'Sawadee ka' and welcome to Thailand! Your trip will kick off in buzzy Bangkok, an urban wonder boasting all the soaring skyscrapers glistening malls of any capital city, but with a distinctly Thai touch. Here you can see it all, with orange robe-clad monks strolling the streets with smartphones in hand, while glowing temples and neon-lit bars co-exist peacefully side by side. After transferring to your hotel you'll meet up with your Travel Director to get a glimpse of what's to come on your Thailand value tour, then dinner tonight will have you sampling some of Thailand's tasty cuisine while you get to know your fellow travellers.
Get ready for a full day of sightseeing in Bangkok. We'll show off Bangkok's best cultural and spiritual delights, starting at Wat Pho, Bangkok's most ancient temple. Set eyes on the hugely impressive Reclining Buddha, the largest in Thailand, before moving on to the Grand Palace, a former royal residence. The intricate architecture of this massive complex never ceases to amaze and be sure to see the jewel in its crown, the Temple of the Emerald Buddha. We'll make a pit stop for lunch at a local restaurant then board a private boat and take to the maze of canals (klongs) that snake through the city. Kick back and enjoy the ride as you pass by traditional stilted family homes and soak up the quiet river lifestyle of those who work and live on the water. Still keen for more? This afternoon, you can join our optional visit to Jim Thompson's House, an exquisite example of traditional Thai residential architecture, where you'll find an incredible collection of Asian art.
Today is all yours to explore Bangkok your way and the adventures are limitless. Want to check out the markets? You can find flower species of every shape, colour and origin at the lively Pak Klong Talad (Bangkok flower market), while the charming streets of Chinatown are the perfect place to munch on street food and shop for jade. If you love architecture, you'll likely choose to join our trip to the ancient city of Ayutthaya, the former capital city of Thailand. We'll make a stop along the way at the stunning Bang Pa Summer Palace, then continue on to Ayutthaya, an archaeological hotbed of temples, monasteries and statues that offer a glimpse into the glory days of this ancient land. We'll head back to Bangkok on a cruise and enjoy a buffet lunch as you watch the local life go by along the banks of the Chao Phraya River.
It's goodbye Bangkok and hello Kanchanaburi town today, where we'll jump straight into the action with a visit to the Thailand-Burma Railway Museum, and the War Cemetery where over 6000 prisoners of war were laid to rest. Next up, we'll pause for lunch then see the infamously named Death Railway, before boarding a local train for a ride with a difference. Gorgeous views over the river and a journey across wooden viaducts will keep your camera busy, as will the next and final stop for today - the famous Bridge over the River Kwai. Our hotel is just a short distance from here, where we'll dine as a group this evening.
With a completely free day today on your Thailand tour package, Kanchanaburi town is yours to explore your way. Those keen to take it easy can rest up at the hotel and take advantage of the spa facilities, or perhaps you'll take the opportunity to explore the town and its surroundings. Hoping to get out on the river? Our optional River Kwai Longtail Boat Cruise could be just what you're looking for. This adventure will begin with a visit to Hellfire Pass, a 500 metre long and 26 metre deep section of rock that was dug by Prisoners of War with nothing more than picks, rocks and their bare hands, to allow for the construction of Death Railway. From here you'll then travel on to the River Kwai and travel 30 minutes downstream by longtail boat to the River Kwai Jungle Rafts. Fuelling up on a yummy lunch, you'll then visit the Mon Tribal Village before continuing on downstream, where the coach will meet you and carry you back to the hotel.
We'll be up bright and early this morning to travel north to Sukhothai. The Thailand essentials just keep on coming and along the way we have a treat in store, with a visit to Bhutsaya Khiri Suvarnabhumi, or Rock Buddha. This impressive carving of a seated buddha, masterfully etched out of the hillside, was only finished in 2019 and is a true sight to behold. Also stopping for a local lunch en route, we'll arrive into Sukhothai later this afternoon, then dinner tonight will be a group affair.
Being famed as the birthplace of Thai civilisation is a pretty big reputation to uphold, but Sukhothai does it with ease. Still historically significant to this day, we'll start our adventures today with a visit to the UNESCO listed Sukhothai Historical Park, where we'll get to explore the centuries old temples and palace ruins. History itch scratched, this afternoon will then be yours to explore as you wish. Hungry to learn more about Thai cuisine? Our optional cooking class is there for all the budding chefs amongst you. You'll start this foodie adventure by learning about the unique herbs and spices of Thailand courtesy of your host, then put the farm to table craze into action by using these ingredients to make a signature Thai dish, such as "Pad Pak Bung Fai Daeng". And the best part? You get to eat your tasty creation for dinner.
The dramatic mountain beauty of Chiang Rai awaits us today, so we'll be up early to travel further north. Along the way, we'll make a stop at Khaw Phayao Lake, the largest freshwater lake in the North, before heading on to Wat Rong Khun, otherwise known as the White Temple. Unlike many Thai temples that are centuries old, Wat Rong Khun is unique in the fact that it was only built in 1977. The brainchild of artist Chalermchai Kositpipat, it's also one of the most recognisable temples in Thailand - you'll know it when you see it. Finally, we'll complete today's journey with a short drive to Chiang Rai, where we'll check in to our hotel and eat dinner tonight as a group.
Today is the day we journey to the heart of the Golden Triangle. This morning your first stop will be the self-proclaimed 'edutainment' Hall of Opium, a fascinating museum that reveals an incredible 5000 years of history. The state of the art exhibitions, harrowing recounts and even a tiny opium plantation all tell a vivid story of the conflicts, rituals and abuse that have all stemmed from opium, a trade that once ruled the Golden Triangle over the past century. Next up, we'll stop for lunch at a local restaurant, then hop on board a boat that will take you cruising along the mighty Mekong River to the exact spot where the borders of Thailand, Myanmar (Burma) and Laos collide. You'll have time to step out onto dry land in Laos and head into the Don Sao Island Markets where you can browse all the handicrafts and local snacks on offer. It's the only part of Laos that can be visited without a visa, so make the most of it before heading back to your hotel in Chiang Rai.
Who's ready to dip their toes in some bubbling hot springs? We hope all of you, as our first stop today en route to Chiang Mai, are the lovely Mae Kajan Hot Springs. Feeling refreshed, we'll grab lunch in a local restaurant before travelling on to the laidback city of Chiang Mai. Sprawling in size but with a historic centre that has managed to retain the charm and pace of a low-key country town, Chiang Mai is also THE place for temple exploring. So, guess what we'll be doing this afternoon? You got it! We'll be exploring both Wat Phra Singh temple, which was built in 1345, and Wat Chedi Luang temple, a charming wooden creation famous for its huge Lanna style chedi.
Your day your way is what today is all about, and with it being your last day, be sure to make the most of it. For those looking to get out of the city and into the tropical lush greenery that surrounds Chiang Mai on all sides, be sure to join our visit to Baan Tong Luang Village, located north of the city in a beautiful valley. This ecological village is the home of the Long Neck Karen hill tribe and you'll have the chance to learn about their ancient costumes, customs and rituals.
Your incredible journey through Thailand's cities, rivers, mountains, temples and markets has come to an end. You've encountered diverse cultures, tasted all kinds of Thai foods and experienced the warmth of Thai hospitality and we're sure you'll be leaving with the iconic Thai smile on your face! Transferring to Chiang Mai International Airport, you'll catch your onward flight.