Day 1 UK - Bangkok
Depart on your overnight flight to Bangkok, arriving on day 2.
Day 2 Bangkok
Welcome to Bangkok - the quintessential eastern metropolis and Southeast Asia’s most vibrant capital city. Known in Thai as the city of angels, Bangkok is a city of mind-boggling history and spirituality, where you can expect ancient Thai temples that rise magnificently from the riverbanks, colourful palaces that glisten spectacularly in the sunlight, and a snaking river that audaciously wind its way through the heart of the city. Fabulous shopping awaits you, whether you’re after high quality artisanal handicrafts or excellent bargains in Asia’s most stylish shopping centres. If you’re a food lover, you will delight at the exceptionally delicious meals that can be enjoyed at every corner of the city. On arrival in Bangkok this morning we'll transfer to our hotel for a three-night stay.
There's plenty of time to relax at your leisure this afternoon, before we get to know one another better over a wonderful authentic Thai dinner at Kinnaree Gourment Thai, prepared by Vanessa Wu, where you'll sample a wide selection of traditional dishes.
Later we'll head out to discover the delights of Bangkok at night. We'll travel by tuk-tuk, an open-air vehicle invented in Thailand more than 50 years ago. As we wind our way through the city's streets we'll soak up the unique atmosphere and aromas and see many of its famous landmarks. Look out for the spectacular Grand Palace, the Wat Pho temple and Sanam Luang Park, also known as the Royal Field. Be ready to witness a side of Bangkok that you would never normally have the chance to see and experience.
Day 3 Bangkok
Situated on the Chao Phraya River, Bangkok is Thailand's exciting capital and we'll see many of its highlights on today's included sightseeing tour. We begin with a visit to Wat Pho, one of the city's largest temple complexes and home to a leading school of massage. We'll hear the morning chant of the saffron-robed Buddhist monks and see the 46-metre-long golden Reclining Buddha. Next we'll head to the magnificent Grand Palace, Bangkok's most famous landmark and for 150 years the home of the Thai kings, the Royal court and the government. Within its grounds we'll see the sacred Wat Phra Kaew, the temple containing the Emerald Buddha, a small revered image carved from a single piece of jade.
After lunch we'll take things at a slightly slower pace as we step aboard a long-tail boat for a cruise on the Thonburi klongs on our optional excursion. Thonburi is the old capital of Bangkok and on our journey along the klongs, or canals, we'll see traditional wooden townhouses and local people going about their daily life. Along the way we'll visit the Royal Barges National Museum and you can admire the stunning exterior of the Wat Arun temple with its majestic spires rising from the water's edge. Alternatively, explore more of Bangkok at your pace at leisure.
This evening we'll gather together and enjoy a Thai dinner, where a variety of local dishes will be served.
Day 4 Bangkok
After breakfast this morning we'll begin our explorations at the beautiful Bang Pa-In Palace, which was once a royal summer residence. We'll then continue to the UNESCO-listed ruins of Ayutthaya. We'll take a stroll around the impressive remains, which include a head of Buddha embedded in a tree trunk surrounded by tangled roots. Lunch is included at a restaurant, and this evening there's an opportunity to see Bangkok from another perspective with an optional evening dinner cruise on board a converted teak wood barge with traditional Thai dance entertainment.
Day 5 Bangkok - Phitsanulok
We'll depart Bangkok after breakfast and drive to Phitsanulok, one of Thailand's most historic cities. En route we'll make a stop at Uthai Thani to enjoy lunch on board a boat. On arrival in Phitsanulok we'll visit the 14th century Wat Yai, a stunning temple which houses a bronze statue of Buddha and an array of decorative features.Meals included: B,L,D
Day 6 Phitsanulok - Lampang
Our journey continues today as we drive to the ancient city of Sukhothai, which flourished during the 13th and 14th centuries. This walled city was the birthplace of some of Thailand's finest art and architecture, and as we explore the UNESCO-listed site we'll discover magnificent Buddha images, wall paintings and beautifully carved elephants supporting a towering stupa. Next, we'll meet a local history expert to learn about the heritage and traditions that live on in this area, and get a hands on experience making your own lucky charm, before we sample Sukhothai noodles – rice noodles served in a broth, usually with meat and green beans – for lunch.
This afternoon, we'll drive to Lampang for your overnight stay.Meals included: B,L,D
Day 7 Lampang - Chiang Mai
After breakfast this morning, we'll head to Wat Phrathat Lampang Luang - an incredible example of Lanna-Buddhist architecture, comprised of an ancient fortress wall guarding the central chedi. Then visit to Wat Phra Kaew Don Tao, a temple built on the site of an 8th century fortification that once guarded the routes to Lampang. This temple is one of the few places known to have enshrined the Emerald Buddha - one of the most sacred images of the Thai Kingdom. Continue to visit Ban Sao-Nak - a teak-wood house in a combination of northern Thai and Burmese architectural styles, which is distinctive and individual with its 116 teak pillars. Lunch will be at a local restaurant.
This afternoon, journey to Chiang Mai with a drive through the ancient city of Lamphun. In Lamphun, northern Thailand’s historical home of textile weaving, learn firsthand the centuries-old Yok Dok weaving technique. Later, visit Wat Ton Kaew, marveling in the eclectic mix of architectural styles, and admire the cascading gold structures at Wat Phrathat Haripoonchai before transferring to Chiang Mai. Check in at your hotel in Chiang Mai. The remainder of the evening is at leisure or you can joing us on an optional excursion to Chiang Mai night bazaar with our guide where we can shop for souvenirs and enjoy something to eat.Meals included: B,L
Day 8 Chiang Mai
Chiang Mai was once the capital city of the Lanna Kingdom, which covered much of northern Thailand in the late 13th century. Today we'll visit a local family to learn about Lanna traditions which live on to this very day. The family will be happy to tell you all about local architecture, handicrafts and food, and after we've explored the traditional houses and gardens we'll enjoy a meal cooked over a fire.
This afternoon we'll take the winding road up to the sacred temple of Doi Suthep. Considered to be the most important temple in Chiang Mai, it sits on a hilltop overlooking the city. En route we'll stop at Wat Palat, a peaceful temple tucked away in the jungle and surrounded by hills, forest paths, shrines and a tumbling waterfall. When we reach Doi Suthep, there will be plenty of time to explore this intriguing site and we'll get an insight into the importance of religion in Thai society at a private monk blessing ceremony.
This evening has been left free for you to dine at leisure. Why not head out with your travelling companions and sample the delicacies on offer at one of Chiang Mai's outstanding eateries.
Day 9 Chiang Mai
We've got a great day planned today, as we head to the Elephant Nature Park, just an hour's drive out of Chiang Mai. The sanctuary is home to many of these majestic creatures, which roam free in this rural setting. You'll learn all about how the elephants are rescued and get the chance to feed them from a special viewing platform.
After a buffet lunch, we'll head to the river where we can see these gentle creatures as they bathe and play in the water.
Day 10 Chiang Mai - Cha-Am
After breakfast we'll transfer to Chiang Mai airport for our flight back to Bangkok. Upon arrival we'll transfer to the laid-back coastal resort of Cha-Am, our base for the next three nights. Your hotel is set beside a long sandy beach and the rest of the day is free for you to relax and enjoy this lovely location.
Day 11 Cha-Am - at Leisure
Spend today enjoying the facilities at your hotel, perhaps take a dip in the outdoor pool or Jacuzzi, or go for a stroll along the beach.
If you like to cook, we also offer a fantastic optional excursion today as we head to the nearby beach resort of Hua Hin, where you can learn the art of Thai cookery. Start by visiting a local market to shop for your fresh ingredients. During your class you'll cook with ingredients such as fish sauce, herbs, spices, limes and coconut milk, and whatever you cook you'll eat for lunch.
Day 12 Cha-Am - at Leisure
Enjoy a final day at leisure. You could choose to soak up the sun on the beach and later, perhaps head out with your travelling companions to one of the nearby seafood restaurants for lunch.
If you're feeling energetic, you could rent a bicycle and explore the hotel's grounds, or perhaps try out the well-equipped fitness centre. Your hotel also boasts a fabulous spa, so maybe book yourself in for a pampering session.
This evening we'll gather together for a farewell drink before dinner.
Days 13 & 14 Cha-Am - UK
We'll transfer to the airport in Bangkok on day 13 for our flight back to the UK, arriving on day 14.Meals included: B