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Arrive at your first night’s accommodation and check in. Bangkok is the epitome of the modern, steaming Asian metropolis; no matter what your interests, there is something here for everyone. With time to relax and get over any jet lag there are several optional visits you could make.
A visit to Wat Trimit will reveal a solid gold Buddha image weighing a staggering 5½ tonnes! Alternatively, the house of the wealthy silk magnate, Jim Thompson - who disappeared in mysterious circumstances - is now a museum containing great examples of traditional Thai furniture and is well worth a visit. All the above trips are optional and are a great introduction to this fascinating city.
Nuovo City Hotel (AAA) - 1 night - Swimming Pool
You will receive full details of exactly where to meet your Group Leader on the Joining Instructions which will be sent to you 2-3 weeks before your trip starts. For information on when the trip ends please refer to the itinerary as described below.
This morning you set off by boat to explore the waterways of Bangkok. Life along the canals, or klongs as they are called, is totally different from the hustle and bustle of the rest of the city - it’s like entering a different world. You’ll also visit the Grand Palace, with its many spectacular temples, the most famous of which is the Temple of the Emerald Buddha. This spectacular collection of buildings was once the seat of power and was built to be self-sufficient. You also visit Wat Po, home of the Reclining Buddha - 46 metres in length! Tonight you board the overnight train to Surat Thani.
Berth on sleeper train - 1 night (B)
Arriving at Surat Thani early in the morning, there’s time for breakfast at a café near the railway station, before you drive for a couple of hours to Khao Sok National Park. Here you find some of Thailand’s best remaining rainforest, which is an incredible 150 million years old! Here amongst the giant tropical hardwood trees the limestone ‘karst’ formations stretch up from the jungle floor. This exciting national park is home to some of the country’s rarest animals, including leopard, Malayan sun bear, elephant, langur and even tiger, though they are elusive and rarely seen.
During your two-day stay you have plenty of time to explore. Included is a half-day walk to learn more about the tropical rainforest ecosystem and perhaps visit incredible stalactite caves. Although the walking is not difficult and you carry only a daypack, it can be tiring, as conditions are hot and underfoot it’s often wet and slippery.
In the rainy season you may be able to take to the river in inner tubes and float downstream through the rainforest (dependent on water level), listening to the calls of gibbons and the other sounds of the jungle (additional charge).
As you would expect in the jungle, facilities are basic; however the setting of superb limestone cliffs, mountains and rainforest more than makes up for any lack of western comforts. There is the opportunity for those who wish to, to take a short elephant ride during your stay (additional charge).
Morning Mist Resort (AAA) - 2 nights - Swimming Pool (B)
After the rainforest, you’ll head to the rural village of Ban Talae Nok on the Andaman coast. For over 10 years, the Thailand Community Based Tourism Institute has helped to teach local communities how to manage tourism by creating tours that support conservation and development as well as the preservation of culture and tradition. As not everyone has the time to spend several weeks, or even months volunteering on a project, this ‘hands on’ aspect has been integrated into the trip itinerary to give you the chance to contribute something to the community without requiring a long time commitment. The only requirement is that you come with an open mind and a “have a go” attitude.
After a welcome and introduction to this fantastic initiative, you’ll meet your host family who will proudly show you around their home and village and what follows will be a positive cultural interchange where you’ll experience what life is like in this Thai village community, as well as their unique customs and traditions. The village was hit by the 2004 tsunami and the villagers who are now rebuilding their lives and their homes are an true inspiration.
During your stay, you'll get stuck in to an array of activities, which include English lessons and games with children - maybe even a spot of football on the beach, Thai dessert making, Nipa Palm roof weaving, fishing on the beach and a long-tail boat trip through the mangrove forest. The kids will love integrating with the local children and this is the ideal way to give something back to the community that you visit.
Homestay (A) - 2 nights (Bx2)
After a morning's activities you say your farewells to the villagers at Ban Talae Nok and head south to the lively resort of Ao Nang with its many bars and restaurants and superb coastal views.
Hundreds of years ago, the waters along the coast of Krabi Province were a favourite hideout for pirates because of its intricate coves and hidden caves. Below the water an array of colourful tropical fish awaits anyone who goes snorkelling.
You can appreciate the dramatic, looming limestone monoliths rising out of the sea and the beautiful coastline of Krabi province. It is possible to take an exciting half-day sea-kayaking excursion to explore the mangrove forests to the north of Ao Nang. Here you’ll paddle along the coast and through creeks which are a haven for countless threatened marine creatures. This is a very different environment to that which visitors expect to see in tropical southern Thailand and is both fun and educational for kids and adults alike! (Please note that the timing of the trip depends on local tides).
At your base in vibrant Ao Nang you are close to the beach where boats can be taken the short distance to dramatic Raileh West. Nearby is the majestic Tiger Cave Temple, known in Thai as ‘Wat Tham Sua’. It’s unique because the monks worship in a labyrinth of underground caves. The highlight for many tourists is the climb up more than 1200 steps for panoramic views of the Andaman Coast (optional).
Another option that may be possible for qualified scuba divers time permitting is exploring beneath the waves as well as above. Non-divers have the option of a 'try dive' to discover the underwater marine world. NB. Divers require their proof of qualification and log books.
Please note that plenty of free time has been left in Ao Nang for you to choose which activity you prefer, hence, all above suggested activities are optional and are at an additional charge.
Phu Pha Resort (AAA) - 2 nights - Swimming Pool (Bx2)
Leaving Ao Nang, you head southwards to the provincial capital of Krabi. You catch a ferry here, from the Jao Fah Pier, and make the 2-hour crossing to Ban Sala Dan on the island of Koh Lanta Yai. Koh Lanta is made up of a collection of 52 islands in total and is considered one of Thailand’s most eco-friendly resort areas. Here you can expect to see hornbill, sea eagle, heron and if you’re lucky, perhaps a Giant Sea Turtle (Jan-May).
From the ferry dock it’s a 10-minute drive to your hotel on Kaw Kwang Beach. Accommodation here consists of simple, Thai style beach bungalows. You have the rest of the afternoon to make yourself at home and, after checking in, enjoy the stunning vistas of this island paradise. Over the following couple of days, you have the option of crossing the beautifully clear water of the Andaman Sea to explore the quiet, tropical islands nearby (additional charge).
Twin Bay Resort (AAA) - 3 nights - Swimming Pool (Bx3)
This morning you’ll catch the ferry back to Krabi from where you'll be transferred to the airport for a short flight back to Bangkok. You'll be transferred to your hotel where you can spend your last evening at leisure.
Nuovo City Hotel (AAA) - 1 night - Swimming Pool (B)
The trip ends at your hotel. (B)
Key: (B) = Breakfast, (L) = Lunch, (D) = Dinner
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