The journey begins in the bustling capital of Bangkok where you'll explore the iconic Grand Palace, famous city temples, and unspoiled Amphawa Floating Market. During the trip you'll uncover the history of the ancient Thai kingdoms with visits to the UNESCO world heritage sites of Ayutthaya and Sukhothai. Aside from history you'll also enjoy unique wildlife and nature experiences including a visit to a retired elephant sanctuary and excursions throughout Khao Yai National Park. After taking in the historical, cultural and natural highlights you'll head to the southern region of the country where you'll end your trip enjoying the picture perfect beaches of Krabi!
Welcome to Thailand! On arrival at the Bangkok airport, clear Immigration, collect your luggage and exit customs. Proceed to the Arrivals Hall and head towards the Meeting Point, where our guide will be waiting for you at “Exit B – Door 6”. You will then transfer to the hotel. Check in and enjoy the rest of day free. (This service is on a private basis.)
The capital, Bangkok, with a population of over eleven million inhabitants is Thailand’s largest city. This cosmopolitan city combines some of Asia’s oldest and most elaborately adorned temples with modern shopping malls, skyscrapers and busy markets making it a vibrant and eclectic city to visit with something for everyone.
This morning, after breakfast, meet your private guide for a full-day exploration of Bangkok and the Amphawa Floating Market.
Begin with a visit to the Grand Palace, where an English governess once tutored a young prince and may have influenced his powerful father. (The Thai people have enormous reverence for their royal family, thus both versions of The King and I are banned as an insult to one of their great rulers.) The highlight of this mind-and-eye boggling palace is the Temple of the Emerald Buddha (Wat Pra Kaew), the most revered shrine in the Kingdom.
Located next to the Grand Palace is Wat Po, one of Bangkok’s oldest and largest temples. Visit this temple; housing the gigantic gold-plated Reclining Buddha. It is also the headquarters for the Traditional Medicine Practitioners of Bangkok.
After a break for lunch at a local restaurant, take a water taxi to Wat Arun, the Temple of Dawn. This is one of the best-known temples in Bangkok and dates back to the ancient Ayutthaya period. The tall, elongated central Khmer-style tower is surrounded by four minor towers, symbolizing Mount Meru, the earthly representation of the thirty-three heavens. Here, you'll find pavilions containing statues of the Buddha at the most important stages of life. The beautiful architecture and fine craftsmanship mark Wat Arun as one of the most remarkable temples in Thailand.
Then, continue driving to the Amphawa floating market while it is in full swing. Unlike Bangkok’s well known Damneon Saduak floating market, few foreigners visit Amphawa, which is frequented almost exclusively by Thais. Locals congregate to buy and sell everything from cooking pots to fresh flowers to wind-up toys. Vendors pack their boats and cruise the waters, waiting for someone to wave them down to buy their wares. The area around the market is a lovely place to stroll, with open air restaurants, canals full of colorful boats, and crisscrossing bridges packed with people. Delicious meals are cooked right from the boats, including pad thai, curry and noodles, pancakes, and chicken satay, to name a few dishes on offer.
Afterward, transfer back to your hotel. (This service is on a private basis.)
Enjoy this free time at your leisure.
This morning, depart Bangkok for an approximately three-hour overland journey to the Bridge over the River Kwai. Here you will also visit the Kanchaburi War Cemetery, containing the graves of some of the POW’s who perished during the construction of the bridge. Tens of thousands of "coolies" and POWs died while working to complete this vital link to the Indian subcontinent.
Continue to Hellfire Pass. Visit the impressive Australian-built complex, consisting of a memorial, a walking trail and an excellent, informative museum, exhibiting artifacts and the true story about the Thai-Burma Railway. After visiting the museum, walk along the “Bamboo Path,” allowing one to walk the same route that the POWs took to work. Also, walk through a large bamboo grove, providing the most memorable views of Hellfire Pass and an understanding of how it derived its name.
If interested, there is also a 4 km (2.5 mile) Memorial Walking Trail along a now peaceful and serene portion of the old railway track. The Trail commences at Hellfire Pass Cutting, and incorporates a number of infamous features, such as Compressor Cutting, Hintok Station, both the “Pack of Cards” and Three Tier Bridges, plus the panoramic view of Kwae Noi Look-out, providing a spectacular view of the Kwae Noi Valley.
Late this afternoon, transfer and settle into your hotel with the evening at leisure. (This service is on a private basis.)
Kanchanaburi located approximately 2.5 hours outside of Bangkok offers visitors opportunities to explore Thailand's historical highlights as well as experience the country's natural attributes. Here you can combine the classic highlights including the infamous Bridge over River Kwai and Hellfire Pass with more adventurous activitis including hiking to nearby waterfalls or perhaps visiting an elephant sanctuary.
Today at 9:00am, you will enjoy a full day elephant experience at Elephants World.
Elephant’s World, founded by Dr. Samart Prasitphol, is a sanctuary for sick, old, disabled, abused, illegal and street elephants, who will receive the rest and nurturing environment that they deserve. They can enjoy themselves in their own natural environment here.
You will spend the day learning how to feed and care for elephants. On arrival, you will visit the camp and meet your elephants. Then you will feed the elephants and cook sticky rice for them. After your lunch break, you will learn how to gather food for elephants like banana trees or sugar cane. You will feed them again before helping to clean the elephant’s area and assisting their mahouts in their daily chores. After you will learn how to clean your elephant and take a bath with them in the Kwai Yai River. You will bring them back to camp and feed them one last time before bidding farewell.
Afterwards, you'll be driven back to your hotel in Kanchanaburi. (This service is on a group basis.)
This morning, depart Kanchanaburi and drive to Wang Krasae Pass, where wooden structures of the Burma railway are still in use today. Then, continue on the drive of approximately four-hours to Ayutthaya, the former capital of the Siam Kingdom.
Spend the afternoon exploring Ayutthaya with your guide. Not far from the old capital, visit Wat Niwet Thamprawat, built by Rama V (King Chulalongkorn). This unique temple looks more like a Gothic Christian church than a Thai temple. To access the temple, cross the river in a small, trolley-like cable car. Then, board a long-tail boat to Wat Phananchoeng, an ancient temple with a giant Sitting Buddha statue and walls filled with hundreds of smaller statues. Also visit Wat Chai Mongkol, famous for its leaning Chedi and Buddha galleries.
Included will be visits to the Temples and Ruins, recently declared a World Heritage Site, and the National Museum and Ayuthaya Historical Study Center.
After you tour you'll proceed to your accommodations for the night. (This service is on a private basis.)
The ancient city of Ayutthaya was once the thriving capital of the Kingdom of Siam and is now recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It stood as one of the most vibrant trading ports in Asia—doing brisk business with China, India, Persia, and Arab lands. Ayutthaya remained the capital for over 400 years until the Burmese invaded, destroying the city in 1767. The city's ancient ruins bears testimony to the ancient glory of the Thai nation and eloquently demonstrates the skills and heritage of the Siamese people.
At 8:30am begin your guided tour of Wat Nivat. From there, it is a short walk to the Bang Pa-In Summer Palace. Bang Pa In was abandoned for 80 years, but later was revived by King Rama V. He commanded the construction of additional buildings including theaters, temples, and monuments in a mixture of European, Chinese and Thai styles. (Golf buggies will be provided if necessary to help you explore the palace grounds, although the site can also be easily walked.)
Proceed to the Bang Sai Royal Folk Arts and Crafts Center; a short cruise down-river from Bang Pa-In is Bang Sai village, which enjoys the patronage of Her Majesty the Queen. Here you can see a variety of Thai houses in regional styles and see how Thailand's rural people make handicrafts such as fern basketry, silk flowers, hand-woven silk and cotton, silk dyeing, and wood carvings.
Then, depart with your guide on the drive into the dense tropical jungle of Khao Yai, or "Big Mountain." On arrival, enjoy a private tour of the National Park with your guide. First drive to Haew Narok, the park's largest waterfall. Then hike along the excellent trails to view the lush jungle and see native wildlife. Some of these animals include the elephant, the unusual barking deer, the elusive tiger, the Malayan sun bear as well as native primates like the macaque and the forest gibbon.
Later this evening, head back into the park with a guide for a nocturnal wildlife-spotting safari. (This service is on a private basis.)
Khao Yai, Thailand's oldest park is considered by many to be one of the finest in the world. Covering more than 2,000 square kilometers, including one of Asia's largest intact monsoon forests, it provides a habitat for several hundred elephants, as well as tiger, leopard, Asiatic black bear, sambar deer, gibbon, macaque, and several species of hornbill. The rare wrinkle-lipped bat and Himalayan ribbed bat dwell in caves here.
At 8:00am we drive to the National park and stop along the way at a fantastic viewpoint and a visitor’s center. We go hiking through dry evergreen forest where gibbons, monkey, hornbills, are often seen. Next we drive up to "Haew Suwat " waterfall, have lunch nearby and go swimming in a natural pool.
In the afternoon we will drive to the second highest mountain of the park to relax on a superb viewpoint. In the evening we will look for wild elephants that might come to the salt licks. We return around 7:30pm.
(This service is on a private basis.)
After breakfast, meet your guide and transfer to Lop Buri and make a stop at San Phra Kan. Located in the middle of a traffic circle, oddly placed right next to the railway line, is the San Phra Kan shrine. The shrine is housed in a small modern (built in 1951) temple building erected against the remains of an ancient prang dating from the sixth century. The main statue in the shrine is a standing figure with four arms. It is probably meant to be Vishnu, although the Thais revere it as a type of Buddha image.
There was a time when the temple grounds were filled with monkeys, but they've now been displaced by souvenir vendors. A few odd strays can still be found around the shrine, but most have moved across the street to the remains of the Prang Sam Yod temple.
In the afternoon, continue transferring to Sukhothai. On arrival in Sukhothai, enjoy the rest of the day at leisure. (This service is on a private basis.)
Found in the 13th century, Sukhothai (literally means Dawn of Happiness) was the first truly independent Thai Kingdom, which enjoyed a golden age under King Ramkhamhaeng, credited with creating the Thai alphabet. The superb temples and monuments of this great city have been lovingly restored in Sukhothai Historical Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a must-see for all travelers.
*Please Note: There will be a stop over in Bangkok
In the morning, you will be picked up at your hotel in Sukhothai and transferred to the airport in good time to board your domestic flight to Krabi. Upon arrival in Krabi, you will be picked up at the airport and transferred to your hotel.
Krabi is a southern province on Thailand's Andaman seaboard, offering spectacular scenery on both land and water. Here you'll find beautiful beaches set amidst dramatic limestone karst mountains, lush jungle forests, and hidden hot springs. This tropical paradise offers something for everyone, with opportunities for various activities including snorkelling, diving, rock climbing, hiking, cycling and island hopping.
Enjoy this free time at your leisure.
You will be picked up by your minivan transfer to Nopparat Thara Pier at 8:30am. Then you will board the speedboat and transfer to Hong Island. On the way to Hong Island, we will stop for snorkeling at a small island with colorful coral reef and marine life. Then we head for Hong Island. The captain will take you into the hidden Lagoon or ‘Hong’ which means ‘Room’. You will be amazed by the rock formation and strange plants living on the cliffs. Then we stop at Hong Island Bay. It’s time for you to relax, sunbath, swim or snorkel to see thousands of fish that will come to visit you.
Enjoy a picnic lunch on the beach at Hong Island Bay under the shade of the trees. If you are lucky, you may see water monitors or big lizards on this island.
In the afternoon, we head for Pak Bia Island, where you can relax or walk on the soft sandy beach. Then we will take you to the last island for today, ‘Lading Island. You can swim here or meet the colorful fish that will surround you once you dip yourself into the water. They are always hungry, so if you have a piece of bread or fruits, they will absolutely love you. At about 2:30pm, we will get on the speedboat and return to Nopparat Thara Pier, then transfer back to your hotel around 3:30pm. (This service is on a group basis.)
Enjoy this free time at your leisure.
In the morning, you will be picked up at your hotel in Krabi and transferred to the airport. (This service is on a private basis.)
Upon arrival at the airport in Bangkok you will connect with your international flight.
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