Welcome to Thailand and the big city bustle of Bangkok! Your journey begins in this cosmopolitan capital city, where grand palaces peacefully sit next to neon nightclubs and chaotic city streets are contrasted by calm monks strolling about. Home to floating markets, glistening malls, golden temples and a nightlife scene like no other, it's the perfect mix of modern and ancient that's yours to explore over the next two days. After arriving and transferring to your hotel, you'll meet with your Travel Director and fellow travellers to chat through the adventures to come and indulge in your first tasty bites of Thailand's incredible cuisine over dinner.
Start your sightseeing tour through Bangkok at the Grand Palace, the home of Thai royalty from the 18th to mid-20th centuries. This ornate complex will take your breath away as you soak in the dazzling display of intricate architecture, brightly-coloured facades, towering statues and the most important image of Buddha in Thailand. Then, prepare yourself for the best kind of sensory overload as you explore the maze-like streets of the busiest neighbourhood in Bangkok - Chinatown. Browse through stalls selling everything from Chinese herbal medicine to quirky desserts while salivating over the smells of grilled seafood. Continue on to visit the renowned Temple of the Golden Buddha, Wat Traimit, where you'll be wowed by the world's largest solid gold Buddha. Weighing in at five and a half tons, this image is made of 83% pure gold and is worth millions of dollars today. With your mind full of history, you'll stop for lunch at a local restaurant before enjoying an afternoon and evening spent your way. Adventure through the city on your own or consider joining our optional trips to visit Jim Thompson's House, an exquisite example of traditional Thai architecture, or experience a live Muay Thai theatre performance.
Today is all yours to explore Bangkok your way! For a full day touring ancient sites, perhaps join us for an optional trip to Ayutthaya. You'll get an early start to experience as much as possible, beginning with a visit to the pristine 17th-century Bang Pa-In Summer Palace where you'll catch sight of traditional Chinese and European architecture favoured by former Thai kings. Swap royal digs for ruins as you head to Ayutthaya, also known as the 'Ancient City' and capital of Thailand for 400 years. Take a moment to reflect on the city's past grandeur as a centre of commerce and global diplomacy as you wander amongst the fading temples, palaces and monasteries. Continue soaking up history with visits to the Wat Maha That, Wat Na Phra Mane and Wat Lokayasutharam temples, before heading to Wat Ching Lom Pier for your cruise back to Bangkok. Tuck into a tasty lunch while cruising the Chao Phraya River, catching sights like the Royal Grand Palace and Wat Arun. If you want to explore the city on your own, you can hit the city's high-end shopping centres, unwind with a relaxing Thai massage or watch locals practice T'ai Chi at Lumpini Park.
Rise and shine, the most famous floating market in Thailand awaits! Journey to Damnoen Saduak, where locals and travellers gather to shop for handmade goods, indulge in delicious bites and soak in the buzzing atmosphere. Located on the country's straightest and longest canal built by King Rama IV to make trade and transportation easier, the market is a flurry of traders selling fruits and vegetables out of traditional sampans (small boats). You'll have plenty of time to wander through the market before getting up close to the action on a boat tour of the canal. Enjoy a lunch of local specialities before journeying on to the hip seaside city of Hua Hin, your home for the night, where you'll have the rest of the day to relax or adventure through the exciting streets.
Dive into the coastal charms of Hua Hin today to discover why this destination was a favourite getaway for Thai royals. You'll start with a visit to Phra Nakhon Khiri, a stunning palace perched 100 metres above the city on Khao Wang Hill. This regal retreat was built by King Rama IV as a summer palace where he could indulge his interest in astronomy, and the compound is sure to amaze. You'll definitely have to catch your breath as you gaze out over the forested hills, sparkling city and shimmering sea below! After the visit, tuck into lunch at a local restaurant before journeying into the depths of Khao Luang Cave, a cavern dotted with stalactites, intricate chedis and over 150 Buddha images. The quiet, laid back atmosphere is the perfect chance to decompress from the city bustle and soak in a dose of serenity. Head back to daylight in time to enjoy the afternoon and evening on your own. Kick your feet up and relax or make plans for the evening. Visiting the local night market is a must, with rows of vendors selling tasty seafood and all kinds of crafts.
With a full day to explore Hua Hin your way, there's no shortage of adventures ahead. If you're in the mood to relax, slip into your bathing suit and plop down on the soft sandy shores of a local beach. For an artistic experience, why not join us for an optional trip to the Baan Sillapin Artist Village and Monsoon Valley Vineyards. You'll travel into the picturesque landscape of Hin Lek Fai Mountain to Baan Silapin, a complex bursting with creativity that's home to an art gallery, studios, classrooms, displays and 15 artists who live on the property. Visiting the colourful galleries and studios is an indulgence for your eyes, and you'll discover why many artists swap the busy life of Bangkok for the relaxed vibe of mountain life. With creative energy buzzing about, you'll journey deeper into the countryside for a stop at Monsoon Valley Vineyards. While Thailand isn't widely-known for wine production, you'll get a taste of their up-and-coming scene as you tour the property, learn their wine-making process and sip a glass or two over a three-course lunch you'll be reminiscing about all the way back to Hua Hin.
Another day, another country - it's time to explore Malaysia! Head back to Bangkok this morning to catch your flight to the melting pot of Penang. This small island has so much to experience, with buzzing cities, a UNESCO World Heritage site, a lively art scene, wild mountain landscapes, and warm coastal waters. A centre of diverse cultures, Penang is known as a culinary paradise where local food vendors compete to discover new flavour combinations - so make sure to bring your appetite! After arriving, you'll transfer to your hotel and meet your Malaysian Travel Director, get a lay of the land and hear what exciting adventures are planned for you.
Get ready to be wowed by the wonders of Penang today as you tour the island's best sights, and some secret spots along the way. Kick off this day of adventure at the Penang Batik Handicraft Centre, where you'll discover how Malaysian batik is made and admire the skill of artists as they stamp, draw and colour all types of designs from block prints to hand-drawn pieces. If you're craving a cooling snack, pick up a piece of fruit from the nearby street stalls. Local farmers set up shop along the road, and there's always a wide variety of native fruits and spices to try. Hop back into the coach to continue on to a quiet valley, where clusters of traditional Malay villages and paddy fields give a glimpse into what rural life is like for locals. Next, brace yourself for a stop at the famous Snake Temple, built in honour of the Buddhist monk Chor Soo Kong. Legend has it that he sheltered snakes, and when the temple was finished after his death, the snakes claimed it as their own. Just try not to jump when you see pit vipers coiled up at the temples and basking in the sun around the grounds. As you head back to the hotel, you'll catch sight of the 13.5km-long Penang Bridge, one of the longest in Southeast Asia. The rest of the day is yours to enjoy on your own, or perhaps come along for our optional trip to Kek Lok Si Temple and Penang Hill. Here, you'll visit the largest Buddhist temple in Malaysia that's also known for its rich biodiversity and many endangered plant species. Then, pass through hill farms and lush tropical jungles on a funicular ride to the top of Penang Hill, where you'll be mesmerised by the sweeping view of Penang and Province of Wellesley 830 metres below. This evening, hop on a rickshaw to explore the colonial-era streets of George Town, keeping an eye out for the city's vibrant murals and 19th century architecture. End the day with a delicious dinner of local specialities, where you'll realise what all of the culinary buzz is about, before resting up for a full day of exploration tomorrow.
Today is full of incredible sights, so make sure to pack your camera and keep your eyes peeled. Kickstart your sightseeing with a drive past the oldest Anglican church in Southeast Asia, St. George's, before catching sight of The Goddess of Mercy Temple, Penang's oldest Taoist temple. Hop out of the coach to explore on foot, walking around town to get up close to the amazing street art that shows the impressive creativity of Penang artists. You'll then head to the ornate Chinese clan house of Khoo Kongsi, a small complex full of intricate wood and stone carvings that showcases the work of master craftsmen from China, before continuing on to Clan Jetty. Here, you'll witness one of the last strongholds of old Chinese settlements in Penang, where various clans have created a thriving waterfront community and built houses on stilts. See which part of the jetty forms the Penang Heritage Trail before journeying on to the royal city of Kuala Kangsar by coach, stopping for lunch at a local restaurant along the way. Feel the regal rush when you arrive at Kuala Kangsar and soak in the stunning golden domes, towering minarets and Italian marble design of Masjid Ubudiah. You'll then travel into the Cameron Highlands, home to picturesque tea fields and your hotel for the night.
Waking up will be a real treat as you admire gorgeous views of lush tea plantations that roll across the landscape. This morning, you'll take a sightseeing tour of Malaysia's largest tea station to sip a cup of local tea whilst learning the process behind growing and harvesting. Fully energised, you'll visit a Butterfly Farm to explore vast greenhouses filled with floating butterflies and tropical plants. Then, take a trip to a strawberry farm and a market, where you'll find all of the local specialities under one roof. Stop off in the backpacker town of Tanah Rata to grab lunch on your own before heading back to your hotel, travelling through acres and acres of rolling green fields on the way.
Enjoy a final view of the countryside this morning as you journey into the urban jungle of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia's captivating capital city. Commonly called 'KL', this modern city is made of bustling street markets, towering skyscrapers and Mogul architecture. After arriving there, you'll head straight to the 88 storey Petronas Towers - the city's most striking icon and the tallest twin buildings in the world - to visit the 170 metre high Skybridge and the 370 metre high observation deck. The sprawling city below is sure to take your breath away. Head back down to ground level for a guided tour to visit the King's Palace, the Royal Selangor Club and the Sultan Abdul Samad Building, one of the earliest Moorish-style buildings in the city. Spend the rest of the day as you choose or consider joining our optional trip to Chinatown this evening, where you'll wander through the night markets, bargain for goods, explore the Sri Maha Mariamman Temple and tuck into a tasty Malay dinner.
Spend the last full day of your Thailand and Malaysia value tour exploring your way, with a free day to soak in the cosmopolitan sensations of Kuala Lumpur. If you'd like to browse trendy shops and independent labels, consider checking out the neighbourhoods of Bangsar or Pubika. You can also wander around Chinatown, the birthplace of the city, or head to Central Market to pick up handmade local goods. If you're keen for a final dose of history, perhaps choose to join our optional trip to Malacca to experience the town's colonial past. Formally ruled by the Portuguese, British and Dutch, the town is a mix of local culture and former colonial influence. Soak it all in with a visit to the pink-coloured Stadthuys built by the Dutch and the Cheng Hoon Teng temple, the oldest functioning temple in Malaysia. Enjoy a traditional Peranakan Nyonya lunch before heading back to the hotel. Rest up before travelling tomorrow or enjoy your final night with an optional dinner of delicious Asian oriental food.
Your two-week trip full of extraordinary experiences will stay with you as your journey comes to an end today. We hope you're leaving Malaysia with a full heart and memories of rolling green tea plantations, gorgeous architecture and some of the tastiest meals of your life as you transfer to Kuala Lumpur International Airport for your onward flight.