Venture to the cultural heart of Thailand on this 12-day journey taking travelers to not only the well-tread destinations of Bangkok, Kanchanaburi and Chiang Mai, but also to the off-the-beaten-track towns of Chiang Kham and Lampang. From cycling through rubber plantations and exploring temples by electric tuk tuk to meeting a loal hilltribe shaman and sampling street food, this adventure showcases what makes Thailand so special.
Central and Northern Exploration
Day 1: Bangkok – Arrival
Welcome to Thailand! Upon arrival to Suvarnabhumi Airport, our team will be ready and waiting to welcome everyone and help with the transfer arrangements to the hotel.
The rest of the day is enjoyed at leisure. We recommend taking some rest from the long flights and preparing to explore Bangkok the next day!
Overnight in Bangkok
Day 2: Bangkok
Breakfast will be enjoyed at the hotel. The first day begins with a visit to Khlong Bang Luang. Khlong Bang Luang is a laid-back riverside community, also known as the artist’s village, because there are plenty of galleries and art spaces dotted around the community.
Next, we’ll board a longtail boat to explore the community revealing the riverside way of life. It’s a quiet and peaceful destination in the middle of the Thailand’s bustling and built-up capital. We’ll make a stop at Baan Silapin which means artist’s house. An old-teak house which was built in 2010 and is famous for its puppet shows. Feeding fish here is another available activity that’s great for kids.
After lunch, head to Wat Arun, also known as the temple of dawn. It was built during the Ayutthaya period and the remarkable architecture of its tower, or ‘Phra Pang’ stands 81.85 meters tall. It is intricately decorated with porcelain from China. Older travellers and young children may wish to remain at the bottom as the stairs up are incredibly steep, though handrails are available.
Overnight in Bangkok
Day 3: Bangkok – Kanchanaburi
Breakfast will be enjoyed at the hotel. An early start will allow for the opportunity to witness Wat Pho’s monks gather for their morning chant – these mantras are used for both learning and demonstrating their devotion to Buddhist teachings. Afterwards, explore Wat Pho’s spiritual grounds, including the gilded 45-meter reclining Buddha.
Following this, we’ll head off to Kanchanaburi. The drive takes approximately two hours. Kanchanaburi is where the Kwai Noi and Kwai Yai rivers meet and form the Mae Khlong River. The province itself is dotted with beautiful natural and historical places.
The first stop in Kanchanaburi will be Wat Tham Suea which is one of the most famous temples in the province. The temple contains an enormous Buddha image which is visible from quite a distance. The view from the temple is breathtaking and overlooks far-reaching rice paddy fields.
Overnight in Kanchanaburi.
Day 4: Kanchanaburi
Breakfast will be enjoyed at the hotel. The tour departs at 09:00 for the one-and-a-half-hour drive to Sri Nakharin National Park. The national park receives a tenth of the visitors of nearby Erawan and is just as beautiful. Seven main tiers of falls cascade along an easy, well-marked hiking trail, along which our guide will teach all about the area’s flora and fauna. There are opportunities to swim in several the pools, and often find a little corner of nature all to oneself.
Afterwards, return to the main parking area which has a few vendors offering local Thai food, from barbecue chicken, Som Tam (papaya salad) and cold beverages. We’ll head to a grassy field, offering views of the surrounding mountains for a picnic lunch.
Remainder of the day at leisure. Dinner at hotel.
Overnight in Kanchanaburi.
Day 5: Kanchanaburi - Ayutthaya
Breakfast will be enjoyed at the hotel. It’s a sightseeing day! The tour begins with a visit to River Kwai bridge which was built by POWs during World War II. It is commonly known as The Death Railway. Following this, we’ll head to the War Cemetery where there are 6,982 prisoners of war buried who had all worked on the death railway. Following this, we’ll pay a visit to the Thailand-Burma Railway Museum, located nearby the war cemetery, to learn more about The Death Railway.
After lunch, a private transfer will be ready and waiting to depart Kanchanaburi for Ayutthaya, the seat of the Siamese Kingdom for four hundred years (The transfer is approximately 2.5 hours).
Upon arrival in Ayutthaya, explore some of the ancient temples in Ayutthaya by a unique mini truck!
Overnight in Ayutthaya.
Day 6: Ayutthaya – Bangkok – Chiang Rai
Breakfast will be enjoyed at the hotel. After breakfast, we’ll drive north to visit Aranyik village. Aranyik is most famously known for being a knife village where the villagers have been perfecting this craft for many generations. Each villager in the community has their own special technique and there is ample opportunity to enjoy a talk with them and hear their stories while learning about their unique methods.
Following this, we’ll transfer back to Bangkok for an afternoon flight to Chiang Rai.
Upon arrival in Chiang Rai, a visit will be paid to the Golden-Triangle viewpoint followed by a transfer to Lanjia Lodge, an eco-friendly resort community-based lodge located up on the hill in Chiang Rai.
Enjoy dinner and a traditional hilltribe performance at the lodge.
Overnight in Chiang Rai.
Day 7: Chiang Rai – Chiang Kham (Phayao)
Breakfast will be enjoyed at the lodge. Then, we depart for a tour to the Hmong and Lahu hilltribe villages, including a visit to the shaman’s house of the Hmong. A tea will be served while speaking with the shaman, who will explain why the fireplace is so important to the Hmong’s and why they bury the placenta and umbilical cord of their new-born babies.
After lunch, there’s a visit to Wat Rong Khun or also known as the White temple. This is the most popular temple in Chiang Rai because of its unique and beautiful architecture. This temple is closer to a piece of architectural art, designed by a famous Thai architect, Chalermchai Kositpipat, it is also quite distinct from other temples in Thailand in that there is typically no incense or candles in use here.
To close off the day, we’ll leave the city behind and transfer to a peaceful resort in Chiang Kham, which is part of Phayao province (approximately 3 hours).
Overnight in Chiang Kham (Phayao)
Day 8: Chiang Kham (Phayao)
Breakfast will be enjoyed at the resort. It’s a pedal day! This cycling tour will take you to visit Wat Phra Khaew and Wat Phra Nang Din as we cycle through rubber plantations, rice paddies and vegetable fields. Lunch at a local restaurant.
After lunch, continue biking to Thai Lue weaving house where there’ll be a chance to talk and interact with the local community and get to know about their lives out here. Then, we’ll visit Blacksmith Café, which is a small, hidden gem of a café in town.
Upon cycling back to the resort, a relaxing foot massage brings us the perfect end to this day of cycling and cultural exploration.
Overnight in Chiang Kham (Phayao).
Day 9: Chiang Kham (Phayao) – Lampang
Breakfast will be enjoyed at the resort. Morning at leisure.
After checking out of the resort, we’ll transfer to Lampang (approximately 3.5 hrs.) Lampang is known as “Horse Carriage City” because of its history as a trading and transportation centre.
Upon arrival, visit Wat Phrathat Lampang Luang. This historical temple is one of the most famous temples in Lampang. The stupa itself is enormous in line with its name, ‘Luang’ translates as ‘huge’. It is also one of the country’s most intact wooden temples.
Once evening comes, it is time for some light walking and tasting some local foods at Kad Kong Ta, the walking street in Lampang where there is a variety of dishes available to try. (Walking street is on Sat, Sun only)
Overnight in Lampang.
Day 10: Lampang – Lamphun – Chiang Mai
Breakfast will be enjoyed at the hotel. The morning begins with a private transfer from Lampang to Lamphun. Lamphun is a small city and retains a certain charm!
Wat San Pa Yang Luang is the first stop upon arrival. It was the first Buddhist temple of the Mon Kingdom and considered by Thai’s as one of the country’s most beautiful, thanks to the intricate carvings it is adorned with. After this, it’s time to head to the Terracotta Garden to spend time exploring the statues dotting the grounds. The Terracotta Garden is a working terracotta factory and a large supplier of terracotta statues and bricks across the kingdom.
After a leisurely walk through the garden, get hands on and create your own terracotta statue.
Afterwards, the day will come to an end transferring to Chiang Mai. Nicknamed the ‘Rose of the North’, Chiang Mai has blossomed into a vibrant city that captures both the spirituality and modernisation of Thailand.
Evening at leisure.
Overnight in Chiang Mai.
Day 11: Chiang Mai
Breakfast will be enjoyed at the hotel. Depart the hotel at 09:00 to board a private electric Tuk Tuk and begin to explore the history and culture of Chiang Mai city.
Today will start with a visit to Warorot Market, a ramshackle collection of food, textiles, and homeware vendors. There’s ample opportunity to mix with locals out for the day’s shopping and have the chance to taste a few Thai snacks. Wat Sri Suphan is next on the list. The temples façade, roof and Buddha statues are all covered in silver, creating quite a unique contrast compared with most of Thailand’s gilded temples.
Lunch will be enjoyed at one of our favourites in the Old City.
After lunch, a stroll around Wat Chedi Luang allows for a peaceful return to the action. Famed for its enormous chedi which once housed the Emerald Buddha that now sits on the grounds of the Grand Palace in Bangkok. The final stop of the day will be to Supachet Studio, a five-minute walk from Wat Chedi Luang. Artist Supachet Bhumakarn opened the studio to showcase his whimsical works, from acrylic paintings to silver jewellery all inspired by elephants and rabbits. Supachet can often be found at work on the 2nd floor. The studio always elicits smiles and is a positive way to end the day.
Evening at Leisure or walking street as an optional.
Overnight in Chiang Mai.
Day 12: Chiang Mai departure
Breakfast will be enjoyed at the hotel. Afterwards, head to Chiang Mai’s most famous religious site, Doi Suthep. The namesake mountain on which the temple sits affords commanding views of the city, and, along with the wafting incense, gilded temple buildings, and chanting, creates an inherently spiritual atmosphere. Explore the temple grounds, discovering its importance to Thais and those of the Buddhist religion.
Then, transfer to Chiang Mai international airport for your departure.