Classic Thailand East Coast (May - Oct) Trip Notes

Classic Thailand East Coast (May - Oct)

Last Modified: 13 May 2016
Classic Thailand East Coast (May - Oct)
Trip code: TTSBC
Validity: 01 Jan 2016 to 31 Dec 2016
Combining the best of the north and south, this is the definitive Thailand tour. Travel from the clamour of the capital to the serenity of steamy rainforests, from atmospheric ruins to relaxed sun-drenched islands. Tour temples in Bangkok, bargain-hunt in lively Chiang Mai and then swim, snorkel or simply kick back on the divine beaches of the southern coast. This adventure is the perfect chance to visit the many attractions and treasures of Thailand.
Table of Contents
StyleAccommodation NotesFinishing point instructions
ThemesMeals introductionEmergency contact
Why we love itMealsVisas
MapTransportWhat to take
ItineraryMoney mattersHealth
Itinerary disclaimerGroup leaderTravel insurance
Physical ratingSafetyA couple of rules
Included activitiesJoining pointResponsible Travel
Important notesJoining point descriptionThe Intrepid Foundation
Group sizeJoining point instructionsFeedback
Your fellow travellersFinish point
AccommodationFinish point description
Style
Original
Themes
Explorer
Why we love it
- Explore the colourful streets of Bangkok
- See the stunning ruins of Sukhothai
- Feast upon scrumptious Thai cuisine
- Stay with Intrepid's village friends in rural Thailand
- Experience culture in chilled out Chiang Mai
- Discover Buddhist relics in Bangkok city
- Cruise to idyllic Thai islands
- Chill out on perfect beaches
- Experience the amazing Thai hospitality
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. You could 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, perhaps gather your fellow travellers together and tuck into some into world famous street food.
Optional Activities
  • Bangkok - Grand Palace - THB500
  • Bangkok - Thai Massage - THB250
  • Bangkok - Tuk Tuk Experience Urban Adventure - THB1790
  • Bangkok - Bangkok by Bike Urban Adventure - THB1904
    Accommodation
    Hotel (1 nt)
    Day 2 Sukhothai
    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.
    Accommodation
    Resort (1 nt)
    Day 3 Sukhothai
    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.
    Included Activities
    • Sukhothai - Historical Park Bike Tour & Picnic Lunch
      Accommodation
      Resort (1 nt)
      Meals
      1 breakfast, 1 lunch
      Day 4 Homestay
      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.
      Included Activities
      • Lampang - Friends of the Asian Elephant
        Accommodation
        Homestay (1 nt)
        Meals
        1 breakfast, 1 dinner
        Day 5 Chiang Mai
        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.
        Accommodation
        Hotel, Overnight sleeper train (1 nt)
        Meals
        1 breakfast, 1 lunch
        Day 6 Chiang Mai
        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, cycling down small country roads and meandering around the villages on the outskirts of Chiang Mai. Here 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.
        Included Activities
        • Chiang Mai - Thai Cooking Class OR Cycling Tour (half day)
          Accommodation
          Hotel (1 nt)
          Meals
          1 lunch
          Day 7 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.
          Optional Activities
          • Chiang Mai - Urban Adventures - Mae Ping River Experience - THB2460
          • Chiang Mai - Urban Adventures - Mind & Soul - THB2300
          • Chiang Mai - Doi Suthep temple - THB50
            Accommodation
            Overnight sleeper train (1 nt)
            Day 8 Bangkok
            Your train is scheduled to arrive back in Bangkok in the early morning. Today you have a free day; you might want to consider doing an optional Urban Adventure. Or simply relax with a Thai massage.

            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.
            Optional Activities
            • Bangkok - Bangkok by Bike Urban Adventure - THB1904
            • Bangkok - Chinatown Food Discovery Urban Adventure - THB2149
              Accommodation
              Hotel (1 nt)
              Day 9 Bangkok / Overnight train
              You’ll start today with a visit to Wat Pho, home to the country's largest reclining Buddha and keeper of the magic behind Thai massage. Wat Pho is one of the ‘trinity’ of Bangkok temples, located practically next door to the Grand Palace, and inside lies a 46-metre long gold-plated Buddha. 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. The complex is considered the first public university in the country, and is home to the world famous Wat Pho massage school, the centre of the traditional practice. 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, 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 you will board an overnight train southbound for Surat Thani (approximately 13 hours).

              Notes: Sleeper trains are clean and air-conditioned, and beds are multi-share compartments with bunk bed padded berths with sheets, pillow and blanket provided (although some people prefer to bring their own sleeping sheet). Please note that you may be sharing compartments with locals of the same or opposite gender. Your baggage will travel in the carriage with you. There's also a food and drink service available on board.
              Included Activities
              • Bangkok - Wat Pho Temple
                Optional Activities
                • Bangkok - Wat Arun (Temple of Dawn) - THB50
                • Bangkok - Thai Massage - THB250
                • Bangkok - Grand Palace - THB500
                • Bangkok - Jim Thompson's House - THB150
                  Accommodation
                  Overnight sleeper train (1 nt)
                  Day 10 Ko Pha-Ngan
                  Arrive into Surat Thani this morning and continue by bus (approximately 1.5 hours) and boat (approximately 3 hours) over to Ko Pha-Ngan. While its Haad Rin beach might be famous for the Full Moon Party, the beautiful island of Ko Pha-Ngan is also a perfect spot for some chilled relaxing on the beach or some exploring of the island's fishing villages, temples and waterfalls. The rest of the day is free – maybe take a trip to nearby Than Sadet falls or Bottle Beach, a favourite of the hippy trail and often said to be one of the most exquisite in the entire region. You’ll finish the day in true chilled out island-life style with an included seafood barbeque right on the beach.
                  Included Activities
                  • Ko Pha Ngan - Seafood beach barbeque dinner
                    Accommodation
                    Guesthouse (1 nt)
                    Meals
                    1 dinner
                    Day 11 Ko Pha-Ngan
                    A highlight of any time spent on the beach in Thailand is a massage, so what better way to start the day than with an included That massage right on the beach front, where you have no choice but to relax. The rest of the day is free for you to do as you wish, but a great optional activity is the Eco Discovery Adventure afternoon. This allows you to laze around in the morning and then combine the lush beauty of the island with some serious adventure and excitement. On the activity (joined by an English speaking guide) you’ll hike to through the spectacular scenery of Phaeng National Park to Than Naamruk viewpoint, then down to a cooling natural spring water pool for a swim and a water massage. You’ll drop by a mountaintop Chinese Temple, snorkel to discover the beautiful coral reefs at the island of Ko Ma and then get your adrenaline pumping at the Wipeout Water Activity Centre. Located at Koh Phangan's only fresh water lake, this is much like the TV shows Knockout or Wipeout and you can challenge the rest of the participants on a fun obstacle course. This activity ends with a visit to the Amsterdam Bar for amazing panoramas and stunning sunsets.
                    Included Activities
                    • Koh Pha-Ngan - Thai Massage on the beach (1 hour)
                      Optional Activities
                      • Ko Pha Ngan - Eco Discovery Adventure afternoon trip - THB1400
                        Accommodation
                        Guesthouse (1 nt)
                        Day 12 Ko Tao
                        Today you’ll go from one island paradise to another – it’s about 2 hours by boat to Ko Tao. Famous for its spectacular coral reefs, the delightful little island of Ko Tao is a favourite for those preferring the slightly more laid-back approach. It’s the perfect place to immerse yourself in tropical waters and relax on the white crescent sands of beaches like Sairee under swaying coconut palms – what a tough life! The sea around Koh Tao is also known for some of the best diving in the region, so there’s the option to do some scuba diving for those wanting to get up-close to the abundant marine life. Absorb Thai culture through the smells of an aromatherapy care session in a local spa, or through the tastes of a Thai cooking class. In the evenings, you can stroll the beaches or sample local fare at a seafood restaurant. Ko Tao also has a small but lively scene for those who are interested in some dancing and socialising on the beach.
                        Optional Activities
                        • Ko Tao - Thai Massage - THB300
                        • Ko Tao - Scuba diving - THB2000
                        • Ko Tao - Aromatherapy Care by Jamahkiri Spa - TMT950
                        • Ko Tao - Thai cooking class - THB1900
                          Accommodation
                          Bungalow (1 nt)
                          Day 13 Ko Tao
                          Today you’ll experience the beautiful underwater world that surrounds Ko Tao with an exploratory snorkelling trip around the island. With coral and fish aplenty and the remote chance of seeing timid reef sharks amongst mesmerising coral formations, Ko Tao is undeniably one of the jewels in southern Thailand's crown. You will climb aboard a boat from Mae Haa Pier and sail south, navigating around the southern tip of the island until you reach Shark Island. While it's named because it looks like a shark fin sticking out of the water, you might still see the occasional leopard shark while you're snorkelling here. Drop by Luek Bay for one of the best swimming beaches on the island with fish-filled reefs on either side, then stop at Hin Wong Bay for lunch aboard the boat – an idyllic spot where palm trees line the sheltered inlet. The shallow waters of Muang Bay are filled with colourful fish to swim by, and then stop at Nang Yuan Island - actually three teardrop shapes of land connected by wide sweeps of sand. You can pay the small entrance fee to this privately owned island and take a short hike up to a viewpoint, relax on the beach, snorkel through schools of parrotfish, or just chill on the boat. Return to Mae Haad Beach after this glorious beach and snorkel adventure. This evening you can be as active or low-key as you want on your last night on Ko Tao.
                          Included Activities
                          • Ko Tao - Day tour & snorkelling
                            Accommodation
                            Bungalow (1 nt)
                            Meals
                            1 breakfast, 1 lunch
                            Day 14 Ko Samui
                            Hop on another boat today and cruise over to Ko Samui (approximately 2.5 hours). The island is certainly a brasher, more vibrant extrovert to its quieter, mellower siblings. 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. Known simply as Samui by locals, Thailand's third largest island is rich with white sandy beaches, coral reefs and coconut trees. There's also the Big Buddha, waterfalls, markets, temples, a mummified monk, great shopping opportunities, Michelin star restaurants, luxury spas, and a lively nightlife. Today you can take an optional sightseeing tour around the island or brush up on your cooking techniques with a Thai cooking class.
                            Optional Activities
                            • Ko Samui - sightseeing around Island tour - THB1800
                            • Koh Samui - Thai Cooking Class - THB1850
                              Accommodation
                              Hotel (1 nt)
                              Meals
                              1 breakfast
                              Day 15 Ko Samui
                              It’s up to you what you want to do today, but if you feel like being more active, take an optional day trip to Ang Thong Marine National Park, an idyllic archipelago of around 40 islands (many uninhabited). If you choose this option you’ll take a speedboat to the Marine Park, with the island of Koh Wao or Koh Tai Plow as your first stop – here you can snorkel in the turquoise waters filled with ever changing colours of coral and fish. Sail around the steep limestone cliff islands and stop near an inland saltwater lagoon called Emerald Lake (Talay Nai), which is fed by an underground cave. Take a short walk up pathways and a wooden staircase to reach a magnificent hilltop lake viewpoint. Enjoy lunch on the island that houses the park headquarters, then chill out on the beach, climb up for a panorama of the Marine Park, and get out on to the bay for some kayaking. You’ll head back to Koh Samui in mid-afternoon. Maybe join you the rest of your group for a drink to celebrate the end of this east coast Thailand beach adventure tonight.
                              Optional Activities
                              • Ko Samui - Ang Thong Marine Park tour - THB1500
                                Accommodation
                                Hotel (1 nt)
                                Meals
                                1 breakfast
                                Day 16 Ko Samui
                                This wonderful Thailand beach adventure comes to an end today, and you are able to depart the accommodation at any time. Perhaps continue your exploration of South East Asia with another Intrepid adventure.
                                Meals
                                1 breakfast
                                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.
                                Physical rating

                                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 - Wat Pho Temple
                                Ko Pha Ngan - Seafood beach barbeque dinner
                                Koh Pha-Ngan - Thai Massage on the beach (1 hour)
                                Ko Tao - Day tour & snorkelling
                                Important notes
                                A single supplement is available on this trip, 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. The following days are excluded from the single supplement:
                                Day 4 Homestay
                                Day 7 Overnight Train
                                Day 9 Overnight Train
                                Accommodation
                                Bungalow (2nt), Guesthouse (2nt), Homestay (1nt), Hotel (6nt), Overnight sleeper train (2nt), Resort (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
                                7 breakfasts, 4 lunches, 2 dinners
                                Transport
                                Bus, Ferry, Minibus, Overnight sleeper train, Public bus, 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 USD360 for meals not included

                                The official currency of Thailand is the Baht (THB).
                                The most convenient and cheapest way to obtain local currency is via an Automated Teller Machine (ATM) or Bancomat. ATMs are now available in most towns and visa cash advances are available in major banks. Foreign currency notes that are old, torn or faded can be very difficult to exchange, clean bills in small denominations are most useful. Traveller's cheques can be difficult to change. The use of credit cards is restricted, mainly to major hotels.

                                All departure taxes should be included in your international flight ticket.

                                EMERGENCY FUNDS
                                Please also make sure you have access to an additional US$500, to be used when unforeseen incidents or circumstances outside our control (e.g. a natural disaster, civil unrest, strike action or an outbreak of bird flu) necessitate a change to our planned route.

                                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 is optional 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:

                                http://www.intrepidtravel.com/safety

                                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.

                                SNORKELLING:
                                Your leader will conduct a brief safety discussion before our snorkelling activities.

                                WATER SAFETY:
                                Please take care when taking part in any activities in the ocean, river or open water, where waves and currents can be unpredictable. It's expected that anyone taking part in water activities is able to swim and have experience in open water. All swimmers should seek local advice before entering the water.

                                Please note bike helmets are provided on the included bike activity on this trip. Please note bike helmets may not be of the same standard as from your home country, if you have any concerns we recommend you bringing your own bike helmet.
                                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
                                Samui Palm Beach Resort
                                175/3 Thaveerat-Pakdee Road
                                Bophut
                                Ko Samui
                                84320
                                THAILAND
                                Phone: +66 77425494
                                Fax: +66 77425358
                                Finish point description
                                The beautiful Samui Palm Beach Resort is located in the city centre, very close to Bo Phut Beach, Fishermans Village, Bo Phut Beach Pier and Mae Nam Beach Pier. Samui Palm Beach Resort includes a 24 hour front desk, ATM/banking facilities, Lounge Bar, Restaurant, a choice of swimming pools, fitness centre, Free internet service at lobby (but a charge for Wifi)
                                and a dry cleaning service. The rooms have private bathrooms, tv with premium channels and air-con.

                                Finishing point instructions
                                Samui Palm Beach Resort can help organise a taxi to the airport - this will take roughly 15 minutes (depending on traffic) and expect to pay around THB210 (About USD6) - please speak to hotel reception to organise this.

                                The opportunity to pre- book a private departure transfer is available through Intrepid - please enquire at the time of booking. This needs to be booked at least 2 weeks prior to trip start date.

                                Normal check out time is 12 noon
                                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:

                                http://www.intrepidtravel.com/pdf/trips/packinglist.pdf
                                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 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.

                                BOX JELLY FISH
                                Box jelly fish have been reported in Thailand waters throughout the year. Please be aware when swimming alone and follow any warnings from local authorities as stings require immediate medical treatment and fatalities have been known to occur.

                                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:

                                http://www.theintrepidfoundation.org/

                                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.

                                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

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