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Say sawadee ka to the land of smiles, starting your Thai adventure in Bangkok. Transfer to your hotel where this evening, we meet our Travel Director and fellow guests for a Welcome Reception drink with local appetizers.
Rise early and join the locals for a graceful T'ai Chi practice in Lumpini Park to kick-start your day. Alternatively, enjoy a leisurely start before joining your fellow travelers on a city tour, which begins with a visit to Bangkok's most well-known fruit and flower market, Pak Klong Talad. Continue to the golden spires of Bangkok's Grand Palace, where you'll visit the most sacred Buddhist temple in Thailand, Wat Phra Kaew. See the largest-reclining Buddha in Thailand in Bangkok's oldest temple, Wat Pho, and enjoy a traditional Thai massage in the temple's massage center. Return to your hotel by express river boat, cruising down the Chao Praya past beautiful Wat Arun, the Temple of the Dawn.
Immerse your senses in the five flavors of Thai as you join a Local Specialist for a traditional cooking class in a colonial-style house. Visit a local market nearby to source the freshest ingredients that reveal the sweet, sour, salty, bitter and hot flavors of Thai cuisine. Sample the results later, then spend the afternoon exploring the City of Angels on your terms, or consider joining an Optional Experience.
A riot of colors greets us this morning as we embark on a visit to the famous floating market at Damnoen Saduak. Connect with the friendly merchants who paddle along the congested canals in their sturdy canoes, laden with fresh fruit and vegetables to sell to shoppers on the banks. En route, we'll dive into culture, stopping at a coconut palm sugar plantation where we'll discover how the farmer extracts the sap from his palm trees to create palm sugar. After lunch in a local restaurant, we'll visit the Thailand-Burma Railway Museum, revealing insights into the history of the infamous railway line built during WWII by the Imperial Japanese army. Our final stop today sees us pay tribute to the thousands of allied prisoners of war who were laid to rest at the War Cemetery.
This morning, we visit Hellfire Pass, a section of the Thailand-Burma "Death Railway," so named for the tortuous conditions that prisoners of war endured during WWII to build it. After lunch, we embark on a thrilling train ride across wooden viaducts, skirting the winding waters of the Kwai River. We'll disembark and see the wooden viaducts first-hand walking across one. This evening, we enjoy dinner at a local restaurant.
After breakfast, we travel to the UNESCO-listed Ayutthaya, once the second-most important ancient capital of Old Siam and the largest city in the world. Here, we'll delve into the trading heritage of a mighty city that was all but raised to the ground by an 18th-century Burmese invasion. We'll enjoy lunch at a local restaurant, then return to Bangkok for our flight to Sukhothai, Thailand's first capital.
Gain insights into a powerful kingdom that enjoyed its golden age during the 13th and 14th centuries and shaped modern Thailand as we know it today. Start the day with a visit to the UNESCO-listed Sukhothai Historical Park which reveals thousands of years of history and a 49-foot seated Buddha secreted within its walls. Your choice of exploring will see you engage with the historic complex by bicycle or on the internal tram. This afternoon, visit the home of a local family and learn how to make amulets which are thought to protect the owner from harm.
Our day begins with a visit to the village of Natonchan, where we make a difference with our visit by supporting the community's eco-tourism project. We'll interact with the locals and meet one of the villagers to learn about 'gymnastic doll' making and the villagers' traditional cotton clothes which are soaked in mud to protect them from fading. We continue north, enjoying lunch en route and make a brief visit to the 'Friends of the Asian Elephant' Hospital, a foundation that cares for wounded elephants. Arriving in Chiang Mai, we enjoy an evening walk with our Travel Director and visit the colorful Sunday market. Our hotel tonight is located in the old town of Chiang Mai.
Admire the delicate hand-painted fans and colorful paper umbrellas that are famously crafted in Chiang Mai's Sankamphaeng district and meet the children and teachers at a local school to which much-needed supplies will be donated. We continue to a small village nearby where we'll connect with locals, joining a family in their typical stilt house for a northern Thai-style Be My Guest lunch. Next is a visit to Wat Suan Dok where we'll meet a local monk and learn about Buddhism, against the backdrop of the temple's magnificent golden chedi.
Your morning is free to spend as you please or consider joining an Optional Experience. Later, we visit Wat Doi Suthep, one of Thailand's most sacred temples. As the sun sets over this mystical temple, listen quietly to the tranquil sounds of the monks chanting. This evening, we join fellow travelers and Travel Director for a Farewell Dinner at a traditional Thai restaurant located next to the river.
Transfer to the airport for the short flight to Bangkok and onward to Siem Reap, Cambodia. Have some free time this afternoon to relax and enjoy the hotel's facilities.
Today, we venture deep into the Cambodian jungle, through a pyramid-shaped gateway into an ancient world. Serene stone faces watch over us as we cross the causeway suspended over a moat into the spiritual heart of the ancient lost city of Angkor. A Local Specialist and renowned Khmer scholar brings to life the stories behind the intricate carvings and murals of celestial nymphs and mythical serpents along the abandoned hallways of Angkor Wat. Our next stop are the terracotta-hued walls of Banteay Srei Temple—the “Citadel of Women” dedicated to the Hindu God Shiva. We'll have time to admire the 10th-century carvings of women, said to have been too delicate to have been carved by a man, hence its name. Deep in the heart of the Cambodian countryside, we connect with locals, joining a local family for a Be My Guest lunch in their 80-year-old wooden house on their dragon fruit farm. This afternoon, we'll return to Siem Reap and embark on a walking tour. We make a difference in the lives of rural youths during our visit to Artisans d'Angkor, where we'll witness the revival of Khmer arts and crafts. Later we'll visit Wat Damnak and participate in a private blessing ceremony during which a sacred thread will be tied around our wrists to protect against evil spirits. Our final stop today is to the labyrinthine Old Market, where the locals spend their early mornings shopping for fresh fruit, vegetables and spices. Wander past the busy stalls and smell freshly baked baguettes, a remnant of the country's French heritage.
Our intimate encounter with a lost empire continues today, as we uncover other iconic sites of the ancient abandoned city of Angkor that have been devoured by the Cambodian jungle. We explore its ancient ruins in the company of saffron-clad monks and monkeys that clamber up and over the roots of centuries-old trees that have carved their way deep into the Great City's walls. Our first stop today is a visit to the fortified Angkor Thom, where we'll see such iconic sites as the Terrace of Elephants, the Royal Enclosure and the Temple of Bayon with its giant smiling faces of Buddha. We venture underneath the dense tree canopy to the crumbling, moss-covered ruins of the Buddhist temple of Ta Prohm, which featured as the location for the film 'Tomb Raider,' exploring its towers courtyards and corridors to uncover the intricate stone reliefs that are shielded by the surrounding foliage. Enjoy an afternoon at leisure or consider joining an Optional Experience to learn the secrets of Khmer cuisine.
We begin the day in the company of local Khmer villagers and 'Make a Difference' with a visit to their local school for an opportunity to chat to some of the children who will join us on our walk through the village to see how they spend their day-to-day lives. We'll dive into culture, gaining insights into their time-honored craft traditions, such as palm leaf weaving. After the rest of the day at leisure, we'll join our Travel Director and fellow expeditioners for a Farewell Dinner with Apsara dance show.
Transfer to the airport for your onward flight.
14 buffet breakfasts, 9 lunches, 6 dinners.
|Start Date||Return Date||Price||Discount||Availability||Price|
Special Rate Solo Rooming
|15 Sep 19||29 Sep 19||$4,325pp||AARP members save an additional $100||Request Quote Book Now|
|29 Sep 19||13 Oct 19||$4,395pp||AARP members save an additional $100||Request Quote Book Now|
|13 Oct 19||27 Oct 19||$4,395pp||AARP members save an additional $100||Request Quote Book Now|
|17 Nov 19||1 Dec 19||$4,675pp||AARP members save an additional $100||Request Quote Book Now|
|15 Dec 19||29 Dec 19||$4,750pp||AARP members save an additional $100||Request Quote Book Now|
Optional Experiences are subject to change. Your Travel Director will supply you with a final list of Optional Experiences available on your trip. Optional Experiences cannot be booked online; they can be purchased during your trip through your Travel Director.
Siam Niramit combines an authentic Thai meal with a world-class stage show depicting Thailand's historical and spiritual heritage. Travel back through time into the history and culture of the Kingdom of Siam. With over 150 dazzling performers and state-of-the-art special effects, it's a captivating journey. In addition to the dinner and show, there will also be time to stroll through the replica villages from the country's rural regions where Thai handicrafts may be purchased or simply just soak up the atmosphere.
Adult Price: ฿1900
Experience Bangkok at its best while cruising along the historic Chao Phraya River, aboard the "Loy Nava", a 40-year-old antique rice barge which was entirely re-built and beautifully restored to its former glory. On board, you will be welcomed by traditionally dressed hostesses with a rose water sprinkling ceremony. With traditional Kim music playing in the background savor Thailand’s finest regional specialties, whilst passing some of Bangkok’s most famous cultural and majestic landmarks. Price includes dinner, tea/coffee, four alcoholic drinks and bottled water. The price shown is in Thai Bhat.
Adult Price: ฿2650
Experience Bangkok at its best while cruising along the historic Chao Phraya River, aboard the "Loy Nava," a 40-year-old antique rice barge which was entirely re-built and beautifully restored to its former glory. On board, you will be welcomed by traditionally dressed hostesses with a rose water sprinkling ceremony. With traditional Kim music playing in the background savor Thailand’s finest regional specialties, whilst passing some of Bangkok’s most famous cultural and majestic landmarks. Price includes dinner, tea/coffee and bottled water. The price shown is in Thai Bhat.
Adult Price: ฿1800
Jim Thompson House is one of the best examples of traditional Thai residential architecture and houses a breath-taking collection of Southeast Asian art. Jim Thompson, born in Delaware in 1906, fell in love with Thailand while posted as an intelligence agent in Bangkok during WWII. He later made it his permanent home and started a business supplying fine Thai silk to overseas fashion houses, single-handedly saving what had been a dying cottage industry. His silk company continues to flourish today. With the proceeds of his success, Thompson collected an impressive range of artworks, and sections of teak houses, assembling them into a museum complex set in a lush garden alongside central Bangkok’s Saen Saep Canal. The main house is full of tastefully displayed Asian art and curios including Buddha images, paintings, ceramics and antique furniture. The living areas have been preserved as they were when Thompson lived there before his mysterious disappearance. There is also a Thai restaurant and bar plus, a sizeable boutique selling quality silk items, books and prints.
Adult Price: ฿1350
Discover Chinatown's most characterful lanes in the Talad Noi area; a short walk from the hotel. The area is home to some interesting street art and is very much the ‘Real Bangkok’ which many visitors don’t get the opportunity to discover. Walk past centuries-old shop houses and some impressive buildings including Sol Heng Tai; a Chinese mansion that is over 200 years old. Talad Noi’s narrow streets aren’t clogged up with traffic which makes it the perfect place for a walking tour. Sneak a peek inside locals' homes and see the unique sight of recycled engine parts piled up on the side of the road, ready to be converted into longtail boat engines for the nearby Chao Phraya river. The walking tour finishes with a drink in a hidden away local rooftop bar with magnificent views of the river. Enjoy a drink whilst watching boats pass by as the sun sets over Bangkok. Later jump on board a tuk-tuk to see the bright lights of Chinatown before being dropped off back at the hotel.
Adult Price: ฿1275
Head to the north of Chiang Mai to visit Baan Tong Luang Village, an ecological Paduang village situated in a beautiful valley and home to Long Neck Karen hill tribe from Myanmar. The women wear heavy copper neck rings as a ritual starting from when they are 5 or 6 years of age. Other hill tribes such as Lahu, Hmong and White Karen can also be seen in the village in their traditional costumes. The price shown is in Thai Bhat.
Adult Price: ฿2015
Visit the picturesque Ta Prohm, one of the famous temples of Angkor and a UNESCO listed site which was used as the location for the film ‘Tomb Raider’. The temple site is overgrown with trees and has been swallowed by the jungle creating a haunting yet exotic atmosphere. Over the centuries the magnificent roots of the trees have merged with the temple’s remains giving the feeling of a ‘forgotten city’, very much the way most of Angkor’s temples would have appeared when European explorers first stumbled upon them. Learn about the history of the temple and soak up the atmosphere while enjoying a walk through the ruins.
Adult Price: $51
Start the day with a transfer to Chong Kneas, a trading port of agricultural products on the edge of Tonle Sap Lake. Board a traditional and comfortable wooden boat for a relaxing and insightful cruise on the lake to discover the floating villages and some unique wildlife along the way. Enjoy a selection of soft drinks or beer during the cruise. Find out how communities live and work on the lake; see the floating schools, markets, and police stations among other structures and observe their daily lives. Note: This trip will not operate during periods of low water which normally occur from March to August but can vary each year.
Adult Price: $29
Discover the artistic side of Siem Reap with a visit to several of the best workshops and galleries. Artisans d’Angkor, our first stop, offers training and creates job opportunities for young disadvantaged people living in rural areas and is dedicated to the preservation of traditional Khmer skills such as silk-making, stone and wood carving, lacquerware, silverware and painting. Afterward, visit the house of Theam who at 11 years old was among the flood of Cambodian refugees who arrived in France in 1980. After receiving a sound artistic and technical education in interior design in Paris, Theam set aside his dreams and 15 years ago returned to Cambodia. He has converted his personal house into a real working space dedicated to the creation and promotion of Cambodian arts & crafts. Afterward, visit the McDermott Gallery, one of the best photo galleries in town. American photographer John McDermott first came to Angkor in 1995 to photograph the temples of Angkor under the light of a total eclipse of the sun. This moment inspired a long- term fine art project and he now lives in Siem Reap where he founded two galleries that exhibit the work of Cambodian artists and photographers working across Asia.
Adult Price: $20
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