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This sample itinerary provides inspiration yet your preferences design the real journey. Following our Tailor-made Guidelines to create a wonderful Thailand holiday in your own way.
Feel the heat wave once you land in Bangkok. Meet up with your private tour guide whose first word might be Sawadee-ka (Hello in Thai).
Transfer to your hotel in a private car and free at leisure for the rest of today.
Escape the chaos and touts to another less-seen side of Bangkok. Today you will start a 3-hour cycling journey in Phra Pradaeng, recommended by CNN Travel as Bangkok’s Green Lung. The cycling trail on this lovely peninsula weaves your way through vibrant neighborhoods, offering views into real daily life of Bangkok locals. You will also find a small yet interesting floating market here: Bang Nam Phueng Floating Market, which doesn’t focus on tourists but rather for local dwellers.
Get to the open-air food court at the Commons Market. Suggested by name, this is the place where local common people dine, leisure and share fun moments with a mixture of restaurants serving international cuisine. Choose a restaurant you prefer and you will have a fusion lunch and a chance for people watching.
Hide away from the afternoon heat inside the National Museum, which offers an extensive collection of Thai arts and cultures as well as precious historic relics.
As the Grand Palace is always crowded, it wouldn’t hurt much to make it your last stop of the day. Step inside and learn about interesting stories of the royal court. Visit the adjoint Temple of Emerald Buddha, which is believed to be the corner stone of Thailand’s prosperity.
Perfect today with an evening boat ride on the Chao Phraya River. Temples and residential buildings by the riverbanks are illuminated brightly after nightfall, including the famous Temple of Dawn.
You will be taken back to your hotel before 0700pm.
- As only an alternative and break stop for your cycling, you may skip Bang Nam Phueng Floating Market as you got Amphawa scheduled for the next day.
- If time allows, you may also visit Wat Pho with the gigantic reclining Buddha image. A 30-minute foot massage is also available (extra cost on your own expense) at this birthplace for Thai massage.
When it comes to floating market visits, Damnoen Saduak seems like the go-to choice. It is certainly a safe option as suitable all year around. However, not far away from its touts, a more authentic appreciation of floating market cultures lies at Amphawa Floating Market.
Vendors clear out their stalls as a train slowly approaches with wheels running just some inches above their on-sale jackfruit crackers — a clip from a video of Maeklong Railway Market that you must have seen on Youtube. Be there to watch it live. Your first stop in Amphawa are is this interesting market built on rail tracks. Rather than a make-up tourist attraction, it is actually where locals shop for their daily meals.
Proceed to Amphawa Floating Market after a one-hour visit at this railway market.
2 to 3 hours of driving from Bangkok, Amphawa used to be the transportation and commercial center of the Samut Songkhram Province. Unlike Damnoen Saduak, its canals are wider and merchandise are more of locally-produced rather than tourists trinkets sold at Damnoen Saduak. Take a rowing boat along the waterway to watch people haggle.
After lunch at a nearby restaurant, you will get to Khai Bang Kung Fort along the riverbank of the River Maeklong. This Ayutthaya-era site consists of the fort and the namesake temple, demonstrating a fierce 18th century battle between Siam and invaders from Burma. There is an interesting serial of life-size Thai boxing (Muay Thai) statues on the temple ground, displaying the basic moves of this traditional art. This complex is also famous for the temple chambers encased by branches of banyan trees, which jibes in style as the more-famous Wat Mahathat in Ayutthaya (with a Buddha head wrapped in roots and branches).
You will be on the way to the airport in the afternoon. After 2 hours of driving (up to 3 hours depending on the traffic), you will board the flight to Chiang Mai.
Arrive in Chiang Mai at night. Transfer to hotel and enjoy a restful night.
- If you are catching a flight before 0600pm, we will skip the Khai Bang Kung complex. You may also skip it if you are going to Ayutthaya.
Time just kinda slows down in Chiang Mai. Ease your mind with a late morning breakfast at your hotel. Your tour guide will pick you up at around 1000am.
Visit the three primary shrines inside Chiang Mai Old Town, namely Wat Chedi Luang, Wat Phra Signh and Wat Lok Molee, each expresses different aspects of Lanna aesthetics.
After lunch at a local restaurant, get inside the interesting Tribal Museum, displaying items and documents regarding origins, traditions and daily life of the ethnic minority people dwelling in northern Thailand.
Driving out of Chiang Mai, we will make it in time to catch a monk chat at Wat Suan Dok, a campus of MCU Buddhist University. During a 2-hour informal conversation with a monk (or a novice) gets you deeper into his life. You might be amazed with his personal experiences through the spiritual journey and even gain some new insights for your own daily life.
After this meaningful meet-up, you will enjoy a nice dinner at Xanadu rooftop restaurant not far away from Wat Suan Dok (set menu of five courses). Return to your hotel before 0900pm.
- There are a lot of nice temples inside the Old Town and the three mentioned above are our picks. Your tour guide might adjust or substitute accordingly to your interests or crowdedness of each temple. Of course, the list can also be shrunk down or extended upon your request.
- Monk Chat at Wat Suan Dok is available every Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 0500pm to 0700pm. For other days, you will be taken to another place available.
- Set menu dinner at Xanadu excludes drinks and wine, as well as tipping to the waiter/waitress. Requirements for special dining shall be made beforehand.
In the early morning at 0500am, you will be sitting by the roadside waiting for monks on their daily alms collection. As a must-do for any Thailand trips to Chiang Mai, Alms-Offering is both important for the monks and the participants: by offering the freshly cooked rice to monks who only consume two meals a day is good karma archived for the givers.
Return to your hotel for breakfast and free at leisure.
In the afternoon at 0345pm, you will meet up with Lin at your hotel lobby.
As a local Lanna cuisine gastronomist, Lin spent her childhood in the kitchen helping out her mother before getting professional training at a cooking academy from her 20’s. She returned home for this project with the passion to share Lanna finest with the world.
After one hour at the local market, you will be on the way to the class room set in a organic garden 20 minutes away from Chiang Mai in Hang Dong Town. Learning about the ancient cooking tools such as mortar (for grinding spices), grater (for craving and balling hard ingredients such as coconut and papaya) and basket bowls (for containing and serving rice or other sizzling platters) is part of the fun.
During the course, you will learn how to cook three classic Lanna dishes, choosing from Keng Hung Lay (Chiang Mai Curry), Sai Aao (Chiang Mai Sausage), Keng Care (local vegetable and chicken curry), Khao Soi (Chiang Mai Noodle), Tom Som Kai Bai Makham (Hot and Sour Chicken Local Soup with Tamarind Leaf) and Taam Kanoon (Jackfruit Local Salad). One dessert is also included.
Lin hires her crew locally. During dinner time (devouring your own fruit of labor), you may exchange stories with these lovely locals. Delicious food, refreshing drinks and interactions with the locals, all adds up to a night to remember.
Bring home a cookbook You will be taken back to your hotel by Lin (or one of her crew) before 0900pm.
Free at leisure in the morning and take an afternoon flight to Koh Samui.
Known as the one of world’s finest beach destinations, the entire island of Koh Samui is under remarkable preservation for natural landscape, traditional lifestyles and a wide selection of upscale hotels and resorts cannot be more tempting.
Check in your hotel/resort and free at leisure.
Enjoy your days kicking back on white sandy beach of Koh Samui or get geared up for various water sports it has to offer.
Take a morning flight back to Bangkok and connect with your international departure flight.
Thanks for traveling with Asia Highlights and we hope to see you again soon!
Thailand never goes short of hotel choices. Only one category of hotels is used in this itinerary yet it can also be tailor-made to your own preferences.