- Duration: 8 days, 7 nights
- Destination: Bangkok, Kanchanaburi, Ayuthaya, Chiang Mai
- Category: Culture, history
- Class: 4 stars
- Description: A week long tour that covers a variety of sights and experiences from the city to the jungle, a visit to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Ayuthaya and ending in the charming north.
Day 1: Arrive Bangkok. Arrive Bangkok International Airport and transfer to your hotel downtown for check-in and overnight accommodation.
Day 2: Bangkok. The Grand Palace was the seat not only of the king and his court, but contained within its crenellated walls the entire government administration. The architecture is vibrantly Thai though there are some European designs as well. Brilliantly colored and gilded, and decorated with intricate detail, the overall effect is dazzling.
The palace served as the official residence of the kings of Thailand from the 18th to the mid-20th century. The most famous building on the palace grounds is Wat Phra Kaew (Temple of the Emerald Buddha), regarded as the most sacred Buddhist temple (wat) in Thailand. Construction of the temple began when King Rama I moved the capital from Thonburi to Bangkok in 1785.
Unlike other Thai temples, it does not contain living quarters for monks; rather, it has only the richly decorated holy buildings, statues, and pagodas. The main temple building is the central ubosoth, which houses the Emerald Buddha. Though green in color, the Buddha is actually carved from a single piece of jade, and though only 17 inches tall, is the most revered object in Thailand.
Also within the grounds are several palaces, used for various occasions: the Funeral Palace, Reception Palace, Throne Hall, Coronation Hall, and the Royal Guest House. The majority of halls and palaces can be viewed from outside only, but the exteriors are captivating enough to please. Includes: (B).
Day 3: Bangkok - Kanchanaburi. Early morning pick up from your hotel and depart to Kanchanaburi. Visit the Thailand-Burma Railway Museum, an interactive museum, information and research facility dedicated to presenting the history of the Thailand-Burma Railway. The fully air-conditioned center offers the visitor an educational and moving experience. Continue to the War Cemetery, final resting place for over 6,000 allied prisoners of war, and the world famous Bridge over the River Kwai.
Take a long-tailed boat on the Kwai River, passing unspoiled mountainous jungle scenery. Check in at your resort. After lunch, long-tail-boat transfer to Resotel pier and continue by coach to Hellfire Pass Memorial. Late afternoon, return to your resort. Dinner, followed by a 45-minute presentation of Mon Dance and overnight at River Kwai Jungle Rafts. Includes: (B, L, D).
Day 4: Kanchanaburi - Ayuthaya. Breakfast at the resort. Visit to the nearby ethnic Mon Tribal Village (Optional tour: Elephant Riding through the bamboo forest – payable on spot). Check out and boat transfer to Resotel pier. After lunch at a local restaurant, take a historic ride on the Death Railway Train. Then continue by vehicle to Ayuthaya for check-in and overnight accommodation. Includes: (B, L).
Day 5: Ayuthaya - Train. Among the “must see” attractions in Thailand is a visit to Ayutthaya, the former capital of Thailand. The Thai capital for 417 years, Ayutthaya is one of Thailand's major tourist attractions. Many ancient ruins and art works can be seen in the city, which was founded in 1350 by King U-Thong. 33 kings of 5 dynasties ruled the kingdom until it was destroyed by the Burmese in 1767.
During this day trip you will visit the principal sights: Wat Sri Sanphet - this important and outstanding monastery was used as a residential palace in the reign of King Ramathibodi I. Wat Phananchoeng: This monastery existed before Ayuttaya was founded as the capital. The principal 19 metres high Buddha image is made of stucco and is the most revered by the inhabitants of Ayutthaya.
Wat Yai Chaimongkhol: The chedi at this monastery is among the largest in Ayuttaya and was built by King Naresuan (1590-1605). There are many Buddha images and a beautiful garden behind this chedi. This tour also includes a trip to Bang-Pa-In, the former Royal Summer Residence, which represents a fine example of Thai architecture. We then board an overnight train for a journey north. Includes: (B, L).
Day 6: Arrive Chiang Mai. Upon arrival at Chiang Mai Railway Station you will be met and transferred to your hotel for check in (your rooms may not be ready for immediate occupancy). The day is leisure for personal activities or optional tours.
Later this evening enjoy an evening to the Old Chiang Mai Cultural Center, the center was set up over 25 years ago to preserve and promote the history and culture of the ancient northern kingdom of Lan Na, its royal tradition of dances and music, its unique food and the folk art of the people of the valleys and of the hill-tribes. You sit comfortably on cushions on the floor and are served a traditional northern meal.
You then watch a spectacular performance of traditional northern Thai dances by a renowned troupe of beautiful dancers. After dinner, you can stroll across to the hill-tribe theatre where genuine folk dances and music are performed by Akha, Hmong, Yao, Lahu and Lisu boys and girls who live and work at the Cultural Center. A kantoke dinner at the Old Cultural Centre must be at the heart of any visit to Chiang Mai and will, together with the photographs you take, be a cherished memory of your visit to Chiang Mai. Includes: (B, D).
Day 7: Chiang Mai. Travel north of Chiang Mai City, Mae Saa elephant camp is located in a pleasant forested valley. Here the elephants provide a demonstration of their skill, intelligence, good humor and strength. Take lunch and continue the tour to visit Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, tucked away in the mountains at an elevation of 3,280 feet (1,056 meters).
To reach the temple itself requires a climb up a Naga staircase of 290 steps. The monastery was built by King Gue-Na in 1383. In its center stands a huge chedi (spired pagoda), which contains partial relics of Lord Buddha. Then continue to the Hmong village of Doi Pui. The hill people make a living by selling handicrafts, fabrics and curious decorative ornaments. Includes: (B, L).
Day 8: Depart Chiang Mai. Pick-up from your hotel and transfer to the airport or railway station for your onward journey. Includes: (B).
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