Land of Smiles
Your adventure begins when you touch down at the airport in Chaing Mai, a historic city surrounded by misty mountains in northern Thailand. You'll be staying at the Tamarind Village boutique hotel, and the first day is free for you to explore the surroundings. Perhaps you'll decide to browse the shops and markets, filled with beautiful trinkets, crafts, and fabrics made by local artisans. Or you might indulge yourself with some traditional northern Thai cuisine - one of the most-loved dishes is khao soi, a delicious soup-like dish served with deep-fried crispy noodles.
On day 3 we have organized a half-day tour of the city, where you'll have the chance to explore the old town with its crumbling city walls and intriguing blend of ancient and modern buildings. The tour takes place in the late afternoon, so it's the perfect time to catch a glimpse of glittering pagoda spires lit up by the fading sunlight. You'll step inside one of the city's most sacred structures, Wat Suan Dok, filled with locals deep in prayer and those paying homage at the mausoleum where royal family members are interred. Our guides will be on hand to teach you all about the beliefs and traditions of Thai Buddhists. After leaving Wat Suan Dok, you'll take a drive up into the hills where you'll climb up the winding steps to Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, one of northern Thailand's most revered temples said to house a relic of the Buddha himself. As you climb the steps to this 14th-century temple, you’ll be able to admire its delicate carvings of naga or serpents, and once you reach the top, you’ll be rewarded with incredible views of the city below.
Before sundown, your spiritual journey continues as you visit the Doi Suthep monks, who will offer you a blessing of good health and fortune. Then you’ll have the privilege of witnessing their evening chanting, a magical experience and a peaceful way to end your day’s exploring.
Activity & Adventure + Wildlife
You'll venture away from the bustle of the city on the fourth day of your visit to spend some time at Doi Inthanon National Park, a vast area of lush forests and waterfalls surrounding the highest mountain in Thailand. Your journey into the park begins with a hike to a Karen hill tribe village, where you’ll meet local people who will show you their traditional ways of life and unique culture. We’ll also take you to see a coffee plantation on the mountainside, before heading even deeper into the forest where you might spot some of the park’s native wildlife, from gibbons to deer and more than 350 species of birds.
Your hike finishes at one of the most breathtaking sights in the whole park, the Wachiratharn Waterfall. As you watch the stunning 70m spectacle crash into shallow pools at its base, you’ll be able to rest and relax, enjoying the beautiful surroundings before the short journey back into the city in the late afternoon. The next day we'll transport you to Rabeang Pasak Treehouse resort, where you'll be staying in the unique wooden structures among the teakwood forest north of Chiang Mai.
In the morning you'll take a cycle tour of the area, visiting caves deep in the jungle where you'll see the spine-tingling sight of bats hanging overhead and the unique formations of stalagmites and stalactites. You'll also visit Pasak Ngam lake and the picturesque red sand area. You can spend the rest of the day exploring, perhaps venturing out to see the streams and waterfalls or simply relaxing and taking in the beauty and tranquility of your surroundings.
Tour + City
The sixth day of your trip begins with a relaxing walk through the forest, before you head to Chiang Mai airport for the short flight to Bangkok. You'll be welcomed on arrival at Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport by our friendly guide for the transfer to your hotel, the Riva Surya. You'll spend the evening in Bangkok, perhaps sampling some of the city's famous street food at its lively and colorful night markets.
After a good night's sleep, it's time to rise early the next morning for a tour of the city. This is your chance to look beyond the busy streets and experience a more authentic side to the Thai capital, getting close to the traditions and lifestyles of the people who live here. You'll start the day like a local with a ride on the city's famous Skytrain - it's undoubtedly the swiftest way to get around and is used by locals and visitors alike. You’ll disembark near the mighty Chao Phraya River, which winds all the way through the city past ancient temples and modern buildings. We’ve organized a boat ride where you’ll see these amazing sights close up, including the famous houses on stilts that perch along the river’s edge. The boat will take you to one of the most iconic sites in all of Thailand, the Buddhist temple of Wat Pho. It’s also known as the Temple of the Reclining Buddha thanks to its giant Buddha statue that seems to barely fit into the building – it’s 15 meters high, 46 meters long and covered in gold. This might be the temple’s star attraction, but it’s by no means all there is to see. There are a huge number of Buddha images stored in the temple, and you’ll see rows with hundreds of golden statues from across Thailand alongside delicate murals and inscriptions that give a fascinating insight into this deeply spiritual country. Next to Wat Pho, you’ll find the Grand Palace, a complex of beautiful buildings that have been the official site of the Kings of Siam since 1782. It’s made up of many different structures, with halls and pavilions surrounding picturesque gardens and courtyards.
You’ll spend the rest of the morning exploring this remarkable site, learning all about the country’s traditions and its long royal history.
The next day it's time to bid farewell to Bangkok and head back to the airport for the short flight south to Phuket, where you'll be transferred to your next destination - Khao Lak. After leaving the busy city behind you'll experience a complete change of pace here, with the rest of the day kept free to spend at your leisure in this idyllic resort. You'll be staying at the Bangsak Village luxury beachfront retreat, where you'll be able to enjoy some rest and relaxation after your busy days of sightseeing and exploring. If you're visiting Thailand in the winter or spring, then we have an optional snorkeling tour available on day 9 of your trip.
After breakfast at the hotel, you'll travel by speedboat to the Similan Islands, a protected marine national park spanning 12,000 hectares in the Andaman Sea. These unique islands are made from granite and are home to colorful corals and thousands of fish species, with many of the most beautiful sights easy to see even in shallow waters. If you're lucky enough you might even see some of the sea turtles who live in these clear blue waters!
The next day is free for you to explore the resort and it's the perfect opportunity to stroll along the white sandy beaches surrounded by lush forested hills. There are plenty of local restaurants where you can sample the cuisine, or you could choose to hire a bike for one of the many cycling tours that are available. It’s a great way to see the countryside and mountainous scenery around Khao Lak, so make sure you take your camera!
On the final day of your visit, you'll spend the morning relaxing ahead of your evening transfer to Phuket airport ready for your onward flight. Your time in Thailand might have come to an end but you'll return home filled with incredible memories to share with family and friends.