Classic Thailand with a Twist
Thailand’s most popular destinations are beloved for good reason, but sticking to the tourist trail doesn’t have to mean following the crowd.
While most visitors cram into tourist restaurants for pad thai, eat dinner in the home of a local family. While others simply snap photos at the sparkliest pagodas and go, visit a temple-based massage school for a lesson in the art. This itinerary delivers a fresh perspective on Thailand’s “must-sees”.
This itinerary covers just four destinations, which means only three transfers: two by private car with an English-speaking guide (three to three-and-a-half hours) and one by domestic flight.
You’ll get to see classic destinations from a different angle as you combine famous landmarks with quieter neighbourhoods and more unusual experiences
With just four stops in ten days, you’ll have plenty of time to get beneath the surface of each destination
This itinerary is easily extended with a few days on the beach
Things to consider
This is a very busy trip with lots of included experiences, but we can always trim it down if you’d like to take it slower
This trip is about seeing classic destinations from a new angle, so you won’t be straying far from the beaten path
More visited than Paris or New York, Bangkok is one of the most exciting cities on Earth. Getting beyond the TripAdvisor top ten is key, so combine classics like riverside cocktails and the Royal Palace with more unusual fare: street-food tours packed with local secrets, and cycle trips combining famous temples with flower markets, parks and amulet-makers. While most tourists will snap a picture of Wat Pho and its giant Buddha and move on, you’ll stop here to learn how to massage like a pro — then head to a local cooperative to receive your own massage from a blind masseur. This is classic Bangkok, but not as most people know it.
Sample stir-fried crab, sesame dumplings and sweet-and-sour shrimp on street-food tours of Chinatown and Bang Rak
Learn how to give a proper Thai massage at one of the country’s best training schools
Cycle through temples and flower markets to watch the sun go down over the Chao Phraya River
Outside of the seething mass of Bangkok, Thailand is a different world entirely. Stop at a village where railway-track market stalls scramble out of the way for passing trains, then pause at a floating market to barter over tropical fruit and trinkets. Finally, arrive in Kanchanaburi, where a laid-back rafthouse culture and stunning natural surroundings belie a dark history dominated by the Death Railway and the real-life Bridge on the River Kwai. After you’ve absorbed this sobering context, move on to more peaceful fare as you explore the flowing Erawan Waterfall in a national park outside of town before taking a ride on the railway itself through Kwai Noi Gorge.
Visit a floating market for a classic (albeit touristy) only-in-Thailand experience
Learn about Thailand’s war history at Kanchanaburi’s Railway Museum
Take a dip in the natural pools of a seven-tiered waterfall
The finer detail
- Breakfast every day
- Five lunches: one at a Bangkok restaurant; one during the Bangrak street food tour; one at a local restaurant in Kanchanaburi; one at a restaurant in Ayutthaya; picnic lunch during the Doi Inthanon hike
- Four dinners: one as part of the Chinatown street food tour; one after the sunset cycling tour; a home-cooked dinner hosted by a local family in Chiang Mai; one at a well-known Chiang Mai restaurant
- Two full-day experiences: day at Erawan Falls and train through Kwai Noi gorge; day hike through the sceneries & hilltribe villages of Doi Inthanon National Park
- Eight half-day experiences: tour of Bangkok's landmark temples & Grand Palace; massage training at Wat Pho; street food tour of Bangrak; stop at a floating market; visit to the Bridge over the River Kwai & Railway Museum; tour of Ayutthaya historical park & boat trip to Bang Pa-In Summer Palace; private blessing at Wat Umong; cycle tour from Wiang Khum Kham to Ban Tawai
- Five evening experiences: street food tour of Bangkok’s Chinatown; social enterprise massage from a blind masseur; sunset cycling tour; home dinner in Chiang Mai; evening tour of Chiang Mai
- All entrance fees to sites included in guided experiences
- All internal transport & accommodation
Logistics & journey times
Car transfer from Bangkok airport to city (45 minutes)
Car transfer from Bangkok to Kanchanaburi (3 hours plus stops)
Car transfer from Kanchanaburi to Elephant World (1.5 hours each way)
Car transfer from Kanchanaburi to Ayutthaya (3.5 hours)
Car transfer from Ayutthaya to Bangkok airport (1 hour 15 minutes)
Flight from Bangkok to Chiang Mai (1 hour 20 mins)
Car transfer from Chiang Mai airport to hotel (20 minutes)
Car transfer from hotel to Chiang Mai airport (20 minutes)
What's not included
- International flights
- Any meals not mentioned
- Entrance fees to any sites not included in guided experiences
- Tips for guides & porters