|Itinerary at a Glance
A Taste of Thailand
|6||Bangkok & Ayutthaya|
|7||Ayutthaya, Kanchanaburi & the River Kwai|
|8||Kanchanaburi & the River Kwai|
|9||Kanchanaburi & Bangkok|
|Angkor Wat Optional Extension|
|10||Bangkok & Siem Reap|
|Phuket Island Optional Extension|
|10||Bangkok & Phuket|
|Departures||September 2013 – May 2014|
|Departs||Los Angeles (LAX)|
|Highlights||Bangkok, Ayutthaya, Kanchanaburi, Wat Arun, Wat Po (Reclining Buddha), & River Kwai. Optional extensions to Phuket & Angkor Wat|
|Travel Style||This moderately-paced, escorted tour includes a reasonable amount of walking or hiking and requires an average level of physical fitness.|
Even the most sophisticated travelers long to visit Thailand, with its beautiful beaches and islands, fascinating culture, exotic architecture, and ancient ruins. This tour showcases some of the highlights of this magnificent country, including the bustling capital city of Bangkok, the ancient city of Ayutthaya, and the historic River Kwai—all for an amazingly affordable price, despite the huge fluctuations in exchange rates between the U.S. Dollar and Thai Baht that have caused tour prices to Asia's favorite destination to skyrocket. At prices this low, you can be sure that this tour will sell out quickly, so hurry to reserve your space soon!
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April and May, 2013 departures will follow a slightly different itinerary.
All prices, fees and deposits are per person. Prices below are subject to availability and confirmation. After we receive your booking, we will confirm all prices and availability within 1–2 business days. Prices are subject to change at any time and not guaranteed until we receive your final payment. More about our prices.
|Departures & Prices*|
|Tue||Sep 10||2013||Thu||Sep 19||2013||$1899||$1599||Available|
|Tue||Oct 8||2013||Thu||Oct 17||2013||$1999||$1699||Closed|
|Tue||Oct 22||2013||Thu||Oct 31||2013||$1999||$1699||Available|
|Tue||Nov 5||2013||Thu||Nov 14||2013||$1999||$1699||Available|
|Tue||Nov 26||2013||Thu||Dec 5||2013||$1999||$1699||Available|
|Tue||Jan 14||2014||Thu||Jan 23||2014||$1999||$1699||Available|
|Tue||Feb 11||2014||Thu||Feb 20||2014||$1999||$1699||Available|
|Tue||Mar 11||2014||Thu||Mar 20||2014||$1999||$1699||Available|
|Tue||Apr 15||2014||Thu||Apr 24||2014||$1999||$1699||Available|
|Tue||May 6||2014||Thu||May 15||2014||$1899||$1599||Available|
* Prices are per person, based on double occupancy, and include airfare and Airline Taxes, Fees & Sept. 11th Security Fee. Prices do not include excess baggage fees, extensions or optional items. Prices in orange reflect an early booking discount for bookings made by 6/25/2013.
Want to stay longer? We may be able to arrange for you to extend your stay later than the scheduled dates, subject to availability. Contact us about dates, prices and restrictions.
|Taste of Thailand|
|Phuket Island Extension1|
|Phuket Island Extension|
|Oct 8, Apr 15, May 6||+$559|
|All other departures||+$659|
|Sep 10, Oct 8, Apr 15, May 6||+$199|
|All other departures||+$299|
1. The Phuket Island extension is subject to availability and requires that your flights be confirmed separately by the airlines. Please note that it typically takes 3 to 5 business days to confirm your extension flights with the airline, and that we will notify you immediately upon confirmation of the flights. This extension also requires a minimum of 2 passengers to operate.
|Angkor Wat Extension1|
|Angkor Wat Extension|
|All other departures||+$899|
|Cambodia Departure Tax2 (paid separately)||+$25|
|Cambodia Visa Fee3 (paid separately)||+$20|
1. The Angkor Wat extension is subject to availability and requires that your flights be confirmed separately by the airlines. Please note that it typically takes 3 to 5 business days to confirm your extension flights with the airline, and that we will notify you immediately upon confirmation of the flights. This extension also requires a minimum of 2 passengers to operate.
2. Departure Tax is paid locally
3. Visa Fee is paid locally
|Los Angeles (LAX)||included|
Coming from somewhere else? Unfortunately, we don't offer departures from cities that are not listed, but you can book your own connecting flights separately.
To make a reservation, we only require a per-person deposit payment, which you can pay with your credit card. This non-refundable deposit will be applied towards the cost of your package. You can pay the balance due later by credit card, check or money order. Your final payment is due 75 days prior to departure, or within 72 hours of booking, whichever is later.
April and May, 2013 departures will follow a slightly different itinerary.
Day 1: Depart USA. Your exotic journey begins as you check in for your flight to Thailand, via Taipei.
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.
This afternoon, experience an exhilarating boat ride along the bustling Chao Phraya River and the quiet Klongs (canals) in a long tail boat. Be taken back in time to a more traditional way of life, far removed from Bangkok’s modern skyscrapers. Visit the Royal Barge Museum to witness the beautiful barges used by the King on state occasions. And Wat Arun, the magnificent temple of Dawn with its 79-meter pagoda or ‘prang’, built in the Khmer style. Accommodations: Rembrandt Hotel.
Day 4: Bangkok. 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. Enjoy the morning at leisure or take advantage of an optional excursion including Wat Po and the Wholesale Flower Market.
This afternoon, depart for 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 jadite (jasper).
Tonight, enjoy a traditional 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 décor blends perfectly with the traditional architecture, and the views of the River, Grand Palace, and Wat Arun are downright spectacular. Breakfast and dinner provided.
Optional Excursion: This morning's optional tour takes you to three of Bangkok's most visually stunning temples. Continue to Wat Po, founded in the 17th century and the oldest temple in Bangkok. This temple is also home to the amazing Reclining Buddha, one of the largest in the world, whose face depicts the attainment of Nirvana and whose feet are inlaid with mother-of-pearl. Later, drive through the city of Bangkok, via the Indian Market, the Wholesale Flower Market and Chinese Town; and the Royal Avenue were the Palace of the King is located. This optional excursion can only be purchased locally.
Day 5: Bangkok. Enjoy the day at leisure to discover Bangkok on your own, or take part in another exciting optional tour. Breakfast provided.
Optional Excursion: Visit Damnoen Saduak Floating Market in Ratchaburi province about 100km from Bangkok. Take a long tail boat ride through the canals and see how Thai people live alongside the labyrinth of canals in this area. Arrive at the famous Damnoen Saduak market where you can stroll around the colourful floating marketplace bustling with boats and vendors selling tropical fruits and other delights. This optional excursion can only be purchased locally.
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. This optional excursion can only be purchased locally.
Day 6: Bangkok & Ayutthaya. After breakfast this morning, drive north to the 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, some having been restored. Exciting archaeological excavations are still proceeding at many sites in the area.
Today's sightseeing tour takes you first to Bang Pa to view King Rama IV's summer palace, used occasionally by the king and queen to host receptions and banquets. The palace and its surrounding temples represent an appealing fusion of Thai, Chinese, and European architectural styles. Continue to Wat Yai Chaimongkol, a temple best known for its enormous statue of the Reclining Buddha.
Conclude the tour at Wat Chai Watanaram, a monastery commissioned by King Prasatthong in 1630 in honor of his mother. However, its striking resemblance to Cambodia's famous Angkor Wat has led some to believe that the king also built the wat to commemorate his victory over Cambodia. Accommodations: Kantary Hotel, Ayutthaya. Breakfast provided.
Day 7: Ayutthaya, Kanchanaburi & the River Kwai. Set out on a drive this morning through the picturesque rice fields of Suphanburi to Kanchanaburi. Upon arrival, visit the historic bridge over the River Kwai, part of the infamous Death Railway built by the Japanese using Allied prisoners of war during World War II. At the Death Railway museum, you'll learn more about life in the camps, the building of the bridge, and the more than 8,000 POWs who died during construction.
Take a train ride through the Kwai Noi gorge before continuing to your river resort. The rest of the afternoon is yours at leisure. We suggest a visit to the resort's spa for a Thai massage or steam bath, or a dip in the pool. Accommodations: River Kwai Resotel. Breakfast provided.
Day 8: Kanchanaburi & the River Kwai. After a breakfast this morning, drive to the Hellfire Pass museum, a memorial complex dedicated to the men and women who died during the construction of the railway. Nighttime labor by torchlight on this particularly difficult section gave the pass its name. Briefly explore the area before embarking on a trek through the Memorial Walking Trail.Enjoy the rest of the day at leisure for independent exploration. Breakfast provided.
Optional Excursion: Join a relaxing optional tour that includes a visit to an elephant camp, complete with an elephant ride through the jungle and alongside the river. Afterwards, enjoy a bamboo raft ride down the river's gently flowing waters. Enjoy the rest of the day at leisure for independent exploration, or head to the river to help bathe the elephants (fee may apply). This optional excursion must be purchased locally. This optional excursion can only be purchased locally.
Day 9: Kanchanaburi & Bangkok. After a leisurely breakfast, transfer to Bangkok and check-in at your hotel. Spend the afternoon at leisure or take the opportunity for some last minute shopping. Accommodations: Rembrandt Hotel. Breakfast provided.
Optional Excursion: Tonight's optional excursion offers you a visual Sima Mirmait Show 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.
Day 10: Bangkok/USA. Enjoy breakfast and leisure time on your last day in the exciting city of Bangkok. Bid farewell to Thailand later today as you transfer to the airport to board 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 or Phuket Island...or both! Breakfast provided.
Optional Excursion: Join an optional Temples tour, visiting 2 other important temples or "wats" in the city. The first stop is Wat Trimitr, where you'll view the 700-year-old Golden Buddha, the largest in the world weighing approximately 5 tons. (Occasional maintenance work is conducted at Wat Trimitr, in which case passengers will visit Wat Saket instead.) Conclude your temple tour at Wat Benchamabophit, also known as the Marble Temple because of its abundance of white Italian marble.
This optional excursion can only be purchased locally.
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 10: 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 11: 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 directions 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 12: Angkor Explorations. This morning's excursion takes you to three early-Angkor 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 provided.
Day 13: Siem Reap/USA. Transfer to the airport for the short flight to Bangkok. Continue to the USA via Taipei, arriving in Los Angeles. Or, continue on our optional Phuket Island Extension. Breakfast provided.
Why not take advantage of your already-included international airfare and enjoy a luxurious and relaxing stay on Phuket Island, Thailand's most famous resort.
Day 10: 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 11 & 12: 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 famous limestone spire known as "James Bond Island" for its role in The Man with the Golden Gun. Breakfast provided.
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.
Day 13: Phuket/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.
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!
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.
— Margaret Kaupp