Thailand Explorations, Off the Beaten Track and More - Summer Sale!
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While our trip begins in the common starting place of Bangkok, this tour takes you on a completely off-the-beaten track on a route through the southern (and less-visited) parts of Thailand. Visits to historical and spiritual sites mixed with incredible beaches, massages, fantastic natural foods, intimate natural accommodations and settings, incredible scenery and cultural experiences makes this tour unique in every aspect.
ADDITION RATE INFORMATION
Rate based on double occupancy.
Single supplement applies. $550.00 CAD or ask us about pairing with a same-sex room mate. 5% GST not included.
International flights not included.
Day 1: Arrive BangkokBangkok, Thailand
Most international flights arrive today in the late evening. Please let us know if you are arriving at a different time. Your tour leader will be waiting at the international airport to pick you up and take you to your hotel. You may arrive in time to enjoy a late dinner in the hotel, or a drink in the bar before bed.
Day 2: BangkokBangkok, Thailand
This morning we enjoy our first breakfast in Bangkok! Breakfast is included here at the hotel, and the group will meet in the hotel lobby at an arranged time to depart for the day’s activities.
We will be taking a boat cruise right down the river on which the hotel is located. We will enjoy the whole cruise and, on the return journey, hop on and off at several important sites to enjoy the history and culture of the city. The Chao Phraya is a major transportation artery. A vast network of ferries and water taxis, known as long tails, ferry locals and tourists up and down the river, connecting with the city's main sights. For many, these boats are the preferred way of getting around Bangkok, whose streets are often choked with traffic.
The dazzling, spectacular Grand Palace, undoubtedly the city's most famous landmark is one of our stops today. Built in 1782, and for 150 years the home of the Thai King, the Royal court and the administrative seat of government - the Grand Palace of Bangkok is a grand old dame indeed, that continues to have visitors in awe with its beautiful architecture and intricate detail, all of which is a proud salute to the creativity and craftsmanship of Thai people. Within its walls were also the Thai war ministry, state departments, and even the mint. Today, the complex remains the spiritual heart of the Thai Kingdom.
Within the palace complex are several impressive buildings including Wat PhraKaew (Temple of the Emerald Buddha), which contains the small, very famous and greatly-revered Emerald Buddha that dates back to the 14th century.
Important Note about the Grand Palace: A strict dress code applies. The Grand Palace with The Temple of the Emerald Buddha is Thailand's most sacred site. Visitors must be properly dressed before being allowed entry to the temple. Men must wear long pants and shirts with sleeves (no tank tops; if you're wearing sandals or flip-flops you must wear socks - in other words, no bare feet.) Women must be similarly modestly dressed (no see-through clothes, bare shoulders, etc). If you show up at the front gate improperly dressed, there is a booth near the entrance that can provide clothes to cover you up properly (a deposit is required).
We also visit Wat Pho (the Temple of the Reclining Buddha), or Wat PhraChetuphon, which is located behind the Temple of the Emerald Buddha. It's one of the largest temple complexes in the city and famed for its giant reclining Buddha that measures 46 meters long and is covered in gold leaf. It’s an easy ten-minute walk between here and the Grand Palace. This is also a great place to get a traditional Thai massage. Wat Pho is often considered the leading school of massage in Thailand, as it was the first massage school, so you really are in good hands here. We can definitely make time for a massage!
Wat Arun, the most iconic temple of Bangkok, is located on Thonburi side of Bangkok, almost opposite to the Grand Palace and Wat Pho. Built during seventeenth century on the bank of the Chao Phraya river, its full name 'Wat Arun Ratchawararam Ratchawaramahawihan' is rather hard to remember so it is often called 'Temple of Dawn. The distinctive shape of Wat Arun consists of a central 'Prang' (a khmer-style tower) surrounded by four smaller towers all encrusted with faience from plates and potteries. The stairs to reach a balcony on the main tower are quite steep, usually easier to climb up than to walk down, but the view from up there is really worth it. Despite its name, the Temple of Dawn looks amazing at sunset.
(Please note, these are the sites included for today, lunch will be at a convenient spot along the way. The order of these sites may be changed.)
We return to the hotel where you can enjoy the pool or gardens, or the surrounding area. Our first group dinner will be tonight in the hotel. Your tour leader will let you know what time we will be meeting. The rest of the evening is free to enjoy the city. If you would like to explore, please ask your tour leader for information, or to join you!
Day 3: Bangkok To PhatthalungPhatthalung, Thailand
We take our transport to the national airport today to take the short flight to the southern part of Thailand. Our flight departs late morning. We arrive into the airport in Trang just after lunch where our transport is waiting for us. We can enjoy lunch in the area before heading off to Phatthalung and our accommodations, in order to get settled before any activities. We will be going to the Trang-Andaman Gateway for lunch. It is about a one-hour drive from the airport. There are food vendors for cheap meals, but also a nice resort with a restaurant for those who prefer a sit-down setting, with beautiful terrace seating with great views. It is located in the middle of the Khao Phu Khao Ya national park, which still boasts pristine forest. There are great photo opts here as well. It is approximately an hour's drive on to Phatthalung, where we will be spending the following nights. We will check into the hotel, get ready and head off to our afternoon destination.
Later this afternoon we will head to the most famous landmark in Phatthalung, Khoa Oak Talu, Punch Cliff Mountain. We will walk up to the huge hole that goes directly thru the middle of the mountain. This trail is a great way to burn those lunch calories as it consists of 1226 man-made steps to the top. Along the trail are breathtaking views of the surrounding country side and rice paddies below. You might want to bring flashlights as on the way down there is a great spot to sit and watch the sunset.
We return to the hotel to have dinner and a good night's sleep.
Day 4: Phatthalung Nature And TemplesPhatthalung, Thailand
Today and tomorrow we will enjoy some of the temples and natural areas around Phatthalung. Because November is the end of the rainy season, the order of activities can change depending on the day’s weather.
For those who want to, join your tour leader early in the morning to travel a short distance to a great secluded spot to enjoy a short yoga session before returning for breakfast.
After breakfast, we will take private transport to visit Wat Khao Or. Wat Khao Or is one of the oldest Wicha temples in all of southern Thailand. Within its compound lies the famous Tham Chatthanbanpot, a sacred cave where Holy rites and ceremonies were once held. Folklore tells that in the past this cave was inhabited by hermit monks who possessed knowledge of an ancient magic. Later, it became the center for magic gurus. These gurus, intent on preserving their knowledge, taught magic, mantra and herbal medicine to the people. This temple also houses footprints of the Phra Buddha.
After our visit here, we head to the town of Phattalung where we will make a quick visit to the old governors mansion.
After a nice lunch in town, we will go to one of the most important temples in Phatthalung - Wat Tham Khuha Sawan. This ancient temple was built during the Ayutthaya period and was later upgraded to be the first royal temple in the province. Phatthalung is one of the 12 original royal cities of Thailand. Inside the temple cave is a large reclining Buddha image and another in a sitting posture. The cave walls and entrance are full of initials of many kings and royal family members who once visited the temple grounds. We can also take a short climb up to a lookout to have a view of the city.
If we have time, we will move on to another temple that also has a special place in the hearts of the locals. Here, there are 3 to choose from: our favorite is Wat Soonwatras, very small and with a little museum; the other two are Wat Bansuan or Wat Donsala.
We can return to the hotel to have dinner, or enjoy the meal in one of the local restaurants.
Day 5: Phatthalung Nature And TemplesPhatthalung, Thailand
Today, after breakfast, we will visit one of the most beautiful temple complexes: Wat Tham Sumano. This temple cave complex is quite new, legally appointed in January 1992. It was founded by Master Monk Dej Sumano in April 1987. While praying in the Emerald Buddha hall of Wat Phra Keaw in Bangkok, Master Monk Dej Sumano asked to find the perfect cave to be the center for Dharma Buddhism. He was shown the cave in a dream in 1982. He went on pilgrimages to find this cave in the following years but did not find it. In 1986, while in meditation, a man approached and told him the cave would be found in Phatthalung province and he informed him of the road on which he could access the cave. He was told to look for a small mountain covered and surrounded by forest.
In 1987 he found the small mountain in a forest and climbed up to find the entrance. The cave was the same as that which had appeared in his dream 5 years earlier, so he prayed that “I will develop this cave to become a centre where Buddhists can come for the Buddha's dharma.” People of faith gave the land around the mountain and bought more land until the total land was approximately 500 rai. In all, 18 caves have been discovered; some have been developed while others have not. There are beautiful Buddha statues and images through the caves. One of the caves has a river which flows all the way thru it and a trail along side of the river that goes from end to end.
The rest of the day will be determined by weather. We may visit the dam for lunch and a boat ride on the reservoir to a waterfall and a dip in a remote spot. Or, we will have a trip to see Phraiwan and Ton phra tong waterfalls. Praiwan is great for photos and a quick dip and Ton phra tong is great for hiking. You can follow the waterfall up and get away from the people and find great swimming holes. At the end of the day we return to our accommodations to enjoy dinner.
Day 6: Phatthalung To Songkhla And Hat YaiSongkhla, Thailand
This morning we have a very early rise, before sunrise. We head off to Talay Noi and take the longtail boat trip through the lotus, arriving just as the sun is rising. We enjoy breakfast along the lake after the boat trip. Next we head off over the 16 km raised roadway above the sanctuary, and stop for pics of the water buffalo. From here we drive down to Koh Yo with a quick stop at the beach (gulf-side miles of beach and no people), then head to Koh Yo and the southern cultural museum.
After lunch we will spend some time in the Songkhla area. We visit a large golden reclining Buddha, the famous Mermaid Statue, and the National Museum. The museum is housed in the old residence of the governor of Songkhla, built in a Sino-Portugese style. The building itself is quite beautiful. The exhibition leads you from the oldest archeological discoveries (ancient Hindu religious artefacts), to the founding of Songkhla as a Chinese trading hub and the Japanese invasion on WW2. It also has small exhibits relating to the local Muslim communities and their culture.
Our other stop today is at Tang Kuan Hill. We take the tram to the top of the hill, for great views of Songklha and Songklha Lake, which look amazing from the top. There are many prayer stations to stop and offer prayer- it is very peaceful. We will return walking the beautiful trail back down. At the bottom we can find monkeys – and perhaps even get a chance to feed them. You are able to purchase peanuts and bananas from vendors.
We are spending the night in Hat Yai, just 20 kms down the road and will enjoy a lovely dinner in the hotel.
Day 7: Songkhla To Kohbulon LeyKohbulon Ley, Songkhla, Thailand
Today we travel off to a beautiful island off the west coast. Our transport takes us (after breakfast of course!) on the two-hour drive to the coast to catch the speedboat out to the island.
Koh Bulon-Ley is a beautiful Thai island in the Andaman Sea. It is one of the islands of the Petra National Park archipelago. It is situated off western Thailand’s southernmost province, Satun. The KohBulon-Lae fishing village of about 100 Chao Lae (proper name is Urak Lawoi) people, “Sea Gypsies”, is located at Panka Bay, on the west side of the island. Flowers and butterflies abound. Away from the over-development and other problems found on more popular Thai islands, KoBulonLae quietly preserves its rural tranquility. Many other rural, less-travelled islands with villages have lackluster beaches, but Bulon boasts one lovely stretch of off-white sand, along with a few smaller bays, that will soothe you to the bone. The aquamarine water is clear and you'll even find some decent snorkeling sites. Sunrises over KoTarutao and the many karst islets look as breathtaking from here as from any five-star resort on Lipe. Several signs, boards and maps that are now posted around the island provide detailed info on Bulon's cultural and natural background, making it feel like a living museum.
This is also one of the cleanest islands with villages that you'll find anywhere in Southeast Asia. The truly charming Chao Lae (literally: Sea People) take pride in their home, and they're happy to share it. While tourism provides a welcome influx of cash each year from November to April, many of the islanders still subsist on fishing and rubber cultivation. They practice a mix of Islam and an ancient form of spirit worship. It's important to respect them by dressing appropriately -- no skinny-dipping and women should not lounge topless -- and not drinking until you're fall-down drunk. This is definitely not a party island.
Also, during one of the days, we will be visiting a local school in the afternoon for an hour or two to let the kids practice English and do a bit of culture sharing.
Our time on the island is relaxed. There is only generator-supplied electricity at night, and we will enjoy days without our electronics and WiFi.
We have plenty of things to keep us busy here though, if we like. Snorkeling, swimming, exploring the area and nearby islands by boat, kayaks can be rented on the island or even fishing. We enjoy our meals at the resort, and quiet nights. If you like, join your tour leader for yoga on the beach or meditation.
Day 8: Beaches Of Kohbulon LeyKohbulon Ley, Songkhla, Thailand
A day to explore the island (only 15 minutes to walk from one side to the other!), enjoy the beach, or join your tour leader on activities. You may want to visit the local school and help teach some English. A Yoga and meditation session will be scheduled for anyone who wants to participate. These days are meant for relaxation and rejuvenation.
Day 9: Beaches Of Kohbulon LeyKohbulon Ley, Songkhla, Thailand
Another day to relax and enjoy the island, the beach, or join your tour leader on activities. Yoga and meditation sessions will be scheduled for anyone who wants to participate.
Day 10: Kohbulon To PhatthalungPhatthalung, Thailand
Today we depart this beautiful area to return to the mainland. Upon arrival, we meet our transport once again and head off to an activity before returning to our accommodations and a special dinner.
We have a little adventure today as we kayak inside the Tham Le Stegodon cave and marvel at fossils that are millions of years old. This is the long cave journey in Thailand, as you travel by kayak on the river called Wang Kluay, which runs through the cave and flows to a mangrove forest and the sea. We will enjoy a 4km ride inside the cave to find the spot where there are 1.8 million-year-old fossils of the Stegodon, a proboscidean with a physical resemblance to present-day elephants. Stegodon was a large ancient elephant that roamed Asia and lived from 2.5 million years to 11,700 years ago. And don’t worry about paddling, local guides will be available to take us through!
We end this tour after approximately 4 hours, and return to our transport to head back to our accommodations. Tonight we will have a special treat, as we enjoy a BBQ dinner and cultural show.
Day 11: Local Activities And Return To BangkokBangkok, Thailand
Today we have several options for activities and what we do will depend on weather. We can go to LamPam, a great little beach on the lake; while not good for swimming, it is good for pics and food and just chilling on a mat in the shade. Or, we will head off to another waterfall or the national park for a hike. There is also a possibility of visiting a secret spot that our local contact knows! People in Phatthalung don’t even know it exists. It's called water cave, and involves a short but good work-out, good shoes are required for this one, with a 20 or 30-minute hike up a mountain to a cave that hides a crystal-clear pool. Flashlights are a must!
Later today, we return to the airport in Trang for the short flight back to Bangkok and our hotel there. Tonight we are going to enjoy a dinner cruise on the river in front of the hotel.
Day 12: BangkokBangkok, Thailand
This morning you can enjoy breakfast in the hotel. Choose to spend the day on your own, or join your tour leader to visit Wat Mahathat: the headquarters of Thailand's largest monastic order and Vipassana Meditation centre, and an important centre for the study of Buddhism and meditation. Although most programmes are in Thai, there are some in English and the temple has become a popular place to learn the Vipassana Meditation (Insight Meditation). Classes are held daily from 07:00 - 10:00, 13:00 - 16:00, and 18:00 - 20:00. Time needed for practice will vary with each individual with English-speaking monks assisting.
The temple was originally built to house a relic of the Buddha and is one of the oldest temples in Bangkok. You can also have your fortune told inside the 'wat' (temple). Just next to the temple, every Sunday is the Bangkok's largest amulet market, where religious amulets, charms, talismans, and traditional medicine are spread on the ground to be inspected by buyers looking for one that will bring good luck or ward off evil. Different amulets are used for specific purposes; to bring money, restore health, deal with unrequited love or keep your enemies away. Choose carefully! We are going to have some free time to enjoy the different activities here.
If you want to have the day on your own, ask your tour leader what you can do today, or check your pre-departure information for a list of activities and sites. Don’t forget that you can enjoy one last massage here at the hotel, or perhaps just spend the day lounging by the pool.
Tonight we have a final special dinner together as a group.
Day 13: Depart For HomeBangkok, Thailand
Please let us know what airline you are departing on, so your tour leader can arrange for your transfer back to the international airport. Dependent on which airline you are flying, you may be departing in either the morning or the afternoon.
Small group tour, maximum 10 travellers.
35% deposit upon reservation, final payment due 60 days before departure date. OR Payment plans available for this tour: $250.00 deposit and equal monthly payments.
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