This 10 day highlights tour gives you a taste of the best that Thailand has to offer. Explore Bangkok including the Grand Palace and floating markets. Experience Chiang Mai and northern Thai culture, connect with elephants, and spend time on the beaches of Phuket for some relaxation time at the end of the trip. Choose this main highlights Thailand tour for a fantastic introduction to natural and cultural wonders of the country.
Visit Wat Pho & view the monks' early morning chanting ritual
Wander the bustling Damnoen Saduak Floating Market
Feed and bathe elephants at the Elephant Nature Park
Sail through lagoons, mangroves, and karst formations in Phang Nga Bay
Enjoy breakfast at your hotel before an early start to arrive to Wat Pho in time to experience the monks' early morning chanting ritual at around 9. Witness this uplifting and often private experience and then set out to explore the temple grounds and the famous 45m long reclining Buddha. This temple is also reportedly the birthplace of Thai massage. Continue to the Grand Palace, 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. You also have the chance to see the Emerald Buddha, the most revered Buddha image in all of Thailand, which according to legend was first created in 43 BC in India.
This afternoon, Dive into a journey to uncover traditional Thai culture cruising by longtail boat before soaking up an atmospheric sunset across the Chao Phraya River with shimmering temples beyond. Set off on an adventurous longtail, crisscross the khlongs (canals), pass small community temples and glimpse the unfolding action along the edge of the waterway. Step out and explore Baan Silapin (Artist House) located in a centuries old traditional teak family home. Meet some of the creative people involved with this project and admire the photography and artwork. Continue on to Wat Arun, (Temple of Dawn), one of the best-known temples in Thailand and bid farewell to your longtail. Stroll the pavilions, ascend one of the prangs (towers) and learn about the influence of Buddhism on everyday life. Board a local ferry for a short crossing to the other side, venture into a local rooftop bar, enjoy a local cocktail and witness the sun set across this River of Kings.
Enjoy breakfast before driving south of Bangkok an hour to Samut Songkhram Province. Here you get a glimpse into Thai rural life, starting with a short regional train ride to a country market. Witness the dexterity and speed of the vendors as they quickly pack their stalls right before the train approaches. All shopping comes to a brief halt as passengers unload and board, and then the vendors simply reassemble their stalls to resume business.
To see another unique market, visit the Damnoen Saduak Floating Market. Take a long-tail boat ride through the canals and see how the Thai people live alongside the labyrinth of canals in the region. The famous market is bustling with vendors selling fruits and other delights from their boats in the canals. Walk around the market area as you observe this fascinating occasion. Return to Bangkok this afternoon and enjoy the rest of your day free.
Return to the airport today for your flight on to Chiang Mai. Upon arrival meet your new guide and check in to your hotel.
This afternoon Hike a section of the Monk’s Trail before encountering pilgrims at the most revered temple complex Wat Phra That Doi Suthep. Head out of the city to the start of the hiking trail known as the Monks Trail and imagine the monks who walked this same path to top of Doi Suthep mountain before the road was built. Occasionally you will see orange robes wrapped around the branches to indicate the way as was done hundreds of years before. Although not difficult, there are a few short challenging sections before you will be greeted with the peaceful Wat Pha Lat (Monastery at the Sloping Rock) at the end of
your walk. Explore this serene jungle temple old stone buildings with intricate carvings and notable statues before continuing to the top of Doi Suthep by road. Climb the 308 steps up the mythical Naga serpent staircase to Wat Phra That Doi Suthep where you will be rewarded with views of the city below. Listen to the chants of the monks, drink in the atmosphere and immerse yourself in the spirituality of this revered temple complex. Mingle with the pilgrims from across Thailand and discover pagodas and statues devoted to Buddhism with Hindu influences. Learn about Buddhism and its impact on the culture and daily life of Thai people.
This morning take a group transfer through the agricultural countryside to the Kanta Elephant Sanctuary, located on the outskirts of Chiang Mai. The Elephant Nature Park is a a non-profit organization which provides a sanctuary and rescue center for these amazing creatures. This park is rare retirement home where these animals are no longer forced to work for humans in tourism or logging industries. Hear the personal stories of the rescued elephants as told by the park guides. 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 surrounds 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. Return to Chiang Mai this evening.
After breakfast set out to discover the charming old city of Chiang Mai on foot. The first stop is at Somphet Market, a daily fresh market selling fresh vegetables, spices, meat, fish and sweets. Next walk to Wat Chiang Man, the oldest temple in Chiang Mai. Walk another 10 minutes to the Three Kings Monument. Learn about the history of the three kings, believed to be the founders of Chiang Mai. Visit the nearby Lanna Folk Life Museum. This renovated white colonial style building used to be the Municipal Court of Chiang Mai but has since been renovated inside to display the beauty of the centuries old northern heritage.
Continue your tour to the Chiang Mai Women's Correctional Institution. Here female prisoners are trained in Traditional Thai massage as part of the prison' skills training and rehabilitation program. Enjoy a 30 minute foot massage and learn the story of this successful program. Continue walking to Wat Chedi Luang, which was built at the end of the 14th century. After your walking tour venture out to try one of the infamous Chiang Mai dishes, Sirichai Khao Man Gai is popular for its tasty noodle curry and is a popular choice.
This afternoon Visit a Lanna family home, enjoy a culinary journey of age-old family recipes and glimpse the traditional lifestyle of people who migrated here generations ago, and learn about their traditions and way of living. Step inside and engage with your hosts as they share the history of generations of their families that have called this village home. Appreciate the architecture and building of their home, using teak wood whilst maintaining the natural surroundings. Stroll through their orchard identifying the various fruits grown including banana, mango, and coconut before selecting fresh herbs to be used in the cooking later. Watch as they weave a small bamboo basket and take the opportunity to try your own hand at this craft.* Take your basket of herbs and other ingredients
from the garden and delight in the opportunity to prepare authentic Northern Thai dishes using traditional cooking techniques and clay pots which impart an additional flavor element. Afterward sit down to a mouthwatering meal prepared together having gained a personal connection to the descendants of the first people of Northern Thailand, the Lanna people.
This morning transfer to Chiang Mai airport for your flight south to Phuket, the country's largest island and a popular beach destination. Meet your driver at the airport and settle into your beach hotel this afternoon. Spend some time exploring your new surroundings.
Set out today on a private long-tail boat to explore Phang Nga Bay. Dotted with limestone islands that jut out from the emerald water, Phang Nga Bay is a must-see for anyone visiting the area. Once you reach Koh Panak and Koh Hong, get in a canoe with another traveler and a guide to actively explore. Paddle the clear waters to get closer to the limestone rocks and caves in the area. Enjoy lunch on a beach and enjoy swimming and snorkeling where you like before returning to Phuket late this afternoon. Stop by the famous James Bond Island for pictures before sailing to hidden lagoons, pristine mangrove forest, and past dramatic karst formations.
Enjoy a free day on your own. Arrange for an optional activity such as snorkeling or kayaking, spend the day on the beach, or explore island attractions such as the rum distillery or take part in a cooking class.
Day 10: Return Home
Continue on to your next destination today, or arrange to fly home via Bangkok.
This was our first trip to South America and we were a little nervous. But Adventure Life made things so easy! All our questions were answered before we left, and our guide, Vidal, was amazing! He gave us enough space to explore without rushing us along. He also knew where the best picture taking opportunities were, which was great.