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Classic Thailand (East Coast)
Transport - Bus, Ferry, Overnight Sleeper Train, Songthaew, Taxi
Accommodation - Hotel (4 nts), resort (4 nts), homestay (1 nt), guesthouse (2 nts), Overnight sleeper train (2 nts), Bungalow (2 nts)
Meals - 7 breakfasts, 5 lunches & 1 dinner
We often have multiple itineraries so please check to see which itinerary is suitable for you, by selecting the relevant tab.
Fly to Bangkok
Upon arrival in Bangkok after your overnight flight, you will transfer to your hotel and check in. In the evening you will meet you leader and the rest of your group for a welcome meeting. Your leader will have left details of where and when this will take place with the hotel's reception. Hotel - 1 night
This morning you leave the hustle and bustle of Bangkok and board a train heading north to Phistanulok (approx. 6hrs). A songthaew (open-backed pick-ups) will then take you on to your destination at Sukhothai (approx. 1hr). The city of Sukhothai (meaning 'Dawn of Happiness') was the original capital of Thailand's first kingdom and is believed by many to represent the golden age of Thai civilisation. The religious art and architecture are considered to be the most classic of Thai styles and the ruins contain the remains of 21 historical sites, with awe-inspiring Buddha images and four large ponds, which are often filled with stunning lotus flowers. Why not try a local Thai dish, such as sukhothai noodles, at the fascinating local night market?
Take a bicycle tour around the historical ruins of Old Sukhothai, set amid beautiful lakes and gardens. Enjoy a few leisurely hours on your hired bicycles, feeling the breeze in your hair and learning all about the history of this amazing place. Savour a home-cooked picnic lunch along the way and conclude the afternoon with a visit to a ceramics factory and local market. Later on in the afternoon you leave Saukhothai and head to Lampang (approx. 3hrs).
In the morning you drive the 45 minutes to visit the Elephant Conservation Centre near Lampang. You will be able to watch the elephants having a communal bathing session as well as young and old elephants being taught the skills used by the logging industry. Afterwards you will enjoy an unforgettable ride through the forest on the backs of these magnificent creatures. After lunch you will be able to visit the FAE Elephant Hospital.
Tonight will be spent at a homestay in a small Thai village (approx. 1.5hrs from the Elephant Centre). Although accommodation is multi-share and basic (there will be fold-out mattresses on the floor and shared bathrooms), you will have the unique opportunity to experience everyday Thai life, something that not many other travellers get to do. In the evening you will be treated to a traditional northern Thai khan tohk dinner, accompanied by live music and dancing. Homestay - 1 night
You may have the opportunity first thing, to offer alms to the monks as they go about their daily routine. Having packed a picnic lunch, you then set off by songthaew for the nearby hot springs, where you can take an optional well-deserved soak in the mineral pools, or enjoy a massage (additional charge). Feeling rejuvenated, you then continue along the short distance to Chiang Mai (approx. 40mins).
The most vibrant city in northern Thailand, Chiang Mai has many famous temple, an interesting old city area and a fantastic night bazaar, where lots of excellent food and plenty of colourful items are on sale. This is the place for practicing your bargaining skills! Shopping complete, head down to a riverside bar for some live music and a couple of drinks. A cycling tour is a great way to see the surrounding countryside, and you set off to visit the nearby temples and other places of interest. In your free time you can visit the hilltop temple of Doi Suthep from which you can enjoy stunning views over the city, attend Thai cooking classes, try bamboo rafting, shop, or indulge in a traditional Thai massage (all additional charge). In the afternoon of day 8, you board your overnight train bound for Bangkok (approx. 13hrs). You will be in soft sleeper class carriages and the multi-share compartments are air-conditioned with fold-down bunk beds. A sheet, blanket and pillow will be provided and there is usually a food and drink service on board, although you might like to stock up on fresh bread and fruit in the market during your free time. Overnight train - 1 night
The train is scheduled to pull into Bangkok in the early morning. On arrival you head back to the starting hotel, the rest of the day is then free for you to do as you please, until the meeting in the evening. As this is a combination trip, please be aware that your group leader and the composition of your group may change.
Early the next morning you head out to explore this fascinating city. You're first stop is Wat Arun, 'Temple of the Dawn'. Bangkok's founder, King Thaksin, was keen to give hope to his people after Ayutthaya was ruined, and so borrowed the name from the Hindu God Aruna, who's name means Dawn. You might also like to pay a visit to Wat Pho, the oldest and largest temple in Bangkok and home to the massive 46m long reclining Buddha (additional charge). Wat Pho is also the national headquarters for the teaching of traditional Thai medicine, so you might like to find time to experience a traditional Thai massage.
Alternatively, why not visit the Grand Palace, or the National Museum? Both are located near Wat Arun and Wat Pho (additional charge). Or you might like to simply explore the busy city streets. Khao San Road is a mecca for shoppers and attracts many visitors with it's offerings of cheap clothing, tasty snacks and ice-cold beer. This evening you board your overnight train, bound for Surat Thani (approx. 13hrs). You will be in soft sleeper class coaches with air-conditioned multi-share compartments. Bedding is provided and there is a food and drink service on board, although you might like to stock up on fesh bread and fruit during your free time in Bangkok. Please note that on rare occasions due to local scheduling changes, the overnight trains may be replaced with an overnight bus. Hotel - 1 night, overnight train - 1 night
Koh Pha Ngan
Your train will pull into Surat Thani station early in the morning. Continuing by bus (approx 1.5hrs) and then by boat (approx. 3hrs) you reach your destination on the beautiful island of Koh Pha Ngan. During your time here you will be free to relax on the beach, explore the fishing villages and learn about local Thai life, visit temples and cool off by stunning waterfalls. A delicious seafood barbecue on the beach is the perfect way to sample the local cuisine (additional charge).
From one island paradise to another, a two hour hop by boat takes you to the delightful little island of Koh Tao, famous for its spectacular coral reefs. The rest of the day is then free for you to relax on the beach and swim in the tropical waters. The next day you take to the water on a snorkelling trip to see for yourself the amazing underwater world that surrounds the island. With plenty of coral and fish and even the slight chance of spying the timid reef shark amongst the mesmirising coral formations, Koh Tao is definitely one of the jewels in southern Thailand's crown.
Boarding a boat once again you head over to your final island of the trip, Koh Samui (approx. 2.5hrs). This island is more developed, but does still have the beautiful long white beaches, with striking granite outcrops. If you want a break from the beach, then Koh Samui has it's share of treasures for you to discover. Why not pay a visit to the Big Buddha, take a dip at the waterfalls, see a mummified monk and do some last minute souvenir shopping (all additional charge). There is also a lively nightlife for those who want to join the locals for a cocktail or two.
Your second day here involves an exhilarating speedboat trip out to Thailand's largest national marine park. The reserve consists of an archipelago of around 40 pristine islands, one of which is home to the famous Emerald Lake and there are many lookouts that you can climb up to for spectacular views of the area. Afterwards you head off for another dip among the reefs with your snorkel and fins, before heading over to the Park Headquarters for a buffet lunch on the beach. Enjoy the afternoon sitting back and relaxing with a cool drink.
Overnight flight home
To arrange a transfer to the airport from the last hotel on this trip, a taxi to the airport will take about 30 minutes and cost approximately THB750. A minibus will take about 1 hour and cost around THB300. There is also a shuttle bus service available from the hotel and should take around 30 minutes. These can be arranged easily when in country and your group leader will be on hand to provide advice on how best to do this.
You will then arrive at the airport to board your your flight home.
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Very well organised by our group leader Leo. He was a very friendly guy who became one of the group. This was my second trip with you and I'd recommend your company to anyone who wants a cultural experience instead of a standard holiday.