Thailand is a rush for your senses: a bustling, exotic, and vivid culture that never ceases to amaze visitors. On this cultural tour, you'll visit Thailand's gilded temples, one more gorgeous than the next, in the cities of Bangkok, Ayutthaya, and Chiang Mai. Other highlights include a cruise through Bangkok's canals, a visit to a rural hill tribe village, riding elephants through the jungle and exciting shopping opportunities in Chiang Mai's famous night bazaar.
Continue to Cambodia, where you'll visit the bustling capital of Phnom Penh. Tour the Royal Palace with its dazzling Silver Pagoda. Then it's on to Angkor Wat, where you have two days to explore the spectacular carved stone temples of this World Heritage site.
Day 1 - BANGKOK
Arrive at Bangkok International Airport. Upon clearing customs and immigration, you are met by our tour guide who will greet and assist you in the arrival hall. Transfer to your hotel, where the rest of the day is at leisure. Normal check-in time is 2:00 pm.
The Peninsula Bangkok – 3 nights
Day 2 - BANGKOK
After breakfast, depart for a full-day of sightseeing in Bangkok including the Grand Palace, Temples and Klongs Tour. A visit to the Royal Palace, the nation’s landmark and most praised monument in Thailand, with the enclosed and dazzling Wat Phra Keo and its revered Emerald Buddha, the Golden Chedi, the Pantheon of the Chakri Kings and the Eight Colored Towers, is a must. Wat Pho is also regarded as the first center of public education and is sometimes called Thailand’s first university. Mural paintings, inscriptions and statues found in the temple-educated people on various subjects such as literature, warfare, archaeology, astronomy, geology, meditation, and is considered to be the home of traditional Thai massage. Here you will enjoy a 30-minute massage as an excellent break after a morning of sightseeing.
After lunch in a local restaurant, enjoy the afternoon along the bustling Chao Phraya River and the quiet Klongs (canals) in a long tail boat. We bring you a way of life away from the high-rise and modern buildings of Bangkok’s city center as we gently pass through the Thonburi residential areas. A stop will be made at the Temple of Dawn (officially named Wat Arun).
Finally, a visit to a flower and vegetable market will round out the day. Located close to the Chao Phraya River, the market has a vast selection of orchids and tropical flowers, and the skilled merchants create special garlands.
Tonight enjoy a Thai Dinner at Sala Rim Nam Restaurant. Spend the evening trying local foods, specially prepared in a traditional style and served by charming Thai ladies. At the same time, enjoy classical dances that have been preserved through many generations.
The Peninsula Bangkok (B, L, D)
Day 3 - BANGKOK-AYUTTHAYA-BANGKOK
After breakfast, depart from Bangkok by road heading north through the countryside to Ayutthaya, the former capital of Siam. A truly fabulous kingdom for 417 years (1350-1767), it was built on what Sukhothai began with remarkable flair and panache. It also set the standards for Bangkok to follow. At the magnificent ruins, you can see the largest Buddha image of Phra Mongkhon Bophit. Continue to Bang Pa-In Summer Palace of King Rama V, consisting of buildings in a quaint mixture of European and Thai architecture. You will have a chance to visit the interior of Chinese Wehat Chamrun Palace. Cruise back to Bangkok on the Chao Phaya River aboard the luxurious Horizon Cruise (or similar). En route, observe the scenic beauty and friendliness of the canal folks as you eat a sumptuous lunch.
Enjoy a Thai dinner with a cultural performance at Sala Rim Nam Restaurant on the opposite bank of the Chao Phraya River from the Oriental Hotel. A richly decorated traditional pavilion sets the stage for an appreciation of two of the Kingdom’s most rewarding cultural experiences, Thai cuisine and classical dance.
The Peninsula Bangkok (B, L)
Day 4 - BANGKOK-CHIANG MAI
This morning you will be transferred to the airport for a flight to Chiang Mai. Thailand’s second largest city seems able to combine the relaxed, slow motion world of a Thai village with the facilities and sights of a big city. A rich and colorful history is still evident in the architecture that includes more than 300 wats (temples), the most significant and interesting located within the city walls.
Near the summit of Doi Suthep, a 1600 meter peak named after the hermit Sudeva who lived on the slope for many years, is the 600 year old temple of Wat Phra That Doi Suthep. After a drive up the mountain's winding road, the final climb is via a magnificent Naga (dragon-headed serpent) staircase of 306 steps. Inside the cloisters is an intriguing copper-plated chedi topped by a five-tier gold umbrella which contains partial relics of Lord Buddha. On a clear day, there are incomparable views over the city of Chiang Mai from the grounds of the temple.
Other temple visits on this tour include Wat Jet Yot dating back to the mid 15th century whose seven spires represent the seven weeks Buddha spent in Bodhgaya after his enlightenment. Then it's on to Wat Suan Dok whose large central stupa contains a Buddha relic which supposedly self-multiplied! One of these was mounted on the back of a white elephant that was allowed to wander until it chose a site on which a Wat could be built to shelter the statue. The elephant stopped and died at a spot on Doi Suthep, where Wat Prathat Doi Suthep was built. Wat Chiang Man, the oldest Wat in the city, features typical northern Thai architecture with massive teak columns inside.
Tonight enjoy dinner at Le Grand Lanna. Ancient Lanna culture has been the foundation of the northern Thai lifestyle for almost a thousand years and there is no better way to experience the atmosphere and ideals. Modeled after the original architectural design, this teak restaurant is set in 28 acres of beautiful garden. After dinner, visit the Chiang Mai Night Bazaar. With its wide range of goods at competitive prices, this easily rivals Bangkok’s Chatuchak Market. Inside are endless stalls selling hill tribe crafts, leather goods and clothing.
Four Seasons Chiang Mai Resort – 2 nights (B, L, D)
Day 5 - CHIANG MAI
Today you can choose from two full day excursions in Chiang Mai.
Option #1: Doi Inthanon National Park, home to the highest mountain in Thailand (2,565 meters). The park offers beautiful scenery, evergreen forests, dwarf rhododendron groves, and many types of habitat. The area is popular for bird-watching, with nearly 400 species, many from North Asia including mountain hawks and Eurasian woodcocks. Other stops along the winding road include Karen hill tribe villages, Wachiratharn waterfall and the twin chedi built by the Thai Air Force to commemorate King Bhumibol and Queen Sirikit. Lunch is included.
Option #2: Visit the Chiang Dao Elephant Training Center to see the show. Enjoy an elephant ride across the Ping River and up the hill. This lasts about 1 hour. Then your rafting adventure starts for approximately 45 minutes along the Ping River and makes a trip by oxcart. After lunch, travel to the orchid farm to see many beautiful species.
Four Seasons Chiang Mai Resort (B, L if not on a tour)
Day 6 - CHIANG MAI-BANGKOK-PHNOM PENH
Transfer from your hotel for the morning flight to Bangkok and connect on to Phnom Penh. Upon exiting the arrival hall of Phnom Penh International Airport, you will be met and transferred to your hotel by a representative. The rest of the day is at leisure.
Phnom Penh Hotel or InterContinental Hotel Phnom Penh – 1 night (B)
Day 7 - PHNOM PENH-SIEM REAP
Start your tour at Wat Phnom, the birthplace of the capital. According to legend, the city began here when a woman named Penh found four Buddha statues and built the temple to house them. Afterwards, see the splendor of Cambodia’s heritage by visiting the Royal Palace, still the official residence of King Norodom Sihamoni. Explore the adjacent Silver Pagoda, also known as the Pagoda of the Emerald Buddha, and the elegant National Museum, which contains a comprehensive collection of Khmer art.
In the afternoon, learn about a chapter from Cambodia’s more recent, tragic past at the Tuol Sleng Museum (Museum of Genocide). Formerly the Tuol Svay Prey High School, in 1975 this became the interrogation and torture facility for the Khmer Rouge regime- known as Security Prison 21 at the time, or simply S-21. Kept largely unchanged, the prison showcases photographs and exhibits about the thousands of victims that passed through these doors - only seven of whom came out alive.
Finally, explore the modern day city, visiting one of Phnom Penh’s two great markets, the Central market, located in a distinctive domed art deco building (Central Market is currently under construction, but can be visited as usual), or the Sprawling Russian Market, a labyrinth of stalls selling everything from CD’s and DVD’s to silks, crafts, jewelry and more. After the excursion, you will be driven to the airport for your flight to Siem Reap. When you arrive, you will be met and transferred to your hotel. Dinner will be at a local restaurant.
Overnight: Victoria Angkor Resort & Spa or Raffles Grand Hotel d’Angkor – 2 nights (B, D)
Day 8 - SIEM REAP
This morning you will visit Angkor Wat, the largest temple in the world, with a volume of stone equaling that of the Cheops pyramid in Egypt. It is unlike all the other Khmer temples in that it faces west and is inspired by 12th Century Hinduism. Its symmetrical towers are stylized on the modern Cambodian flag. Conceived by Suryavarman II, Angkor Wat took an estimated 30 years to build and is generally believed to have been a funeral temple for the king. It has been occupied continuously by Buddhist monks and is well preserved. Intricate bas-reliefs surround all four sides, each telling their own story. The most celebrated of these is the Churning of the Ocean of Milk, which is located in the east wing.
Continuing on your tour, you will visit the monumental magnificence of Angkor Thom, the last capital of the Khmers, with its Elephant Terrace, the Terrace of the Leper King and the stunning Bayon temple. This 12th century masterpiece lies at the very center of Angkor Thom and is an archaeological wonder of symmetry and grandeur. The exterior gallery walls have extensive bas-reliefs, but the highlight is the “faces”, more than 200 of them, silent with the famous half-smile playing on their lips. PJ de Beerski wrote, “godliness in the majesty and the size, mystery in the expression.”
This afternoon, visit Ta Prohm, the temple that has been left largely in its original state since being re-discovered by French explorers. Surrounded by jungle, its labyrinth of stone hallways is overgrown with the roots and limbs of massive banyan trees, which envelop the stone like tentacles. It is one of the largest temples in Angkor, dedicated in 1186. Continue on to Preah Khan "The Sacred Sword," an extensive complex covering over 56 hectares built by the Khmer King Jayavarman VII as a monastery and teaching complex situated on a small "Baray." Preah Khan is the site of the World Monuments Fund prime Asian project, a painstaking renovation to maintain its mysterious allures and superb construction. Watch the sunset over the Cambodian countryside from the upper terraces of an ancient Angkorian temple before transferring to a local restaurant for dinner.
Victoria Angkor Resort & Spa or Raffles Grand Hotel d’Angkor (B, D)
Day 9 - SIEM REAP
This morning, you will drive to Ton Le Sap Lake, the largest fresh water lake in Southeast Asia, and the lifeblood of the Cambodian fishing industry. The Mekong River, from as a far away as Phnom Penh, reverses direction of the Ton Le Sap river to bring an overflow of water and silt to support both rice crops and fish breeding. Hop on board a small shaded vessel to move between the floating homes and small fish farms. This afternoon, transfer to the airport for your departure flight.
*** THIS IS A PROPOSAL ONLY AND IS SUBJECT TO AVAILABILITY AT THE TIME OF CONFIRMATION. WE ARE NOT HOLDING ANY SPACES FOR THIS ITINERARY AT THIS TIME. ***
Depart any day! Contact an iExplore Adventure Consultant for details.
Based on accommodations at The Peninsula in Bangkok, Four Seasons in Chiang Mai, Phnom Penh Hotel in Phnom Penh, Victoria Angkor Resort & Spa in Siem Reap:
|Dates||1 passenger||2 pax||3-4 pax||single supplement|
|Jan 6, 2012-March 31, 2012||8399||5599||5299||1390|
|April 1, 2012- Oct. 31, 2012||8199||5499||5299||1299|
Based on accommodations at The Peninsula in Bangkok, Four Seasons in Chiang Mai, Intercontinental Hotel in Phnom Penh, and Raffles Grand Hotel d’Angkor in Siem Reap
|Dates||1 passenger||2 pax||3-4 pax||single supplement|
|Jan 6, 2012-March 31, 2012||8799||5699||5399||1599|
|April 1, 2012- Oct. 31, 2012||8699||5699||5399||1499|
- Accommodations as specified in the itinerary with breakfast daily
- Sightseeing by local English-speaking guides
- Accommodations as mentioned or equivalent
- Airfare in economy class: Bangkok to Chiang Mai, Chiang Mai to Bangkok, Bangkok to Phnom Penh, and Phnom Penh to Siem Reap
- Boat tickets as per the program
- Ground transportation by private A/C vehicle
- Sightseeing including admission fees
- Choice of one of two optional tours in Chiang Mai
- International airfare and airport departure taxes
- Outbound flight from Siem Reap on the last day
- Holiday surcharges
- Meals other than those indicated
- Personal drinks at meal times
- Items a personal nature (e.g. laundry, telephone, mini bar etc.)
- Gratuities to guides and drivers
- Travel Insurance
- Visa fees to Cambodia
All prices are in US dollars and do not include international airfare, unless otherwise noted.
Prices displayed are based on the lowest season base price and assume double occupancy. Prices are shown in U.S. dollars and may or may not include administrative fees, taxes, meals, airfare (where applicable) and Single Supplements. Cancellation penalties, blackout dates and other restrictions may apply.