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 you will learn about Muay Thai from the home gym of Thailand's most famous fighter, Buakaw. The multi-times world champion Muay Thai and K1 fighter is the poster child of the gym, but there are many other very high level athletes training at the gym and as such it attracts people who want intense Muay Thai camps to prepare for a real match. The trainers here have had illustrious careers so you know the training is high level.
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 one hour 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 Kanta Elephant Sanctuary
Leave from your hotel at 8:30 am to drive approximately 50 minutes north of Chiang Mai through rolling hills, forest, and local farming areas. Arrive at the Kanta Elephant Sanctuary around 10:00 am and change into traditional clothing. Prepare fruits and meet the elephants. Feed, roam, touch, and play with the elephants for as much time as possible.
After lunch, prepare and cook sticky rice mixed with herbal for the elephants. Learn about the elephants' background, health care, and behavior. Enjoy more free time this afternoon roaming, feeding, and taking the elephants for a walk to the river, including bathing and scrubbing. This portion of the day is focused on taking your time and allowing the elephants to enjoy each moment of their freedom - scratching, rubbing, and throwing dirt. Enjoy the view and take lots of pictures. After a tea and coffee break, leave the elephant sanctuary and return to Pai.
Day 7-8 Rafting or Trekking Mae Hong Son
- 2 Breakfasts, 2 Lunches, 1 Dinner
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 will be picked up from your hotel at 8:45 am and taken to meet with other rafters at the base. While socializing around a cup of coffee, you will be helped to select your rafting equipment (helmet and life jacket). After a safety briefing, drive one hour by pick-up taxi to reach the put-in point. Around 11:00, you will meet your captains and receive the last paddling instructions. The first strokes will take you straight into the lush of the jungle. After the first rapids, you will stop for a basket lunch by the shade of a wild mango tree. Then, passing through the gorge, you will experience the thrill of the Class III and IV Fragrance Rapids, before you reach the first hot springs and fluoride mine area of geological interest. After 15 more rapids, you will stop at a small waterfall to enjoy water games.
Then, following the meanders of the river through the deep jungle, stop at camp, where you will settle into your huts or tents, take a shower, relax or explore the area before being served a welcome drink and local snacks. Later, a delicious Thai dinner cooked by the guides on the wood fire will follow (vegetarian on request), with fruit, coffee, and tea to complete the menu, while guides show you some tricks of their own. Getting tired, you will enjoy spending the night in harmony with nature, in a bamboo hut fully furnished with sleeping bags, pillows and mosquito nets. Shower and toilets are simple and clean facilities with bamboo walls.
Rafting: 4 hours, 30 rapids, medium difficulty (Class III-IV)
Day 8: A filling breakfast including homemade bread, eggs and fresh coffee will be served at 8:00 am. Departing from the camp around 9:00 am, first enjoy a dozen rapids including the Class III Red Cliff. Further down, reach the Khong River junction, the most important tributary of the Pai River. A few minutes later, the expedition will take a break at the main hot springs on this trip and prepare for more fun through the set of Rising Stone Rapids, a set of Class II-III rapids. After such a thrill, a picnic will be served on the bank of a clear stream. Then, paddle or enjoy swimming through the Pai Gorges, scattered with a few more tricky rapids. Coming to the end of the journey, pop out into the Mae Hong Son Valley and meet the first farming areas.
Disembark at the Forestry Headquarter, where you will be able to redeem your main luggage and take a refreshing shower before a short transfer to Mae Hong Son at the place of your convenience. You can return to your hotel if you wish to discover this charming Thai-Burmese city or transfer to the airport to fly back to Chiang Mai. A transfer back to Pai is also available with our truck.
Rafting: 5 hours, 30 rapids, medium difficulty (Class II-III)
Dry Season Option: December - June: Trekking Mae Hong Son
Day 7: Leaving from Pai, this morning take a scenic drive on the most beautiful mountain road in Thailand to the gibbon rehabilitation center in the heart of the Pai wildlife sanctuary. This is a great chance to watch these amazing acrobats jump from tree to tree in the canopy. Cross the river on a suspension bridge and start walking uphill through one of the most beautiful mixed deciduous forests in Northern Thailand, full of Teak wood trees, Indian Mahogany and various species of bamboo until you reach the huge and majestic entrance of the Lang cave. 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 walking uphill, observing plants, flowers, insects and birds until reaching a remote Lahu village nested in a small valley close to the Thai-Burmese border. Settle into a 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.
If you wish, you can assist your guide and learn how to cook a delicious meal on a wood fire. The convivial sit-on-floor dinner will be the occasion to talk about the culture and history of the Lahu people and share some songs with the children. Then you will slide into your homestay-style bed for the night.
Trekking: 5 hours
Day 8: After a hearty breakfast, stroll through the village observing the children playing and the women weaving clothes for the family. Then head uphill through the farming fields to reach the Spirit Well, a natural limestone sinkhole (150m deep and 80m in diameter), most certainly created 200-300 million years ago by the erosion of the ocean, which slowly receded as the Himalayas were rising up. Continue walking to a scenic area to conveniently stop for lunch. After some relaxing, walk to a Lisu settlement. Passing through the village, observe the traditions of this ethnic group that originates from the south of China. Then walk downhill to reach a Shan village where you have an appointment with a jungle taxi for a drive back to Pai.
Trekking: 3 hours
Day 9 Chiang Mai
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.
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.