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'Sawadee ka' and welcome to Thailand! Your trip will kick off in buzzy Bangkok, a cosmopolitan delight boasting all the mod cons and glistening malls of any capital city, but with a distinctly exotic Thai flourish. Here, golden temples and neon clad nightclubs co-exist peacefully side by side, whilst monks stroll the streets with smart phones in hand. After transferring to your hotel you'll meet up with your Travel Director to learn the lay of the land and dinner which will be your first chance to sample Thailand's amazing cuisine whilst getting to know the rest of your group.
Today's sightseeing tour will start off at the dazzling Grand Palace, where you'll explore the vibrant and intricate architecture of this sprawling royal complex, a former home to the Kings of Thailand from the 18th to mid-20th centuries. The architecture is vibrantly Thai and the overall effect is dazzling with all the brightly coloured intricate detail. Next head on to the non sensical but utterly fascinating maze of streets that comprise Bangkok's busiest neighbourhood; Chinatown. Salivate over the smells of the food cooking in the street whilst browsing the stalls selling everything from vegetables to Chinese herbal medicine, then visit the iconic Temple of the Golden Buddha, Wat Traimit. Here sits the world's largest solid gold Buddha image which is made of about 83% pure gold and weighing in at five and a half tons it is worth millions of dollars at today's gold prices. Stopping for lunch at a local restaurant and with an afternoon yours to explore your way, perhaps choose to join our optional visit to Jim Thompson's House. Housing an astounding collection of Southeast Asian art, the house is also an exquisite example of traditional Thai architecture.
Leaving Bangkok behind, today we're heading southbound for the elephant filled lands of Kui Buri. Arriving here, enjoy the tropical sight of pineapple fields stretching away in every direction, then meet up with a Local Specialist to discover how the local people of the region make a living by producing paper from a unique mix of pineapple fibres and elephant dung. Heading to the Huay Samrong Ranger Camp for a picnic lunch, this afternoon you'll then hop into a 4 wheel drive truck and enter the Kui Buri National Park, one of the best spots in all of Thailand for spotting elephants in the wild. Catching a glimpse of these gentle giants is highly likely given there are around 320 elephants roaming free, but also keep your eyes peeled for gaurs, barking deer and the more elusive golden jackal. Arriving into the unspoiled sleepy beach town of Prachuap Khiri Khan, check in to your hotel for an evening at leisure. Perhaps head out to a local restaurant serving up fresh seafood accompanied by the sounds of the ocean.
From one lazy beach town to the next, today you'll journey on to the gorgeously curved stretch of coastline known as Ao Manao. Hard to imagine, but this pretty as a postcard bay was once a WWII battle scene between the Thai and Japanese armies. On the 8th December 1941 a short but ferocious battle, which lasted little more than a day, occurred between the two nations, a commemoration of which has been engraved on a vast green granite rock known as Monkey Monument. Many tame monkeys can be seen here as well as a handful of old aeroplanes from the war. Heading on, you'll make a stop at the mosaic covered Wat Ban Thung Khlet to admire the countless Thai coins that make up the temple's exterior, before finishing up at your beachside hotel for another blissful evening.
First up today will be a visit to a small research centre specialising in rubber production. Meeting up with a Local Specialist you'll learn how locals tap for rubber by precisely slicing a groove into a rubber tree and peeling back the bark. Heading for lunch at a local restaurant, this afternoon you'll then arrive amidst the limestone karsts and tropical mangroves of gorgeous Krabi. Famed around the world for its 120 km long shoreline of glistening white sand beaches and more than 150 off shore tropical islands, this is the 'Thailand of Dreams'. Krabi Town itself is where the action takes place, complete with restaurants, and shops but head to the beaches and paradise awaits. Checking in to your hotel overlooking lovely Ao Nang Bay, spend the rest of the day your way, perhaps relaxing poolside, or taking your first dip in the enticing Andaman Sea.
Waking up in paradise is a dream for many, but today it's your reality. With an entirely free day and an endless stretch of coastline to explore, where will you head first? Perhaps keep it local on the pretty and palm fringed Ao Nang Beach just a stone's throw from your hotel or keen to get out on the water? Why not join our Optional trip to James Bond Island, so named as the island featured in the 007 film 'The Man with the Golden Gun'. Known locally as Phang Nga Bay National Park, you'll cruise here on a traditional long-tail boat and soak up the scenery before heading on to Koh Panyee island for lunch.
Bidding a fond farewell to Krabi, this morning you'll venture still further south to the cultural town of Trang. Jumping straight in to the foodie scene with lunch at a local restaurant, this afternoon you'll then pay a visit to the caves of Tham Le Khao Kop. A real display of nature showing off and something of a natural phenomenon, you'll explore the caves by boat, venturing in from the side of the Banthat Mountain on a canal that flows straight through the middle of the cave. Covered in glorious stalactites and stalagmites, hold your breath as the boat goes 'under the dragon's belly', a part of the cave that gets very low. Leaving the caves behind, you'll then pay a visit to a wood carving workshop where local craftsmen create products from the Thep Tharo tree, a local variety of pine that emits a heavily scent of cinnamon. Finally arriving at your hotel, you'll reflect on another awesome day over dinner with your fellow travellers.
Leaving Trang behind and driving to the port of Satun, today you'll say a sad goodbye to Thailand but a happy hello to Malaysia as you board a ferry bound for the sandy shores and jungle covered lands of Langkawi. Part of an archipelago of more than 100 islands and countless tiny islets, Langkawi is a true escape from reality. Here, you can live life in the slow lane in the traditional kampungs (villages) of the island, or chase adventure by exploring the many waterfalls, hot springs and forests. Meeting up with your Malaysian Travel Director, check in to your hotel and then enjoy your first night of Malaysian island living.
Your dreamy surroundings are entirely real and all yours to explore today. Keen to explore the island a little? You could choose to join our optional half day trip to explore the island further starting with a trip on the bubble shaped Langkawi Cable Car. Climbing 2.2 kilometres up the mountainside, enjoy the views of the Seven Wells waterfalls and the dense tropical forest before reaching the 708 metre peak of Gunung Macincang, or Station 1. Totally deserving of some relaxation, you'll then travel to Black Sand Beach to discover the unusual beach with its black sand and finish up with a visit to the Handicraft Centre of Langkawi.
It will be all aboard the ferry this morning as you venture towards the historical, cultural and utterly charming island of Penang, one of Malaysia's brightest shining stars. Your destination for today will be Georgetown, Penang's diverse, multicultural and artistically inclined main town. Boasting a real east meets west vibe, Georgetown is the kind of place where you can photograph timeless old trishaws pedalling around the streets one minute, then stumble across a crumbling wall adorned with street art the next. Chinese temples, mosques, British Raj era buildings and charming shophouses are all part of the architectural mix here, whilst the modern art scene attracts a creative crowd. No doubt keen to dive straight in, this evening you might like to take advantage of our Optional tour of the lively 'Pasar Malam' or night market, followed by a tasty Malaysian feast.
This morning's sightseeing tour will start off with a drive past St. George's Anglican Church and The Goddess of Mercy Temple, Penang's oldest Taoist temple. Continuing on foot, you'll then walk around town and get to admire some of the incredible street art that has indisputably put Penang on the creative map. Next up will be the Chinese clan house of Khoo Kongsi, a real display of grandeur featuring intricate wood carvings and highly ornate architecture, followed by a stop at Clan Jetty. Here, various Chinese clans have joined together to create a thriving waterfront society in houses made of stilts, with the jetty forming part of the Penang Heritage Trail. Boarding the coach, you'll then head on to the regal town of Kuala Kangsar, stopping for a local lunch along the way. Reaching Kuala Kangsar, pay a visit to the shining Italian marble clad, gold dome topped Masjid Ubudiah, before journeying on to tea country and your final destination for the day, the Cameron Highlands.
Wake up to views this morning of rolling green tea plantations and endless strawberry fields. At Malaysia’s largest tea station, this morning you’ll learn about the tea growing and harvesting process, sip a cup of local brew, then continue on to a Butterfly Farm to wander round large greenhouses filled with tropical plants and armies of butterflies. Stopping off in Tanah Rata with some free time for lunch you’ll then head back to your hotel on roads surrounded on all sides by acres upon acres of strawberry fields.
Breathing in a final lung full of fresh tea station air, today you'll swap rolling fields for skyscrapers as you head for Malaysia's achingly modern capital city, Kuala Lumpur. All sizzling street food, giant skyscrapers, busy street markets and Mogul architecture, 'KL' as it's commonly called is a destination everyone should visit once in their lifetime. Arriving here you'll head straight for the city's biggest icon, the 88 storey Petronas Towers, aka the tallest twin buildings in the world. Visit the 170 metre high Skybridge followed by the 370 metre high observation deck to enjoy the view of the city from above. Back on ground level, your city tour will then include the King's Palace, the Sultan Abdul Samad Building and the Royal Selangor Club, KL's British built cricket and social club founded all the way back in 1884. This evening perhaps join our optional dinner with cultural show.
On the final day of your trip, see out your adventure in style with a free day in the mega metropolis of Kuala Lumpur. Perhaps visit the neighbourhoods of Bangsar or Pubika to browse shops selling trendy independent labels, head to Central Market for locally made goods or wander around Chinatown, the birthplace of KL, for a glimpse of the city of old. Keen for a final hit of history? Opt to join our full day trip to Malacca, formally ruled by the Portuguese, Dutch and British you'll see much evidence of the town's colonial past. Visit the pink coloured Stadhuys and the Cheng Hoon Teng temple and enjoy a traditional Peranakan Nyonya lunch. This evening maybe join our Optional Experience dinner of sumptuous Asian oriental cuisine.
Two weeks, a lot of new friends and countless happy memories later, your trip will come to an end today. Travelling from buzzing cities to sleepy fishing villages via paradisaical islands and emerald green tea plantations, we hope you're leaving Malaysia with full heart and big smiles. Transfer to Kuala Lumpur International Airport for your onward flight.
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