Hill Tribes of Thailand
12 days with Alexander+Roberts Rating:
Day 1 Welcome to Bangkok
You’ll be met on arrival and escorted to the deluxe Eastin Grand Hotel Sathorn.
Day 2 Tour the Grand Palace
Your morning tour begins with the glittering halls and pavilions of the magnificent Grand Palace, including the Temple of the Emerald Buddha and Coronation Hall. Then set out in a traditional motor launch to explore along the city’s canals past serene family homes and bustling temples. You’ll see the beautiful Royal Barges before disembarking to visit Wat Arun, the amazing Temple of Dawn.
After lunch at the Supatra River House, your guided sightseeing continues at Wat Pho, one of the city’s largest Buddhist temples. In addition to being one of the country’s oldest institutions of learning, this spectacular complex is home to beautiful murals, ornate architectural detail and an enormous 150-foot long gilded image of a reclining Buddha. Enjoy the rest of the afternoon at leisure and dine this evening at your 5-star hotel. Meals B+L+D
Day 3 Damnoen Saduak Market + On to Kanchanaburi
Leaving the busy capital behind this morning, we’ll take you to Ratchburi Province. The floating market here at Damnoen Saduak is one of the country’s busiest and most colorful. Hundreds of vendors ply the canals in their traditional wooden boats selling everything from tropical fruits and produce to daily staples and even souvenirs.
Then journey into the lush forests of Kanchanaburi Province, the site of the infamous Bridge over the River Kwai – immortalized in book and film. Begin your exploration at the JEATH Museum, highly regarded for its unique collection of photographs and memorabilia from World War II. Nearby, at an Allied Cemetery, you’ll learn more about the thousands of prisoners of war who lost their lives during the construction of the Bridge and the Death Railway.
After lunch, check in to your unique and spacious floating villa at the Float House River Kwai, set on the edge of the gently floating river against a lushly forested mountain backdrop. Take some time to enjoy your private terrace on the river and the extraordinary setting of our evocative resort. Later this afternoon, rejoin your guide to venture by boat through spectacular river gorges into the jungle to visit a Mon tribal village. Enjoy dinner and a performance of Mon music and dance at our resort before retiring to your floating room. (B+L+D)
Day 4 Sai Yoke Yai National Park + The Infamous Death Railway
Lush forests of evergreens, bamboo, teak and other deciduous trees cover the slopes that rise steeply from the banks of the River Kwai. This is the captivating scenery that will surround you on our morning expedition upriver into Sai Yoke Yai National Park. The wildlife here can be elusive and the tropical vegetation is thick and lush – making the wildlife hard to spot. But with good luck and sharp eyes, you might observe some of the Park’s denizens including macaques, large sambar deer, gibbon and even elephants! We’ll cruise all the way to the lovely Sai Yoke Yai Waterfall before returning to shore for lunch.
In the afternoon, you’ll board the Death Railway at the River Kwai Bridge Station. As you make the journey toward Nam Tok, you’ll discover some of the region’s most spectacular scenery. Captivating though these landscapes are, this rail adventure also offers a powerful look into World War II history. In particular, as the train makes its way through rocky gorges dug at the cost of numerous POW lives and over the original wooden viaducts that hug the steep cliff walls, you’ll gain a very personal understanding of this tragic chapter of the War. (B+L+D)
Day 5 Ayutthaya + Phitsanulok
After breakfast, you’ll embark on a scenic journey through the fertile farmlands and jungle-clad mountains that lie along Thailand’s eastern border with Myanmar. Our destination this morning is Ayutthaya c, where vast ruins bear witness to the splendor of the ancient kingdom of Siam that flourished from 1350 until 1767. Here in this erstwhile royal capital, you’ll delve into fascinating history and explore fabulous ruins including Wat Phra Sri Sanphet. This was the holiest temple on the site of the ancient Royal Palace and its still intact stupas attest to Ayutthaya’s former glory!
After lunch, you’ll continue on to Phitsanulok to visit Wat Yai, beloved for its golden statue of Buddha. Then check in to the Pattara Resort here in Phitsanulok with time to refresh before dinner. Later this evening, set out in a trishaw to visit the city’s bustling and exotic Night Market. Filled with everything from souvenir t-shirts to exotic tropical fruits, the energetic and colorful Phitsanulok market is famous – or infamous! – for its wide variety of edible insects that the adventurous may wish to try! (B+L+D)
Day 6 Phitsanulok + Sukhothai + Chiang Mai
Check out after breakfast and travel to Sukhothai c, the venerated first capital of the Kingdom. Recognized as a World Heritage Site, its fabulous ruins date back to the 13th century. After lunch, continue overland to Chiang Mai. Embraced for its beauty as the Rose of the North, it’s beloved by the Thai people for its long heritage of art, culture and deep spirituality. This evening’s Khantoke Dinner features the region’s Lanna-style cuisine and the music and dance of the northern hill tribes. Enjoy two nights at the lovely U Chiang Mai Hotel. (B+L+D)
Day 7 In and Around Chiang Mai
After a leisurely morning, we’ll take you into the countryside to spend time with local farmers; learn the many steps of rice cultivation as practiced for centuries and try your hand at planting this important staple. Then sit down to a delightful al fresco lunch surrounded by sweeping rural vistas and rice paddies. Continue into the forested mountains to visit a Meo hill tribe village before ascending to 3,500 feet to visit the lavish Doi Suthep Temple. Your tour of this venerated complex has been specially timed to coincide with the magical evening chants of Buddhist monks. Receive a private blessing from one of these resident monks and then take in the mesmerizing nighttime views of the city. Return to your hotel in Chiang Mai for another tranquil night. (B+L)
Day 8 Chiang Dao Caves + Chiang Rai
Join Chiang Mai residents early this morning as they “gain merit” with food offerings to young saffron-robed monks walking silently through the city streets; it’s an ancient ritual that offers rich insight into an enduring facet of Buddhist culture. After breakfast, you’ll travel into the lushly forested, mountain landscapes of Chiang Dao National Park where an experienced guide will show you the impressive stalactites, stalagmites and other geological formations of the Chiang Dao Caves. Venerated for centuries by local residents, the entrance to these caverns is marked by statues and other Buddhist offerings. In the nearby village of Ban Huay Luek, you’ll experience the daily life and cultural traditions of the Hmong people.
From Thaton, a northern province along the border with Myanmar, you’ll embark on a one-hour boat excursion along the Mae Kok River to Baan Mai. Then travel overland through the beautiful countryside to visit a Karen village. The women of this tribe are famous for the brass rings which they wear around their elongated necks. Visiting with Lahu, Akha and Yao tribal villagers offers deeper insight into the traditional ways which endure here in the mountainous regions of northern Thailand. Continue to Chiang Rai and check in to the Legend Chiang Rai River Resort & Spa. Overlooking the Mae Kok River not far from the heart of town, our enchanting 5-star resort offers wonderful views of the verdant countryside. (B+L+D)
Day 9 Exploring Chiang Rai
This morning, you’ll tour the unusual Wat Rong Khun. Also known as the White Temple, this contemporary, extravagantly embellished Buddhist and Hindu complex was designed by the famous Thai artist Chalermchai Kositpipat in 1997. Its white plaster walls are embedded with pieces of glass, so that the structures sparkle brilliantly in the sunlight.
After lunch at a local restaurant, continue your guided sightseeing at Wat Phra Kaew. In striking contrast to the White Temple, this 14th-century Royal Temple is one of the oldest in Chiang Rai. It is also venerated as the site where the Emerald Buddha was discovered. According to legend, this 2,000-year-old image of Buddha arrived in northern Thailand from India and was hidden inside a Chedi here at Wat Phra Kaew. In 1434, the Chedi was struck by lightening and part of the stucco fell away – revealing the Buddha image. Though carved from green jade, the villagers believed it to be made of the precious green gem - and they named it the Emerald Buddha.
Back in the heart of town, you’ll explore a local market before returning to your riverside resort. This evening is yours to enjoy and dine as you wish. (B+L)
Day 10 Into the Golden Triangle
Visit Mae Sai, the northernmost town in Thailand where a bridge over the river connects the country with Burma (Myanmar). From here, venture deeper into the Golden Triangle, the region where the borders of Burma, Laos and Thailand come together. After lunch, explore Chiang Saen, a charming town along the Mekong River rich with historical artifacts including temple carvings and ancient Buddhist statues. Return to your hotel in Chiang Rai where you can dine at your leisure. (B+L)
Day 11 Fly Back to Bangkok
After breakfast, we’ll take you to the airport for your included flight to Bangkok. Upon arrival, you’ll be met and escorted once again to the deluxe Eastin Grand Hotel Sathorn. (B)
Day 12 Depart Bangkok
You’ll be escorted to the airport today for your onward flight. (B)
All This Included
Expertly guided from start to finish, our engaging Thai Trip Leader shows you more of the history, culture and tribal villages of this exotic land. And every evening, you’ll delight in our hand-selected hotels.
Bangkok: Eastin Grand Hotel Sathorn
Kanchanaburi: The Float House River Kwai
Phitsanuloke: Pattara Resort
Chiang Mai: U Chiang Mai
Chiang Rai: The Legend Chiang Rai Boutique River Resort & Spa
Pre and Post Add-ons
Travel on to Angkor Wat!
3-Day Post-Tour Extension from $799
The magnificent jungle ruins of the ancient Khmer Empire are the perfect addition to this trip. We include your flight from Bangkok to Siem Reap, 2 nights at the deluxe Victoria Angkor Resort, daily breakfast and 2 days of unhurried sightseeing including the major temples, significant lesser-known sites and Tonle Sap Lake.
Terms and Conditions
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* The prices shown are U.S. dollars per person, based on double occupancy, and subject to availability. Prices quoted for land/cruise arrangements are subject to increase without notice. Once we have received your deposit, land/cruise prices are guaranteed. Air prices quoted via phone or email are subject to increase and are guaranteed only from the time that full payment is received. Also, air prices or air promotions mentioned on this site or on the phone do not include baggage fees imposed by airlines.