Thailand - Hills & Sandcastles (2014) 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 : 18
  • Trip starts in : Bangkok
  • Trip ends in : Ao Nang
  • Maximum group size : 16
  • Ages : 18 - 39
  • Meals :6 Breakfasts, 1 Lunch, 2 Dinners
  • Accommodation : 1 night Village homestay, 2 nights Sleeper train, 9 nights Guesthouse, 4 nights Hotel, 1 night Beach camp
  • Transport : Aircon bus, Bicycle, Boat, Canoe, Ferry, Local bus, Local fan bus, Long-tail boat, Sleeper train, Songthaew, Taxi, Tuk-tuk

highlights1

  • 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.

daily-itinerary1

Day
1

Bangkok

If you are walking past a street vendor who smells suspiciously like last season's footy socks, don't judge him. He's probably selling durian. For some unknown reason, this stinky little number is known as the king of fruits because of its unique creamy texture. Try some if you dare. Arrive in Bangkok and get to grips with this awesome city. There is a pre departure meeting tonight at approx. 6pm!

Day
2

Sukhothai

When was the last time you rode a bike? Don't worry, you'll pick it up pretty quick. It's just like riding a ......oh forget it. Get comfy in the saddle and pedal your way around temples and the historic area of the city.Travel to Sukhothai - 'The Dawn of Happiness'Ride bicycles around the temples and other archaeological relics in Sukhothai's historic areaVisit a local pottery factory in the area

Day
3-4

Chiang Mai

Sorry about the early start today. We'll make it up to you with a healthy dose of temples, museums and hilltribe villages on arrival.Spend a free day exploring the northern city of Chiang Mai, with over 120 temples in the centre aloneSet off on an excursion to the top of Doi Suthep, with fantastic views over the cityPerhaps get a traditional Thai massage or even partake in a cooking classWhy not visit the Night Bazaar a great chance to practice those bargaining skills

Day
5-8

The Golden Triangle - Chiang Rai - Chiang Mai - overnight train

Head into the hills for a night in a local homestay. Get a taste of Burma in the village of Tachileik and a sneak peak into the opium trade in The Golden Triangle (the meeting of Thailand, Burma and Laos).Day 5Journey through the countryside to Thaton, situated on the banks of the Mae Kok RiverBoard a long-tail boat for a journey down stream, passing several villages along the wayEnjoy the surroundings along the Kok River, then meet your local hosts for this eveningSpend the night with your Northern Thai friends in local accommodationDay 6Travel to the Golden Triangle - the point where the three countries, Laos, Burma (Myanmar) and Thailand meetOptional visit to the small opium museum that provides information on the infamous trade for which this region is knownDay 7For early risers there's time to visit the temples of Chiang Rai, such as Wat Phra Kaew and Wat Jet YotPerhaps browse the markets, where the local hill tribe people sell their waresDay 8Catch a local bus back to Chiang Mai, then overnight sleeper train to Bangkok

Day
9

Bangkok

You’ll be a bit sleepy after a long overnight train ride, but the city tour of Wat Pho, Grand Palace etc will wake you right up.Visit some of Bangkok’s most famous sights, including the Grand Palace and Emerald BuddhaEnjoy the rest of the day to further explore the cityShop for bargains, eat in exotic restaurants and perhaps hit some bars or nightclubs

Day
10

Bangkok - overnight train

Free day to check out Bangkok.Yawn, tonight is an overnight tripContinue your journey south by train

Day
11-12

Koh Samui

Choose from hanging in a hammock, lazing in the sun or snorkelling. Life’s tough.Embark on a two-hour ferry trip to the beautiful island of Koh SamuiTake a trip around the island in a songthaew, visiting the 15-metre tall Big BuddhaEnjoy a dip in the cool tropical waterfalls of Na Muang and drop in to see the Mummified MonkSpend free time on Koh Samui swimming, lazing in the sun, diving or snorkellingPerhaps take an optional day tour to the Ang Thong National Marine Park

Day
13

Khao Sok National Park

Home to monkeys, snakes, tigers and the weird smelly Rafflesia kerrii flower.Take the ferry back to the mainland and then continue to Khao Sok National Park by local songthaewHead down to the river for a canoeing trip in the country's finest and largest rainforestPerhaps spot monkeys playing by the waters edge during the experienceOptional walks along the many interesting trails and beside the many waterways that exist within the park

Day
14-16

Bamboo Island Beach Camp - Ao Nang

Life just gets harder and harder as we camp overnight on Bamboo Island. Console yourself with a swim and a cold Singha.Camp under the stars at Bamboo Island Beach Camp – it’s the best kind of cliche. Choose from a myriad of exciting activities.Day 14Depart by public bus from Khao Sok to Ao NangArrive at the beautiful and secluded beach area of Ao NangDay 15Morning, take the long tail boat to Bamboo Island for beach campingSpend time swimming in the warm waters of a hidden tropical paradiseEnjoy beach overnight campingDay 16Relaxing on the beach soaking up island life, after breakfast return to Ao NangPerhaps visit a rubber plantation and school, take a Thai cooking class or watch some Thai kick-boxing

Day
17-18

Phuket

Fill up your bellies with some tom yum gung from the market and shop for last minute silk scarves and bags.Stroll along the streets of Phuket, indulge in shopping opportunities or wander through a local market Perhaps consider extending your stay to really make the most of your time in Phuket. Otherwise your free to leave at any time on the final day of your trip!Trip ends after breakfast on Day 18.

included1

  • 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/Emerald Buddha and Wat Pho; the Golden Triangle region; and Koh Samui island tour.
  • Bicycle tour around the ancient capital of Sukhothai.
  • Stay in secluded Ao Nang with two days in comfortable, fan-cooled bungalows.
  • Longtail boat ride to Bamboo Island near Koh Phi Phi, with overnight beach camping.
  • Stay in a jungle guesthouse and canoeing trip in Khao Sok National Park.
  • Free time to explore Bangkok, Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai.
  • Time to relax in Koh Samui, Krabi area and Phuket.
  • Overnight sleeper trains from Chiang Mai to Bangkok and Bangkok to Surat Thani.
  • Public bus from Bangkok to Sukhothai.

optional-extras

  • Bangkok - Calypso Cabaret Show - THB1200
  • Bangkok - Jim Thompson's House - THB100
  • Bangkok - Muay Thai - THB2000
  • Bangkok - Royal Barges Museum - THB100 (camera fee: THB100; video fee: THB200)
  • Bangkok - Siam Niramit - Show Only - THB1500
  • Bangkok - Thai massage - THB200.00
  • Bangkok - Urban Adventures - Bangkok by Bike - USD$45.00
  • Bangkok - Urban Adventures - Bangkok Chinatown Food Discovery - USD$60.00
  • Bangkok - Urban Adventures - Tuk Tuk Experience - USD$40.00
  • Bangkok - Urban Adventures- Temple & River of Kings - USD$65.00
  • Bangkok - Wat Arun (Temple of Dawn) - THB50
  • Bangkok - Wat Pho (Temple of the Reclining Buddha) - THB100
  • Chiang Mai - Doi Suthep Temple - THB30
  • Chiang Mai - Flight of the Gibbon
  • Chiang Mai - Thai cookery class
  • Chiang Mai - Urban Adventures - Chiang Mai Mind & Soul - USD$70.00
  • Chiang Mai - Urban Adventures - Mae Ping River Experience - USD$65.00
  • Koh Samui - Day Trip City Tour Koh Pangan (Mon, Wed, Fri) - THB2100
  • 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
  • Koh Samui - Full Day The Island Tour - THB1700
  • Krabi - Crystal Pools and Hot Springs - THB1000
  • Krabi - Diamond Cave - THB40
  • Krabi - Half Day Cycle - THB800
  • Krabi - Railay Beach - THB80
  • Krabi - Thai Cooking Class (half day) - THB1200
  • Krabi- Tiger Cave Temple - THB1200

not-included1

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.

 

tripgrade1

RAW

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.

Basic

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

 

visa1

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.

 

medical-preparation1

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.

 

Money1

 

CURRENCY

Thailand

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!).

EXCHANGE RATES

Check out www.xe.com for current exchange rates.

ACCESSING MONEY

Thailand

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.

PERSONAL EXPENSES

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.

SPENDING MONEY

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.

AIRPORT TAXES

Thailand

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.

TIPPING

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.

 travel-insurance

 

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-travel1

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.

other-important-information

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.

Meals

6 breakfasts, 1 lunch, 2 dinners

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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