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|Itinerary at a Glance
|7||Bangkok & Ayutthaya|
|8||Ayutthaya, Lopburi, Phitsanulok
|10||Sukhothai, Phayao &
|12||Chiang Rai, Golden Triangle
& Chiang Mai
|Phuket Island Extension|
|15||Bangkok & Phuket|
|18||Phuket, Bangkok, USA|
|Angkor Wat Extension|
|15||Bangkok & Siem Reap|
|18||Siem Reap, Bangkok, USA|
|Style||Fully Escorted & Guided
Dedicated tour escorts & guides throughout
|Departs||Los Angeles (LAX) (flight schedule)|
|Highlights||Bangkok, Sukhothai, Chiang Rai, Chiang Mai. Royal Grand Palace and Emerald Buddha, Bang Pa In Summer Palace, Wat Rong Khun, & Wat Prathat Doi Suthep. Optional extensions to Phuket Island & Angkor Wat|
|Included in the Price||
|What to Expect||This moderately-paced, escorted Thailand tour includes a reasonable amount of walking or hiking and requires an average level of physical fitness. This tour also includes long scenic drives between destinations and may have limited rest stops.|
Give us 15 days and we'll give you Thailand, one of the top travel destinations in the world. We've created this Thailand escorted tour for travelers who don't want to miss a thing, traveling by coach from Bangkok in the south all the way to Chiang Mai in the north in order to see it all.
And you'll enjoy this comprehensive journey at an amazing price, including airfare, great hotels, lots of guided touring and every bit of the mystique, adventure and beauty imaginable in one country. You'll encounter an ancient, fascinating culture, friendly, welcoming people, gorgeous, peaceful countryside and bustling, modern cities, and the most amazing shopping—unbelievable bargains included! Once you experience this magnificent destination for yourself, you'll understand why we call our tour "Incredible Thailand."
My uncle and I just returned from the "Incredible Thailand" tour. Let me start by saying this was our second trip with Friendly Planet. We decided it was time to take another trip and didn't even bother with any other sites. We knew Friendly Planet was the way to go. This was the trip of a lifetime!! All of the accommodations were exquisite. The Temples were amazing. It was really interesting to see people trading, eating, and interacting at the Floating Market. The elephant trip through the jungle and orchid farm was breathtaking. I can't possibly begin to express how amazing our tour guide Lek was. It was like meeting a friend you hadn't seen in a while. She spoke proudly of her culture, her country, her people, and her King. Often when on driving portions of the tour, Lek would have our driver pull over so she could jump out and buy some of the local flavors. She also wanted to make sure that we didn't miss a single thing on this trip. When it was time to go our separate ways many of us said a tearful goodbye. So thank you again you made this trip more amazing than I could have ever hoped for.
Jessica Laffie, Pico Rivera CA
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Day 2: En route. Cross the International Dateline and lose a day. (You will recover this day on the return leg of your trip.)
Day 3: Bangkok. Arrive in Bangkok this morning. After customs formalities, transfer to your centrally located hotel for check-in. Take time to rest from the long journey.
Tonight, enjoy a Thai Set dinner at Supatra River House Restaurant. Located on the banks of the Chao Phraya River, this beautiful two-story traditional Thai house is the former home of Khunying Supatra Singholaga, a leading advocate of women's rights in Thailand. Its contemporary decor blends perfectly with the traditional architecture, and the views of the River, Grand Palace, and Wat Arun are spectacular. Accommodations: Dusit Thani. Dinner provided.
Day 4: Bangkok. This morning, visit Bangkok's number one ‘must see’ attraction, as well as Thailand's most important landmark - the Royal Grand Palace. Your guide will take you on an in-depth journey through Thailand's history and royal heritage, where you'll be amazed at the grandeur and majesty of the building and its throne halls. This is also where you'll be treated to a special visit to see the mysterious Emerald Buddha, the most revered Buddha image in Thailand. At Wat Po, founded in the 17th century and the oldest temple in Bangkok, you'll view the amazing Reclining Buddha, whose face depicts the attainment of Nirvana and whose feet are inlaid with mother-of-pearl.
The afternoon is at leisure to explore Bangkok on your own, or join other locally available optional excursions. Breakfast provided.
Optional Excursion: In the afternoon, take you to Bangkok center. Temples, along with the monarchy, are the fabric that binds together the national identity that is Thailand, and some of the most interesting of Thai temples are found in Bangkok. Your tour of Bangkok’s temples begins at Wat Trimitr where you will view the 700-year-old Golden Buddha, the largest in the world weighing approximately 5 tons. You’ll also visit Wat Benchamabophit, also known as the “Marble Temple” and one of Bangkok's most important tourist attractions. Built of white Italian marble, it is a wonderful example of Thai temple. And Wat Arun, the magnificent temple of Dawn with its 79-meter pagoda or ‘prang’, built in the Khmer style.
Day 5: Bangkok. This morning's tour will first take you to the Pak Klong Talaat, the colorful flower market where you will see many of Thailand’s exotic flowers and orchids. Then continue to Thonburi Klongs (canals) to experience an exhilarating boat ride along the bustling Chao Phraya River and the quiet Klongs (canals) in a long-tailed boat. This is where you'll see the traditional way of life, far removed from Bangkok's modern skyscrapers. Visit the Royal Barge Museum to see the beautiful barges used by the King of Thailand on state occasions. Drop off at the River City Market for shopping on your own or return to your hotel. Breakfast provided.
Optional Excursion: Asiatique the Riverfront is themed according to the city’s architecture of old, and features a very distinctive atmosphere. Divided into several sections, the Charoenkrung District counts over 1,000 boutiques, the Town square combines Eastern and Western culture with a variety of eateries, beer gardens and an outdoor activity square, the Factory District is set in a 100 year-old refurbished saw-mill with over 500 fashion stores, and finally the waterfront highlights the unique setting, with international restaurants, wine bars and panoramic view of the Chao Phraya. Return to the hotel on your own.
Optional Excursion: First visit a unique countryside market along the railway tracks in Samut Songkram. First we stop at an amazing country market along the railway tracks then we visit the famous Damnoen Saduak floating market. After lunch at a local restaurant, visit Tha Kha, one of the many floating markets in the area. We take a fascinating paddleboat journey through the klongs and stop to enjoy a glass of coconut sugar syrup with a friendly local family before another boat ride to visit Buddhist temples and Rama II Park with it’s the Thai style Pavilion Museum
Day 7: Bangkok & Ayutthaya. Depart to Bang Pa In Summer Palace that was built by King Rama IV at a time of growing European influence in Thailand. Explore the majestic royal mansions and visit Wat Nivet Thammapavat, a gothic inspired temple beside the river.
Continue to the beautiful ancient city of Ayutthaya, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. King U-Thong founded the city in 1350 as the capital of his kingdom of Siam. By 1700, Ayutthaya had as many as a million inhabitants, making it one of the largest cities in the world at the time. But in 1767, the city was invaded and destroyed by the Burmese army. Magnificent ruins of the old city still remain, and archaeological excavations continue. Visit the most important of the ruined temples, Wat Yai and Wat Chai Watanaram. Accommodations: Kantary Hotel Ayyutthaya. Breakfast provided.
Day 8: Ayutthaya, Lopburi, Phitsanulok & Sukhothai. Drive through the beautiful countryside past fields of rice paddies to Lopburi and Phra Prang Sam Yot, regarded as Lopburi's chief landmark. Like many sites in Lopburi, Phra Prang Sam Yot is overrun by monkeys, so hold on tight to your baseball caps, sunglasses and scarves. Depart to Phitsanulok, this town served as the Siamese capital for 25 years and was also the birthplace of King Naresuan. Today it is a busy, dynamic city and one of the larger of Thailand's provincial towns. Visit the Bronze Case Factory where a huge range of bronze Buddha images are cast using the 'lost wax method' which visitors can observe.
Continue to Sukhothai, which in 1238 became the first truly independent Thai kingdom, where the Thai culture, language and alphabet originated. Accommodations: Sukhothai Heritage Resort or Sukhothai Treasure Resort & Spa. Breakfast provided.
Day 9: Sukhothai. Depart to Sri Satchanalai, the northern outpost town of the kingdom of Sukhothai, built by King Ramkamhaeng. En route, visit a small village in the Sukhothai area. See how village elders make hand-made cloth and carve wooden toys.
Continue to Sri Satchanalai and visit Ko Noi Thuring, consisting of some 500 kilns which were the center of Sukhothai's famous 14th and 15th century Sangkhalok pottery manufacturing. Visit the main sites of the Sukhothai Historical Park, covering the period known as the golden age of Thai history. The park contains almost 200 ruined chedis in remarkable condition. Return to your hotel in Sukhothai. Breakfast provided.
Day 10: Sukhothai, Phayao & Chiang Rai. Depart for Phayao, a rural lakeside province surrounded by beautiful mountains and valleys dotted with fascinating religious sites. En route visit Wat Rong Khun, also known as the "White Temple". A lifetime project of artist Chalermchai Kositpipat, the temple has a fine blend of traditional Buddhist art with contemporary themes and is decorated with small pieces of mirrored glass which add substantially to its dramatic beauty. Continue to Chiang Rai. Accommodations: The Imperial River House Resort and Spa. Breakfast provided.
Day 11: Chiang Rai. Today, travel to the Doi Tung region, 6500 feet above sea level, visiting various hill tribe villages, such as Akha, Shan and Lahu. In 1987, the Doi Tung Development Project was established by the King’s Mother’s Initiative to protect the forest which was partially destroyed, eradicate the cultivation of opium and encourage farmers to use sustainable agricultural practices. Visit the Mae Fah Luang gardens, and then continue to Wat Phrathat Doi Tung, a sacred hill top shrine, regarded as the holiest sanctuary in the Chiang Rai area. The temple was built in 911 AD and according to tradition, the left collarbone of Lord Buddha is enshrined in the twin pagodas. Return to Chiang Rai in the late morning.
The afternoon will be at leisure to explore the town of Chiang Rai on your own. This evening is the perfect opportunity to stroll around the local night market. Enjoy bargaining for local handicrafts, souvenirs and other products. Breakfast provided.
Day 12: Chiang Rai, Golden Triangle & Chiang Mai. After breakfast, continue to Chiang Saen, a small town on the bank of the Mekong River, on the border with Laos. A boat trip on the mighty Mekong takes you to the Golden Triangle, the place where the borders of Thailand, Burma and Laos meet. Then, depart Chiang Rai and drive to Mae Sai, the northernmost point of Thailand, separated from the Burmese border town of Thakhilek by a small river also called Mae Sai. Take a stroll through the local market where you'll find jade and other Burmese jewelry and handicrafts.
Continue through mountains, valleys and the lush landscape of northern Thailand to Chiang Mai, Thailand's second largest city, often called "Rose of the North" because of the abundance of flowers that thrive in its cooler mountain climate. In the evening join your fellow tour members at a local restaurant. After dinner, each couple will receive a Khum Loy (fire balloon) to launch for good luck. Accommodations: Kantary Hills Hotel. Breakfast & dinner provided.
Day 13: Chiang Mai.This ancient city boasts many of Bangkok's amenities, including excellent food and accommodations but without the frenetic pace of modern city life. From its origins as a small northern town, it has become a city representative of modern Thai culture with a beautiful personality of its own characterized, in part, by the many temples found here.
This morning is dedicated to an authentic experience in Buddhist philosophy. Travel by trishaw for an exciting view of the town ending at a covered market, where you will purchase food, sweets and flowers. Continue to Wat Ket, a temple rarely visited by tourists in a picturesque setting. Observe the monks in prayer and after the ceremony, you will be able to offer your food and flowers to the monks and be blessed.
Later, continue to Wat Phra Thad Doi Suthep, built in 1384, and is, one of the most revered temples in all Thailand. Inside the cloister of the temple, you will see one of the most sacred stupas. Walk around the compound and admire the many bells and statues of Buddha.
Return to Chiang Mai for an afternoon of leisure, or optional sightseeing. Breakfast provided.
Optional Excursion: Chiang Mai is famous for the quality and uniqueness of its local handicrafts. Visit Sankampaeng outlets of Thai silk and cotton looms, paper and umbrella-making factories, the Celadon kilns with their exquisite traditional-fired stoneware, lacquer wares, teakwood carving, jewelry, and silverware factories. This half day tour shows you how high quality Chiang Mai factories produce their crafts and give you an idea of what you can buy and take home as souvenirs from Chiang Mai.
Day 14: Chiang Mai.This morning you will visit an elephant camp for a first-hand look at the important role elephants have played in every aspect of Thai life, from ceremonial purposes to warfare, transportation and farming. See the elephants taking their morning bath in the stream, before starting their daily training and work. You may be able to feed them bananas or sugarcane, their favorite treats. Later, enjoy an elephant ride through the countryside, up and down hills and in the river – a true highlight of your tour! Later, visit a beautiful orchid farm to see how these lovely and prized plants are expertly and artistically cultivated.
The remainder of the day is at leisure to continue your explorations on your own. Or, treat yourself to an optional, Lanna style spa treatment or learn to cook Thai food. Breakfast provided.
Optional Excursion: Baan Thai offers its customers the opportunity to learn how to cook real Thai food in a traditional Thai setting, with skilled and friendly teachers who can impart the secrets of Thai cooking to you in a fun atmosphere. By actively preparing a variety of Thai dishes, you will boost your cooking skills and knowledge. At the end of class you will be delighted by your own prepared meal which will be served as dinner
Day 15: Bangkok/USA. Bid farewell to Thailand as you transfer to the airport to board your flight to Bangkok, and then your return flight to the USA via Taipei. Or, take advantage of your already-included international airfare and join our optional extensions to Angkor Wat and Phuket Island! Breakfast provided.
Take advantage of your already-included international airfare and enjoy a luxurious and relaxing stay on Phuket Island, Thailand's most famous resort.
Day 15: Bangkok & Phuket. Today you'll fly to Phuket. Upon arrival, transfer to your hotel and enjoy the balance of the day at leisure. Accommodations: Cape Panwa Hotel & Spa. Breakfast provided.
Day 16 & 17: Phuket. Two full days at leisure to relax, shop or tour this scenic island, Thailand's largest. Phuket and the 39 smaller islands to the southeast are studded with tropical forests, mountains, gravity-defying limestone formations, and pristine beaches, surrounded by coral reefs and the aquamarine water of the balmy Andaman Sea.
With warm, humid weather year-round, you'll enjoy plenty of sun-drenched days lounging on the beach and all manner of water sports, including jet-skiing, parasailing, surfing, scuba and snorkeling. Most of the dive locations are suitable for all skill levels, and the waters abound with colorful coral forests, tropical fish and other marine life, including leopard sharks, moray eels, octopus and turtles.
Phuket is also the sailing and yachting center of Thailand and adjacent countries, with several races and regattas happening throughout the year. And in the unlikely event that you can pull yourself away from the beach, you'll find opportunities to ride horses or elephants, hike, mountain bike, and even golf. Afterwards, unwind at one of the many spas or one of the excellent acrobatic, theatrical or cultural shows.
Join an optional tour to the breathtaking Phi Phi islands, filming location of The Beach. Take a trip by boat and bus to Phang Nha Bay and to the limestone spire known as "James Bond Island" famous for its role in The Man with the Golden Gun.
Phuket is a melting pot of Buddhists, Thai-Chinese, Muslims and even sea gypsies, whom you'll find warm and welcoming. The west coast of Phuket was hit severely by the Indian Ocean tsunami of December 2004, but the resilient people have quickly rebuilt, and almost no evidence of the damage now remains. Breakfast provided.
Day 18: Phuket, Bangkok, USA. Enjoy a final day at leisure. Later today, transfer to the airport for the short flight to Bangkok. Continue to the USA via Taipei, arriving in Los Angeles later today. Breakfast provided.
Take advantage of your already-included international airfare by joining our extension to Cambodia for a special opportunity to visit Angkor Wat, a massive complex of temples that ranks among the most fascinating religious sites in the world.
Day 15: Bangkok & Siem Reap, Cambodia. Transfer to the airport to take a short flight to Siem Reap, gateway to the Angkor Archaeological Park. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the park contains the ruins of more than 1000 stone temples dating from the 9th to the 13th centuries. Accommodations: Borei Angkor Hotel. Breakfast provided.
Day 16: Angkor Explorations. Built by the Khmer civilization between 802 and 1220 AD, the temples at Angkor and the great city that surrounded them represent one of mankind's most astonishing and enduring architectural achievements. The structures you see today are the surviving remains of a grand religious, social and administrative metropolis whose other buildings—palaces, public buildings, and houses—were built of wood and are long since decayed and gone.
Satellite photographs reveal Angkor to have been the largest preindustrial city in the world, with an urban sprawl of 3000 square kilometers (the closest rival is Tikal in Guatemala, at most 150 square kilometers) and supporting a population of up to one million people. Mysteriously abandoned in the 15th century, the Angkor site remained largely cloaked by the forest until the late 19th century, when archaeologists began to clear away the forest and embark on a long restoration process that continues today.
After breakfast, begin your explorations at the mysterious royal walled city of Angkor Thom. Its 54-tower temple is an awesome sight that most visitors never forget, with each of its surreal towers topped with four giant, barely smiling faces, staring out in the direction of the four points of the compass. The faces, which depict a Khmer royal ruler as a Buddhist deity, are identical, but the staggered height of the towers and the different viewpoint of each keeps the design from appearing repetitious. You are engulfed by the silent, heavy, enigmatic gaze of those faces, through half-closed eyes, staring out from a remote time in history.
After lunch at a local restaurant, explore the temples of the Small Circuit. The most famous is Ta Prohm temple, built in the mid 12th to early 13th centuries. Ta Prohm is unique in that it has been left largely as it was found, overgrown by jungle trees and vines, with many parts of the temple crumbling to the ground, giving it the most mysterious atmosphere of the temples in the Angkor area.
Continue to the magnificent Angkor Wat Temple, built by Suryavarman II in the early 12th century. Inside the temple, the walls are covered with carvings and bas-reliefs depicting Hindu mythology and the history of the region. Breakfast & lunch provided.
Day 17: Angkor Explorations. This morning's excursion takes you to three early-era temples of the Roluos Group: Preah Ko, Bakong, and Lolei, built by King Indravarman I and his successor in the 9th century.
After lunch at a local restaurant, visit the "Citadel of Women" of Banteay Srei and Bantay Samré, considered to be the birthplace of Khmer classical architecture. Breakfast, lunch, & dinner provided.
Day 18: Siem Reap, Bangkok, USA. Transfer to the airport for the short flight to Bangkok. Continue to the USA via Taipei, arriving in Los Angeles later today. Or, continue on our optional Phuket Island Extension. Breakfast provided.
In Cambodia, we've seen this first-hand. We were amazed to discover that it takes as little as $200 to dig a well and install a pump that provides clean water to several dozen families. Friendly Planet has been funding the construction of wells in villages for the past three years. Several of our passengers have volunteered to fund wells themselves. Together, we've built over 200!
You can too! Learn more and donate towards a well yourself. $200 buys a complete well and pump, which will bear your name!
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