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I am totally captivated by Asia. Having lived in Singapore, Nepal, South Korea, and Hong Kong, traveled extensively across all of our destinations in Asia, and worked in luxury travel for many years, curating exceptional trips comes naturally to me.
- from £3,475 PP
- 13 Nights
- Oct - Apr
- 11 hrs from London / 19 hrs from NYC
A classic Thai tour with a twist, this 13-night itinerary showcases the best of Thailand with an extension to the incredible temples of Angkor, located just across the border in Cambodia. You’ll spend three nights apiece in bouncing Thai capital Bangkok and the laidback, atmospheric northern capital of Chiang Mai, with tours focusing on local lifestyles, countryside, and glittering cultural treasures. You then fly over to Siem Reap for a further three nights in Siem Reap, discovering in-depth the sprawling Angkor complex and its surrounding urban and rural spaces. Round out your tour with 4 memorable nights on the tropical island of Phuket, which includes a fantastic speedboat tour of Phang Nga Bay as well as plenty of time to kick back and relax in paradise.
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- 13 nights in 4-star accommodation
- Daily breakfast throughout plus other meals as per itinerary
- Private transfers and tours throughout, accompanied by private English-speaking guides
- Regional flights as described
- 24/7 support from our dedicated staff
- Flexible, personalized itinerary based on your interests
Day by Day Itinerary
Day 1 Bangkok: Arrival into Bangkok Suvarnabhumi International Airport
You’ll be met in the arrivals hall of Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport by a private guide, who will then lead you to a private vehicle in which you’ll be transferred to your downtown hotel. In typical traffic, this will be a transfer of around 45 minutes.
Thailand’s bouncing capital is one of the world’s great cities. Sitting at the mouth of a tropical river delta, facing the Gulf of Thailand, the ‘Venice of the East’ is bisected by the languorous Chaophraya river and riddled with natural and manmade canals. You’ll find the city caught between the past and present with modern shopping malls, galleries, and spas, sitting alongside atmospheric temples, glittering palaces, and ancient canal-side neighborhoods. Bangkok is a cacophony of sights and sounds, and the fun here is just diving into the nonstop action, while sampling some of the world’s best cheap eats along the way.
Day 2 Bangkok: Full day tour by boat, tuk-tuk, and Skytrain
Today’s full-day tour of Bangkok will see you discover the city like a local, taking advantage of the city’s varied public transportation network to cover all the main sites while also getting a closer look at the traditions and lifestyles of the Thai people.
Your guide will meet you at your hotel around 8am and take you down to the nearby launch on the Chao Phraya. Here you’ll board a public ferry, traveling up along the river and watching the city skyline slip by. Disembark at the iconic Wat Pho and Grand Palace, Bangkok’s cultural icons, and spend the remainder of the morning exploring these two remarkable sites, learning about the country’s regal history and of the deep-rooted spiritual traditions of its people.
Hop aboard a tuk-tuk, the ubiquitous Thai three-wheeled moto-taxis, used by locals across the country. Zip through quieter city streets to Soi Ban Batra, where you’ll visit a family-run workshop that produces monks’ alms bowls. Witness the artisans at work and learn about the daily lives of the Buddhist monks who wake early to collect alms offerings from the city’s residents.
The final leg of the tour is on a ‘bus boat’ through the canals which cut right through the heart of the city. Rarely used by tourists, this mode of transport provides an up-close look at the ways of life of the local people who live right up against the edge of the canals. Disembark and take a short walk up to the Jim Thompson House. Take an insightful tour of the compound’s tranquil gardens and traditional buildings, which showcases the history of the mysterious American silk merchant.
Afterward, stroll to the nearby modern shopping malls on Rami I Road for some retail therapy, then return to the hotel via Skytrain, Bangkok’s modern elevated railway which whistles through the city up above its busy traffic-clogged streets.
Day 3 Bangkok: Morning tour of the Khlongs; Evening street food tour
This morning you’ll delve even deeper into local Bangkok life, taking a typical long-tail boat into the quiet canals (khlongs) of Thonburi, on the more traditional and less-visited western side of the Chao Phraya. Pass by houses built on stilts and see how local life takes place on the water. Your final stop is at glittering Wat Arun – arguably Bangkok’s most attractive temple. Admire the incredible glazed pottery inlaid in this towering stupa, and learn about its spiritual connections with the city. On the opposite side of the river, facing elegant Wat Arun, are numerous terrace bars which make a fine spot for a post-tour lunch
Your guide will meet you again in the early evening, and you’ll then set off together on a voyage of culinary discovery. Traveling by tuk-tuk, you’ll whizz through the buzzing city streets and sample the best street food the city has to offer, including an authentic Isan (northern Thai) restaurant, a Michelin-listed chicken noodle stall, and a vendor who claims to serve up the best pad thai in the city.
In between bites, you’ll enjoy an intriguing nighttime visit to Wat Pho, and a walk through the colorful flower market nearby. The evening finishes with a drink at a secret bar down on the river bank, facing the glittering Temple of Dawn. Your guide will drop you back at your hotel – unless of course, you prefer to stay out and keep the night rolling!
Day 4 Chiang Mai: Fly to Chiang Mai; Afternoon walking tour
This morning your guide and driver will meet you at the hotel and then drop you back at Bangkok Suvarnabhumi airport, where you’ll board a short domestic flight up to Thailand’s northern capital, Chiang Mai.
Thailand’s second city and capital of the north, Chiang Mai is an absolute must for first-time visitors to Thailand. Its higher elevation means it enjoys a cooler climate than Bangkok, and it has a more laid-back atmosphere too, with more of a sleepy town feel than a bustling capital. The historic city interior houses over 300 temples, and you’ll also find lively markets, cooking classes, craft stores, and fantastic street food.
You’ll be received on arrival a new private guide and driver, then taken to your hotel to check-in. Once freshened up, head back out with your guide to explore the city. Begin with a drive up to the peak of Doi Suthep mountain, overlooking the city. A steady walk up through Wat Phra That Doi Suthep temple takes you past some wonderful Naga carvings and out to a 14th-century mountain-top pagoda.
Come back down from the mountain and then enjoy a walking tour through the heart of the Old City, taking in the best of the city’s ancient temples and also passing through an eclectic mix of ancient lanes, bustling markets, crumbling city walls, and majestic royal monuments.
Day 5 Chiang Mai: Full day at Elephant Conservation Center
This morning you’ll travel out in the countryside, around an hour north of Chiang Mai, where you’ll find the Elephant Nature Park.
Our pick of Chiang Mai’s many elephant centers, the Elephant Nature Park has excellent conservation credentials, rescuing former working elephants and providing a beautiful natural environment for their rehabilitation. The park runs a ‘hand’s off’ visitor program, during which you can observe these beautiful creatures up close and help out with daily park activities – such as feeding, bathing, playing, and washing – but there is no riding offered. The day will also involve a tour of the verdant park grounds and the opportunity to meet other rescued species under the park’s care, such as buffalo, dogs, cats, horses, and tropical birds.
You’ll be out and about with the elephants for much of the day and likely to join them in their daily dip, so please make sure to bring sunscreen, mosquito repellent, a hat, and a change of clothes! Lunch is included during your visit.
Day 6 Chiang Mai: Thai cooking class
We recommend a light breakfast this morning, as shortly afterward you’ll be picked up for and taken out to the city suburbs for a private cooking class. You’re chef-guide will first take you to a lively local market to pick up fresh ingredients, and you’ll then travel to their beautiful, traditional teak wood home to begin the class. You’ll be introduced to exciting new ingredients, spices, and cooking techniques as you prepare a selection of delicious northern dishes. When all is ready, sit down in the verdant garden to enjoy a sumptuous lunch.
The afternoon is then free for you to relax back at the hotel, potter around central Chiang Mai at your leisure, or arrange further tours or activities locally.
Day 7 Siem Reap: Fly to Siem Reap; Evening Cambodian cuisine tour
After a leisurely breakfast, you’ll be transferred back to Chiang Mai Airport, where you’ll board a 90-minute flight over the border to Cambodia, landing in Siem Reap – home to the temples of Angkor. You’ll be greeted on arrival by your private English-speaking guide, and then private driver, and together they will transfer you to your nearby hotel.
While best-known for the temples and ruins of Angkor, once the world’s largest and greatest pre-industrial city, Siem Reap also offers opportunities to explore museums, markets, and buzzing nightlife. Once checked in you will have the remainder of the day free to rest and recuperate at the hotel, or jump in a tuk-tuk and head out to explore.
As the sun dips you will head back out to explore the vibrant Cambodian drinking and dining scene. Your guide will first take you to a rooftop bar for a sundowner accompanied by epic views. You’ll then be whisked away by ‘remork’ (as tuk-tuks are known in Cambodia) to a hidden back-alley restaurant, where you’ll whet your appetite on local Cambodian-style tapas. The next stop is main course at another fantastic hidden gem, well known by locals and expatriates but far from the tourist trail, where you will feast on Cambodian barbeque and locally-brewed beer. End the evening with coffee and dessert in the heart of Siem Reap’s lively Bar Street area. From here you can either be taken back to the hotel for a well-earned rest or – armed with suggestions from your guide – continue the night independently.
Day 8 Siem Reap: Morning tour of Lake Tonle Sap; Afternoon temple tour
After an early breakfast you will head out to the great Tonle Sap Lake: the richest fresh water fishing ground in the world, and a Cambodian national treasure. A privately guided boat tour will introduce you to the communities that live around the margins of the lake, who adapt to the continual variation in water levels by building their homes on floating stilts. Take the opportunity to pause at the stilted houses to learn how a subsistence fishing family lives, before returning to shore, where you will find a picnic lunch has been prepared for you.
In the afternoon your guide will take you on a walking tour through the mighty Angkor Thom – literally ‘Great City’. Start at the imposing Victory Gate, then continue along the 5m high former city walls to the ‘Death Gate’ and then the Terrace of the Leper King. A further short walk from the Buddhist sanctuary of Preah Palilay takes you through shaded woodland to the three tiers of Phimeanakas, flanked by beautiful lakes, and then to the Hindu temple Baphuon. The big finish arrives in the exact center of Angkor Thom at the Bayon, former state temple of Jayavarman VII.
The Bayon is known for its captivating bas relief faces, carved in their hundreds, each telling a different story of daily life and epic events in the time of Angkor. End the day with a leisurely boat ride on the moat of Angkor Thom, enjoying the sunset with cocktail in hand.
Day 9 Siem Reap: Sunrise tour of Angkor Wat
This morning you will visit Angkor Wat, the mother of all temples. Timings are flexible but we recommend visiting at dawn, seeing the sun climb over the temple and bathe it in the softest and best light of the day. Angkor Wat is reputed to be the largest religious complex in the world. Constructed over 30 years during the reign of Suryavarman II, it was originally a Hindu mountain temple, then later converted to Buddhist use in the 16th century, remaining in such use today. The sheer scale of Angkor Wat, coupled with the incredible complexity and detail of its bas reliefs, is difficult to comprehend. Spend as much time as you need exploring in the company of your guide before returning to your hotel to relax.
The remainder of the day is then yours to kick back or arrange further temple tours or activities locally.
Day 10 Phuket: Fly back to Thailand and relax on the beach
After a leisurely breakfast, you’ll be transferred back to Siem Reap Airport, where you’ll board your 90-minute flight down to Phuket.
Thailand’s largest and most famous island is home to some of the country’s most enticing beach resorts. There are around 30 noted beaches, all featuring powdery white sands and cerulean seas, with visitors able to choose from busier or quieter locales dependent on their interest. Interior Phuket offers a huge array of amenities and activities, with opportunities to indulge in legendary Thai massage, dine on fresh-caught seafood, hike in the interior, arrange water sports, or enjoy lots of great shopping.
Day 11 Phuket: Longtail tour of Phang Nga Bay
Today you’ll embark on an enthralling day tour around the spectacular islands of Phang Nga Bay. The day begins with an early morning pick-up from your hotel before boarding a typically Thai longtail boat and setting off into the Bay. You’ll visit a series of remarkable limestone outcrops, taking in Talu Cave, the fishing village of Tak Dad, the 150-year-old Muslim village of Koh Panyi, and the natural beauty of Panak Island. A further highlight will be a visit to Tapu Island, now known better as James Bond island following its starring role in ‘The Man With Golden Gun’.
In between these stops you’ll pause at a totally isolated cove for a picnic lunch on the beach. There will also be ample time to sunbathe and to swim and snorkel amongst incredibly clear waters and pristine coral.
Days 12-13 Phuket: Days at leisure in Phuket
These days are free to relax and enjoy Phuket. There are many excellent facilities on offer at your hotel, plus of course the magnificent beach, but should you wish to stay active we have a few ideas in mind. Another speedboat trip could take you out to the Phi Phi islands, or to dive or snorkel again in Phang Nga Bay. Staying on the island, dramatic hikes are available in the jungly mountainous interior, or you might like to indulge in some cultural immersion with a cooking class or village walk. Alternatively, head to one of the livelier beaches on the island for lots of shopping, dining, and nightlife opportunities. Make sure to ask your expert for their recommendations on how best to spend this day!
Day 14 Phuket: Departure day
Today your adventures in Thailand must come to an end. At the appropriate time, you’ll be transferred privately from your beach resort to Phuket Airport, arriving in good time to check-in for your onward flight.
What's not Included
- As we have clients from all over the world. Our itineraries do not include flights. If you would like us to include flights in your trip, we are happy to do so. Please speak to your travel specialist at the planning stage to include them.
- Gratuities for local guides
- We strongly advise all guests to purchase comprehensive travel insurance
- Visas if required
Hotel Riva Surya, Bangkok
Hotel Raya Heritage, Chiang Mai
Jaya House River Park, Siem Reap
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