Day 1 Arrive Bangkok
Arrive to Bangkok where you are met by your guide and drive to your hotel. Spend the evening relaxing after your journey.
Day 2 Explore Bangkok
- 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Spend the full day exploring Bangkok today with your guide using exclusively public means of transportation. Take a boat to a terminal station on the banks of Chao Phraya River and then continue to Tha Thien pier to visit Wat Pho in time to witness the morning chanting of the monks. Explore the temple, see the Reclining Buddha, and if you like stop for an optional Thai foot massage. Continue to the Grand Palace by foot, Thailand's most important landmark. This was the official residence of the Kings of Siam (and later Thailand) from 1782 until 1925 and is still used for official state events. Explore the grandeur and majesty of the building and its throne halls this afternoon. See also the Emerald Buddha, the most revered Buddha image in all of Thailand, which according to legend was first created in 43 BC in India.
Stroll through the markets or try a taste of the local Thai Cuisine on the way to your lunch spot. This afternoon visit bustling Chinatown on two wheels. Set out on a biking tour starting at the River City Shopping Center. Bike through narrow alleyways and winding pathways. Pass markets, local temples and witness street life in action. Cross back over the Chao Phraya river by ferry and continue touring in Thonburi to see more locals temples and museums. Enjoy a dinner of Thai cuisine and classic Thai dance show.
Day 3 Countryside Cycle
This morning drive out of the city into the countryside for a day on bikes. Explore the Thailand of old in a land of gentle river boats, rice fields and tropical landscapes. See the temple of Phurt Udom Pol, Kamalulislam mosque, and the market town of Nong Chok. Visit a local women's cooperative, fish farms, working rice mills, traditional Thai wooden houses and an old medicine shop. Stop for lunch before continuing on for a close-up view of Thai village life this afternoon before returning to Bangkok for a leisurely evening.
Biking Distance: 24 miles/ 40 km on easy dirt roads and field pathways.
Day 4 Fly Chiang Mai
- 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Take a flight out of Bangkok today north to Chiang Mai. On arrival check into your hotel and freshen up before lunch.
This afternoon choose between two options. In the first, you take a local songthaew to explore Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, the most sacred in Northern Thailand located on the mountain of Doi Suthep. Learn about the story of the temple and the white elephant and walk around the impressive grounds. Next trek 2 hours to a Hmong village where 800 inhabitants still wear their traditional tribe clothes and practice a culture that dates back 500 years. Trek back and return to the city. The second option is to spend the afternoon exploring temples around Chiang Mai by Segway. After a brief introduction, set out to visit some of the following: Wat Phra Singh, Wat Pan Tao, Wat Chedi Luang, Tapae Gate, Wat Chiang Man, and Three Kings Gate.
This evening get a taste of the Chiang Mai nightlife. First join monks in a nightly chanting at a local temple. Here you may light some incense or burn a candle to participate as well. Next enjoy dinner at 137 Pillars colonial house. After dinner, drive to the lively Waroros market, the hub of local life bursting with fresh flowers and local street food stalls. Sample some local Thai sweets before returning to your hotel for the evening.
Day 5 Si Lanna National Park Bike & Paddle
Get active today for an exciting day of kayaking and cycling around the spectacular Sri Lanna National Park, located only an hour drive from Chiang Mai. First cycle 20 km along beautiful rural roads set against the backdrop of bamboo groves, fruit orchards and rolling rice fields. Next paddle kayaks out on Mae Ngat Lake Reservoir. Enjoy lunch at an exotic bamboo floating raft house on the lake and continue exploring the lake by kayak. Swim or find a spot to sunbathe as you relax this afternoon. Pack up the bikes and return to Chiang Mai early evening.
Approximate biking time: 2 hours
Approximate kayaking time: 2 hours
Day 6 Elephant Nature Park
Pack up your bags and be ready this morning for your shuttle pickup. Drive through the agricultural Thai countryside to the Elephant Nature Park today, a non-profit organization located on the outskirts of Chiang Mai. The Elephant Nature Park aims to provide a sanctuary and rescue center for these great creatures, and a rare 'retirement' where these animals no longer work for humans. Hear the personal stories of the rescued elephants as told by the park guides and learn about the problems they face in Southeast Asia and the ways the park is helping to impact positive changes.
Today you get the unique chance to help feed and bathe the elephants. After unloading and distributing fruits, you will have the chance to feed the elephants from a viewing platform. A sumptuous buffet of Asian and international dishes for yourself will follow! After lunch, walk with staff to a river that circulates the park. Enjoy a brief safety talk about how to properly bathe an elephant before plunging in to help scrub these giant creatures. If you would prefer to stay dry, stay on the shore as you witness the spectacle.
Drive two and a half hours on to the city of Pai late this afternoon. Settle into your new hotel.
Day 7-8 Rafting or Trekking Mae Hong Son
Rainy season and dry season are very distinct in Thailand, as a result some adventure activities fluctuate. For the next two days there are two options depending on the time of year and the weather.
Rainy Season Option: July - November: Rafting Mae Hong Son
Day 7: You are picked up early and head to the rafting camp for a safety briefing and to gear up. Drive an hour to the launch location and set out on the river paddling down stream as thick jungle sets the backdrop around you. Stop for lunch en route and continue through the gorge where some Class III and IV rapids await. Further down the river stop along the bed for water games and dip near a waterfall. Arrive to the jungle camp before dawn where you can enjoy a shower and a welcome drink before dinner.
Rafting: 4 hours, 30 rapids, medium difficulty (Class III-IV)
Day 8: After breakfast and coffee, hop back in your boats and once again set out for a full day of action on the river. Raft through a number of rapids as the river takes you west. Arrive to the Khong River Junction and stop for a break at an area with hot springs. Next take on Rising Stone Rapids, a set of Class II-III rapids. After a river bank lunch stop, enjoy a few more and then calmer water as the landscape changes and villages and farmlands start to appear. Arrive to Namtok Mae Surin National Park and the end of the rafting trip. Luggage is delivered at this point and you drive 2 hours to the airport at Pai for your flight back to Chiang Mai this evening.
Rafting: 5 hours, 30 rapids, medium difficulty (Class II-III)
Dry Season Option: December - June: Trekking Mae Hong Son
Day 7: This morning drive 1-2 hours to the trail head to begin hiking upstream the Land River, one of the most beautiful mixed deciduous forest in Northern Thailand full of Teak trees, Indian Mahogany and various species of bamboo. Stop along the way for a basket lunch in the middle of the jungle, learn some survival skills using a bamboo and a machete with your guide. Continue walkin up hill, observing plants, flowers, insects and birds until reaching a remote Red-Lahu village close to the Thai-Burmese border. Settle into traditional bamboo house built on teak stilts and covered with a thatched roof. After a refreshing shower you will have time to visit the village before a traditional dinner
Trekking: 5 hours
Day 8: After a hearty breakfast, hike 3 hours to one of the main Karen villages in the region; walking through different kinds of forests and following mountain ridges. Stroll through the village observing the children playing and the women weaving clothes for the family. Enjoy a lunch with locals. From here either walk or take a traditional Lawa bamboo raft to the entrance of a massive 200 million year old limestone cave. The Lawa people used some of the cave's galleries as primitive habitation and have left some traces of their civilization. Enjoy a delicious barbecue lunch at the cave's restaurant before the visit, before returning to Pai and on to Chaing Mai.
Trekking: 3 hours
Day 9 Chiang Mai Takraw
This morning you have the option to participate in a group cooking class at Baan Thai Cookery School. Learn how to make Thai food in a traditional setting. Teachers help you in this participatory group class that includes a market tour. Or you may opt to enjoy the morning at leisure in Chiang Mai.
This afternoon you are picked up outside your hotel today for a short ride through the city and arrive to a nearby park and try the popular game of Takraw. Get an introduction to the history of the sport by an experienced player who explains the basic rules and show off some of his acrobatic skills. After a short training session get ready to play a full game!
Enjoy your final evening in Chiang Mai with a traditional Khantoke Dinner. Your meal is served on special, low circular tables called toke. Enjoy delicious northern Thai dishes accompanied by Thai folk dance.
Day 10 Return Bangkok
Return to Chiang Mai for your flight back to Bangkok. From here connect with your international flight home or extend your trip and explore southern Thailand.