Trip note: For 2020 departures, we are adding an extra day in Chiang Mai. The trip will be 11 days/10 nights in total. The 2020 dates and prices are accurately noted.
Our trip begins today in Bangkok, Thailand. Meet your guides at the Bangkok international airport, Suvarnabhumi, in late morning for a group transfer to Kanchanaburi. We'll enjoy lunch at a local restaurant situated near the famous bridge on the River Kwai. We will have the option to visit the JEATH WWII museum or take a short walk across the famous bridge. Depending on our time of arrival in Kanchanaburi we may have the opportunity to visit a unique country market along the railway tracks. We overnight in Kanchanaburi this evening in our luxury tent camp on the River Kwai. All the tents are air conditioned and have their own bathrooms. Before dinner we enjoy a dip in the refreshing natural spring pools! Lunch and dinner included.
Vehicle transfer time: 3+ hours. Note: Approximate total vehicle transfer times are listed for each day but these drives are broken up with many stops, activities, lunches, bathroom breaks and time to stretch our legs.
Wake to the sounds of nature surrounding our riverside camp. After breakfast, we head out for a fun and easy 6-mile bike ride through the spectacular Kanchanaburi countryside. Stops are made en route to enjoy friendly chats with the local villagers as they go about their daily tasks. After a snack and a bit of rest, it's time to switch gears and embark on a 2-hour kayaking excursion on the River Kwai. Following the lead of our experienced instructor, we dip our paddles into this scenic waterway and glide past villages and lush riverside vegetation. We break for lunch, enjoying the tasty cooking of a local Thai restaurant before heading out to the Erawan Waterfall, a beautiful seven-tiered waterfall in Erawan National Park. Bring your swimsuit and enjoy a swim in the fall's natural pools! We return to our accommodations in Kanchanaburi for a delicious Thai dinner at an open-air restaurant with great views of the nearby river. All meals included.
Kayaking: 2 hours; Biking: 1-1.5 hours on some paved and dirt roads.
Departing from Kanchanaburi this morning, we drive further north into central Thailand to our next adventure destination. Sukhothai, meaning "dawn of happiness", is a shining example of the golden age of Thai history and a UNESCO World Heritage site. Watch as the countryside rolls along as we drive through the expansive Chao Phraya river valley. Arrive in the late afternoon to our hotel and prepare for dinner and a bit of relaxation. Overnight in Sukhothai. All meals included.
Vehicle transfer time: 8 hours including stops.
After a delicious breakfast we jump on our bikes to explore the Sukhothai Historical Park, formerly a walled city surrounded by a moat, which contains almost 200 chedi ruins in remarkable condition. Chedis are mound-like structures containing Buddhist relics and are important places of worship. After lunch we return to the hotel where kids can swim in the pool while parents enjoy a refreshing beverage at the poolside open-air bar or enjoy a foot massage. Dinner tonight is on our own to stay in at the resort or explore a local restaurant in town. Breakfast included.
Biking: 2 hours, easy terrain.
Today we continue north to Sri Satchanalai Historical Park on the banks of the Yom River. Walk through the ancient town, exploring the stunning ruins and visiting the preserved Celadon Kiln ceramic site at Ban Ko Noi. In the afternoon, we complete the drive to the northern capital, Chiang Mai. This rest of the day and evening is free to explore Chiang Mai on your own or simply relax at our luxury resort set on the banks of the Mae Ping River. Breakfast and lunch included.
Walking/Sightseeing: 2 to 3 hours, easy. Vehicle transfer time: 5 hours.
Today’s destination is Mae Kampong village nestled 1,300 meters above sea level in the picturesque Chiang Mai countryside. But first, we hike a section of the “monk” trail. The trail, traditionally used by monks, links Wat Pha Lat and Wat Phra Doi Suthep. Our destination is Wat Pha Lat, a hidden gem perfectly nestled in the forest and ideal for exploring. Next, we’ll transfer to Wat Suan Dok where we’ll visit with one of the monks to talk about their life and Buddhism, Thailand’s main spiritual belief. After lunch, we’ll continue on to Mae Kampong village where we’ll hike through the community forest past tea and coffee fields to a refreshing waterfall. Tea and coffee cultivation are the main occupations for Mae Kampong villagers. We’ll learn how they process fermented tea leaves and other products handmade in the village. Tonight we'll be paired up with our host families for a special homestay. All meals included.
Note on homestay: Each family stays with a Mae Kampong host family in a separate part of the family's home. Accommodations are simple and clean; mattresses, sheets and pillows are provided. There is hydroelectric power in the village and houses have cold-water showers. Warm clothes should be packed for the winter months (November – February).
Hiking: 3 hours, easy terrain. Vehicle transfer time: 2 hour.
After a breakfast served by our gracious hosts, we say goodbye and set off for Chiang Dao where we’ll visit the hilltribe villages of the Palaung, Akha, and Lisu people. A local guide escorts us through the villages where each tribe retains a different culture and way of life. We have the unique opportunity to visit some of their homes and farm land. We then head to the Mae Rim District for a walk to Mae Khi village, a Hmong settlement, passing through verdant jungle. Here we witness how the Hmong Hill Tribe people still live a relatively traditional lifestyle. The Hmong are an Asian ethnic group from the mountainous regions of Vietnam, Laos, Thailand and Burma. Their clothing is richly decorated with magnificent embroidery, silver jewelry and imbued with animistic symbolism. We overnight at Hmong Hilltribe Lodge surrounded by lush jungle and rice terraces. All meals included.
Walking: 2 to 3 hours through villages, easy and some uneven terrain. Vehicle transfer time: 4 hours.
Today we learn about Asian elephants firsthand. It is an unforgettable day and a unique experience for children and adults alike. We drive to the Elephant Rescue Park in the scenic Mae Taeng valley outside of Chiang Mai. Established in 2015, Elephant Rescue Park provides a sanctuary and rescue center for Asian pachyderms. Throughout the day, we learn about the problems elephants face in Southeast Asia as well as the changes advocated by the park regarding their care, treatment, and training. We interact with the elephants by feeding, bathing and walking the grounds with them. This afternoon we return to Chiang Mai where we take a Thai cooking class. We'll learn the secrets of Thailand's internationally revered cuisine then enjoy our freshly prepared family feast. All meals included.
Vehicle transfer time: 2 – 2.5 hours.
We depart early, 6am, to participate in the daily alms—a uniquely enlightening experience for many. At Ton Payom Market we buy dishes and join the locals during the daily alms-giving ceremony with the monks. Next, we head to Doi Inthanon National Park which is known for its beautiful wildflowers, great bird watching, and majestic waterfalls. Our hike starts at a Karen hill tribe village where many of the villagers work at the coffee plantation project. We'll sample their coffee while chatting with our Karen hosts. From here our hike takes us through forests, over fields, and past several waterfalls. On the way back to Chiang Mai, we visit Watchirathan waterfall, one of the most spectacular falls in Northern Thailand. Tonight we are treated to a lovely farewell dinner. All meals included.
Trekking: 2 hours, easy. Vehicle transfer time: 2 hours.
If you are not joining a trip extension to Phuket or Angkor Wat, your journey ends this morning. There will be one group transfer to the airport. Breakfast included.