Discover the historical and natural wonders of Thailand with this six-day tour from Bangkok in the centre to Chiang Mai in the north. Visit the country’s main heritage sites such as the Ayutthaya and Phitsanulok, meet the real king of the jungle at an elephant camp in Chiang Mai and explore the infamous Golden Triangle, one of the world’s leading opium-producing areas.
Chiang Mai: Mingle with locals as they scour the bustling night bazaar for bargains and something tasty to munch on.
Chiang Rai: Learn about the region’s 20 hill tribes and how they have retained their cultures, languages, traditions and beliefs.
Lampang: Taste lao khao, the potent rice whisky that is one of rural Thailand’s favourite tipples.
A wide range of optional excursions and pre and post-programme extensions are available on request. Please ask tour designer Daniel Gregori for rates and conditions
Ayutthaya: Ancient capital of Siam and the location of a haunting UNESCO World Heritage Site
Sukhothai: A historic former capital with well-preserved ruins of temples and palaces
Golden Triangle: See three countries from one spot in Sop Ruak at the confluence of the Ruak and the Mekong rivers
Chiang Rai: Stroll through the local morning market and see the bridge crossing to Myanmar
Chiang Mai: Visit a tribal village, cruise a river on a longtail boat, take in the views from the hilltop Wat Doi Suthep temple, enjoy an unforgettable encounter with Thai elephants and much more
Palaces, ancient ruins, temples and monkeys are on the menu as this epic six-day tour from the capital to northern Thailand kicks off in style. After pick-up from your hotel, head to Bang Pa-In to visit the sumptuous Summer Palace of Rama V. Continue to the former capital of Ayutthaya and contemplate the ancient temples of Wat Yai Chaimongkhon, Wat Mahathat and Wat Phanan Choeng in the Ayutthaya Historical Park. Enjoy lunch at a restaurant in Chai Nat then continue to Phitsanulok for a brief orientation tour of the city before checking in at the hotel.
After breakfast at the hotel, head to Wat Phra Si Rattana Mahathat to join the locals in their morning prayers and offerings in this historic temple, which houses one of Thailand’s most revered Buddha statues. Depart for Sukhothai to explore this ancient city packed with historical landmarks, the most impressive being the Sukhothai Historical Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Admire the ruined temples and palaces as well as the Buddha statues of all sizes. Lunch en route at a local restaurant. A short drive away is Si Satchanalai, which boasts the evocative ruins of half a dozen temples, including Wat Phra Si Rattana Mahathat – which is reached by crossing a wooden suspension bridge – as well as countless statues of Buddha and elephants. This usually quiet location offers a special spiritual interlude to the tour before arriving in Lampang for the evening.
Explore the wonderful Wat Phra That Lampang Luang, just a brief drive from Lampang, and marvel at the elaborate decorations and beautiful Buddha statues. Continue north, stopping briefly at Phayao Lake for a coffee break, before heading to a pineapple plantation for a tour. On the southern outskirts of Chiang Rai, visit Wat Rong Khun, a dazzling temple built in the 1990s. Its ornate all-white exterior, with embedded pieces of mirror, gives it a resplendent appearance, which makes it one of the most beautiful temples in Thailand. Continue to Chaing Rai for lunch. Afterwards, head to the Golden Triangle, where Thailand, Laos and Myanmar meet. This natural wilderness gained an unwanted notoriety in the Sixties because of the abundant opium cultivation in the area. Visit the 212 House of Opium and stroll around its rare collection of opium paraphernalia such as weights, scales and pipes. Learn the history of this drug and about the devastating effect its trade had on local communities.
Enjoy a lively start to the day’s activities at the fragrant and vibrant Chiang Rai morning market and then visit the Wat Phra Kaew temple. Delve deeper into local culture at the Hilltribe Museum and Education Centre, where the lifestyles of the area’s mountain peoples are explained along with the challenges to their survival. The journey out of town is on a long-tail boat with a relaxing Mae Kok River cruise of about three-and-a-half hours to Pha Tai, where there’s a visit to hill tribe village. Continue by road to Tha Ton and enjoy a tasty lunch before heading to Chiang Mai.
After all that culture and history, it is time for a day of wildlife and nature in the jungles near Chiang Mai. Get up close and personal with the animal kingdom at an Thai Elephant Care Center, that was set up to provide care for elderly elephants retired from logging and camps. Appreciate these gentle giants, learn more about their nature, their individual traits, their lifestyles, their talents and their charms. If time is right watch the bath-time. Pause for a tasty lunch in a local restaurant. In the afternoon, visit of the day is to the Colour Factory, where can admire a selection of full size Elephant Parade statues from cities around the world and choose your favourite from a collection of replicas. You can also learn about Asian elephants and the work the Asian Elephant Foundation is doing to save these magnificent but endangered animals. Visit also the Lanna handicraft centre on San Kamphaeng Road. Learn how they make Chiang Mai’s most famous products such as colourful parasols, silk, silverware and teakwood carvings. An optional khantoke dinner is available in the evening.
Relax over breakfast at the hotel and then enjoy the freedom of Chiang Mai. Explore the city at your own pace and leisure and catch the sights and attractions of this city teeming with green spaces and popularly known as the ‘Rose of the North’. The day is yours to do as you wish. Departure transfer to Chiang Mai Airport included (if required). Breakfast included.