth of historical sites remind visitors of times gone by, and its multicultural past is revealed in its distinctive cuisine. Like Georgetown, the Melaka was declared a World Heritage Site in 2008, and like its Penang sibling, the city is a harmonic mix of cultures, a place where colonial buildings sit next to Chinese shophouses and temples.
Today you’ll get to know this port city better with a quaint trishaw tour along the narrow winding streets. You’ll admire Chinatown's unique Peranakan architecture, get a taste of old Melaka, and learn about the ancient spice trade. Take in sites such as Harmony Street (so called because it contains the prayer houses of Malaysia's three main faiths), and stop by a mosque, Chinese Buddhist Temples, and a traditional Muslim house-museum. In your free time this afternoon there are plenty of historic sights and museums to check out. From 17th century Dutch buildings and ships, to museums that showcase the local history of ethnic Chinese-Malays, the travels of diplomat and explorer Zheng He, and even a museum that focuses on concepts of beauty in different cultures. If you’re looking to get more active then you could perhaps jump on two wheels for an Eco Bike tour around the city, or see Melaka from a different perspective with a boat tour along the river.
Travel by local bus to Singapore (approx 5 hrs).
Singapore has few areas untouched by modernisation, but wandering the streets of Little India and Chinatown is a great way to see the old parts of the city. To explore further, check out the renowned shopping precinct of Orchard Road, or stop by Raffles to experience the old world charm of a Singapore Sling. An evening in Singapore is not complete without an evening stroll along Clarke Quay or take a river cruise to learn more about the fascinating history of this city.
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
11 breakfasts, 6 lunches, 2 dinners
Transport
Bus, Minibus, Overnight sleeper train, Private minibus, Public bus, Songthaew, Taxi, Underground/Subway, Van
Accommodation
Guesthouse (2 nights), Homestay (2 nights), Hotel (10 nights), Overnight sleeper train (2 nights), Resort (4 nights)
Included activities
  • Sukhothai - Historical Park Bike Tour & Picnic Lunch
  • Lampang - Friends of the Asian Elephant
  • Chiang Mai - Thai Cooking Class OR Cycling Tour (half day)
  • Bangkok - Khlong boat (canal) tour
  • Bangkok - Wat Pho Temple
  • Khao Sok - Cheow Lan Lake tour
  • Homestay - Village walk
  • Homestay - Thai cooking demonstration
  • Krabi - Sea Kayaking
  • Penang - Orientation Walk
  • Penang - Half Day Sightseeing
  • Penang - Kek Lok Si
  • Kuala Lumpur - City tour
  • Melaka - Guided Orientation Walk
  • Melaka - Trishaw Tour

Dates

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Important notes

1. A Single Supplement to have your own room is available on this trip and excludes nights 4 & 12 (homestay), and 7 & 9 (overnight sleeper train), where you will be in shared accommodation.

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.

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Reviews

Our Best of Thailand & Malaysia trips score an average of 5 out of 5 based on 1 reviews in the last year.

Best of Thailand & Malaysia , March 2016