Explore Bangkok and Chiang Mai on this culinary adventure in Thailand. Try your hand at cooking traditional Thai dishes and wander local markets to pick out fresh ingredients. Visit a local coffee project, a traditional Hmong mountain village, and centuries old temples as you connect with the culture through its cuisine on this 7 day tour of Thailand.
Wander through local markets full of orchids, handicrafts, & souvenirs
Hear the monks' early morning chanting ritual at Wat Pho
Experience a hands on cooking class at Amita Thai Cooking School
Learn about the history of sacred temples in Northern Thailand
After breakfast today your guide picks you up and takes you to Wat Pho in time to hear the monks early morning chanting ritual. One of the oldest temples in Bangkok, Wat Pho is home to the famous 45m long reclining Buddha. Your guide shows you the palaces used for different occasions. The Funeral Palace, the Reception Palace, the Throne Hall, the Coronation Hall, the Royal Guest House and the mysterious Emerald Buddha are available to be explored. Next visit the Aor Tor Kor Market this afternoon, one of the best fresh markets in Bangkok with various agricultural products and delicious desserts available for purchase. You may buy various foods that appeal to you and taste as you stroll through the market.
This evening, depart for dinner at one of the most unique restaurants in Bangkok, Cabbages and Condoms (C&C) Restaurant. The concept of the restaurant is to promote a better understanding and acceptance of family planning and to generate income to support various development activities of the Population and Community Development Association, a non-profit organization in Thailand.
This morning drive an hour south of Bangkok to the garden province of Samut Songkhram along the Mae Klong delta area. Stop first at Mahachai fish market, one of the largest in the region. Witness the unique country market along the Mae Klong Railway. 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.
Visit also Tha Kha, a floating market in the area. Take a paddle boat journey through the klongs and stop to enjoy a glass of coconut sugar syrup with a local family. Visit the Buddhist temples here as well before arriving to the King Rama II Park and its Thai style Pavilion Museum.
Head back to Bangkok and enjoy your afternoon free to explore on your own. This evening meet up with your guide again for dinner at Thip Samai Restaurant which has been selling only Pad Thai cooked on charcoal for over 60 years. Continue to Yaowarat, Bangkok's Chinatown famed for its abundance of Thai and Chinese eateries along the way. Opt to eat additional foods as you explore.
After breakfast at your hotel today before transferring by boat to Amita Thai Cooking School, a home-style culinary school set in a charming canal side location. Today you will experience a hands-on Thai cooking lesson with a qualified English-speaking instructor and group of other travelers and students.
After a brief introduction start with a tour around the organic garden to learn about the varieties of Thai herbs. You will pick out some fresh herbs to be used later in your dishes. Start then with a cooking demonstration before trying your own hand at creating a culinary masterpiece under your instructor's guidance. For lunch sample the fruits of your labor in a Thai style pavilion set amidst the garden. Before leaving, each student receives a set of course recipes to bring back home.
This afternoon board the ferry to Koh Kred, a small island in the middle of the Chao Phraya River and home of one of Thailand's oldest Mon settlements.The Mon are an ethnic group who originated from Burma and have largely assimilated with Thai culture in modern times. Walk around the island here and witness the local lifestyle in the countryside and visit the traditional Thai dessert making house to see how some of these delights are made. Return to your hotel in Bangkok.
Transfer to the Bangkok airport this morning in time for your flight to Chiang Mai. Settle in to your hotel and set out around lunchtime for Khao Soy lunch. Drive up the mountain by 'songtaew' onto a rough dirt towards the Chang Khien Coffee Research Project. Here you can enjoy a cup of the local arabica surrounded by a garden of flowers. Continue on to the white Hmong village of Chang Khien where the 800 inhabitants still wear their traditional hill tribe clothes and practice a culture that dates back 500 years.
End the day with a visit to Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, the temple on the mountain and the most sacred in Northern Thailand. Learn about the history of the temple and observe its beautiful chedi and murals. Stay until dusk and witness the magical evening chanting of the monks before returning to Chiang Mai.
This evening you will enjoy a traditional Khantoke Dinner, which is served on a special low and circular table called a toke. Try the delicious Northern Thai dishes and the accompanying folk dancing this evening. After dinner participants light a sky lantern (khom loy) and launch it in the cool night following the belief that misfortune will be floated away.
This morning first enjoy a renowned cup of gourmet coffee at a local shop where brewing coffee is treated like an art form. Today you will enjoy a home cooking class complete with shopping for your own ingredients from the market. You first watch a TV chef give you tips on ways to pick out the freshest ingredients. Then stroll through the market and collect vegetables meats and fresh fruits for your dish. Head to a local chef's home and cooking class to prepare your dish under their instruction and guidance. Enjoy the fruits of your labor for lunch.
After the cooking class, travel on the back of a local songtaew to the temple of Wat Umong. Marvel at this unique temple and the system of underground tunnels with a unique and long history.
Enjoy a fantastic farewell dinner this evening at 137 Pillars House.
Day 7: Return Home
Take an internal flight back to Bangkok and connect with your international flight home.
The trip might have been the absolute best of our lifetime (thus far). We particularly want to commend our guide Peter in the Guilin area-he was so incredibly attentive, energetic, enthusiastic-and absolutely dedicated to ensuring that our meals were 100% vegetarian.