Thailand - Hills & Sandcastles Trip Notes

At Imaginative Traveller we always aim to provide accurate information for our travellers. Unfortunately information such as the price of optional activities is occasionally subject to change, and this means that we are constantly revising our trip notes. In order to ensure that you have the most up to date information for your trip we suggest that you check the trip notes for your tour around one month before departure.

  • Trip code :GTTD
  • Trip length : 16
  • Trip starts in : Bangkok
  • Trip ends in : Ao Nang
  • Maximum group size : 16
  • Ages : 18 - 39
  • Meals : 4 Breakfasts, 1 Lunch
  • Accommodation : 2 Nights Sleeper Train, 2 Nights Guesthouse, 8 Nights Hotel, 3 Nights Beach Resort
  • Transport : Aircon Bus, Bicycle, Boat, Ferry, Local Bus, Local Fan Bus, Long-Tail Boat, Sleeper Train, Songthaew, Taxi, Tuk-Tuk


  • Bond with your local guide in Thailand
  • Koh Samui sea bath.
  • Phuket
  • Relaxing in the tropical paradise of Krabi
  • Get active in Ao Nang, Thailand
  • Bamboo Island
  • Bangkok's Grand Palace and Temple of the Emerald Buddha
  • Bike ride among the ruins of UNESCO World Heritage-listed Sukhothai - Thailand's first capital
  • Chiang Mai's Night Bazaar - Lanna handicrafts and traditional wares of the hilltribes


A super trip through Thailand. From homestays and temples in the north (Chang Mai, Chang Rai etc etc) to the sweet, sweet island-y beaches of the south (Koh Samui, Ao Nang, Bamboo Island). Rad. This is Thailand with a whiff of Burma. Our trip mantra: Gonna live while I’m alive, I’ll sleep when I’m dead. Thank you Mr Bon Jovi.(Was Thailand in Depth) In 2015 this trip will be 16 days long and will finish in Ao Nang, Krabi. The 2015 itinerary will be available online on the 1st of October 2014.




You're officially on holidays. We think that deserves a toast. Our pick for cocktails is Bed Supper Club or Vertigo. Ask your guide for directions or grab your new mates and attempt to navigate the Skytrain.   

Arrive in Bangkok and get to grips with this awesome city. There is a Welcome Meeting at approximately 6 pm tonight.

Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask the hotel reception where it will take place. If you can't arrange a flight that will arrive in time, you may wish to arrive a day early so you're able to attend. We'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability). If you're going to be late, please inform the hotel reception. We'll be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so please ensure you have all these details to provide to your leader.

If you arrive early why not take a riverboat to Chinatown and explore the crowded streets, uncover the magnificent Grand Palace and the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, wander down the tourist mecca of Khao San Road, or indulge in some Thai massage?

Optional Activities

  • Bangkok - Chatuchak Market visit - THB100
  • Bangkok - Thai massage - THB250
  • Bangkok - Urban Adventures - Bangkok by Bike - THB1500
  • Bangkok - Urban Adventures - Bangkok Chinatown Food Discovery - THB1870




Meals included: 1 breakfast



Apparently riding a bike helps build new brain cells in the hippocampus – the bit of your brain responsible for memory (sadly not a university for hippos). So you’ll never forget all the temples you see today.   

  • Travel to Sukhothai - 'The Dawn of Happiness' by local bus approx 6 hours
  • Ride bicycles around the temples and other archaeological relics in Sukhothai's historic area.

Included Activities

  • Sukhothai - Historical park guided cycle tour

Chiang Mai

And early start for the trip to Chiang Mai. (Approx 5 hours in a private mini van) Temples, museums and hill tribe villages are all on the cards once you’ve arrived.

Along the way to Chiang Mai we call in to say hello to the Friends of the Asian Elephant Hospital in Lampang. Friends of the Asian Elephant Hospital is a non-government organisation in Thailand which aims to protect and conserve the welfare of elephants both domesticated and wild. We stop off at this center today to see the fantastic work this organisation is doing to care for the elephants in Thailand.

  • Spend a free day exploring the northern city of Chiang Mai, with over 120 temples in the centre alone
  • Optional excursion to the top of Doi Suthep, with fantastic views over the city
  • Perhaps get a traditional Thai massage or even partake in a cooking class
  • Why not visit the Night Bazaar a great chance to practice those bargaining skills
  • For the more adventurous fly like a bird on the Flight of the Gibbon course.

Included Activities


  • Lampang - Friends of The Asian Elephant Hospital

Optional Activities


  • Chiang Mai - Thai massage - THB200
  • Chiang Mai - Doi Suthep temple - THB50
  • Chiang Mai - Urban Adventures - Mae Ping River Experience - THB2105
  • Chiang Mai - Urban Adventures - Mind & Soul - THB2300
  • Chiang Mai - Thai Cooking Class - THB800
  • Chinag mai - Flight of the Gibbon - THB3600

Doi Mae Salong

We travel by public Bus to Doi Mae Salong via Mae Chan (approx 4 hours to Mae Chan and 1 hour to Doi Mae Salong)

The atmosphere in the charming town of Doi Mae Salong is reminiscent of a small southern Chinese village. The region is famous for its Chinese tea traders and you can enjoy a cup of tea in a traditional Chinese tea house overlooking the mountains. Check out the interesting markets, full of produce and crafts made by hilltribe people. This is the perfect town to chill out in, read a book, play some cards, find the best noodle restaurant in town or for the more active there is 719 steps you can climb to see a budhist temple with a great view.



Chiang Rai

Using local songthaews, we visit the point of the Golden Triangle where the Thailand, Burma and Laos borders meet. 

Pay a visit to the House of Opium Museum for a deeper insight into this area's problematic past.

We then continue our travels to Chiang Rai where we will stay for the night. Check out Chiang Rai's night market a great place for hilltribe handicrafts and remember if you like it, then buy it now as you may never see it again!

Optional Activities



  • Golden Triangle - Opium Museum



Chiang Mai

If you wake up early enough you will have some free time in Chiang Rai before we take a bus back to Chiang Mai (approx 3.5 hours)

We recommend a quick visit to the famous white Temple in Chiang Rai Wat Rong Khun to see the best quirky temple you have ever seen.

Back in Chiang Mai we board an overnight train for Bangkok (approx 13 hrs). We use soft sleeper class trains for all of our overnight train journeys. Multishare compartments with air-conditioning and bunk beds - sheets and a pillow are provided. Our baggage travels in the carriage with us. There's a food and drink service available on board.

Optional Activities



  • Chiang Rai - Wat Rong Khun (famous White temple)




Meals included: 1 breakfast



Our train is scheduled to arrive in Bangkok in the early morning. The rest of the day is free for your own exploration. Plenty of time to do some optional activities.

As this is a combination trip, your group leader and the composition of your group may change at this location. There will be a group meeting to discuss the next stage of your itinerary and you're welcome to attend, as this is a great chance to meet your new fellow travellers.

  • Explore some of Bangkok's most famous sights, including the Grand Palace and the adjoining Temple of the Emerald Buddha
  • Take up an optional visit Wat Po – the temple of the famous Reclining Buddha
  • or jump on board a local khlong boat
  • Spend a free afternoon making your own discoveries
  • Perhaps go shopping in the many excellent shops and markets for which Bangkok is renowned
  • Catch the overnight train to Surat Thani, in the south of Thailand

Included Activities


  • Bangkok - Grand Palace



Koh Samui

Meals included: 1 breakfast


Arrive into Surat Thani and continue by public bus and ferry to Koh Samui (approx 4 hours)

Take a dip in the waterfalls at Na Muang, swim, sunbake or snorkel – the choice is yours.

  • Take a trip around the island in a songthaew, visiting the 15-metre tall Big Buddha
  • Spend free time on Koh Samui swimming, lazing in the sun or snorkelling
  • Perhaps take an optional day tour to the Ang Thong National Marine Park

Included Activities


  • Koh Samui - half day island tour

Optional Activities




  • Koh Samui - day trip to Ang Thong Marine Park by slowboat THB800
  • Koh Samui - day trip to Ang Thong Marine Park by speedboat THB2200
  • Koh Samui - day trip to Koh Tao & Koh Nan Yuan THB2100




Khao Sok National Park

Meals included: 1 breakfast


We travel to Khao Sok National Park by songtaew, ferry and mini van. (approx 5 hours)

See this amazing tangle of limestone karsts and jungle and say hi to the monkeys. Fall asleep in a jungle guesthouse.

  • Perhaps head down to the river for a canoeing trip in the country's finest and largest rainforest

  • Spot monkeys playing by the waters edge during the experience

  • Optional walks along the many interesting trails and beside the many waterways that exist within the park

Optional Activities



  • Khao Sok National Park - canoeing at Ratchaprapha



Ao Nang

Meals included: 1 lunch

Travel down south to see beautiful beaches, swim in cyrstal clear waters and enjoy amazing sunsets. 

  • Depart by public bus from Khao Sok to Ao Nang

  • Arrive at the beautiful beach area of Ao Nang

Day 13

  • Settle in to the beach side town of Ao Nang and find your favourite place on the beach!

Day 14

  • Travel by speed boat to check out Phi Phi Island, Bamboo Island, Viking caves, Pileh Lagoon and many great snorkelling opportunities. Lunch is included.

Day 15

  • Relax on the beach, participate in an optional Thai cooking class, or head around to Railay Beach, your options are endless.

Day 16

  • Departure day no activities you are free to depart at anytime.

Included Activities


  • Ao Nang - Day trip by speedboat to Phi Phi island, snorkelling included

Optional Activities




  • Ao Nang - Kayaking - Mangrove Forest (Ao Tha Len) THB1000
  • Ao Nang - Kayaking - Sea (Koh Hong) THB1500
  • Ao Nang - Cyrstal pools and Hot Springs THB1800
  • Ao Nang - Cooking class THB1000


  • Gecko’s expert English-speaking local tour guide throughout the tour, and professional local site guides at some sites.

  • Sightseeing (including entrance fees where relevant): Bangkok - Grand Palace and Koh Samui island tour.

  • Bicycle tour around the ancient capital of Sukhothai.

  • Day trip to Phi Phi island by speed boat including snorkelling

  • Stay in a jungle guesthouse in Khao Sok National Park.

  • Free time to explore Bangkok, Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai.

  • Time to relax in Koh Samui and Krabi area

  • Overnight sleeper trains from Chiang Mai to Bangkok and Bangkok to Surat Thani.

  • Public bus from Bangkok to Sukhothai.


International flights, arrival and departure transfers, departure and airport taxes, visas, all other meals, all optional tours or activities during free time, transfers outside of the tour program, travel insurance, tips and items of a personal nature.




Our Raw tours are best suited for those with a sense of adventure, are willing to step outside their comfort zone and don’t mind being thrown in at the deep end. For independent travellers who want to travel with others. Just the ticket for those aged between 18-35 or anyone young at heart who has an open mind, an eye on the budget and a nose for adventure. Authentic experiences that expand the mind rather than hold the hand.

Style Facts

  • The freedom to explore without breaking the bank
  • Time to do your own thing – or join in optional group activities
  • YOU choose where YOU want to eat
  • Basic accommodation
  • A variety of public transportation
  • Fully trained and experienced leader.


Our Basic tours offer superb value and are ideal for those who are happy to forgo some creature comforts in favour of an authentic and fun experience. Under the leadership of a fully trained tour leader, you will enjoy all the highlights and freedom of independent travel with the convenience, security and companionship of a small group.

Style Facts

  • Plenty of free time to explore independently
  • Optional activities to suit your budget
  • Freedom to choose your own meals
  • Simple famliy run hotels
  • Mostly public transportation
  • Fully trained and experienced leader.






This tour is operated by our partners Gecko's Adventures



A necessary bugbear of adventure travel, visas can appear complicated, costly and confusing to apply for. Imaginative Traveller recommend applying for visas with a professional visa service who can guide you though the process and take care of lodging and collecting your passport with multiple embassies, so we have teamed up with The Visa Machine.

The Visa Machine ‘live and breathe’ visas and have the expertise to provide current and accurate information and arrange the correct visas for your trip, quickly and at a good price.

Please click here for more information.



We strongly recommend you visit your doctor to discuss health requirements for your trip. They will advise you regarding the appropriate inoculations. In some places anti-malaria medication may also be required. Some vaccines need to be administered a few weeks before departure so allow yourself plenty of time. Obtain a certificate of vaccination and carry this with you on this trip. A dental check up is also highly recommended.






The unit of currency is the Thai baht. There are 1, 2, 5 and 10 baht coins. There is a new copper and silver 10 baht coin. Notes are in the denominations of 10 (quite scarce), 20, 50, 100, 500 and 1,000 baht (with the last very hard to change!).


Check out for current exchange rates.



There are plenty of money changing facilities in Thailand's cities and towns. Authorised money changers generally offer the best exchange rates but it’s worth it to shop around. Thailand also has a plethora of ATMs, which can also be used to get cash advances on credit cards. Look for ATMs displaying Maestro, Cirrus, MasterCard or Visa symbols. Traveller's cheques can be changed at most hotels, banks and currency exchange booths. In large cities there is no problem cashing cheques. You should consider where you are heading to, taking into account any public holidays, and cash enough money to see you to your next major town. Your tour leader will brief you at your pre-departure meeting on the specifics relevant to your particular trip. Credit cards are accepted in many shops, restaurants and hotels, but should not be relied on as your only form of funds. There are currency exchange booths in the arrival hall of Bangkok International Airport which offer the standard rate.


South East Asia

You will need to take money with you to cover sightseeing, entrance fees, meals and drinks. Other costs to consider are drinking water, tips, laundry, souvenirs, additional activities during free time and possible delays. It is much better to come with more than you would expect to spend and to end the trip with a surplus, rather than being caught short! It is always useful to carry an additional amount for emergencies that could happen en route. If there is a medical emergency you are sometimes required to pay at the source and be reimbursed later by your insurance company. How Much Money? In our trip notes we have suggested an appropriate allowance for additional meals. This does not include alcoholic drinks, e.g. beer. In addition to this you should carry sufficient funds for optional activities, additional sightseeing, shopping and tips. As a guideline we suggest that you allow $US15-20 per day (or maybe less!) in Asia would allow you to eat and drink reasonably well. Emergency Funds In the unlikely event of an emergency of a personal nature or unforseen changes to the Gecko's schedule, we recommend you have access to an additional US$300 to cover any costs that may arise as a result of these events.


In our brochure we have suggested an appropriate allowance for additional meals (US$190). As a result of customer feedback we recommend you allow a figure of between US$150-$200 for your DRINK and SNACK requirements, additional to the amount suggested in the brochure for meals. Use a higher figure particularly if you are travelling during the hot season when you will require more fluids.

In addition you should carry sufficient funds for extra sightseeing and optional activities.

Shopping is a personal thing that, again, varies enormously. On average, people spend anywhere between US$50 and US$300 on souvenirs, art, tailor-made clothes etc.



You will be required to pay airport and departure taxes in most countries. Most of these are added to the ticket price on purchase and you will not need to bother further about them. Others must be paid physically at the airport on departure. All airport taxes should now be included in the price of your flight ticket and so there should be no need to pay additional tax at the airport. However we recommend that you check with your travel agent for the latest information.


If you're happy with the services provided a tip - though not compulsory - is appropriate. While it may not be customary to you, it's of great significance to the people who will take care of you during your travels, inspires excellent service, and is an entrenched feature of the tourism industry across many of our destinations. Although can be difficult to source we advise you to carry small notes of local currency each day to make tipping easier.
The following amounts are per person suggestions based on local considerations and feedback from our past travellers: Restaurants: Local markets and basic restaurants - round your bill up to the nearest US$1. More up-market restaurants we suggest 10% to 15% of your bill.
Local guides: Throughout your trip you may at times have a local guide in addition to your tour leader. We suggest US$2-US$3 per day for local guides.
Drivers: You may have a range of drivers on your trip. Some may be with you for a short journey while others may be with you for several days. We would suggest a higher tip for those more involved with the group, however we suggest US$1-US$2 per day for drivers.
Your Tour Leader: You may also consider tipping your tour leader for outstanding service throughout your trip. The amount is entirely a personal preference, however as a guideline US$2-US$4 per person, per day can be used. Of course you are free to tip more or less as you see fit, depending on your perception of service quality and the length of your trip. Remember, a tip is not compulsory and should only be given when you receive excellent service.
In total, we recommend you budget approx US$5-US$10 per day of your trip to cover tipping. At your group meeting on Day 1 your tour leader will discuss with you the idea of running a group tipping kitty, whereby everybody contributes an equal amount and then your tour leader pays the tips while keeping a running record of all monies spent (except restaurant tips). The record can be checked at any time and any money remaining at the end of the tour returned to group members. This is often the easiest way to avoid the hassles of needing small change and knowing when and what is an appropriate amount to tip.
Please don't tip with coins, very small denomination notes, or dirty and ripped notes. This is regarded culturally as an insult.



You must have extensive travel insurance as a condition of booking with us, and without evidence of a valid policy you won’t be allowed to start your trip. Please click here for more information


Responsible tourism is at the heart of Imaginative Traveller. For 20 years we have taken customers to places around the world in social and environmentally responsible manner, ensuring everyone involved respects and maintains the natural and often delicate balance of the destination.

As travellers ourselves we are well aware of the impact that tourism can have and whilst economic gain from tourism is often fundamental to a country, it should never be at the expense of its culture or the environment. It is our aim to provide journeys that have minimal negative and maximum positive impact on the places we visit. We do not believe that, as visitors, we should impose our own cultures on others; rather that we should experience foreign cultures and appreciate them for what they are.

We believe giving something back is essential. We therefore work with our customers and the people we visit to ensure the benefits go directly to contribute to local cultures and environmental conservation. This is not only good the communities we visit but it also gives our travellers more enriched adventures.

For further information about responsible travel please click here.


Itinerary Variation

While the information presented here details our planned itinerary, including routes taken, activities included, accommodation and meeting times, please accept that unforseen changes may occur. We are constantly on the lookout to improve our program and further enhance your experience. Naturally, we will keep you up to date with any last minute amendments to your tour.


4 breakfasts, 1 lunch

Single room supplement

Most of our travellers like the thought of travelling with a few like-minded souls. There are NO compulsory single supplements on most tours as we simply arrange twin shared accommodation for you and another tour member of the same sex. But don't worry if that doesn't appeal. We do understand there are times when you just want a bit of privacy and 'me' time so we are more than happy to arrange a private room upon request when you book.



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