The best of Thailand
Departure from the chosen airport in the UK with connecting flights on the way.
On arrival in Bangkok, you pass through immigration, collect your bags and head out to the arrivals hall. Your guide waits here with an Asiatours sign, and you are driven to the hotel, where you will spend the next 2 nights.
Bangkok is both the capital of Thailand and its biggest city, with a population of about 12 million, and the greater Bangkok area is home to over 20 million people. The stretches across countless square kilometres and is located on a flat plain, with waterways criss-crossing throughout, the river Chao Phraya being the most important of these.
Bangkok is both historical and ultra-modern. It spans everything from chaos to order, from wooden houses on poles to designer skyscrapers, and there are classic attractions such as the Grand Palace and the Lying Buddha in the Wat Po Temple as well. And then there’s that unmistakeable Thai feeling that rests over it all. Bangkok is shrouded in tropical heat 24/7, and further shrouded still in the sometimes-cacophonous noise of its cars, buses and tuk-tuks.
Bangkok has countless markets stocked with everything from clothing to exotic fruit, street kitchens with spectacular food and busy businesspeople on their way from one meeting to the next. When it all seems like the world’s worst cocktail, that’s when the unmistakeable Thai atmosphere shows itself, when you see the orange-clad monks take alms walks in the early hours of dawn, mothers placing small tributes at the house temple, or when you sail in a rice barge away from the main river and see the lushness of nature along the canals. Most tourists lose their hearts here, to a city with something ineffably unique, and an arresting dynamism that leaves its mark on the population, traffic, waterways, markets and temples.
At the end of the afternoon there is an information meeting at the hotel, where you can ask questions about the next day’s program, or get some tips for experiences in Bangkok. The meeting lasts about an hour, and the guide will also take you for a short walking tour of the quarter surrounding the hotel, in which he points out good eateries, ATMs, and much more.
Overnight stay Narai Hotel
In the past, most daily trade in Thailand was done on and along the canals. It may therefore not be surprising that early European visitors and travelling merchants gave the city the nickname “The Venice of the East”. Today, Bangkok’s waterways, diverging from the main river Mae Nam Chao Phraya (the River of Kings), are also known as Bangkok’s “klongs”, and they remain essential to the local population. Yet the klongs possess a fantastic and utterly unique charm, and when you experience local life from the water’s edge, you will notice that construction along the banks face out, towards the water, and not in towards land.
The experiences of the day begin at what must be Bangkok and Thailand’s biggest cultural attraction, the royal Grand Palace. Built some 225 years ago, the beauty of the Grand Palace continues to defy description and must be experienced first-hand! The palace houses Thailand’s most sacred Buddha statue, made from one huge piece of shining green jade. Please note that there are special rules for attire at the royal palace.
From the Grand Palace, you proceed to Maenam Chao Phraya. Here you continue by local express boat to “old Bangkok”, Nontaburi. You arrive here 45 minutes later. At the local market, the guide finds some exotic tropical fruit for you to try. You then board a traditional long-tail boat which whisks you at high speed to Bang Yai – hold on to your hat and glasses! At Wat Bang Yai, you visit Bangkok’s second largest reclining Buddha. It’s a very different Bangkok you experience here in Bang Yai. The streets are narrow and traffic is different.
From Bang Yai, you board another small long-tail boat with space for only four passengers, This boat takes you to another part of Bangkok, which in every possible way stands in stark contrast to central Bangkok’s dense settlement with skyscrapers and elevated road and train system. The waterways here are main artery, and Thailand’s verdant lushness can be seen at every turn.
You return to the hotel at the end of the day.
Overnight stay Narai Hotel
Today, an exciting 3-day excursion begins, taking you to the River Kwai, the town of Kanchanaburi and the vast jungle area surrounding it all. Here, during World War 2 – through horrific suffering and inhuman conditions – a railway was built from Thailand to Myanmar, then known as Burma. Approximately 100,000 forcibly drafted Thai, Malay, Chinese, Tamil and other Asian labourers and about 12,500 allied prisoners of war were killed over the course of the 18 months in 1942-43 it took to build the 415-km railway stretch and its bridges. This true story was later adapted to film in “The Bridge over the River Kwai”, based on the novel by Pierre Bouelle.
You will be picked up at the hotel very early in the morning to avoid the worst traffic on your way out of the city. On arrival in Kanchanburi, you visit the War Museum, the War Cemetery and the bridge over the river Kwai. The aforementioned is somewhat younger than the original bridge, however. Late morning, you arrive at Hin Tok River Camp, where you check in and then eat breakfast. In the afternoon, you head for Hell Fire Pass, one of the hardest places on the route to build the railway, where the work took place around the clock. You walk from Hell Fire Pass to Hin Tok Station. From here, the tour heads back to Hin Tok River Camp, and you can enjoy the area and optional activities for the rest of the day. For example, you can try cycling to a weaving village, or a farmer near the camp.
Overnight stay Hin Tok River Camp
You wake up to the sounds of the jungle and the river and can – if you wish – start off your day by cycling to the nearby temple to give alms to the monks by placing food in their bowls. Afterwards, a solid breakfast awaits you at Hin Tok River Camp. You check out of the hotel and board a longtail boat to sail to the River Kwai Jungle Rafts, a flotel on the Kwai itself, where you will spend the night. The lush nature along the river is practically indescribable. In several places, you will see 20-metre-high bamboo stalks, as thick as a thigh at the base. After check-in, you visit an ethnic Mon village, where life hasn’t changed much over time.
The afternoon is at your disposal, and you can choose to relax at the flotel or enjoy some of the activity options.
Overnight stay River Kwai Jungle Rafts
You have the time before noon at your disposal before sailing up the river to the quay where lunch awaits you. You then ride along a stretch of the Death Railway in some of the historic train carriages. The tour takes you along a raised stretch constructed over the terrain from teak. The tour proceeds at a leisurely pace, the view is excellent and the experience is a must! After the train ride, a bus takes you back to Bangkok, where you arrive between approx. 6 and 7 pm.
Overnight stay Narai Hotel
After breakfast, you are picked up at the hotel and driven to Bangkok Train Station, from which you take the train to one of the oldest cities in Thailand, Phitsanulok, which briefly served as the capital. The train ride lasts about 5 hours, and we recommend you bring some water and snacks for the ride. In Phitsanulok you are met by a guide and driver, who will take you to your hotel, where you will be spending one night.
In the afternoon, you’ll be taking a guided rickshaw tour of the city. It’s a different and fun way to get around, while you take in the local life in the streets and alleys. You visit places such as the Folklore Museum, which is considered to be Thailand’s largest and most interesting collection of ceramics, kitchen and agricultural products, as well as musical instruments, that nicely mirror the traditional community’s lifestyle and creativity. The tour proceeds to the Buddha Casting Foundry, which specialises in bronze Buddha icons and statues in all sizes.
The tour concludes at a restaurant by the river, where the chefs are famous for tossing vegetables high up into the air while they prepare the dish Phak Bung Loi Fa. This is also known as “flying vegetables” and is quite the show! After dinner, you are driven back to the hotel.
Overnight stay Topland Hotel
You depart from the hotel after breakfast with a course set for Sukhothai, the original capital of Thailand back in the 13th century. The country – then known as Siam – was ruled over by King Ramkhamhaeng, who invented the Thai alphabet among other things. The ancient Sukhothai can today be found in the Sukhothai Historical Park, which is on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Across the vast area of the park, you can find ruins from the old royal palace, various Buddhist temples and a system of canals and dams, which delivered water to the city. The absolute best way to explore the park is by bicycle – so naturally, that is what you do.
After a delightful lunch, you are driven to Lampang with a stop at Wat Phrathat Lampang Luang. It is one of the most valued temples in all of Thailand, and one of the very best examples of the Lanna construction style. It is even said that the Buddha himself visited the temple once. The most spectacular building in the temple complex is Viharn Luang, and the oldest building in the complex in Viharn Phra Phut, which dates all the way back to 1200s.
Afterwards, the tour returns to the hotel in Lampang, where the rest of the day at your leisure.
Overnight stay Lampang River Lodge
Today you will briefly trade your four wheels for four legs. Starting in the morning, you take a city round trip in Lampang, by horse carriage. Here in Lampang, horse carriages are still often used for public transport.
You go back to the four wheels and set a course for Chiang Mai. On the way, you make a stop at Wat Phra That Hariphunchai, which was built by King Arthitayarat more than 800 years ago.
After lunch, you continue and visit the village of Baan Tawai, world-famous for its artistic crafts.
You arrive in Chiang Mai at the end of the afternoon and check in at your hotel, where you will be spending the next 4 nights.
Overnight stay Duangtawan Hotel
Today, you start at one of north Thailand’s beautiful and very sacred temples, Wat Prathat Doi Suthep, a short distance outside Chiang Mai. It is a stunning golden pagoda containing relics of Buddha. You drive along an incredibly scenic road through the mountain landscape to the Doi Pui National Park. From here, you climb the 300 steps to the pagoda, which was built in 1383. From the temple, there is a beautiful view over Chiang Mai city. You will see dozens of orange clad monks here, making pilgrimages to the temple.
The afternoon is at your leisure, to explore Chiang Mai on your own. Chiang Mai is Thailand’s 2nd biggest city with just 140,000 inhabitants. However, the city still seems calm, and remains impeccably charming. About 300 temples adorn the city, whose city centre is surrounded an old moat. Most of the attractions are in walking distance from the central hotels of the city. The various markets sell everything from fresh flowers to fried grasshoppers, and when the evening draws close, many locals and visitors gather at Chiang Mai’s renowned night market to shop, and to eat at the many street kitchens.
Overnight stay Duangtawan Hotel
The days are spent at your leisure to explore the city on your own.
Further tours are available as optional extras:
- Elephant Care, Chiang Mai
- Baan Hongnual Cookery School
- Visit to a tribal village – Elephant Poo Poo Paper Park - Araksa tea plantation
- Cycling in Chiang Mai
Overnight stay Duangtawan Hotel
Today, you are picked up at the hotel and driven to Chiang Rai, 210 km north of Chiang Mai. Here in the city, far to the north, you visit the gorgeous Wat Phra Kaew temple, which the most sacred Buddha statue in Thailand was discovered in 1444. The statue was moved by various rulers to each their respective capitals as a symbol of dominance, including Lampang, Chiang Rai and Vientiane before it was finally brought to the Grand Palace in Bangkok under King Rama I.
Afterwards, you visit Rai Mae Fah Luang, a museum of ancient artefacts and records of history and literature. You continue to the white temple Wat Ruang Khun and make your way past the local market before being dropped off at your hotel.
Overnight stay Legend Chiang Rai Boutique River Resort & Spa
Chiang Rai is all the way north in Thailand – up close to the borders of Myanmar and Laos. The region is known as The Golden Triangle. In the past, this area was best known for being a centre of the opium trade. What many don’t know is that it hides some uniquely gorgeous nature, valleys, mountains and rainforests. Here there are many pleasant villages and ethnic tribes in fantastically colourful clothes.
You visit the bridge that marks the border with Myanmar and find a small market where you can pick up some final souvenirs. You enjoy lunch at a restaurant with a picturesque view of the Mekong River.
While you have lunch in these wonderful surroundings, you can look forward to the last part of this excursion – a sail trip down the Mekong River, which marks the border to Laos.
Before the tour returns to Chiang Rai, you visit the ruins of the ancient city of Chiang Saen.
Enjoy the last evening of your Thailand adventure, before the tour takes you back to the UK.
Overnight stay Legend Chiang Rai Boutique River Resort & Spa
The day is spent at your leisure until you are picked up at the hotel and driven to the airport, where your journey home begins. You will fly to the UK with connecting flights along the way.
Per person in a double room: £420
Per child under 12: £395
Single room surcharge: £190
Koh Samui is located in the Gulf of Thailand and at 228.7 km2 is Thailand’s third largest island.
Up until the 1970s, Samui was little more than an unknown islandwith beautiful scenery and coconut plantations. There were no roads, and the only way of getting to and from the island was by the coconut cargo boat. That was how a group of backpackers experienced the unspoilt island, which they later wrote an article about in a travel guide. Other globe-trotting backpackers soon caught on about this hidden paradise, and little bamboo huts were built along the beaches. Over the next two decades, Samui underwent rapid development, with roads built, ferry routes opened and hotels constructed. In 1989, the first flight route to and from the island opened. After that, tourists began flocking to Samui, and more hotels and resorts were built. To maintain the idyllic bounty island vibe of the place, the government decided that no buildings should be higher than the coconut palms. Today, Samui has grown to become one of Thailand’s most visited and popular islands, attracting some 2 million tourists every year. The most famous beach on the island is Chaweng Beach, which stretches for 7 km along the east coast of Samui. Here, you will find fine sandy beaches, turquoise-blue waters and swaying coconut palms.
Chaweng is known for its vibrant centre with restaurants, cafés, nightlife and excellent shopping.
On this beach holiday extension, you will stay in the southern part of Chaweng, which is called Chaweng Noi. Chaweng Noi is considered to be the most idyllic part of Chaweng, where relaxation and tranquillity are the order of the day. And when you need a little more life around you, you can either take the hotel shuttle bus, a taxi or walk into lively Chaweng, located 2 km away.
The most popular sights on Samui are the 12-metre tall, gilded Buddhist statue, the mummified monk, the 18-metre Namuang waterfall and the island’s local markets.
The population of Samui is a mix of Thai, Chinese, Lao and Burmese people, so you will also see temples, churches and mosques.
Thanks to the mixed population, the local eateries represent a variety of different and exciting food cultures.
Don’t do yourself out of a stay on this beautiful coconut island.
Overnight stay The Fair House Beach Resort & Hotel
Per person in a double room: + £420
Per child u/12 years: + £385
Single room surcharge: + £245
Cha Am is a small, quiet town, 27 km north of Hua Hin and 175 km south of Bangkok. The resort is not lined with lively bars and various shops as in many other holiday resorts, so you can simply enjoy the peace and quiet and laid back atmosphere on the long, child-friendly, sandy beach, where various water sports activities are also available.
15 km outside Cha Am lies the Greek-inspired Santorini Park with its iconic whitewashed houses with blue doors and shutters. The park functions both as an amusement park and outdoor shopping centre with shops, eateries and art.
If you need a little more life around you, you can visit Hua Hin, which is a 20-minute drive away. Along the beach, you can explore the small stalls that stand side by side restaurants serving tasty dishes and freshly caught fish and seafood. Hua Hin is especially well-known for its night market close to the train station, which is open every Wednesday. Here, you can buy everything between heaven and earth, from food to clothing and electronics.
It is also possible to book exciting excursions at the hotel.
Overnight stay Veranda Resort & Spa
Per person in a double room: + £520
Per child u/12 years: + £485
Single room surcharge: + £190
Khao Lak is a 1 hour and 45-minute drive from Phuket airport. Despite the relatively short distance from the lively Phuket, Khao Lak is an entirely different world. Here you will find both calm and adventure.
Khao Lak consists of several connected beach areas that together comprise this gorgeous holiday paradise, with blue oceans on one side and lush rainforest on the other. You stay near Nang Thong Beach, the most popular area in Khao Lak. Here you can find souvenir shops, excursion arrangements, diving shops and restaurants serving fish, shellfish and delectable Thai dishes.
During your stay, you can look forward to some beautiful and relaxing days by the beach or by the hotel pool. If you would like to be active, take a hike in the nearby Khao Lak-Lam Ru National Park, or a diving/snorkelling trip to one of the best diving spots in the world; the Similan Islands, which are 1 hour and 15 minutes away by speedboat. These 9 islands have been named a national park, and are home to an impressive marine life with vividly colourful fish, whale sharks, sea turtles and skates, as well as untouched nature, alabaster beaches and crystal-clear water.
If you want an adventure, take a trip to Khao Sok National Park, about 65 km from Khao Lak. The park is comprised of a 739-square km area, and its rainforest is one of the oldest in the world. Khao Sok is a “must-see”, and is perhaps the most beautiful of Thailand’s national parks. Here you can see the exciting animal life of the park, and admire its gorgeous nature, which consists of the Cheow Lan Lake, the Sok River, deep valleys and limestone cliffs.
Here is a selection of optional tours for the Khao Sok National Park:
Overnight stay Centara Seaview Resort
Per person in a double room: + £425
Per child u/12 years: + £375
Single room surcharge: + £240
Rayong is 215 km south of Bangkok, and a 20-minute drive from the small fishing village of Ban Phe. Rayong is synonymous with calm and relaxation – here you can laze about on the long, child-friendly beach, Wang Kaew, or unwind at the hotel’s giant pool and its attached sandy beach while you think back on all the fantastic experiences you’ve had throughout your tour.
Take the free shuttle bus from the hotel, or hail a taxi, to Ban Phe, where you can take a stroll along the promenade. Here you can also meet local Thai people as they enjoy their picnic baskets in the shade of the trees. You can also go exploring around the many booths around the pier, where you can buy souvenirs, clothes, snacks, and much more. From here you can take a boat to the popular island Koh Samet, famous for its white sandy beaches and snorkelling. The hotel is also helpful, and offers exciting excursions in the area to places such as the lush national parks, idyllic waterfalls and limestone caves.
In the afternoon, you can take a walk along the beach and enjoy the sounds of the ocean in the beautiful sunset.
Overnight stay Marriott Resort & Spa