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Amazing Thailand – Buddah Temples, Elephants & Beaches

Description

For those with limited time, this 13 Night Thailand itinerary was designed so you can easily combine (5) destination modules together to extend your holiday and experience the best Thailand city highlights at an enjoyable pace!

Bangkok|Chiang Rai|Chiang Mai|Koh Samui|Phuket

BANGKOK– 4 Days / 3 Nights

DAY 1: ARRIVAL IN BANGKOK
You will be met by local English speaking guide and transferred to your hotel.

In the afternoon, visit The Temple of the Golden Buddha and China Town, continue to The Grand Palace and Temple of the Emerald Buddha built in 1782 by King Rama I.

Evening at leisure.

As the political, economic, cultural, culinary, and spiritual capital of Thailand, Bangkok features both old-world charm and modern convenience, at times served up in an apparently chaotic manner, but always with a gracious smile.

Invariably, every Thailand holiday includes a visit to the kingdom’s capital city, Bangkok, or Krung Thep, “the city of angels” as it is known to its inhabitants. Many tourists who travel to Bangkok are immediately overwhelmed by the sheer size of the city and the vast number of attractions Bangkok has to offer. Indeed there is a wide variety of Bangkok sightseeing opportunities spanning more than two centuries of rapid development following the city’s founding in 1782 by King Rama I, the first king of the present Chakri dynasty. While the immensity of the city and its bustling streets can be intimidating at first, those who spend some time in Bangkok are quickly enamored by the myriad of attractions Bangkok contains, from exotic temples, which underscore Thailand’s strong Buddhist history, to modern shopping malls, which make shopping an integral part of any Bangkok holiday.

Nearly every Bangkok holiday includes a visit to Thailand’s Grand Palace, arguably the premier Bangkok sightseeing attraction. Situated in the heart of Bangkok’s Rattanakosin Island, the gleaming spires of the Grand Palace are conveniently located nearby Bangkok’s most spectacular temples, including the Temple of the Emerald Buddha (Wat Phra Kaeo), the Temple of Dawn (Wat Arun), and Wat Pho, which features an enormous reclining Buddha and was home of the first Thai massage school in the kingdom. These iconic destinations are top attractions to all visitors who travel to Bangkok looking to appreciate Thailand’s unique cultural traditions. In fact, there are more than 400 functioning Buddhist temples throughout the city and it’s not uncommon when you travel in Bangkok to spot saffron robed monks collecting morning alms or traveling throughout out the city, including along the Chao Phraya, the “River of Kings”, which passes alongside the Temple of the Dawn. The winding Chao Phraya is connected by numerous canals from which Bangkok has earned its nickname the “Venice of the East”; when you travel around Bangkok, a cruise on the Chao Phraya, a visit to a floating market, or an exploration of the cities “back alley” canals (khlongs) are themselves unique Bangkok attractions.

Other historical and cultural Bangkok sightseeing ‘must sees’ include the National Museum, Vimanmek Mansion, and Suan Pakkad Palace, all of which either house fine art or are national treasures in their own right. Beyond Bangkok’s historical district, there are plenty of other attractions that make a Bangkok holiday both enjoyable and memorable. The downtown districts along Silom and Sukhumvit Roads have a convenient electric rail system, including an elevated sky-train and underground subway, that have made travel in Bangkok both easy and enjoyable. Connecting hotels directly to shopping malls and traditional markets, such as Mah Boon Krong Center and Chatuchak (JJ) weekend market, the MRT and BTS systems have literally elevated Bangkok shopping to world-class status. Of course, no Thailand holiday is complete without experiencing Thailand’s vibrant nightlife. Whether, the purpose of your Thailand holiday is to immerse yourself in Thailand’s unique culture or simply to splurge in Bangkok shopping malls, when you travel to Bangkok you are guaranteed a fascinating experience of both old-world charm and modern convenience and luxury.

DAY 2: BANGKOK – AYUTHAYA 
After breakfast, visit Wat Mongkhol Bopit the museum with a collection of various artifacts and the largest bronze Buddha image in Thailand and Bang Pa-In Summer Palace, King Rama IV’s favorite summer resort.

Afternoon take a boat ride back along Chaopraya River to hotel and the rest of the day is at leisure.

DAY 3: BANGKOK – KANCHANABURI
After breakfast, we drive to Damnern Saduak floating market – visit Train market then a boat trip along the canals to the floating market. Continue to Kanchanaburi Kwai River where we visit the War Museum, the Allied P.O.W. Cemetery and the famous bridge over the River Kwai. Lunch will be served at the restaurant by the Kwai River before going back to Bangkok.

Evening is at leisure.

DAY 4: BANGKOK – CHIANG RAI DEPARTURE
After an early breakfast, transfer to airport for the flight to Chiang Rai.

Flight: BANGKOK/CHIANG RAI

CHIANG RAI – 3 Days / 2 Nights

Upon arrival, transfer to hotel in Golden Triangle. The rest of the day is at leisure.

The quieter neighbor of Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai is a land of outstanding natural beauty, where visitors looking to avoid the hordes can visit remote hill tribes, spot exotic wildlife, and check out the golden triangle, the former center of the world’s opium trade.

Chiang Rai has been inhabited since the 7th century, but it was not until 1262 that King Meng Rai established it as the first capital of the Lanna Kingdom. The capital was later relocated to Chiang Mai and since that time Chiang Rai has lived in the shadow of its neighboring province, though for tourists this is a good thing.

Today, Chiang Rai is a traveler’s paradise, endowed with abundant natural attractions and antiquities. Attractions range from ruins of ancient settlements and Buddhist shrines to magnificent mountain scenery and hill tribe villages. For those interested in the natural side of Chiang Rai, jungle trekking is a magical experience; explore the mountains of the north along various hiking trails, many of which access the villages of diverse hill tribes groups, many of whom maintain their traditional lifestyles.

Chiang Rai town, which tends to be a little more ‘laid back’ than its more popular neighbor, now competes with Chiang Mai as a tourist attraction and is fast becoming a popular escape for tourists wanting to leave their troubles behind.

Chiang Rai, the former capital of the great Lanna Kingdom, is a fascinating province filled with cultural and natural wonders, including the Golden Triangle where Thailand, Laos, and Burma come together; an area that was once the hub of opium production, a trade that had much influence on cultural practices and lifestyles. Chiang Rai had stayed off the tourist radar for many years, its people enjoying very leisurely development and mostly traditional, rural lifestyles. Until this day, entire clans live together in bamboo houses and each village has its own individual character.

Recently tourism has boomed in Chiang Rai, where visitors have come to explore the pristine natural beauty of the countryside and immerse themselves in the indigenous culture, including those of a variety of different hill tribe communities. Fortunately for tourists, Chiang Rai is also a center for community development projects, helping rural villagers develop their attractions without adversely affecting their natural and cultural assets.

DAY 5: CHIANG RAI 
After an early breakfast, we visit Chiang Saen the town with over 100 historical monuments and take a boat trip along the Mekong River to the convergence of the borders of Myanmar, Laos and Thailand known as The Golden Triangle. Dock at the Laotian island of Don Sao.

We visit The Hall of Opium in the afternoon and the evening is at leisure.

DAY 6: CHIANG RAI – CHIANG MAI DEPARTURE
After an early breakfast, transfer to Chiang Mai.

En route we travel to Doi Tung – a site of major socio-environmental projects and take the opportunity to visit The Mae Fah Luang Garden and The Royal Villa, former residence of the Late Princess Mother. After lunch we visit the famous white temple The Wat Rong Khun and drive to Chiang Mai.

Transfer: CHIANG RAI/CHIANG MAI

CHIANG MAI – 3 Days / 2 Nights

After check in the hotel the rest of the day is at leisure.

Thailand’s “Rose of the North” is a cultural and natural wonderland with ethnic diversity, a multitude of attractions and welcoming hospitality.

Chiang Mai literally means “new city” and has retained the name despite celebrating its 700th anniversary in 1996. King Meng Rai the Great founded the city as the capital of the Lanna Kingdom on Thursday, April 12 1296 around the same time as the establishment of the Sukhothai Kingdom. King Meng Rai even conferred with his friends, King Ramkhamhaeng of Sukhothai and King Ngam Muang of Phayao before choosing the site where the capital of the Lanna Kingdom was to be founded. Henceforth, Chiang Mai not only became the capital and cultural core of the Lanna Kingdom, it was also to be the center of Buddhism in northern Thailand. King Meng Rai himself was a very religious leader who even founded many of the city’s temples that remain important to this day. Chiang Mai is one of the few places in Thailand where it is possible to experience both historical and modern Thai culture coexisting side by side: the city features centuries-old pagodas and temples next to modern convenience stores and boutique hotels. This dichotomy is best appreciated within the moat-encircled old city, which retains much of the fortified wall that once protected the city center as well as the four main gates that provided access to the former Lanna capital city. Strangely, for many years tourists had mistaken Chiang Mai simply as the base from which they could plan trekking and rafting trips to hill tribe villages and explore other provinces. Once in Chiang Mai, however, tourists are surprised by the fact that there are so many things to discover other than its beautiful and historic temples. Intriguing diversity among ethnic tribes, a number of elephant camps, many cooking and massage schools, numerous outdoor activities, a variety of handicrafts workshops, various cultural performances, and breathtaking scenery make Chiang Mai one of Asia’s most attractive tourist destinations. The phrase “a day in Chiang Mai is enough to see things around town” was once a common expression. Today, two weeks in Chiang Mai may not be long enough for travelers to experience all that Chiang Mai has to offer.

The old city of Chiang Mai is a showcase of the north’s fascinating indigenous cultural identity that includes diverse dialects, a delectable cuisine, distinctive architecture, traditional values, lively festivals, numerous handicrafts workshops, northern style massage, and classical dances. Chiang Mai is also blessed with pristine natural resources including mountains, waterfalls, and rivers. The presence of numerous hill tribes that feature a wealth of unique cultures enhances Chiang Mai’s distinctive diversity. Hill tribe trekking, often combined with river rafting and elephant riding has always been one of Chiang Mai’s greatest tourist attractions. Nowadays there are innumerable activities and attractions both in the city and the surrounding province, including massage instruction and golf. Moreover, visitors can visit workshops where they can learn about the production of silk or silver, and purchase memorable, hand-crafted souvenirs. With such a diverse range of attractions and an equally grand selection of dining and accommodation options, Chiang Mai is a place where both backpackers and luxury tourists can enjoy the ultimate Thailand holiday.

DAY 7: CHIANG MAI – ELEPHANT SAFARI
After breakfast, we leave to Chiang Dao camp. A full day of activities at the camp: enjoy “Elephants at Work” show, experience elephant trekking across river and through the jungle, followed by another half hour Ox-Cart ride around the village.

After lunch, adventure yourself with the bamboo rafting down a 5-kilometers stretch of the Mae Taeng River.

Evening is at leisure and make sure don’t miss a stroll at the fascinating Night bazaar.

DAY 8: CHIANG MAI – KOH SAMUI DEPARTURE
After breakfast, transfer to airport for the flight to Koh Samui.

Flight: CHIANG MAI /KOH SAMUI

KOH SAMUI – 4 Days / 3 Nights

On arrival, transfer to hotel. The rest of the day is at leisure.

Ko Samui is the premier island destination in the Gulf of Thailand. Samui is easily accessible, features beautiful beaches and a variety of activities, and caters to visitors on any budget.

Ko Samui, Thailand’s second most popular island destination, is located in the Gulf of Thailand roughly 700 km. south of Bangkok and 80 km. from Thailand’s southern coast. Samui is the third largest island in Thailand and the largest in an archipelago of more than 80 islands that includes the Ang Thong National Marine Park, a kayaking paradise and day trip from Ko Samui. While Samui is small enough to be circumnavigated in just a couple of hours by motorbike or car, the island features such a variety of beaches and activities that it would be impossible to experience everything in a single visit. However, this was not always the case. Until the late 20th century, Samui was home to a small community engaged primarily in fishing and harvesting coconuts. There were not even any roads on the island until the early 1970’s. However, once foreign visitors discovered this island gem, lush with tropical forest, fringed with palm tree lined stretches of golden sand, and surrounded by pellucid, aquamarine water, development quickly followed. Today the beaches of Chaweng and Lamai are bustling beach towns with fabulous beach resorts, internationally acclaimed restaurants, and world-class nightclubs. Activities around Ko Samui include cooking courses, yoga instruction, Muay Thai training, scuba diving, and even golf. While there are a few quieter beaches that are ideal for relaxation, particularly those that feature some of the finest 5-star resorts in the world, and some that exude old world charm, such as Bo Phut, which features converted, old Chinese shop houses, Samui is a lively, exciting place than it was a few decades ago. Ko Samui has developed into its own style of island paradise, retaining much of its natural beauty while offering nearly every imaginable activity or service for the ultimate beach holiday.

DAY 9 & DAY 10: KOH SAMUI
After breakfast, today is free at leisure to relax on one of the pristine beaches, or take part in an array of optional  activities.

Optional tours & activities are available for Diving at Koh Tao and Koh Nang Yan or for snorkeling by speed boat including lunch.

DAY 11: KOH SAMUI – PHUKET DEPARTURE
After breakfast, morning at leisure until your transfer to airport for the flight to Phuket.

Flight: KOH SAMUI/PHUKET

PHUKET – 5 Days / 4 Nights

Arrive Phuket airport and transfer to hotel. The rest of the day is at leisure.

Phuket is located approximately 862 kilometres south of Bangkok. There are only two seasons in a year the green season (May to October) and the hot season (November to April). Phuket is divided into 3 administrative districts: namely, Amphoe Muang, Amphoe Thalang and Amphoe Kathu.

What comes into the mind of travellers when we talk about sea, sun and sand? Phuket must definitely be one of the answers. A number of exciting activities can be found on this island. In the early days of regional maritime trade, the cape of Phuket was locally referred to as Jung Ceylon, while locals called it Thalang, which evolved to be the name of the main town to the north of the island. As the perfect stopover sheltering traders from monsoons, Jung Ceylon welcomed merchants from India, Persia, Arabia, Burma, China, and also Siam. During the 16th century, the island was a popular trading port for tin. In 1785, Thalang town was surrounded by Burmese troops who invaded the coastal area. It was under the leadership of Chan, the widow of the governor, and her sister, Muk, who united the local residents and successfully fought and drove the invaders out of Phuket. It took over 30 days for the defending troops of Phuket, under the command of Chan and Muk, to claim their victory. As a result of such heroic deeds, noble titles were granted to Chan and Muk as Thao Thep Kasattri and Thao Sri Soonthorn, respectively. They are still highly respected by Phuket residents even today. When the city was in a peaceful state, the development of mining was so unprecedented. Chinese businessmen and miners later migrated to Phuket and soon enjoy thriving wealth. The island’s long history has shaped the Phuket of the present with its diverse ethnic groups, culture, architectural influence, and fine cuisine. These attributes have made Phuket a complete tourist destination that offers a lot more beyond its natural heritage of sea, sand, forest, and world-renowned diving sites. Sino-Portuguese architecture casts its spell delighting travellers to the city, while Phuket style of hospitality has never failed to impress visitors from all walks of life.

DAY 12: PHUKET – PHANG NGA BAY
After breakfast, we drive north east of Phuket Island to Ao Por pier for the Phang Nga by Sea Canoe tour – a Must-Do in Phuket. Leaving Ao Por on a comfortable escorted boat to the bay, our tour guides will paddle the canoes to enter the caves and hongs to explore around some of the stunning islands of Phang Nga Bay. Lunch is on-board.

Return to AoPor and drive back to the hotel in the afternoon. The rest of the day is at leisure.

DAY 13: PHUKET – PHI PHI ISLAND
After breakfast, day trip to Phi Phi Island by speed boat including lunch.

Remainder of day at leisure.

DAY 14: PHUKET
After breakfast, day at leisure to enjoy this beautiful beach resort and one of the many activities on offer.

DAY 15: PHUKET – USA DEPARTURE
After breakfast, your morning is at leisure until your afternoon airport transfer.

This afternoon, transfer to the airport for your flight to the USA.

Fly: PHUKET/BANGKOK/USA

Phone one of our Asia Specialists at 1-800-227-5317 to start planning your Asian Holiday now!

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