- Slip into your "mahout" clothing and care for elephants in Meung Kud village
- Snap pics of the famous lotus-shaped stupa in the ancient city of Sukhothai
- Explore Bangkok's energy, street food, nightlife, and sacred Buddhist sights
- Relax on Phuket's white sands and visit James Bond Island
|Day 1||Arrive in Chiang Mai||Chiang Mai|
|Day 2||Eco-Elephant Care & Handicraft Tour||Chiang Mai|
|Day 3||Golden Triangle Tour||Chiang Mai|
|Day 4||Lamphun Tour & Drive to Sukhothai||Sukhothai|
|Day 5||Fly to Bangkok||Bangkok|
|Day 6||Floating Market & Bangkok Tour||Bangkok|
|Day 7||Fly to Krabi, City Tour||Ao Nang|
|Day 8||James Bond Island Trip||Ao Nang|
|Day 9||Transfer to Phuket & City Tour||Phuket|
|Day 10||Depart Phuket|
Day 1: Arrive in Chiang Mai
Welcome to Thailand! Touch down in Chiang Mai. Set in the cooler, mountainous north of Thailand, Chiang Mai was once the capital of the Lanna Kingdom and still retains its moat-encircled Old City. Chiang Mai is a cultural mecca, home to historical architecture and over 300 temples where orange-robed monks live and worship.
Settle in and then head out to wander the streets of the Old City. Highlights include Chiang Mai's largest central market, Warorot, where locals sell fresh fruit, flowers, and vegetables. For an introduction to the city's ornate temples, visit Chiang Mai's oldest, Wat Chiang Man, and Wat Chedi Luang, built in Lanna style with a huge golden stupa. Wat Phra Singh is the place to enjoy a fiery sunset, then make your way to the Night Bazaar to shop for everything from clothing to paintings and handicrafts.
Day 2: Eco-Elephant Care & Handicraft Tour
Rise early for today's tour of an eco-elephant project that aims to raise awareness about elephant conservation and provide a sanctuary for these gentle giants. The project was started by a family in Meung Kud village, who've dedicated their lives to caring for elephants and rescuing them from the entertainment industry. The project lies 90 minutes north of Chiang Mai, and once you arrive, you'll change into traditional mahout (elephant carer) clothing. A guide will explain the history of elephants in Thailand and teach you about their behavior; then, you'll help prepare their food, including sugar cane and bananas.
You'll get to feed the elephants and walk with them to the river to bathe. Have lunch at the project and head back to Chiang Mai. Your next stop is Sankampang District in Chiang Mai, the heart of the city's handicraft industry. Take a guided tour of the area to peruse everything from teak wood carvings, silverware, high-fired ceramics, and Thai silk woven on wooden looms. Watch skilled artists paint artwork onto silk and paper parasols.
This evening, enjoy an optional Khantoke (northern Thai) dinner. While you dine, watch a Thai dance and music performance.
Day 3: Golden Triangle Tour
This morning you'll journey to the Golden Triangle, where the Laos, Myanmar, and Thai borders meet. You'll wind through scenic hills, valleys, and rural villages, stopping for a break at Mae Kachan Hot Springs. Continue to the Wat Rong Khun (White Temple). Built by the prominent Thai artist Chalermchai Kositpipat, the temple is a glittering white and silver mosaicked art structure with murals and surprising sculptures.
Delve into some of northern Thailand's unique hill community culture with a trip to a Padong Karen village, an agricultural community where the people make a living growing rice, tea, and tobacco. The Padong people are well known for their jewelry; women wear brass rings around their necks from an early age, which creates an elongated neck.
Next, drive on to the famous Golden Triangle. The area was once a hub for opium production until King Rama IX introduced schemes encouraging farmers to grow coffee and tea instead. After lunch, take a boat trip along the Mekong River toward Laos, for which you'll need a passport. Afterward, head back to Chiang Mai for a final evening in the city.
Day 4: Lamphun Tour & Drive to Sukhothai
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
This morning, say goodbye to Chiang Mai and start your journey south. You'll stop to explore the ancient capital of the Haripunchai Kingdom in Lamphun and enjoy a taste of Umong Longan wine in Baan Umong, where the Lamphun Lamyai Festival takes place during the harvest season every July and August. Continue to Wat Phra Yuen, a quiet temple among palm trees.
After lunch, drive to Sukhothai Historical Park, once the capital of the mighty Kingdom of Sukhothai in the 13th and 14th centuries. Spread over 17,300 acres (7,000 ha), the site is dotted with ponds and ruins. Wander Sukhothai's royal palace and 21 historical sites, including the largest temple complex, Wat Mahathat, which served as the royal chapel and has a distinctive lotus-shaped stupa at its center.
Take an optional sunset bike ride, cycling along Klong Mae Lampan irrigation canals and through villages, pausing to tour a wood carving factory. Peddle past rice paddies with impressive views of the Khao Luang Mountains. If the sky is clear, you'll witness a stunning sunset from the middle of the paddies before returning to your hotel.
Day 5: Fly to Bangkok
Today you'll fly to Bangkok, where a driver will be waiting to take you to your hotel in the city's heart. Thailand's capital is beloved for its chaotic energy, delicious street food, buzzing nightlife, and sacred Buddhist sights. You'll discover its charms independently today, perhaps starting with Chinatown's fragrant street food. If you like shopping, spend time at Siam Paragon, one of Bangkok's biggest and most luxurious malls.
If you're visiting over the weekend, don't miss Chatuchak Market—with more than 15,000 stalls, it's one of the world's biggest outdoor markets and sells everything from clothes and flowers to food and antiques. For sports lovers, seek a muay Thai (Thai boxing) match, Thailand's signature sport. See a puppet show for some traditional culture or visit Warehouse 30 for modern art exhibitions. Famous Michelin street food restaurant, Jay Fai, is a top dinner spot famed for its crab omelet.
Take a stylish dinner cruise along the Chao Phraya River as an optional evening activity. Feast on an international buffet on board the Chao Phraya Princess, accompanied by jazz musicians. Watch the dazzling city landmarks pass as you sail—palaces, temples, and the city skyline lit up.
Day 6: Floating Market & Bangkok Tour
This morning starts early with a trip to one of Bangkok's iconic floating markets, which vary depending on the day of the week. Catch a glimpse of local life, watching shoppers barter with vendors for fresh produce and goods from tiny wooden boats. Next, move on to Wat Arun, also known as the Temple of Dawn, since it's named after the Indian dawn god, Aruna. Take a ferry across the Chao Phraya River to Wat Pho, which houses a giant reclining Buddha statue.
Take a break for lunch before visiting the Grand Palace, a complex of intricate temples and palaces built in 1782, which served as the royal family's home for 150 years. Today, the palace is used for royal ceremonies such as weddings, funerals, and state banquets. Highlights include the Reception Hall, Coronation Hall, and Wat Phra Kaew, which houses the Emerald Buddha statue.
Day 7: Fly to Krabi, City Tour
Fly south to Krabi today for a slice of Thailand's paradisiacal beaches as you enjoy a highlights tour of Krabi. Visit Wat Tham Suea, the "Tiger Cave Temple," known for the steep 1,237 steps to its clifftop location, where you'll soak up sweeping views. Next, visit Khao Khanab Nam, a twin set of mountains with beautiful caves that drip with stalactites and stalagmites. Make a photo stop at the town's giant black crab statues on your way to the hotel on Ao Nang Beach, where you can spend the rest of the day relaxing.
Day 8: James Bond Island Trip
Discover the wonders of Ao Phang Nga National Park today. This 154 square-mile (400 sq km) protected stretch of Andaman Sea is dotted with towering karst islets and is home to some of Thailand's most extensive mangrove forests. Take a trip to James Bond Island, a film location for "The Man with the Golden Gun." Sightsee on the island and relish some free time to swim and snorkel before lunch at a nearby village and sailing back to your hotel.
Day 9: Transfer to Phuket & City Tour
Today you'll head to Phuket, Thailand's largest island. Set on the Andaman Coast, Phuket is known for its powdery beaches, neon nightlife, and luxury resorts. The island is also home to diverse landscapes ranging from tropical rainforest to palm-fringed beaches and craggy limestone cliffs.
Take a half-day city tour of Phuket's old town when you arrive, discovering Sino-Portuguese architecture, Thai temples, colorful Chinese shrines, museums, and stately mansions. Spend the rest of the day as you please; hit the beach to sunbathe, sit back with a cold drink, and then wade into the inviting water for a swim or some snorkeling. Be sure to visit Thalang Road, where you'll find a popular market.
This evening, enjoy an optional performance at the famous Simon Cabaret Show. Settle in for a night of comedy, dance, and fun; the show attracts thousands of visitors and is renowned for its fabulous stage, lighting, and sound design.
Day 10: Depart Phuket
Today your Thailand adventure ends, and you'll be transferred to the airport in Phuket for your onward flight. Safe travels!
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