visit asia - tours to asiaCode TH17D

Price : £3,295 per person


Price includes : Private a/c car with driver for transfers in city/town, joined-in open truck for transfers in remote areas, English speaking local guides, hotels a specified with daily breakfast, non air-conditioned tribal lodges, main meals as stated, admission fees, permits to tribal villages.

Price excludes : International flights ( London/Bangkok & ChiangMai/Bangkok/London ), other meals, drinks, optional trips/entertainments, video/camera fees where applicable, tipping, and any service not specified.

Day 1 : Departure from the UK

Day 2 : BANGKOK (-/-/-)
Arrive in Bangkok. Meeting with guide and transfer to 4* Majestic Grande. Rest of the day is at leisure to relax after long flights.

Day 3 : BANGKOK (B/L/-)
Bangkok, like most Thai cities, was built around canals and rivers and the best preserved neighbourhoods are still right there, on the water’s edge. By boat you explore Chao Phraya River and the lesser known canals and slide through these quite, green places where local families still live like in the past. That feeling continues in Wat Arun, ‘the Temple of Dawn’ which you can climb to have a great, welcoming view across the Chao Praya River and the Grand Palace on the other bank.
Discover Bangkok in style with your own expert guide and private car to calmly find your way from highlight to highlight. You will learn of the history of the City Pillar on Ratchanakosin island where Bangkok was founded, enter the always bustling Wat Po; home to the 45 m long Reclining Buddha and the perfect place to make your offering for your wish to be granted. Explore the lanes and stalls of China Town, full of smells and colours, traditional products and Chinese temples. Marvel at the sea of flowers on the orchid market where house wives come pick the best flower to put on their family altar at home. Cross the river to the Temple of Dawn to enjoy the view across the river and of course the majestic Grand Palace; a glistering spectacle of colours and the most photographed site in Bangkok. Discover a local community in wooden houses around the Mahakan fort before climbing up into sky on Golden Mount Wat Saket. The end of the afternoon is at leisure to maybe sip a fresh mango juice while people-watching around Nana station or do some shopping on Siam Square or dive into the well known Patpong-night market. Overnight in Bangkok.

Early morning pick-up from your hotel and transfer to train station. There are various types of trains in Thailand and you will board the most local of these for the short ride to Bang Pa In. Nicely on the river is the former Summer Palace, an eclectic collection of royal homes in a manicured park. Onward you arrive at the former royal capital of Ayutthaya, where Unesco declared the ruins of temples and surrounding structures a world heritage site. Wat Chai Wattanaram is particularly beautiful and was built in the same style as the famous temples in Angkor, Cambodia. Your guide transforms the ruins into their former glory while explaining what happened when the Burmese army ransacked and destroyed the place, taking away all the gold once covering the temples to Burma. Deeper into the central plain, filled with sugar cane or corn depending on the season. Trucks are piled up high and workers ride on top of them. Make sure to ask for a stop and taste a refreshing freshly pressed sugar cane juice. Arrive in Uthai Thani, a friendly place not much frequented by foreign tourists. A stroll on the night market might tempt you to try a local specialty. Overnight at Country Lake Nature Lodge.

Wake up with the locals and you may well see the orange robed monks walking the street in lines, bare foot, alms bowl ready, stopping at every house to receive food and give blessing. This Buddhist custom is normal in Thailand, actually everywhere around sunrise you could see this. While you are up early now, hop on a bicycle and tour the riverside of the Sakae Krang, a fertile land of vegetables and fruit. Views are wide, traditional villages on the way and plenty photo opportunities. Coming across a local market you see the products from the field again, for sale this time. But also jungle roots, bamboo shoot and various types of fried insects make nutritious ingredients for the Thai. A highlight of your trip will be roaming the vast Unesco site of the Sukhothai historical park. This kingdom was founded around 1238 and ruled much of present day Thailand and parts of Laos and Myanmar. It is traditionally marked a ‘golden age’ of Thai history and as the beginning of Thai culture as we know it today. You will be guided through the various zones and history will relive. Overnight at Sukhothai Treasure Resort & Spa.

An important satellite city to Sukothai was Si Satchanalai, not far north. A Unesco site though not much visited. You will see the elephant temple Wat Chang Lom, with 39 life-size elephant heads and climb the hilltop temple of Wat Khao Phanom, to overview the site. Lampang is a provincial town along a river with a centre of mostly low-rise wooden houses. The back streets and around the Don Tao temple which once held the Emerald Buddha are fun to explore on foot and by horse cart. In the south where rivers full of clay are abundant, you visit temples made out of bricks. Here in the north the supply of wood determines how houses and temples are built and a fine example of a teak wooden house is Ban Sao Nak. A busy pilgrimage –site is the Lanna-style Wat Pha That Lampang Luang. a fantastic example of Lanna-style architecture. Seemingly fragile and delicate, this style is abundant in the north, and in Laos. Lampang is a friendly little town which makes a good overnight stop on your travels. Overnight in Lampang at Lampang River Lodge.

DeparDepart by road up into the countryside to the local town of Prao, scenically located in a wide valley full of rice fields. Somehow this valley doesn’t appear on most itineraries and it remains somewhat of a hidden secret. Your base will be Khum Lanna lodge, a collection of Thai teak wooden houses in a tropical garden setting along a stream. This is a rice growing area so it would be interesting to get to know all about this process from the experts.
Try your cooking skills out by steaming the Thai sticky rice and following this take a casual walk to the organic garden where we have a variety of produce including rice at different harvesting stages. You will also have the opportunity to pick herbs and vegetables from the garden and use these in your cooking class. You will receive a “Khum Lanna Thai Recipe Book” with many delicious recipes, plus the herbs used in cooking and the health benefits of each. Lunch will include a country style Barbeque, sticky rice that you prepared earlier, and all the scrumptious dishes to complement.
Afternoon choose one of the following (approx. one-hour) activities:
  • A guided biking tour around Khum Lanna country side.
  • Creative Fruit (or vegetable) carving
  • A local herbal steam bath to relax and rejuvenate your body.
therapeutic Hot-pressed herbal massage.
Late afternoon at leisure until the Thai cooking class begins at 16h30. Enjoy the fruit of your labour with a full 4-course sit-down Thai dinner with your host and friends. Watch a million stars beside a campfire in the garden. Overnight at Khum Lanna.

visit asia - tours to asia visit asia - tours to asia Coffee/tea will be brought to your room for your wake-up call before we start our sunrise biking trip along the rural country road via San Kwang village to Phrao to visit an early morning local market . With the help of your guide you may buy local cookies and flower garlands for the temple offering on the way back. Then walk to visit a farmer’s rice and traditional tools shop, chat with the owner, and learn more about the rice legends and the properties of different variety of rice. Cycle back to Khum Lanna with a stop to visit Wat Pa. Pay respect to the Buddha image under the sacred tree. Continue biking to Khum Lanna along the local canal with a stop in the rice fields to get more information about the rice-growing process and the place of rice in Thai life. Upon return, refreshment and a shower before a local Lanna-style breakfast served on the riverside.Then transfer to Lisu Lodge. Northern Thailand is full of hills and tribal people. Most of them originate from southern China and have migrated south over the centuries, settling in the dense jungles of Laos, Myanmar and northern Thailand. The Lisu people are such tribe, and there are not so many Lisu anymore. You will enter Lisu lodge, a great example of community-based tourism where you will learn from the locals and the locals learn and make a small extra from your visit. You will follow the local Lisu guide through the village and learn about the tools they use and what they eat. Visit the ‘shamaan’ or ‘miracle doctor’ and drink tea with him. Get your hands dirty with some jungle-style cooking; wrap rice into frequent leaves and stuff these into bamboo pipes. Fill them with water and set them in a fire to slowly cook. Taste jungle fern and fresh leaves, bamboo shoot and other roots eaten by the jungle tribes. Select an activity like a ride through the fields by ox-carts, a cycling tour or a massage. Dinner is served at the lodge and the Lisu perform a small cultural show. Overnight at Lisu Lodge.

After breakfast hop on a local open-air truck to the area near Pha Mieng and start an easy trek along the jungle trails to the remote ethnic village of “Hmong Pha Mieng” (1h30). Meet the inhabitants of this small hill tribe village in the jungle and enjoy a picnic lunch in the forest. After lunch, continue trekking towards the top of the mountain (1h30) where the Red Lahu Village of “Pha Daeng” is located. Continue walking along the mountains to the Lahu village of “Kup Kap” (1h00), from where you have a spectacular view overlooking the Mae Taeng district and Chiang Mai town glittering at night in the distance. Beyond the mountain peaks to the west lies Myanmar. Dinner and overnight at the Lahu Outpost, modeled on a typical Lahu house. ( Basic amenities are provided: mattress, pillow, bed linen, blankets, towels, mosquito nets, etc… Two Western-style toilets and a communal shower are also available).

visit asia - tours to asia After an early breakfast, one and a half hour walk down a steep jungle path passing by the Huay Sadharn Waterfall. This brings us to the spot where we will mount the elephants and continue on a one hour ride down to the river. In a remarkable setting on the bank of the river enjoy a delicious picnic lunch. Afterwards go rafting down the river for about 45 minutes. From there you return to Lisu Lodge. Upon arrival, a welcome drink will be served before you check into your room. Afterwards you will receive a briefing so you can select your activity for the following morning. Guided by a Lisu villager, walk from Ton Lung temple to visit the herbal garden. Then continue through the village with a stop for a cup of tea at the village shaman’s house. Chat with the Lisu shaman and learn about his life, beliefs, curing rites and Lisu traditions. Visit the cultural centre and ‘museum’ created by the villagers. Inside you will find a collection of typical household items and tools from the Lisu as well as well as the Akha mountain peoples. Time at leisure until Thai dinner with traditional Lisu dance show Overnight at the Lisu Lodge.

visit asia - tours to asia Stroll the village in the early hours before getting onto your minibus and travel the mountain roads of northern Thailand. Green jungles, brown rivers and local stall filled with fresh vegetables, exotic fruit and local brews. The hills are mostly limestone, easily eroded by water and full of caves. The lod-cave is such example; cool and fun to explore. The ever winding road takes you to the end of the world; Mae Hong Son is located on the border with Myanmar. There are no official border crossing here, and those coming and going do so by crossing the rivers and mountains by themselves. Not many visitors make it to this remote corner, making this visit quite exclusive. Overnight at The Imperial Mae Hong Son.

Day 12: MAE HONG SON (B/L/D)
This is one of those towns you feel you could stay forever. There is a calm that makes you lazy without getting bored. Simply sitting on the road side with a cup of locally brewed coffee may suddenly reveal a couple of Karen hill tribe women, babies strapped to their backs, walking briskly to the town clinic. Colourful traditional costumes and woven baskets are easy to spot, especially in the morning market, and you could even see a Long neck Karen woman shopping for cooking oil or a shovel. You will go into the forest by boat to visit a Karen community and learn why these women wear all those copper bracelets around their necks that seems to elevate their heads. Learning and understanding how all these originally nomadic tribes moved around the jungle and what their position is today in Thailand and Burma will be explained and makes an impressive story. A Thai initiative is called OTOP; meaning that every area has its own local product to make and sell. In Mae Hong Son the locals make a lot of sesame seed products such as cookies & oil. Time for more lessons. There is a tribe in this area called Shan-people, most of whom live in Myanmar. They have their own cooking style like Oub kai, Shan chicken-curry and Jin Lung, Shan prok balls. A local chef helps you prepare it tonight.

After breakfast, go direct to Lanjia (around 6-7 hrs.) the hidden villages along the Mekong. Lunch enroute. Reach remote Lanjia Lodge – fitting well into the surrounding nature and tribal villages. Two nights in this atmospheric lodge run in cooperation with the local community. From a huge veranda admire the sunset over the hills and the Mekong River; another view scoring high points on the ‘best views in the world-list.’ In the evening, enjoy a sumptuous dinner with local delicacies, followed by a performance of both, Hmong and Lahu music and dances.

Day 14: LANJIA (B/L/D)
An adventure day starting with an early breakfast in the lodge. A local guide will take you through the Hmong & Lahu villages adjacent to the lodge, called “Baan Kiew Kam”. Learn about the many tranditions, beliefs and daily life. Later, transfer in a local truck to “Baan Muang Karn” where you will board a local boat to Chiang Khong. Enjoy lunch in a local restaurant by the river. Then leisurely walk in the border town and visit two temples on the way. Head to Ban Had Krai where you will meet the local fisherman who can share their unique stories with you. Last stop is at Wat Phra That Jom Meng on the mountain top with a most scenic view over the Mekong river. Dinner and overnight at the lodge.

After breakfast, hop on a local truck and visit a small waterfall, where you have the opportunity to swim in your own pool in the middle of a tropical forest. Picnic lunch before returning to the lodge. Time to say goodbye to the hill tribes of the north and drive past Lake Phayao, the largest lake in the country. There is a colourful local market where one can taste strong coffee. Reach Chiang Mai by evening. After settling in your hotel you have time to relax and walk around the town. The most famous of night bazaars is in Chiang Mai, filled to the brim with souvenir stalls, but if you care to look you will easily spot many interesting food stalls too. Fried and barbequed insects and worms are important sources of protein for local people, and not only the jungle tribes. Taste a fried spider, a crunchy grasshopper or a white sago-worm, from the palm trees. Kantoke dinner in Chiang Mai. Overnight at 5* Rati Lanna Riverside Hotel.

Day 16: CHIANG MAI (B/L/-)
The morning climb high up Doi Suthep and its magnificent temple, always busy and full of ringing bells and holy smoke. The view over the city is near heavenly. Descent into the little lanes and alleys on foot to understand why this town is loved so much. Beautiful glistering temples in the lanna-style are abundant and the green alleys are full of old local houses and quiet shops. Lunch in town. Enjoy the rest of the afternoon at leisure, maybe take a massage or a full spa treatment. Overnight at Rati Lanna Hotel.

Day 17 : Departure (B/-/-)
After breakfast transfer to airport for flight home via Bangkok. iv>