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Thailand Explorer - 12 days/11 nights

Bangkok - Amphawa - Kanchanaburi - Sukhothai - Chiang Mai - Chiang Rai

This itinerary is designed for those who want to explore famous historic sights of Thailand and have a cultural experience with typical local life, bustling markets and hill tribe villages. Interact with friendly local people as your journey takes you through World War II memorial sites, ancient temple ruins and an interactive elephant farm. Support sustainable tourism in Northern Thailand by staying in a lodge that is developed and managed by the Hmong and Lahu villagers.

Privately-Guided! Whether you are a single person, a couple, or a group, you'll have your own guide and driver for all airport pickups, drop offs, and daily excursions. 
Choose Your Own Dates! This is not a fixed-departure-date tour. Just let us know the dates that work best for you and we will arrange everything.
Customizable! Need more time? Less time? Want to see or do something that isn't included? Just let us know, and we will arrange it for you and let you know the change in costs.
Click here to read what our clients have told us after they return.

Trip Highlights

  • Quaint Village of Amphawa
  • Train ride over the Death Railway
  • Ancient Capital city of Sukhothai
  • Be an elephant “owner” for a day at an Elephant Farm
  • Hill tribe villages of the North


Day 1: Arrive Bangkok
Upon arrival at Bangkok international airport, you will be welcomed by our representative and transferred to your hotel. Overnight in Bangkok.

Day 2: Bangkok
This morning, visit the Grand Palace with the Emerald Buddha and the famous Wat Po (Reclining Buddha temple). Afternoon, take a boat ride through the Klongs (canals) to Bang Luang, a local artistic enclave where you can see well preserved century old houses, small temples, art studios and vintage antique galleries. Alongside typical local shops and noodle houses, the centerpiece of this community is Baan Silapin, a traditional artist house centered around a 300 year old Chedi. A traditional Thai shadow puppet show is held here daily at 2pm (except on Wednesdays). After, finish your tour at Wat Arun (Temple of Dawn), the iconic pagoda incrusted with colored faience. Overnight in Bangkok. (Breakfast)

Day 3: Bangkok to Amphawa
This morning, drive about 1.5hours to Baan Rim Klong, a small village located just outside of Bangkok. On arrival, meet your friendly local host and visit their small cottage factory producing coconut syrup and sugar. Then, head over to their organic herb farm and pick some fresh herbs as you help to prepare today’s lunch. Your host will show you traditional cooking techniques for popular dishes like Tom Yum Soup and Coconut candy dessert.
After lunch, drive about 30min to the quaint little town of Amphawa located by the riverbanks. Here you will explore surrounding villages by cycling, stopping at tropical fruit plantations and small cottage factories. Depending on how you feel, you can discuss with your guide the duration of your bike tours. Later, check-in at your hotel by the riverside. (Alternatively, a relaxing boat ride along small river canals can be arranged too, enjoy views of rustic traditional countryside life and fruit plantations.)

If your visit falls over the weekend (Fri & Sat), you will get to see the popular night market known mostly by local “Bangkokians”. Feast on street food with an array of street vendors, boat vendors and local restaurants offering a vast array of local snacks and fresh seafood. If you’re not too tired, take a boat trip after dinner to look for fireflies along the riverbanks. Overnight in Amphawa. (Breakfast, Lunch)

Day 4: Amphawa to Kanchanaburi
An optional early morning rise to join the locals in alms giving to the monks. After breakfast, drive about 1.5 hours to Kanchanaburi to learn more about the famous Death Railway track. See the well-kept Wat Cemetery of Allied Prisoners, which contain the graves of an estimated 9,000 Allied soldiers who lost their lives while building the bridge. The JEATH Museum, where the past has been created and relived with pictures and artefacts. Check into your hotel and rest of the afternoon is free to relax by your riverside resort. Overnight in Kanchanburi. (Breakfast)

Day 5: Kanchanaburi to Bangkok
After breakfast, drive to Hellfire pass. Known by the Japanese Army as the "Konyu Cutting", allied POW's were forced to cut through solid rock, sometimes for days at a time with little or no food and no rest. Stop by the Hellfire Pass Memorial Museum before doing a short hike down the valley to see the actual cutting of the Hellfire Pass. You will also do a short train ride over an original section of the Death Railway. Late afternoon, make the 3 hours drive back to Bangkok and check-in at your hotel. Overnight in Bangkok. (Breakfast)

Day 6: Bangkok to Sukhothai
This morning, you will be transferred to the airport for your flight to Sukhothai, the ancient capital in the 13th century. Upon arrival, you will be welcomed by our representative and transferred to your hotel. Unlike the temples in Cambodia, the ruins in Sukhothai are of Buddhist influence and unknown to many, Sukhothai is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Afternoon, begin your exploration with Si Satchanalai Historical park, the Celadon Site Study and Conservation Center at Ban Ko Noi. Overnight in Sukhothai. (Breakfast)

Day 7: Sukhothai
After breakfast, visit Phitsanuloke, Wat Mahathad, Jai Thavee musuem and city with Nan river. Have lunch at a local restaurant. In the afternoon, visit the Sukhothai Historical Park. Overnight in Sukhothai. (Breakfast)

Day 8: Sukhothai to Chiang Mai
After breakfast, drive about 3 hours to the famous Rose City of the North, Chiang Mai. Upon arrival, check in to your hotel and take a brief rest. Afternoon, visit Wat Doi Suthep, Chiang Mai's most famous landmark at 5,500ft high. Here you can have the blessing from a Buddhist monk after a panoramic view of the city. Evening is free at leisure, explore the night market where there are lots of hill tribe handicraft on sale or sample local street snacks. Overnight in Chiang Mai. (Breakfast)

Day 9: Chiang Mai
Today you will learn how to cook real Thai food in a traditional Thai setting, with skilled and friendly teachers in a fun atmosphere. Be picked up at about 9:40am from your hotel and transferred to the Baan Thai Cookery School where you will join a group. During this course you will learn to cook five different dishes. Starting with a visit to the local market where you will shop for ingredients. After you will return to the cooking school and start to prepare your own lunch. The class will be finished at about 4pm after which you will be brought back to your hotel. Rest of the evening is free for you to explore the city on your own. Overnight in Chiang Mai. (Breakfast, Lunch)

Day 10: Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai
This morning, drive about 3 hours to the Golden Triangle where the borders of Myanmar, Laos and Thailand meet. Visit the ancient ruins of Chiang Saen, an early Lanna kingdom city, to visit the Wat Chedi Luang and Chom Kitti temples. Tour the Opium Museum to know a little more about the opium trade which once made the Golden Triangle infamous. Late afternoon, arrive at the community-based tourism project of Lanjia Lodge, perched on a hilltop inside a Hmong and Lahu village. This evening, you will enjoy a local dinner in the lodge while watching a traditional hill tribe dance performance. Overnight at Lanjia Lodge. (Breakfast, Dinner)

Day 11: Chiang Rai
After breakfast, your host will give you an overview of the Hmong and the Lahu tribes, the Golden Triangle and the giant catfish (locally known as Pla Buek) – the world’s biggest freshwater fish, found in the Mekong River. You will learn about activities that affect the Mekong River and about the people whose lives depend on the river. Later in the morning, you will go on a walking tour through the Hmong and Lahu hill-tribe villages. You will visit the home of the Hmong shaman, who will explain to you why the fireplace is an important part of Hmong culture and why they bury the placenta and umbilical cord of their newborn babies.
Lunch will be served on the charming terrace overlooking the Mekong River and beyond to Laos. In the afternoon, you will be shown how to create your own batik piece or, if you are interested, how to make and set animal traps.

Later you will plant a tree  at the Herbal Plant Nursery Project, which was dedicated to His Majesty the King in celebration of his 84th birthday on 5 December, 2011. The main objective of the project is to improve the quality of life of local people by educating them in how to grow vegetables and the importance of the eco-system in their village. Then, you will return to the lodge for dinner. Overnight at Lanjia Lodge (All meals)

Day 12: Depart from Chiang Rai
Transfer to the airport for your onward flight to Bangkok or Chiang Khong immigration checkpoint for your onward journey to Laos. (Breakfast)

Inclusions and Exclusions

Our Package Rates Include

  • Private airport transfers
  • Daily accommodation with breakfast
  • Private vehicle transportation for all excursions per itinerary
  • Meals as listed in above itinerary
  • Services of a local, English-speaking guide for all visits and excursions
  • All tours and activities mentioned in the itinerary, including entrance fees

Rates Do Not Include

  • International airfare
  • Travel insurance
  • Tips for drivers and guides
  • Expenses of a personal nature

To Book This Tour

Please call us toll free at 1-877-362-2793 and let us know that you are interested in this tour. To prepare a proposal, we'll ask questions about how many people are traveling, your preferred travel dates, standard and types of accommodation, and any special interests that we may be able to accommodate.

Once we have finalized a customized price quote for you, your agent will inform you a per-person non-refundable deposit to initiate reservations (typically 20% of tour cost). Final payment is due 75 days prior to departure.

If your reservation is made less than 75 days prior to departure, the non-refundable deposit will allow us to initiate reservations. Full payment will be due immediately upon confirmation of all hotels and transportation services. If the services quoted cannot be confirmed, alternate accommodation or transportation will be arranged and the price will be adjusted accordingly.

Payments can be made by personal check, bank wire transfer, or credit card. Upon receipt of your deposit, we will initiate your reservations and send you a statement showing your payment. Approximately 2 weeks prior to your departure, we will send you a final confirmation containing your itinerary and detailed information on the logistics of your trip.
Please review our complete terms and conditions:
Booking Terms and Conditions

Cancellation/Refund Policies

- Cancel more than 60 days prior to departure - forfeit your deposit.
- Cancel between 30 and 60 days prior to departure - forfeit 50% of the tour cost.
- Cancel less than 30 days prior to departure - NO REFUND of tour cost.
- Cancellations must be made in writing and sent via mail, fax, or email to Red Lantern Journeys.
- Refunds will be processed within 30 days of receipt of your written request.
- No refunds are available for unused services or tours during your trip.

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