Day 1: Join tour Bangkok. Optional trip to interactive museum
After arriving in Bangkok, we will check-in to our conveniently located hotel. The rest of the day is free. You may choose to visit the Rattanakosin Exhibition Hall - just a ten-minute walk from our accommodation. This interactive museum is regarded as one of the best in Thailand and helps to bring Bangkok's history and culture to life. Another option is a visit to Wat Saket, known as The Golden Mount. Here, a Buddha relic is housed in a gleaming gold temple, attracting worshippers throughout the year.
Day 2: Thai boxing session and long tail boat cruise. Overnight train to Surat Thani
This morning, we visit the Sor Vorapin Gym - the famous Muay Thai training camp, where we will watch Thai Boxing experts in action. Afterwards, we will have the chance to try out training techniques of the traditional martial art in a training session. This afternoon, we head to Tha Tien Pier where we cruise in a traditional long-tail boat along Thonburi's klongs (canals). This is the ideal way to explore Bangkok's network of meandering waterways that continue to serve as an important thoroughfare in the city. Along our route, we watch local life taking place around us - vendors pass by on small wooden boats that are filled with vegetables and noodles to be sold to canal-side homes. We may even see the postman making his deliveries in his engine-powered banana-boat. This evening, we head to Siam Paragon Food Court, where we can enjoy a traditional Thai food dinner with the opportunity to shop in the area for souvenirs before we take the overnight train.
Berths are not in compartments, but are arranged open plan either side of a central aisle. During the evening and morning part of the journey, pairs of seats face each other on each side of the aisle. At night, each pair of seats pulls together to form the bottom bunk, and an upper bunk folds out from the wall. The attendant will make up your bunk with a proper mattress and a pillow, bedding and blanket. There's plenty of luggage room. A steward or stewardess from the restaurant car may come round and take your food or drink order, offering you a set menu with several choices, around 180 baht for dinner and 100 baht for breakfast. The meal will be delivered to your seat although you may want to have this in the restaurant car. Toilets and hand wash sinks are located at the end of each carriage.
Day 3: Travel to Khao Sok National Park with canoe ride throughout the park
Arriving in Surat Thani (Punpin) early this morning, there should be time to purchase breakfast at one of the small cafes near the station, before we transfer to our jungle lodge in Khao Sok National Park. Covering an area of some 65000 square kilometres, the park is one of the oldest and most bio-diverse jungles in South East Asia. In fact, it boasts lush rainforest that is older than that found in the Amazon or Central Africa. Set against a spectacular backdrop of towering limestone mountains, the park is home to a rich diversity of wildlife, including elephant, tiger and the Malaysian sun bear. Some 180 species of birds are also in residence - a delight for both keen birdwatchers and novices alike. This afternoon, we will enjoy a canoe ride along one of the tributaries that snake through this natural wonderland. Here, the sounds of gibbon calls mingle with the flowing river. Keep your eyes peeled for mischievous monkeys playing in the canopy above and watch out for colourful hornbills and kingfishers as they dart among the trees. The park is also a haven for a wide variety of exotic plants, including bamboo, fig, palms and the carnivorous pitcher plant, which gruesomely consumes its prey in its specially adapted 'bag'. Our jungle lodge will be our base for the next two nights. In this magical setting, we can look forward to the sight of monkeys descending from the surrounding canopy to drink from the river.
Day 4: Included guided jungle walk with time to relax
Our second day in the jungle sees us enjoying a guided walk through the dense forest keeping our eyes peeled for mischievous monkeys playing in the canopy above and watching out for colourful hornbills and kingfishers as they dart amongst the trees. The rest of the day is then free to indulge, explore or relax as you see fit. Our lodge is set close to the river, so a swim in this idyllic and unique setting is a welcome possibility. It is also possible to hire a canoe to explore a bit further afield. This evening, there is the option to go on a walking jungle safari, to witness the jungle bursting with life at night.
Day 5: Ferry to Koh Lanta where we transfer to our hotel for a free afternoon
After driving to Krabi, we take the ferry to the first of our island paradises, Koh Lanta. Referred to by locals as the 'Island of Long Beaches', its white sands and forested hills provide the ideal backdrop for our three-night stay. On our journey to the island, we may be accompanied by dolphins and flying fish, so keep your eyes peeled. After checking into our hotel, you can spend the rest of the day as you wish, maybe choosing to relax on one of the superb beaches. Inhabited largely villagers who arrived here from Malaysia 200 years ago, this beautiful island is 25 kilometres long, with a steep ridge forming a forested interior. Parts of its lush interior are cultivated, but most villagers are still involved in the time-honoured occupation of fishing.
Day 6: Boat trip to Koh Phee, kayak around rock island of Koh Talabeng
Today, we plan to take a trip to the islands of Koh Phee and Koh Talabeng by long-tail boat. Koh Phee is known as Ghost Island because of the way it looks from afar. Here, we will find fascinating caves, filled with stalagmites, stalactites and fossils. Next, we will explore the large rock island of Koh Talabeng by kayak, discovering its many caverns and caves which were once used by pirates as shelter. We can look forward to lunch on a beautiful and isolated beach before getting back into our long-tail boat for our return to Koh Lanta.
Day 7: Day trip to Koh Phi Phi Island with included snorkelling
Today, a speedboat takes us to Koh Phi Phi. Rising out of the warm water, the island’s magnificent limestone cliffs and white sand are famous for providing the iconic backdrop to the Leonardo Di Caprio film, ‘The Beach’. Our relaxed day here includes visits to some excellent snorkelling sites and beaches.
Day 8: Ferry to Koh Hai with its white sandy beaches and coral reefs
A short boat transfer this morning takes us to the beautiful island of Koh Hai - the least developed of the islands and where we stay this true island paradise. With its fine white sandy beaches, clear turquoise waters and beautiful coral reef, this saw-toothed landscape of ragged limestone outcrops and evergreen forests offers a spectacular setting for our three-night stay. The rest of today is free to do as much or as little as you like.
Day 9: Boat excursion to Koh Muk and Emerald Cave. Free time for optionals
This morning, we take a boat to the nearby Trang Andaman Island of Koh Muk, where we stop off to visit the stunning 'Emerald Cave' (Tham Morakot) with an 80-metre limestone tunnel that takes us to an inland beach. Surrounded by an enclosed cliff that is covered in vegetation and an open pool of emerald-coloured water, the island is the perfect place to relax and unwind. Further options here include snorkelling, or a walk through the forested interior to the other side of the island. Returning to Koh Hai later in the morning, the rest of your day is free to enjoy as you wish.
Day 10: Free day with optional snorkelling to the Koh Rok Islands
Today is free to spend as you choose. One option is to take a private snorkelling tour to the twin Koh Rok Islands. With just 100 metres between the unspoilt gems of Ko Rok Nok and Ko Rok Nai, it is possible to swim between them. The long reef found here is a snorkeller's paradise, extending for a square mile with both soft and hard corals. Glass-clear waters provide a visibility of up to 20 metres. Only marine park rangers live here so the islands remain totally unspoilt. Ko Rok Nok is particularly famous for its beaches, with Ao Man Sai ranked among the best in Thailand. Lush rainforest close by boasts a wide range of vegetation including numerous mangrove trees and huge banyan trees that are about six metres wide that gives the beach its name. This evening, you may choose to enjoy a sunset-cruise on a long-tail boat.
Day 11: Ferry to Pakmeng Pier and then drive to Trang to catch the overnight train
After a free morning, we say goodbye to our island paradise and take a short boat journey to Pakmeng Pier. From here, we drive to Trang to catch the overnight train back to Bangkok for our final full day of the tour
Day 12: Free in Bangkok. Optional Tuk Tuk ride to the Grand Palace, Emerald Buddha and Wat Po
After arriving in Bangkok why not try a traditional Thai breakfast of Jok Moo (rice porridge), Khanom Kluk (coconut pancake) and Khao Neow Moo Ping (grilled pork and sticky rice) or similar before transferring to our hotel, the rest of the day is free to use as you wish. One option is to join a sightseeing tour. Travelling by tuk-tuk, you will head for the magnificent Grand Palace, where a local guide will show you around. Regarded as the most impressive site in the city and dating from the 18th century, this huge edifice represents the re-emergence of the Thai nation, after years of Burmese oppression. Its unrivalled collection of palaces, golden stupas, Wats (temples) and ornately decorative statues are definitely worth exploring. The tour continues by foot to the rambling complex of Wat Po. Older than the city itself, this is home to the fabulous reclining Buddha - a 46-metre golden plated statue, depicting Lord Buddha as he enters Nirvana. Those who choose to join this tour will return to the hotel by tuk-tuk and have the rest of the day to spend as they wish.
Day 13: Tour ends Bangkok
Your tour ends in Bangkok after breakfast.
Touring with Explore
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