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|Itinerary at a Glance
Songkran Festival in Thailand
|6||Bangkok & Chiang Mai|
24 travelers max, dedicated tour escorts & guides throughout
|Departs||Los Angeles (LAX) (flight schedule)|
|Highlights||Bangkok, Chiang Mai. Songkran Festival in Chiang Mai, Wat Po & Reclining Buddha, Wat Phra That Doi Suthep|
|What to Expect||Small group guaranteed not to exceed 24 passengers. This moderately-paced, escorted tour includes a reasonable amount of walking or hiking and requires an average level of physical fitness.|
Experience Thailand during one of the most festive holidays – the water festival of Songkran, which is also the Thai New Year. During the hot month of April, cool off at street parties, family reunions and friendly water fights, making Songkran a grand and the colorful event. Spend a few days in the exotic capital city of Bangkok. Then, travel to northern Chiang Mai, Thailand’s second largest city, where you will experience traditional Songkran ceremomies and fun. Prepare yourself for water fights. It’s not a surprise to see kids equipped with their water guns soaking every passerby. Book your spot on this adventure soon!
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Day 2: En route. Cross the International Dateline and lose a day en route. (You'll recover this day on your return trip.)
Day 3: Bangkok, Thailand. Arrive in Bangkok this morning. After customs formalities, transfer to your centrally located hotel for check-in. Enjoy the remainder of the day at leisure in this exciting city. Accommodations: Dusit Thani Hotel.
Day 4: Bangkok. This morning, your included city tour takes 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. Begin at Wat Trimitr where you will view the 700-year-old Golden Buddha, the largest in the world weighing approximately 5 tons. 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. 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 architecture. Breakfast provided.
Optional Excursion: In the afternoon, you can choose an optional excursion to The Grand Palace and the Temple of the Emerald Buddha. For 150 years, the Grand Palace, served as the home of the King and his court as well as the entire administrative seat of government. Within its grounds, you'll also visit the Temple of the Emerald Buddha (Wat Phra Kaew), a structure built to house a large Buddha image carved from a solid piece of green jadeite. This optional excursion can only be purchased locally ($64 per person).
Day 5: Bangkok. Today is at leisure in Bangkok. Explore on your own, or join the optional excursions. Breakfast provided.
Optional Excursion: This morning’s optional excursion will take you to the Thonburi Klongs (canals), the Royal Barge Museum, and Wat Arun. Experience an exhilarating boat ride along the busting Chao Phraya River and the quiet Kongs (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 on state occasions. (The Royal Barge Museum is closed through Nov 2012, and will be replaced with a visit to Ananta Samakhorn Throne Hall.) See Wat Arun, the magnificent Temple of Dawn, with its 79 meter pagoda or "prang", built in the Khmer style. This optional excursion can only be purchased locally ($66 per person).
Optional Excursion: Tonight's optional excursion offers you a visual extravaganza at the Ratchada Grand Theatre, one of the biggest stages in the world. Travel back in time through the Kingdom of Siam and experience Thai history and culture during this spectacular show. This optional excursion can only be purchased locally ($83 per person).
Day 6: Bangkok & Chiang Mai. This morning, transfer to the airport for your flight to Chiang Mai. Upon arrival, transfer to your hotel for check-in and enjoy the remainder of the day leisure, or getting ready for the Songkran festival. Accommodations: Siripanna Villa Resort & Spa or similar. Breakfast provided.
Day 7: Chiang Mai. Start the day early (around 6:00 am, breakfast boxes will be provided), and depart the hotel by a local “songtaew” truck for the foothills of Doi Suthep mountian, in time to buy offering and join the crowd during the daily alms giving ceremony. Watch the serene Buddhist procession where line of monks walk barefoot through the street collecting food and everyday items. Then continue up the mountain to Wat Phra That Doi Suthep and climb the 309 steps of the Golden Naga. Experience the Songkran cultural activities at Wat Phra Sing as a Thai would – give yourself blessings by pouring scented water over Buddha images or build sand Chedis. Later, arm yourself with a water gun and re-board the “songtaew”. Have fun throwing and shooting water on each other and the crowd. Return to your hotel. Enjoy the evening at leisure at your hotel, or venture out on your own to explore Thapee Road and its night activities. Breakfast provided.
Note: Songkran is a wet event, Be sure to keep your electonic equipment safe in waterproof bags or containers.
Day 8: Chiang Mai. Spend the day experiencing Thai Songkran culture with a local family in nearby Hang Dong. In true Thai style, slip into a pair of “fisherman’s pants”. Your Thai family will show you the unique architecture of a traditional house and rice barn, and demonstrate their basket weaving skills, a Thai tradition of many centuries. See the family orchid and help select fresh ingredients which will be used to prepare lunch. Learn to cook with authentic Northern Thai flavors, and later enjoy lunch with your “family”.
In the afternoon, take part in another must-do Songkran activity, “Rod Nam Dam Hua”, a water-pouring ceremony to ask for forgiveness and blessings from respected elders. Traditionally, multiple generations of a Thai family will gather together for this ceremony. Return to your hotel for an evening at leisure. Optional, traditional Lanna spa treatments are available at your hotel. Breakfast and lunch provided.
Day 9: Chiang Mai/USA. Bid farewell to Thailand as you transfer to the Chiang Mai airport to board your flight to Bangkok, and connect to your flight to the USA via Taipei. Breakfast provided.
The value for money was excellent. I would not hesitate to recommend Friendly Planet to family and friends. Thailand is a wonderful destination and the people were very friendly.