Thailand

Thailand discovery: culture, forests and tribes

Thailand

Thailand discovery: culture, forests and tribes

Thailand

Thailand discovery: culture, forests and tribes

Thailand

Thailand discovery: culture, forests and tribes

Thailand

Thailand discovery: culture, forests and tribes

Thailand

Thailand discovery: culture, forests and tribes

Thailand

Thailand discovery: culture, forests and tribes

Thailand

Thailand discovery: culture, forests and tribes

Thailand

Thailand discovery: culture, forests and tribes

Thailand

Thailand discovery: culture, forests and tribes

Thailand

Thailand discovery: culture, forests and tribes

Thailand discovery: culture, forests and tribes

11 Days

From € 1720 per person + Flight cost
Calculated on a group of 10 people

ABOUT THE ITINERARY

This itinerary carefully blends the diverse highlights of Northern Thailand at the best of its natural and cultural diversity. At its heart, this holiday is indelibly tranquil and laid-back. The gentle rhythm of life always delights visitors, and it’s always complemented by thick coatings of untamed nature and immersive cultural journeys. This 11-day tour unveils Northern Thailand in the most luxurious of manners, effortlessly blending natural wonder, ancient architecture, charming towns, and indigenous culture. These 11 days tour will start from Bangkok, bringing you the finest experiences in Thailand’s enigmatic capital. Taking advantage of a rich cultural heritage, exciting nightlife, stage shows, natural beauty and more than a few hidden gems, you will find plenty of ways to enrich your trip. Moreover, you will have the chance to discover a farmers’ community in Bangkok surroundings, where lotus flowers are grown, that are offered in Buddhist temples. From here you will cruise towards Ayutthaya on the Chao Phraya River, passing the magnificent Grand Palace and the Temple of Dawn. A traditional rice barges provide the setting for a lunch during the cruise between Bangkok and the UNESCO world heritage city of Ayutthaya. The cruise gives you an opportunity to revisit the ‘old Siam’ and see a charming way of life of local people along the Chao Phraya River. From this privileged perspective you will be able to observe the way of rural life along the river. The Unesco World Heritage site of Ayutthaya is 53 miles (85 kilometers) north of Bangkok. Ayutthaya was a thriving Siamese kingdom from 1350 until 1767, when it was captured by the Burmese. Today, Ayutthaya is know for its spectacular ruins and temples. From here you will start your discover of the Country, discovering the most important cultural and historical sites located on the road between Ayutthaya and Chiang Mai.
In Chiang Rai and Chang Mai you will be host in eco-friendly community-based lodges nestled high on the hills of northern Thailand. They offers hill tribe holidays that combine hill tribe experience with eco-friendly tours such as hiking and Hmong batik class. Contributions from your stay will be used on community projects that will improve the local hill tribe people’s living conditions.

SIGN UP FOR THE TRIP

Registration can be requested for group travel or for self-travel. For group travel, registration is not binding. Upon reaching the minimum number of members necessary for the formation of the group, usually 4 or 6 people, you will be asked for confirmation of booking and payment of a deposit.

JOURNEY OVERVIEW AND PROGRAM DETAILS

Day 1: Arrival Bangkok

Bangkok
Arrival at Suvarnabhumi Airport by morning flight (Suggested flight arrive not later than 08:00 am). Meet with guide and transfer to the hotel. Check-in at the hotel Later in the morning, you will be collected by your guide to experience a Canal tour, starting from the Mahasawat canal’s pier. The canal tour now begins, you will be taken on a local boat along the canal to the attractions that start from Lotus Farm or Water Lilly Farm, you can pick lotus flower by yourself and get a chance to try boat paddling with the beautiful scenery. Then we will go to learn how to cook Rice Crackers and try the best local snack here and have Lunch at Local Restaurant. After lunch, we continue our journey by taking a local boat to visit an Organic Fruit Farm. Taking a local tractor we will ride into the fruit orchards where fruit is organically grown and free from pesticides and other chemicals. You can enjoy a tasting of whatever fruit is in season. (Local Tractor riding is subject to availability). On the way back, visit Wat Arun (Temple of Dawn), built in the Khmer-style and return to the hotel by coach. Overnight at hotel.
Overnight in Bangkok (L)

Day 2: Visit Bangkok

Bangkok
American Breakfast at the hotel. Departure from the hotel, travel to Wat Traimit, famous for its Buddha image made from 5.5 tons of pure gold. After crossing the bustling streets of Chinatown, you will reach the Royal Palace, built in 1782, with its roofs of gold and marble glittering in the sunshine. This tour offers an opportunity to the better understanding of the splendor of Thai architectural forms centuries past, the worship of Buddhism and the high respect Thai people hold for the monarchy. You can also visit Wat Phra Kheo (Temple of the Emerald Buddha), the Tower of the Nine Planets, the Coronation Hall and Funeral Hall (Coronation Hall and Funeral Hall are close for any visit during weekends and public holidays). Proceed to Wat Po, with its stately Reclining Buddha image some 46 meters in length, also the site of the famous school for Thai traditional massage. In the late afternoon you will have a chance to experience a traditional Thai massage from visually impaired therapist. Let’s switch on your senses, here in the dark it counts for nothing whether your eyes are open or closed. Start learning with introduction workshop with blind persons. Then your guide will lead you to walk with your cane to the darkness exhibition where you will be realized the importance of perceptive senses around. The one-hour experience designed to offer an insight into how blind people live. We can say this is one of the most valuable experiences in exploring our non-visual senses and even can change our mindset. Afterward, you will be lead to experience Thai Massage by blind (selective of 60 minutes body massage or 60 minutes foot massage). We let blind therapists demonstrate their unique talent for massage therapy as they are able to fully focus on their sense of touch in a way others cannot.
Return to the hotel for an Overnight. (B)

Day 3: visit Damnernsaduak

Bangkok – Damnern Saduak – Kanchanaburi – Bangkok
American Breakfast at the hotel. Departure to Damnernsaduak, Thailand’s liveliest and most picturesque floating market. People from neighboring villages arrive on the waterways in their loaded sampans to sell or barter all kinds of goods including vegetables, fruit and flowers offering scenes typical of country life in Thailand. From the market, continue to visit Krasae Cave where currently housing some Buddha Statues. Along the way, walking on the old railway track with a spectacular part of the Death Railway running beside steep slopes of the mountain side. It is one of the most interesting part of the railway because of its wooden bridge and is still in working condition. Have lunch at local restaurant. Then, take a train along the Death Railway route to River Kwai Bridge. River Kwai Bridge, built by Allied prisoners of war and Asian laborers. Upon arrival at the bridge, enjoy free time with spectacular view in the area. Return back to the hotel in Bangkok. (B,L,)

Day 4: cruise to Ayutthaya

Bangkok – Ayuthaya – Sukhothai
American Breakfast at the hotel. Check-out and depart from the hotel at approximately 07.00 hrs. to Bang Pa-In Royal Palace or the Summer Palace, which is 53 km. away from Bangkok. Then we will enjoy fantastic Thai lunch on a Rice Barge cruising along the majestic Chao Phraya, “River of Kings”. After lunch, we will explore rest on the island framed by three significant rivers: Chao Phraya, Lopburi and Pasak, the historic temples, palaces and remaining architectures of the ancient kingdom of Ayutthaya are one of Thailand’s most precious historical sites. The 715-acre area has been listed the UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1991 as it portrays the heydays of one of the largest kingdoms in Indochina history. Then, continue the journey to Sukhothai, once was the capital of the first Kingdom of Siam in the 13th and 14th centuries, with arrival late in the afternoon. Check-in at hotel, dinner and overnight at Bangkok (B,L,D)

Day 5: visit Sukhothai

Sukhothai – Prae – Chiang Rai
American breakfast at hotel, check-out and depart to visit Sukhothai Historical Park. After, continue the trip to visit Wat Pra That Su Thon Mongkon Khiri a Lanna style temple with enormous reclining buddha which can be easily seen from the faraway. Lunch at a local restaurant. Then proceed to visit outside Phrae town named “Ban Thong Hong”, a famous village for the distinctive “Mor-Hom”, the indigo dyed, cotton, farmer’s shirt seen all over Thailand under the trademark “Made in Phrae”. Continue the journey to Chiang Rai, was founded by King Mangrai in 1262 and became the capital of the Mangrai Dynasty. Check-in at Lanjia Lodge, after a welcoming drink, your Lanjia host will give you an overview of various tribal peoples in Thailand, particularly the Hmong and the Lahu, who will be your hosts during your stay. You will also learn about the livelihoods of people living near the Mekong river and about the famous giant catfish (locally known as Pla Buek), which is the world’s largest freshwater fish, found in this area of the river. In the evening, you will partake of a sumptuous dinner with local delicacies, followed by a cultural show performed by Hmong and Lahu villagers. You will stay overnight at the Lanjia Lodge. (B,L,D)

Day 6: village walk Chiang Rai

Chiang Rai
After breakfast, you will start the day with a tour through the nearby Hmong and Lahu village, called “Baan Kiew Karn”. You will learn about their traditions, their beliefs and their way of life. You will be shown how to create your own batik piece or, if you are interested, you can learn how to make and set animal traps. You will also visit the shaman of the village who will be pleased to share with you his knowledge of Hmong culture. Later, you will travel in a pick-up truck to the village of Baan Muang Karn, where you will board a boat for a cruise down the Mekong River to the town of Chiang Khong. Lunch will be provided at a local restaurant next to the river. In the afternoon, you will go on a walking tour through the town. You will have the opportunity to visit Buddhist temples and the village of Ban Had Krai, where local fishermen will be eager to share their experiences about catching the famed giant catfish.
Your last stop of the day will be the temple of Phra That Jom Meng. Situated on a mountain top, this offers the most scenic views of the Mekong River basin with Laos in the background. After this, you will now return to the lodge where you can relax and prepare for a delicious dinner incorporating the unique flavors of the local cuisine. Overnight at the Lanjia Lodge. (B,L,D)

Day 7: cruise Mekong River

Chiang Rai
After breakfast, check-out and depart at 07.00 hrs. for a boat trip on the famous “Maekong River” at Golden Triangle (Included). Golden Triangle where Sop Ruak and Mekong Rivers create a natural border of Thailand, Myanmar and Laos. Stop for a short visit to the House of Opium where a variety of the dark histories of this beautiful and rich region in the Northern Thailand are exhibited. Then, continue to have lunch at a local restaurant. After lunch, proceed to visit Wat Rong Khun (or called White Temple) which was designed and built by the famous artist Chalermchai Kositpipat in 1997. Continue the journey to Chiang Mai via Doi Saket scenic route. Chiang Mai is once the capital of the Lanna Kingdom (1296-1768) which later became the Kingdom of Chiang Mai from 1774 to 1939. Arrive at Chiang Mai. Check-in at Lisu Lodge where you will be greeted with a welcome drink. Time at leisure enjoying the scenic views of natural surroundings of Lisu Lodge until Thai traditional dinner. Overnight in Lisu lodge. (B,L,D)

Day 8: Transfer Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai
Breakfast. After breakfast your Lisu guide will then take you for a walk in the village. Your first visit is Ton Lung temple, a place where local people go for spiritual guidance. The temple’s herbal garden has many medicinal plants that are used by the villagers. Your next stop is the shaman’s house. You will have a cup of tea and chat with him about his spiritual practice. Return to Lisu Lodge for a tasty Thai Lunch. After lunch, you will have a walk with our guide through rice paddies, visit Himmapaan nursery and the vegetable garden where organic vegetable and fruits are used for the guest of the lodge. You will have the chance of learning about the flora of northern Thailand and the efforts in restoring the forest eco-system at a tree nursery of the Himmapaan Foundation.
Spend the rest of the day at leisure. Optional Activities can be purchased on spot at the lodge. You can experience a traditional Thai massage (Optional) or a steam bath, which not only helps to relax the whole body on a deeper level but also improve blood circulation, release of muscle tension, as well as stress relief. In the evening, enjoy delicious Thai dinner and watch a traditional Lisu dance. (B,L,D)

Day 9: village walk Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai
After breakfast start an exciting day with an easy 13 kilometers (8 miles) of cycling to Muang Guert. Enroute stop at Tea plantation – Stop off to relax and enjoy a magnificent landscape at our tea plantation where you will be led by an experienced guide who will introduce you to the process of growing and harvesting tea as well as vegetation propagation to produce tea seedlings at the nursery, whilst teaching you how to pluck tea leaves and enjoy a cup of fresh-roasted tea. Continue cycling to Rafting Station. After a healthy picnic lunch on the bank of the river you will go on an exciting ride, about 45 minutes of white water rafting that takes you a traditional Thai country village. Return to Lisu Lodge by a local truck. Dinner and overnight at Lisu Lodge. (B,L,D)

Day 10: Cycle Muang Guert Village

Chiang Mai
Breakfast at the lodge and check out. Depart to visit Wiang Kum Kam, the Underground Ancient City – the first capital of Lanna Kingdom built by King Mangrai before he moved it to Chiang Mai. Enjoy a horse cart ride.
Then, continue to visit Wat Phra Singh (Temple of the Lion Buddha), one of the finest classic Lanna Style architecture in Northern Thailand where house a very highly revered Buddha image named Phra Sing Buddha.
Then, experience the local’s live by visiting Chiang Mai local market called “Warorot Market”. Lunch at local restaurant. After lunch, proceed to visit to Doi Suthep (1676 m. AMSL), the landmark of Chiang Mai where the beautiful pagoda of Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, built in 1383 during the reign of the King “Kue-Na”, is located. From the top of the Doi Suthep, enjoy a beautiful panorama view of Chiang Mai city. Check in at Amora Chiang Mai and Overnight (B,L)

Day 11: depart from Bangkok

Chiang Mai
American breakfast at the hotel, check-out and transfer to Chiang Mai airport in time to board your flight to Bangkok or other destinations (suggested morning flight that departure from Chiang Mai airport at 10.00 am.). (B)

ACTIVITIES

  • visit the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, Grand Palace and Temple of the Reclining Buddha of Bagkok,
  • visit a farmers’ community in Bangkok surroundings, where lotus flowers are grown,
  • experience a traditional Thai massage from visually impaired therapist,
  • experience Damnernsaduak, Thailand’s liveliest and most picturesque floating market,
  • take a train along the Death Railway route to River Kwai Bridge,
  • enjoy a lunch during cruise towards Ayutthaya on the Chao Phraya, observing the way of rural life along the river,
  • visit the Summer Royal Residence of Bang Pa In and the Neo-Gothic Buddhist monastery,
  • discover the main ruins of the country’s former capital, Ayutthaya,
  • visit the UNESCO sites of Sri-Satchanalai and Sukhothai,
  • visit the ancient temple of Lampang,
  • learn from your Lanjia host In Chang Rai about the various tribal peoples of Thailand,
  • learn about the livelihoods of people living near the Mekong river,
  • enojoy a traditional and a cultural show performed by Hmong and Lahu villagers,
  • learn about Lahu traditions, beliefs and their way of living,
  • enjoy a cruise down the Mekong River to the town of Chiang Khong,
  • explore the village of Ban Had Krai, where local fishermen will share their experiences about catching the famed giant catfish,
  • walk aroung two community based eco-lodges in Chang Rai and Chang Mai,
  • visit a shaman’s house, where you can learn about his spiritual practice,
  • learn about the flora of northern Thailand and the efforts in restoring the forest eco-system at a tree nursery of the Himmapaan Foundation,
  • enjoy a delicious Thai dinner and watch a traditional Lisu dance,
  • cycle to Muang Guert village while observing breath taking tea plantation landscapes,
  • learn how to prepare an authentic Thai meal.

SOCIAL AND ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT

All the itinerary has been designed in order to promote direct or indirect benefits for local communities, environment and cultural heritages. When possible we have selected traditional accommodations sensible to social and environmental issues, following general principles and practices of responsible tourism. During the tour you will have several opportunities to meet and interact with local and tribal communities as to get a real exposure to their culture and agricultural practices. In Bangkok surroundings you will have a chance to visit a farmers’ community, where lotus flowers are grown, that are offered in Buddhist temples. In Bangkok you will also have a chance to experience a traditional Thai massage from visually impaired therapist. Perception Blind Massage was launched in December 2014, with an aim of introducing new massage place concept to Bangkok while providing employment for blind or visually impaired therapists. We let them demonstrate their unique talent for massage therapy as they are able to fully focus on their sense of touch in a way others cannot.
In Chang Rai you will stay at The Lanjia, or ‘peaceful’ in Hmong language, is an eco-friendly community-based lodge nestled high on a hill in Chiang Rai Province, northern Thailand. It offers hill tribe holidays that combine hill tribe experience with eco-friendly tours such as hiking and Hmong batik class. Contributions from your stay will be used on community projects that will improve the local hill tribe people’s living conditions. Tribal community will welcome you showcasing their village, through homestead gardens and paddy fields. Your Lanjia host will give you an overview of various tribal peoples in Thailand, particularly the Hmong and the Lahu, who will be your hosts during your stay. You will also learn about the livelihoods of people living near the Mekong river and about the famous giant catfish (locally known as Pla Buek), which is the world’s largest freshwater fish, found in this area of the river.
In Chang Mai you will be host in Lisu Lodge, which offers hill tribe holidays that include cultural and adventure experiences in Chiang Mai Province, northern Thailand. Named after the Lisu hill tribe village that is found near the lodge, the lodge is also part of a community-based project that aims to conserve the natural heritage of the hill tribes in Chiang Mai. The lodge is operated by Lisu hill tribe villagers who will take care of you during your stay. Additionally, tours and activities at the lodge are run by the villagers or local tour operators while food is locally sourced and fetched from our organic rice fields and vegetable garden. Here your Lisu guide will show you with an easy 13 kilometers of cycling Muang Guert village. You will learn about tea plantation, where you will be led by an experienced guide who will introduce you to the process of growing and harvesting tea as well as vegetation propagation to produce tea seedlings at the nursery, whilst teaching you how to pluck tea leaves and enjoy a cup of fresh-roasted tea. Here you will have the chance of learning about the flora of northern Thailand and the efforts in restoring the forest eco-system at a tree nursery of the Himmapaan Foundation. The Foundation provides education and training to travelers and villagers about the protection of the environment and the importance of sustainable community.
Moreover, your contribution of 50 euros will support development projects in favour of one of the most marginalised tribal Communities of Thailand who are still at the margin of Thai society.

TIPS BEFORE DEPARTURE

A conscious approach to travel requires a considerable capacity and willingness to adapt and adjust to the local environment and culture. If you wish to travel with us we request you to be open enough to experience local culture, religious and traditions without bias and pre-conceived ideas you might have before the departure and which belong to our Western cultural way of thinking. Exploring with fresh eyes, with patience and openness, you will be able to access the real essence of South Asian cultural heritages, through the places and people you are going to meet; if you are ready to do this effort you will really enjoy the beauty of a completely different cultural tradition, the extraordinary of the nature, the solemnity of Buddhist temples, the holiness of the waters of countless rivers and oceans that flow through this magic land…
While travelling in Thailand, despite being famous tourist destinations, it is advised that you following carefully a code conduct which respects local culture to avoid any hassles or unwanted troubles along your journey. In particular, avoid to show affection in public places, such as hugging, kissing etc., as this behaviour is not appreciated by local people. Thailand is a wonderful place full of wonderful people. For this reason we would like to enlighten you about a few cultural points that will make your stay here more enjoyable and comfortable for both travelers and locals:

  • Instead of shaking hands or kissing in Thailand to say hello, place your hands in the prayer like position and pull them towards your chest, bowing your head slightly. This is called a ‘wai’.
  • Do not touch Thai people on the head as it is a sign of disrespect.
  • Do not sit with your feet stretched out pointing at someone, or any Buddha images as it is also very rude and disrespectful.
  • Remove shoes when entering temples or Thai houses
  • Please respect the Royal Family and do not make negative comments about them.
  • Smiling and attempting to speak Thai will really impress people. They call us ‘farang’ which just means foreigner and is not disrespectful in any way.

Buddhist monks are a common sight all over Thailand and are easily recognized with their orange robes and shaved heads. It is strictly forbidden for male monks to have direct physical contact with women, this includes handing them something. It is acceptable for women to offer a gift by placing it on the ground in front of a monk and backing away, or by giving it to a man to offer for the woman. Men can come in direct contact with monks. Please treat monks with the utmost respect, to speak to them respectfully and ‘wai’ when greeting, saying goodbye and thank you.
You are advised to follow a certain dress code. There are basically two reasons why it is recommended to be careful about what clothes you wear while traveling to the area. The first reason is to prevent you from hurting the sentiments of the local people and second, to protect you from the varied weather conditions prevailing in seasons. One more thing to keep in mind is mosquitoes…it is advised to keep your arms and legs covered because it provides protection (however, don’t forget to bring with you mosquito nets and repellents, especially for river cruises). Thailand’s time zone is GMT/UTC +7, so chances of jet lag cannot be ignored. It is advised that you get onto this time zone as soon as you leave home and try to eat and sleep according local time. Also, if you reach Thailand early in the day, try to stay awake – this will help the body’s internal clock to reset.
If you are staying less than 30 days, you will not need a visa to Thailand in advance. You can have your passport stamped when you arrive. It is free and you don’t need to bring extra passport photos. However, this is only valid for 30 days and you must show your return ticket upon arrival to show that you plan to leave.

HOTELS

We selected beautiful and traditional heritages resorts with all the facilities throughout the tour. When possible resorts have been selected carefully according to criteria of social and environmental impacts. In, Chang Mai and Chang Rai we have selected two beautiful ecolodges which are part of community-based projects that aims to conserve the natural heritage of the hill tribes.

TRANSPORT

A river cruise between Bangkok and Ayutthaya, in an elegantly restored crafted rice barge including an lunch on board. From Ayutthaya to Chaing Mai, private vehicles o mini-buses with AC will be used according to the number of participants.

WHEN TO GO

Although the climate varies throughout Thailand, you can visit all year round. The best time to travel is during the cool and dry season between November and early April. The climate of most of Thailand is governed by three seasons: rainy (roughly May–Oct), caused by the southwest monsoon dumping moisture gathered from the Andaman Sea and the Gulf of Thailand; cool (Nov–Feb); and hot (March–May).

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