Southeast Asia Natural Adventures

nature travel, wildlife tours, adventure travel and general travel to Thailand, Indonesia and Southeast Asia

sample Thailand travel itinerary



Day 9 – Sukhothai / Lampang
This morning explore the ruins at Sukhothai, a designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. During the 13th and 14th centuries Sukhothai was the center for the Golden Age of Thai civilization at which time religion, art and architecture flourished, and over fifteen square miles of this city have been preserved in a historical park. After lunch, you'll continue north to the fortress city of Si Satchanalai. A 12th century Khmer outpost, Si Satchanalai became a royal residence of the Sukhothai period and an important pottery producing center. You will visit the nearby Sawankolok Kilns, which were producing internationally traded pottery as early as the late 13th century before continuing to the small city of Lampang. Here you check in at your charming riverfront lodge, with the evening free to relax and enjoy the river’s ambience. Overnight at the Lampang River Lodge or similar        (B,L)

Day 10 – Lampang / Chiang Mai
You'll start this morning with a visit to the Elephant Conservation Center, which also houses the country's only dedicated hospital and recovery center for elephants. After the Elephant Center visit some of the area's famous Burmese style temples. Lampang became an important center of the international teak trade, and was influenced by the British Raj because of the familiarity with the teak industry in Burma. Teak merchants, who plied their trade here, sponsored the construction of more than a dozen impressive temples in the city. The most impressive is Wat Phra That Lampang Luang, but Wat Pra Keo Don Tao and Baan Sao Nok are also of notable interest. Late in the day you continue the short distance north to Chiang Mai where you will check in at the charming Tamarind Village Hotel, Thai style lodgings constructed around a central square. This evening is free to explore Chiang Mai's famous Night Bazaar. Although now a modern center of commerce, this market is in fact the legacy of the original Yunnanese (Chinese) trading caravans which stopped here along the ancient trade route between China and the Burmese coast. There is a fine array of traditional, contemporary, and tribal crafts on display at the market. Overnight Chiang Mai 2 nights    (B,L)

Day 11 – Chiang Mai
Spend today enjoying the cooler climate and gentle pace of Chiang Mai, a delightful change from the bustle, heat, and excitement of Bangkok. Until 200 years ago the city was the independent capital of the Lanna Kingdom and bears its own unique art and culture. Start the day with a visit to the Hilltribe Ethnography Museum which provides insight into the lives and history of the minority peoples whom you will encounter as you continue north and into the Golden Triangle region over the next few days. After the museum, the focus will be on Chiang Mai's most revered Buddhist temples and shrines including Wat Chiang Man, Wat Phra Singh, Wat Chedi Luang and Wat U Mong, a forest monastery where you have the chance to visit with a local monk. Enjoy sunset at the revered mountain top shrine Wat Doi Suthep, taking in the beautiful views of Chiang Mai and the surrounding countryside. This evening with your guide you enjoy a special Khantoke (traditional northern Thai) dinner and dance performance at Heuang Kah Jow restaurant, a favorite with locals but known to few farangs (foreigners). The show is in a lovely open air Thai pavilion and features Lanna, Yao and Shan traditional dance. After dinner, if you wish you have another opportunity to wander through Chiang Mai's bustling night market before transferring back to the hotel for the evening.   (B,L,D)

Day 12 - Chiang Mai / Thaton
Today begin your trip into the hills north of Chiang Mai. Over the next couple of days you encounter some of the hilltribes that call this region home, including the Hmong, Lisu, Karen, and Akha tribes (note that these names are often represented differently within Thailand itself). Many originate from Burma or China, but have settled in these remote hills where they are free from persecution. A one hour drive takes you to Chiang Dao to visit an elephant camp in time for a demonstration by the mahouts. Thailand is truly 'the land of the elephant' with nearly 5,000 wild and domesticated elephants in the country. (Although some feel that such tourist demonstrations are questionable, they are important to the survival of individual elephants in Thailand (and elsewhere, such as Indonesia). The cost of maintaining an elephant is high, and since mechanization has put many mahouts and their elephants out of work, the only way they can feed and keep these long-lived animals is by working within the tourist infrastructure.) After a brief demonstration you have the option to mount elephants for a one hour safari, passing through terraced rice fields and rugged river ravines on the backs of these huge but surprisingly graceful beasts. After the elephant ride you board a bamboo raft, your means of transportation for the next hour as you float past beautiful jungle scenery, enjoying the peace, quiet, and cool of the river. The guide poles this sturdy craft at a gentle pace. Try your hand at poling or sit back on the small bamboo seat and enjoy the passing scene. Continuing north, you visit the Lahu Hilltribe village at Kob Dong and the Palaung village of No Lae. You also visit the Doi Angkhang Agricultural Station which is one of the biggest government projects to help the poor in Northern Thailand. Late in the day you'll arrive at your charming lodge on the banks of the Maekok River, Thaton. Overnight at the Maekok River Resort         (B,L,D)

Day 13 – Thaton / Chiang Rai
This morning you board a longtail boat for a two hour trip down the Maekok River, relaxing and enjoy the Thai scenery and passing boat traffic. At the Lahu village, Pha Tai, you continue your adventure by vehicle to Santikhiri, an ethnic Chinese community on Doi Mae Salong. These Chinese Khoumintang immigrated and built this community in the 1950's to escape Maoist China. On a clear day the views from Doi Mae Salong are simply stunning. On the way down you have an opprtunity to stop and visit Akha and Lahu hilltribe leaders and village residents, then late afternoon arrive in Chiang Rai and check into your hotel, which sits on an island in the middle of the Maekok River. Overnight at the Dusit Island Resort       (B,L)

Day 14 – Chiang Rai / Burma border / Chiang Rai / Bangkok
Spend today exploring the notorious Golden Triangle, a spectacular area near the borders of Thailand, Laos and Burma. The first stop will be the frontier Burmese border town of Mae Sai, whose history and reputation holds an image of a town full of opium smugglers and renegade bandits. However, this overgrown village now stands at the crossroads where Thai meets Burmese culture and is famous for its jade-cutting factories. You continue with a drive to Doi Tung, a mountain with spectacular views of the surrounding countryside. Here you visit the impressive Mae Fah Luang flower garden, located next to the Royal Villa and Wat Prathat Doi Tung (a small version of Chiang Mai's Doi Suthep temple). Late in the day you'll return to Chiang Rai and enjoy a special farewell dinner with your guide at one of our favorite local restaurants. You then transfer to the airport in time for an evening flight to Bangkok. On arrival, transfer (on your own, a simple affair) to the Novotel Suvarnabhumi Airport Hotel where we have arranged your accommodation for the evening. This deluxe hotel is conveniently connected by walkway to the main terminal building just a few minutes away. Sadly tonight is the last night of your unique Thailand travel adventure. Overnight at the Novotel Airport Hotel        (B,L)

Day 15 – Bangkok / New York
This morning transfer on your own to the terminal building in time for your flight home at 9.50am, arriving back into New York this same day at 8.30pm. On the flight home you will relive many of the memories you created during your personal Thailand tour.           (B,*L,*D,*B)

B:breakfast, L: lunch, D: dinner, M: meal, *inflight meal


Please note this is a suggested itinerary only, and all accommodations, times and activities are subject to change. Your own custom itinerary will reflect your preferred accommodation level, length of stay and preferred activities, and US or home country departure city. As yours is a custom tour, your guide is happy to alter the days activities (within the confines of the oaverall itinerary) to adjust to your personal preferences at the time.

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