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Floating Market in Bangkok

Thai Cultural Discovery

Example 13 Day Tour
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Experience an authentic look at the Thai culture in both the North and South of the country on this 13 day cultural discovery tour. Explore markets and spend time with local families as you encounter daily life both in the bustling cities and in the rural countryside. Finish your journey off with some rest and relaxation along the tropical coasts of Southern Thailand. An excellent introductory tour to Thailand's culture.
Wat Chedi Luang in Chiang MaiPad Thai noodle dishThai elephant playing in the waterBoats on a Phuket beachTraditional Thai architecture and decorEnjoy the crystal blue watersKhantoke dinner traditional of northern ThailandElephants in Chiang MaiSino-Portuguese influence of Old Town PhuketTypical street food in Thailand, meat and seafood on sticksFloating Market in Bangkok
Highlights
  • Tour the Grand Palace, the official resident of the Kings of Siam
  • Peruse the Railway Track Market, Thailand's most unusual market
  • Visit a Lanna family and learn about their culture & way of life
  • Interact with rescued elephants at the Elephant Nature Park
Places Visited
Activity Level: Easy Active
Moderately active but not overly strenuous. This level includes activities like casual cycling, yoga, or excursions/activities that typically last 3-5 hours total each day.
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Full Itinerary

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Day 1: Arrive Bangkok

Upon your arrival at Suvarnabhumi International Airport, a representative/guide holding a signboard bearing your name waits for your arrival in the guide pickup area near Door 6. As you exit the Arrival Hall, you'll find the arrival Gate B behind you.

If you require assistance in locating the representative/guide, the Association of Thai Travel Agents (ATTA) desk at Door 4 can provide support in locating the representative/guide. Present your travel documents and provide them with your name, hotel information, and your local agent. The ATTA can make an effort to locate your representative/guide and arrange a meeting at the ATTA counter.

Day 2: Heat & Soul of Bangkok

Explore Bangkok's most significant cultural highlights and embark on a longtail boat cruise along the khlongs (canals). Visit Wat Pho, one of Bangkok's oldest temples, featuring the country's largest reclining Buddha statue, measuring 45 meters (150 feet). Proceed to the Lak Muang City Pillar via tuk-tuk, symbolizing Bangkok's foundation. Enter the Grand Palace and the Temple of the Emerald Buddha (Wat Pra Kaew), the Kingdom's most revered shrine.

Following a pause for a traditional family-style Thai lunch, embark on a longtail boat for a journey through Bangkok's intricate network of ancient canals. Admire the waterways adorned with floating wooden storefronts, aged teak residences, and serene Buddhist temples. Visit the captivating Artist's House (Baan Silapin), a centuries-old teak dwelling transformed into a gallery showcasing local art and photography. Back on the Chao Phraya River end the day with a visit to Wat Arun, the iconic Temple of Dawn, one of over 31,000 temples in the country. Ascend the steep and narrow steps of this Khmer-style tower for a panoramic view of the river before returning to your accommodation.

Important: Please ensure your shoulders and knees are covered.

Note: Pick-up time is between 07.50 - 08.20 hours.

Day 3: Country Markets

Bustling Vibrant Markets (Weekday)
Note: Pick-up time between 06,20 - 06.50 hours

Start your day with an invigorating visit to the renowned Damnoen Saduak Floating Market, followed by an excursion to the fascinating Maeklong Train Market.

Begin your journey with an early start, passing through picturesque landscapes of rice paddies and shrimp farms (approximately 50 kilometers/30 miles) to reach Damnoen Saduak Floating Market. Board a longtail boat and navigate the intricate network of canals leading to the lively market, where you'll find vendors peddling a diverse array of goods, including fresh fruits, vegetables, souvenirs, and more. Proceed on foot to the nearby Lao Tuk Lak market, a smaller and more traditional marketplace, and absorb narratives about the local community that frequents it.

Enjoy a Thai-style iced coffee before your journey continues to the Maeklong Train Market. Stroll along the railway tracks, and listen for the approaching train. Witness as the stallholders hasten to clear the tracks of their wares, only to swiftly restore their stalls once the train has passed. On your return to Bangkok, make a stop en route at a family-operated coconut palm sugar factory. Observe the production process and sample some delectable snacks crafted from palm sugar (similar to jaggery).

OR

Trains and Markets (Weekend)
Note: Pick-up time between 06.20-06.50 hours

Following breakfast set out on a 90-minute drive southwards to the Railway Track Market, one of Asia's most unusual marketplaces. Here, vendors line and cover the railway tracks, but as the train approaches, the vendors swiftly disassemble their stalls to allow the train's passage. Shopping briefly pauses as passengers disembark and board, after which the vendors promptly reassemble their stalls to resume business. Navigate through the wet market adjacent to the train station and gain insights into the fresh merchandise on offer from your guide.

Afterward, proceed by car to Wat Bang Kung, where you'll explore the petite chapel entirely encased within the roos of a banyan tree. Then, set out on a long-tail boat journey up the Mae Klong River to visit the King Rama II Memorial Park and Museum, housing art and other artifacts from the 18th century within four classical Thai architectural structures. Explore the exhibitions depicting Thai court life in each of the four halls.

In the afternoon, visit the Amphawa floating market, which operates exclusively on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Unlike Bangkok's renowned Damneon Saduak floating market, few foreigners visit this almost exclusively Thai market. It's a place where locals gather to buy and sell a wide range of items, from cooking utensils to fresh flowers and toys. Vendors load their boats and cruise through the waters, hoping for potential customers to signal them down from the dock. The area surrounding the market provides a pleasant environment for a leisurely stroll, featuring open-air restaurants and intersecting bridges. Delicious meals are cooked right from the boats, including pad thai, curry, noodles, and chicken satay. Your day ends with a return to your hotel in the evening.

Day 4: Fly Chiang Mai

Enjoy your breakfast at the hotel. Afterward, you'll be picked up and transferred to the airport for a flight to Chiang Mai.

Sacred Path and Trail to Doi Suthep
Note: Pick-up time at 13:00 hours

Set out for a hike along a segment of the Monk's Trail, where you'll encounter pilgrims at the most revered temple complex, Wat Phra That Doi Suthep. Depart from the city and head towards the commencement of the hiking trail known as the Monk's Trail. Imagine the monks who once walked this very path to reach the summit of Doi Suthep mountain long before the road was constructed. Now and then, you'll come across orange robes tied around tree branches, marking the way as has been the tradition for hundreds of years. While the hike is not overly challenging, there are a few brief, demanding stretches. Upon completing the trek, you'll be welcomed by the tranquil Wat Pha Lat (Monastery at the Sloping Rock). Explore this serene jungle temple, featuring old stone structures adorned with intricate carvings and remarkable statues before continuing to the summit of Doi Suthep by road.

Climb the 308 steps up the mythical Naga serpent staircase to Wat Phra That Doi Suthep where you'll be rewarded with views of the city below. Listen to the chants of the monks, soak in the ambiance, and immerse yourself in the spirituality of the esteemed temple complex. Interact with pilgrims hailing from different parts of Thailand and discover pagodas and statues dedicated to Buddhism, infused with Hindu influences. Gain insights into Buddhism and its influence on the culture and daily life of the Thai people.

Day 5: Chang Land Elephant Camp

Breakfast in the early morning. Afterward, a pick-up awaits for your journey to Chang Land Elephant Camp.

Join an unforgettable adventure at Chang Land, where an entire day is dedicated to immersive interactions with majestic Asian Elephants. Upon arrival, embrace the opportunity to change into traditional mahout clothing, establishing an instant connection with the authentic elephant-keeper experience.

Dive into the world of these magnificent creatures, observing them in their natural habitat while gaining valuable insights into their behavior and lifestyle. Guided by experienced mahouts, you'll acquire essential commands that facilitate communication with these gentle giants. Partake in the heartwarming act of feeding them, forging a unique bond as you walk alongside them through the lush, verdant jungle.

This intimate encounter provides an up-close perspective on their world. Indulge in a delectable lunch featuring authentic Thai vegetarian cuisine, replenishing your energy for the upcoming phase of this extraordinary journey. Learn the art of crafting herbal vitamin balls, a vital dietary supplement for the elephants' well-being.  Embark on a scenic hike along the mountain path through the jungle, accompanied by your newfound companions.

The adventure continues with a heartwarming encounter with baby elephants. Here, you have the opportunity to feed them, engage in playful interactions, and even partake in a refreshing bath with them. This segment ensures unforgettable moments brimming with joy and connection. As the day's activities come to an end, it's time to bid farewell to the gentle giants and begin your return journey to Chiang Mai. Reflect on the day's magical experiences as you relax and relish your leisure time back at your hotel.

Day 6: Lanna Family Cooking Class

After breakfast this morning you are picked up from your hotel and drive to a local home belonging to the Raunkaew-Yanon family. This traditional Lanna family arrived in the area (possibly on the back of an elephant) almost 150 years ago! Carrying on many ancient traditions of the Lanna people including building their homes from teak wood and maintaining natural surroundings in a way rarely seen today in Chiang Mai. Learn today from the family about their culture and way of life. See the architecture of a traditional Thai house and rice barn and perhaps watch them demonstrate weaving a small bamboo basket or rolling a traditional cigar.

Today you get the unique opportunity to join them in cooking a traditional recipe with Northern Thai flavors from standard dishes. Gather your ingredients from the family orchard filled with a variety of fruits such as bananas, mangoes, and coconuts and from the garden planted with herbs. Enjoy your meal and the opportunity to get to know this family as their house guest for the day. Return to your hotel this afternoon and enjoy the rest of the evening free to explore on your own.

Day 7: Fly Phuket

Today pack up and head back to the airport for your flight south to Phuket, the country's largest island. Upon arrival, you are met at the airport and transferred to your hotel by the beach.

Day 8: Phuket Old Town

Early this morning you are picked up and head to the Phuket Old Town for a morning cultural walking tour. Discover the local lifestyle today with visits to sites such as a local shrine and the 'oldest herb shop' in town. Here you learn about the traditional medicinal use of various herbs. Walk along the historic Chinese shop houses along the streets of Thalang and Soi Romanee and visit the old-style barber shop. When hunger rises, try some of the Muslim-influenced roti or Chinese food that was first introduced by the Hokkien immigrants in the 19th century. Some sections of Phuket town look like it was caught in the 1950s with old printing shops, sarong and cloth Indian sellers, and hardware stores. The town offers a nostalgic feeling that should be experienced before modern times change it. After about 3 hours of walking, drive back to your hotel and enjoy a free afternoon relaxing on the beach.

Day 9: Lanlay Home Stay

This morning pack up and transfer to the Lanlay homestay, your new home for the next two nights. Head towards Laem Sak, a little peninsula near the town of Ao Luek and the perfect base from which to explore the Thanbok Khoranee National Park. The area also boasts stunning karst islands just off the coast in the Andaman Sea.

Arrive to Lanlay where you are greeted by Khun Carren, whose home is run more like an inn with the warmth of a family welcome. Each room is beautifully appointed and spotlessly clean. Settle in and enjoy conversing with the family on the terrace this evening. Dinner is served in the late afternoon and includes some traditional Southern Thai dishes which often include spices and curries, or simple dishes for kids or those who are a little less adventurous.

Day 10: Thanbok Khoranee National Park

Wake up this morning to the sounds of chirping birds in nearby trees. Enjoy a home-cooked breakfast before setting out to visit the caves and rivers in this region. Visit first Thanbok Khoranee National Park where some natural pools allow for swimming and short hikes through the park's jungle trails are possible. Opt as well to set out in kayaks along the rivers and paddle under cave formations as you explore the park.

Return to Lanlay later this afternoon and enjoy dinner with the family.

Day 11: Krabi

After breakfast this morning say your goodbyes to the family and head towards the pier for a trip to the bay and the islands. Explore today the islands off the coast of Krabi in a long trail boat. Massive karst formations seem to spring out of the ocean floor offering a sharp contrast against the blue waters of the Andaman Sea. Today enjoy the water, rest on the beach of a small island, and swim in the azure waters. Onward to Krabi and settle into your hotel.

Day 12: Free day at the beach

Enjoy the day free to relax and explore as you like today. Activities in the area include kayaking, sailing, and snorkeling. Or explore inland with trekking to waterfalls or caves or try your hand at rock climbing at Railay beach. Krabi is one of the best locations for rock climbing in Thailand. The day is yours to do as you like.

Day 13: Return Home

Drive to the Krabi airport for your flight back to Bangkok and your connecting international flight home.

Accommodations

Phuket - Hotels

Bangkok - Hotels

Chiang Mai - Hotels

Krabi - Hotels

Dates & Prices

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Per person starting at
$2,218 2-3 travelers

Notes

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Rates may vary based on current exchange rate.

Included
  • 10 Breakfasts, 6 Lunches, 2 Dinners
  • 12 Nights Accommodations
  • 6 Days Locally Hosted Guide Service
  • Accommodations as listed
  • Ground transportation as listed
  • Activities as listed
  • Meals as listed
  • Access to a 24-7 Emergency line while traveling
  • Carbon Offset Fee 
Excluded
  • Gratuities
  • Travel Insurance
  • Personal Expenses
  • Flight costs (please request a quote)
  • Additional excursions during free time
  • Fuel and transportation surcharges (when applicable)
  • Internal Flight: Bangkok - Chiang Mai
  • Internal Flight: Chiang Mai - Phuket
  • Internal Flight: Krabi - Bangkok

Map

When to Go

Jan
Feb
Mar
Apr
May
Jun
Jul
Aug
Sep
Oct
Nov
Dec
Good to ideal period to travel, and many people choose to visit at this time.
Chance for unpredictable weather but with fewer visitors.
Typically not offered during this period because of weather conditions.

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