Begin this 14-day cultural journey through Thailand and Cambodia in Chiang Mai, where you'll go on an art-themed tour and spend the night in the home of a local family. Next, transfer to Bangkok for a nighttime food tour and a visit to the Grand Palace. The adventure continues in Siem Reap with a traditional Apsara dance performance and a tuk-tuk tour of ancient Angkor, then finishes in Phnom Penh with sightseeing and a day trip to learn how silk is produced on Silk Island.


  • Explore Chiang Mai's flower market, then ride a rickshaw through the Old Town
  • Visit art studios and museums with a knowledgeable professor as a guide
  • Spend an evening with a local family and enjoy a home-cooked meal 
  • Discover a Cambodian silk-weaving community on Silk Island
  • Enjoy a traditional Apsara dance performance over dinner in Siem Reap

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Chiang Mai (Thailand), Explore the City Chiang Mai
Day 2 Tour Chiang Mai, Stay With Local Family Chiang Mai
Day 3 Enjoy a Chiang Mai Art Tour: Past, Present & Future Chiang Mai
Day 4 Discover the City's Handicraft History Chiang Mai
Day 5 Fly to Bangkok, Food Tour After Dark Bangkok
Day 6 Visit Grand Palace & City Temples Bangkok
Day 7 Discover the Story of an American Thai Silk Tycoon Bangkok
Day 8 Fly to Siem Reap (Cambodia), Dinner & Apsara Dance Performance Siem Reap
Day 9 Explore the City's Street Art & Fine Dining Scene Siem Reap
Day 10 Discover Ancient Angkor by Car & Tuk-Tuk Siem Reap
Day 11 Fly to Phnom Penh, Leisure Time Phnom Penh
Day 12 Explore the City's Ancient, Royal & Recent History Phnom Penh
Day 13 Experience Local Life on Silk Island Phnom Penh
Day 14 Depart Phnom Penh  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Chiang Mai (Thailand), Explore the City

Wat Phra Golden Temple is a highlight of Chiang Mai's Old City 

Welcome to Thailand! Upon arrival in Chiang Mai, meet your guide and transfer from the airport to the hotel. The former capital of the Lanna Kingdom in the 13th century, Chiang Mai continues to serve as a cultural and administrative center of northern Thailand. Though the metropolitan area of Chiang Mai has a population of more than a million, the historic center has a laid-back atmosphere. A large number of ethnic minority groups live in the northern region, making the city culturally rich and colorful.

Walk around the neighborhood and have a bite to eat before returning to your hotel to get some rest before the next day's tour.

Day 2: Tour Chiang Mai, Stay With Local Family

Learn about Thai cooking techniques from a local family during a homestay

This morning, meet your driver and guide and start with a visit to a bustling food and flower market where local Thais do their shopping. Continue to Wat Suan Dok, where the ashes of former kings of Chiang Mai are interred. Then you'll drive 30 minutes to Doi Suthep mountain, enjoying spectacular views of mountains and forests, to reach Wat Phra That, one of northern Thailand's most sacred temples.

Founded in 1383 CE, the temple is reached by climbing 309 steps (or for the less fitness-minded, a tram is available for a small surcharge). The climb up is rewarded with a superb panoramic view of the city. Return to Chiang Mai and enjoy a 20-minute rickshaw ride through the quiet streets of the old town before returning to your hotel.

Later, you'll spend a wonderful evening with a typical local family who has lived in the area for almost 150 years. Explore the family's fruit orchard and organic garden filled with fragrant herbs, where you'll gain insights into the simple Lanna way of life. Savor a home-cooked meal featuring traditional recipes with authentic northern Thai flavors, served on the second-floor terrace of the teak wood home with panoramic views of the village. 

Day 3: Enjoy a Chiang Mai Art Tour: Past, Present and Future

Chiang Mai Art Tour: The Past, Present and Future
Stop into several local art studios during a behind-the-scenes tour

Today you'll join an exclusive art tour with Emeritus Professor Pongdej Chaiyakut. The former Dean of Chiang Mai University, Chaiyakut has devoted his time to continuously creating works of art, supporting freelance artists, and promoting the northern Thai art scene.

During the tour, the professor will teach you about the ancient Lanna arts and their history. Your art tour will include several stops, such as Preawa Art Studio, Watana Art Studio, Chiangmai Art Museum Mea On, and Peerapong Duangkeuw Sculpture Studio. This is a great opportunity to dive deep into the art scene of Chiang Mai, and you may even have a chance to meet the artists behind the works.

Day 4: Discover the City's Handicraft History

Learn about traditional silk-making and weaving processes on today's excursion

As Thailand's main center for handicrafts, Chiang Mai is home to a number of cottage factories and workshops. Today, you'll visit San Kamphaeng district, the heart of silk and cotton production, to observe the fascinating process of making and weaving these beautiful fabrics. Then, you'll continue to Bor Sang, the "umbrella village," where iconic Thai paper umbrellas are crafted and hand-painted.

In the afternoon, see some of the beautiful surroundings of the city as you venture out to visit Thai Celadon, approximately 4 miles (6 km) north of Chiang Mai. Here, ceramics are produced following the Sawankhalok pottery method, which dates back hundreds of years. Explore another small village where you can observe the intricate work of both lacquerware and silverware artisans before returning to your hotel.

Day 5: Fly to Bangkok, Food Tour After Dark

Bangkok's night markets are the perfect place to sample regional delicacies

After checking out of the hotel, your guide will meet you at the hotel lobby and transfer you to the airport for your 1.5-hour flight to Bangkok. Another guide will meet you at the airport and transfer you to your hotel. One of Asia's most popular cities, Bangkok offers a diverse range of sights and experiences. Busy with boats, the Chao Phraya River feeds the city's network of canals, flowing past the Rattanakosin royal district, home to the opulent Grand Palace and its sacred temple of Wat Phra Kaew.

Nearby is Wat Pho, with its grand reclining Buddha, and Wat Arun with its steep steps and soaring spire. In the evening, you'll enjoy a unique dining experience and walking tour. Follow your guide to a series of eateries and bars to sample traditional delicacies and drinks before returning to your hotel for the night.

Day 6: Visit the Grand Palace & City Temples

Bangkok's Wat Arun Temple takes its name from the Hindu god Aruṇa

Today, you'll explore Wat Pho, one of Bangkok's oldest temples. It's home to the famous Reclining Buddha and the original school of traditional Thai massage. From here, continue to the spectacular Grand Palace. The vast grounds encompass more than 100 buildings, including the Royal Residence and Throne Halls, government offices, and the renowned Wat Phra Kaew, home to the most revered Buddha image in Thailand, the Emerald Buddha.

Next, walk to the local pier and take a local ferry to Wat Arun, once the grand royal temple to King Rama II. Notice its impressive Khmer-style tower and the many detailed floral mosaics made from broken Chinese porcelain.

Day 7: Discover the Story of an American Thai Silk Tycoon

The Jim Thompson's Silk Weaver
The Jim Thompson's Silk Weaver

Today, you'll hear the story of Jim Thompson, the so-called "American Thai Silk Tycoon." The tour will start with a visit to Jim Thompson's House Museum, the one-time home of the legendary American businessman who came to Thailand at the end of World War II and rediscovered the Thai silk industry. The house, consisting of six separate Thai teakwood houses, is now a museum filled with fascinating Asian antiques and historical memorabilia. Thompson's mysterious disappearance in Malaysia remains a mystery to this day.

Next, your guide will lead you through a hidden walkway to visit the last of his original weavers, who still produce silk in the area. Meet the silk-dyeing and weaver families who spent their childhood years watching Jim Thompson cross over to their homes every morning to visit his suppliers and their families. Watch the artisans at work and listen to the history and traditions of these weavers. 

Day 8: Fly to Siem Reap (Cambodia), Dinner & Apsara Dance Performance

A traditional Apsara dance performance brings together elements of Animism, Hinduism, and Buddhism

This morning, you'll trade Thailand for Cambodia as you fly from Bangkok to Siem Reap; the flight takes about an hour. You'll be transferred from the airport to your hotel with a guide. After settling in, you'll be picked up for your evening activity: a dinner with a traditional Apsara dance performance at the Angkor Village Apsara Theatre.

Enjoy a delicious dinner while watching this meaningful dance which constitutes a link between the different religions prominent in Cambodia, including Animism, Hinduism, and Buddhism. Notice the dancers' symbolic, elegant finger gestures and their ornate silk costumes inspired by the wall carvings of the Angkor temples.

Day 9: Explore the City's Street Art & Fine Dining Scene

Artisans And Fine Dinning
Watch local artisans at work during a special art and food tour
Plan your trip to Thailand
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.

Today you'll enjoy an exciting tour that leads you through the art scene and fine dining venues of Siem Reap. Accompanied by your guide, you'll visit several artists' colonies, studios, and galleries. Meet local street artists and hear about their work before continuing to the shop and atelier of the fashion designer Eric Raisina, who is a resident of Siem Reap.

Next, stop at Satcha Cambodian Handicrafts Incubation Center to hear about the production and development of some of Asia's most iconic creations, from stonework and masonry to silversmiths and fine arts. Afterward, check out the huge range of fine authentic silks, homewares, and gifts, or relax in the garden. Continue to the One Eleven Art Gallery to talk with curators about their vision for Cambodian art while enjoying a cocktail in the on-site bar.

Finally, enjoy a gastronomic experience with a tasting menu at The Embassy. Two women chefs lead an entirely female team at the restaurant—a first in Cambodia. The space doubles as an art gallery, with stylish interiors to complement the high-end cuisine on offer. 

Day 10: Discover Ancient Angkor by Car & Tuk-Tuk

Reclaimed by the jungle, the temple of Ta Prohm is one of the region's most dazzling sights

Rise early and transfer by private vehicle to the west gate of Angkor Wat, where you'll start the day with a spectacular sunrise over the UNESCO-listed site. Then, follow your guide through the temple complex to explore one of the largest religious buildings in the world. Angkor Wat was built to represent the universe, and its central tower symbolizing Mount Meru, is featured on the Cambodian flag.

As crowds gather, your guide will lead you to the less-visited temples of Srah Srang and Ta Prohm. Ta Prohm is overgrown with fig trees, giving it a haunting and exotic look; the trees' roots have merged over time with the temple's huge stone blocks. The temple was built by King Jayavarman VII to commemorate his mother.

Next, travel by tuk-tuk to the former capital of the Khmer Empire, Angkor Thom, and explore its many temples. Continue to the Terrace of the Elephants and the Terrace of the Leper King, admiring intricate carvings that wind along a narrow passageway that leads to the Baphuon. Slow down the pace midafternoon and enter the cool Wat Tang Tock to receive a traditional blessing from a monk. You'll head back to your hotel afterward.

Day 11: Fly to Phnom Penh, Leisure Time

Cambodia's vibrant capital of Phnom Penh is known for its colorful architecture

Your guide will transfer you to the airport today for your one-hour flight to Phnom Penh. Welcome to the capital city of Cambodia, situated where the Mekong, Bassac, and Tonlé Sap rivers meet. Once known as the "Pearl of Asia" for its rich culture and architecture, Phnom Penh today is thriving, vibrant city, fully recovered from the dark reign of Pol Pot in the 1970s.

Cafés, restaurants, and hotels line the riverfront, while boutique shops and art galleries are dotted along smaller side streets. Rich in history, the city offers numerous cultural attractions and historical landmarks. Take some time to explore independently this afternoon and evening. 

Day 12: Explore the City's Ancient, Royal & Recent History

Ancient, Royal and Recent History Of Phnom Penh
The city offers a rich blend of Khmer and colonial architecture

Spend a full day exploring the city. In the morning, explore Wat Phnom and discover the legend of Lady Penh, the city's founder. Visit the Royal Palace and Silver Pagoda, two of the most striking buildings in the capital and considered some of the finest examples of Khmer architecture. Also visit the National Museum, designed in Khmer style by a French archaeologist and painter in 1917. The museum houses Khmer art and sculptures from different periods of Cambodian history.

In the afternoon, learn more about the Khmer Rouge years with visits to Tuol Sleng, a high school turned interrogation prison, and Cheung Ek, a memorial commemorating the 17,000 victims who died there under the reign of Khmer Rouge leader Pol Pot. These somber reminders of the cruelty of the Khmer Rouge regime will inspire an appreciation of the struggle that Cambodian people have faced and showcase their remarkable courage to move on and rebuild their nation. 

Day 13: Experience Local Life on Silk Island

See the sunset over the water when returning from Silk Island

Leave the bustle of the city behind and get ready for a unique adventure. After a 30-minute transfer, your guides for the day will welcome you to their home on Silk Island. Visit Wat Kbal Ko, the most famous temple on the island, to see its spectacular artwork and ceiling paintings, then witness the monks, both young and old, during prayers. You'll also stop into Ko Okhna Tei School and notice Khmer history depicted by many statues and sculptures outside the main temple.

Continue to a silk farm to see the entire process of silk making from larvae to worm to cocoon stage and into rough silk, which is then treated and prepared for weaving, observing all the way through to the finished product. The farm's appointed guide will lead you through the exact details of each stage. Visit a gift shop to browse silk items. Finish the day with a Cambodian lunch; if interested, travelers can help pick vegetables in the farm's garden and assist with food preparation.

Day 14: Depart Phnom Penh

Catch the sunrise over Phnom Penh's Yeay Penh Statue
After checking out of the hotel, your guide will meet you at the hotel lobby and transfer to the airport for your flight to your next destination. Safe travels!

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Map of Art & Culture Tour of Thailand & Cambodia - 14 Days
Map of Art & Culture Tour of Thailand & Cambodia - 14 Days
Written by Vy Pham, updated Jun 14, 2024