Hill Tribes & Beaches Trip Notes
Trip code: GTHB
Trip valid from: 01/02/2012
Trip valid until: 30/06/2013
Trip length: 18 days
Trip starts in: Bangkok
Trip ends in: Phuket
Maximum group size: 16
- Hill Tribe Trek To The Ethnic Minority Villages Of Northern Thailand
- Ko Lawa Beach Camping
- Bamboo Rafting
- Elephant Trekking
- Pak Klong Talat Flower Market,Bangkok
- The Bridge Over The River Kwai At Kanchanaburi
- Vegetarian Festival, Phuket
- Rice Barge Cruise And Dawn Monk Procession In The Former Capital Of The Siamese Empire - UNESCO World Heritage-listed Ayuthaya
- Songkran Festival, Chiang Mai
This adventure combines the best of northern Thailand with the highlights of the tropical south. From Bangkok we travel to Kanchanaburi and the River Kwai for a glimpse into Thailand’s wartime past, before continuing to the ancient Siamese capital of Ayuthaya, with its wonderful temples. Further north is Chiang Mai where we trek and visit some of the local hill tribes, and as well as spend a night in their simple abode. Here, we also try our hand at elephant riding.
We then travel South to Koh Samui, famous for its coconut palms, and the Krabi area, where we stay by a peaceful beach at Krabi. We spend a night beach camping, on a secluded island in beautiful Phang Nga Bay, before finishing our journey on Thailand’s largest island, Phuket.
BangkokYour trip starts today with your arrival in Bangkok. No activities are planned until your evening group meeting, so you may arrive at any time. Please check the noticeboard in the hotel lobby, located on the ground floor, for a notice containing details of your tour. This will advise you of your tour guide’s name, telephone number and the time and location of your group meeting. Normally this meeting takes place around 6pm. Until your meeting we encourage you to get out and discover the delights that Bangkok has to offer, including Thailand’s famous cuisine. Make sure that you take a hotel business card so that you will be able to find your way back to the hotel.
KanchanaburiIn the morning we will transfer by taxi to the Southern Bus Station for the two-hour public bus journey to Kanchanaburi. On arrival we transfer by songthaew to our fan-cooled guesthouse situated near the river from where, in the afternoon, we take a longtail boat ride to the famous Bridge on the River Kwai and an Allied war cemetery. We enjoy a full day tour to Hellfire Pass and Erawan National Park, where we have time to relax in the cool blue waters of the pools beneath the beautiful seven-tiered waterfall. If you are feeling energetic, you can also trek along the jungle trail to the top of the falls. At Hellfire Pass we walk down the cutting dug by Allied POW’s during World War II. Australian, Dutch, British and other allied POW’s worked 18 hours a day in order to complete the cutting, it took 6 weeks to construct. It was the most difficult cutting to dig as it was the largest rock cutting along the entire railway. There is an excellent museum to explore as part of our stop and learn more about the POW’s and ASEAN Labourers experience. (B)
AyuthayaToday we start early with a five-hour trip by local fan cooled bus through rich farming lands to Ayuthaya, the former capital of old Siam. Now a UNESCO listed World Heritage Site, Ayuthaya was once the thriving capital city of the Kingdom of Siam, in 1765 the Burmese invaded Siam and laid siege to the city for 2 years before eventual victory. Following the victory the Siamese established a new capital in 1769 in Thonburi on the banks of the Chao Praya River, a few years later the capital was shifted to the other side of the river where a small village called Bangkok was situated, Thonburi is now a suburb of Bangkok. On arrival we have the use of a day room at a local hotel, where we can leave our backpacks for the day. In the afternoon we jump on a bike and ride to one of the many temples located in Ayuthaya, for a guided tour. Following this you have the option of either continuing on to visit more temples, going for a leisurely ride around town, to observe what’s going on, or heading back to the hotel to chill out. The bikes are yours to use for the afternoon. Tonight we board the overnight sleeper train to Chiang Mai (departure time is approximately 8-9pm, estimated travel time 13 hours). Thai trains have an open, relaxed feel about them and offer a great opportunity to mingle with fellow passengers. You may want to bring along your Thai phrasebook and practise speaking Thai with a local! You can purchase food and drinks on the train, but it is also a good idea to stock up beforehand.
Chiang MaiWe arrive in Chiang Mai early in the morning and transfer by songthaew to our hotel, which is centrally located and close to the Night Market. The day free to do as you wish as there is much to see in this northern city, with over 120 temples in the centre alone. A visit to the Tribal Research Institute is an ideal preparation for your hill tribe trek, whilst an excursion to the top of Doi Suthep offers fantastic views over the city. It’s best to visit Doi Suthep in the morning or late in the afternoon, to avoid the heat of the day, as there are over 300 steps to climb! You may also wish to get a traditional Thai massage before your trek, or even partake in a cooking class, beware you eat what you cook. Your tour guide will be able to offer other suggestions for things to see and do your free time. This evening the Night Bazaar beckons, a shoppers paradise it is a great chance to practice your bargaining skills.
Hill Tribe Trek - Chiang MaiWe take a two-day/one-night excursion to a Palong Village in the hills beyond Chiang Mai, where we get to try our hand at elephant riding. From on top of these magnificent creatures, we get to enjoy the spectacular surrounding scenery around us, dominated by Chiang Dao Mountain. There are a number of villages in this area that are homes to various hill tribes - each unique their own customs, housing and colourful clothing. There are plenty of opportunities for you to haggle with the villagers, in order to purchase some authentic Hilltribe handicrafts. Trekking is a great way to experience all this at a grassroots level. A fairly good level of fitness is required, but the highlight is a night spent sleeping in a local village hut, as a guest of the hill tribe people. After our trek we return to Chiang Mai for a night, where we have a final day to explore the town or shop at its markets before catching an overnight train back to Bangkok on the evening of Day 8 (approximately 13 hours). (B, 2L, D)
BangkokArriving in Bangkok early on the morning of Day 9, we have two days to explore the fascinating Thai capital. Please note that check in time at the hotel is midday, however the reception staff will do their best to have our rooms ready as early as possible, you may have to wait to check in. On a city tour, we are introduced to some of Bangkok’s most famous sights, including the impressive Grand Palace and the adjoining Temple of the Emerald Buddha (Wat Phra Kaew). We also visit Wat Po – the temple of the famous Reclining Buddha. From just outside our hotel we jump on board a local khlong (canal) boat, before catching a public bus to these sites. This is a great way to sample a couple of the more popular forms of local transport. You have a free afternoon to make your own discoveries or to do some shopping in the many excellent shops and markets for which Bangkok is renowned. In the evening we catch the overnight train to Surat Thani, in the south of Thailand. (B)
Koh SamuiOur train arrives in the early morning and we transfer by bus to the ferry terminal (approximately 2 hours) for the two-hour ferry trip to the beautiful island of Ko Samui. In the afternoon we take a trip around the island in a songthaew, visiting the 15-metre tall Big Buddha. There’s time to take a dip in the cool tropical waterfalls of Na Muang and also to drop in to see the Mummified Monk. After this we head back to our secluded fan-cooled accommodation, situated in the north of the island. The rest of your time on Koh Samui is free to choose amongst a multitude of activities. Swim, laze in the sun, ride an elephant, dive or snorkel, take a optional day tour to the breath taking Ang Thong National Marine Park - the decisions are yours. In the evenings you can relax, dine on the beach at the water’s edge and soak up the pleasant tropical atmosphere.
Khao Sok National ParkWe take the ferry back to the mainland and then continue to Khao Sok National Park by local songthaew (the ferry ride is approximately 2 hours and the drive to Khao Sok approximately 3 hours). This is one of Thailand’s best-kept secrets, containing the country’s finest and largest rainforest and home to a rich variety of wildlife. From our jungle guesthouse, we head down to the river for a canoeing trip. There is every chance of seeing monkeys playing by the waters edge during your excursion. Please note that we generally need to be lucky to spot other wildlife, due to the thick jungles and the nocturnal nature of many of the species. We also have the option of going for a walk along the many interesting trails and beside the many waterways that exist within the park.
Krabi (Ao Nang)In the early morning we first take a bus from Khao Sok to Takua Pa (approx 2 hours) where we transfer to another local fan cooled bus bound for Krabi (approx 2 hours). A songtaew transfer and then longtail boat takes us to the beautiful and secluded beach area of Ao Nang, where we spend two days appreciating the peace and tranquillity. This is a great place to kick back, relax and swim in the warm waters of a hidden tropical paradise. Our accommodation is in comfortable but basic fan-cooled bungalows. There are plenty of optional activities to fill your time, you can choose from cave exploring, sea kayaking, diving and rock climbing.
Koh Mak (Beach Camping)We catch a local fan-cooled bus towards beautiful Phang Nga Town (approx 2 hours), which set in the stunning Phang Nga Bay is full of spectacular limestone islands jutting out of the water. A longtail boat takes us out in the midst of this beautiful area, which was used as a setting for the James Bond movie, The Man with the Golden Gun. We pass traditional southern Thai Muslim villages, built on stilts, and spend a night camping on a beach, on a small and secluded island. Don't let the seclusion fool you as you have the option to visit a rubber plantation, school, take a Thai cooking class or watch some Thai kick-boxing. You may even ebe lucky to have a Thai kick-boxing lesson. (N.B. During the months of May to October inclusive, weather conditions may mean that we are unable to reach the island. If this occurs, we would change our accommodation to the nearby Muslim fishing village of Koh Panyi.) (D)
PhuketOur final stop is Phuket, the largest island in Thailand. Here is a great place to finish our journey, as we can along the streets and indulge in the numerous shopping opportunities or wander through a local market in search for some delicious Thai food. Our tour finishes after breakfast on the morning of Day 18; however, you may wish to extend your holiday and stay longer in Phuket. There are many facets to this island, especially in Phuket Town, which was a major port over the centuries visited by Portuguese, Chinese and Malay traders. Here, historic remnants of the island’s past are reflected in its eclectic architecture. (B)
Itinerary VariationWhile 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.
About The Imaginative Traveller
Our aim has always been to provide exceptional travel experiences. We believe that adventure travel should be stimulating, and that it should give you an authentic experience of a place. We want our travellers to relish the amazing diversity of countries and cultures the world has to offer. Our focus is on innovation, not imitation.
Obsessed with quality
One of our strengths has been our obsession with quality. We've always believed that our commitment to you doesn't end as soon as you've paid for your holiday. On the contrary, it is just beginning. Whilst most operators simply get a local company to handle the day to day operation of their tours, we do it all ourselves. We have managers for each of our key destinations around the world and all our small groups are escorted by our own leaders. Our local teams include guides, drivers, administration staff and contacts in the local community who help us ensure that our adventures are active and involving.
For comparability, all prices in this dossier are quoted in one currency. We use the US Dollar since that is familiar to most. However, once on tour you will need to pay for all goods and services in the local currency. See your Country Dossier for details of exchange rates.
Think about the feeling you get after completing one of the world’s great treks: seeing Machu Picchu through the Sun Gate after gruelling days on the Inca Trail; looking down on Africa from its summit, Kilimanjaro; relaxing by Pokhara’s perfect lake after tackling Annapurna’s rugged tracks. The legs might ache but the feeling of pride in your achievements is overwhelming. More than that though, trekking gets you up close and personal with the world’s finest landscapes and many interesting cultures. Walk through remote jungle to visit the tribes of northern Thailand and Vietnam, or explore China’s iconic Tiger Leaping Gorge by foot, and you’ll find the country opens up in a whole new way, the slow pace all the better for appreciating the surroundings. It’s definitely better to travel than to arrive – particularly when the travel’s all on your own steam.
• Gecko’s expert English-speaking local tour guide throughout the tour, and professional local site guides at some sites.
• Longtail boat ride to the Bridge on the River Kwai and a visit to an Allied war cemetery.
• Full day tour of Hellfire Pass and a swim at Erawan Falls.
• Bicycle tour around UNESCO World Heritage-listed ancient Siamese capital of Ayuthaya.
• 2-day hill tribe trek, with an overnight stay in a hill tribe village hut as guests of the Palong people.
• Elephant ride through the forest.
• Sightseeing (including entrance fees where relevant): Bangkok - Grand Palace, Emerald Buddha and Wat Po; and Koh Samui - songthaew excursion to the 15-metre tall Big Buddha, visit to the Mummified Monk and a swim at Na Muang waterfalls.
• Stay in a jungle guesthouse in Khao Sok National Park, including a canoeing trip.
• Two days relaxing in secluded Ao Nang, with accommodation in comfortable, fan-cooled bungalows.
• Longtail boat ride in Phang Nga Bay with a night camping on a beach on a secluded island.
• Free time to explore Bangkok, Ayuthaya, Chiang Mai, Koh Samui and Phuket.
• Overnight sleeper trains from Ayuthaya to Chiang Mai, Chiang Mai to Bangkok and Bangkok to Surat Thani.
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.
4 breakfasts, 2 lunches, 2 dinners
3 nights Sleeper train,1 night Village hut,8 nights Guesthouse,4 nights Hotel,1 night Beach camp
Single room supplementMost 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.
Boat,Elephant,Ferry,Local fan bus,Long-tail boat,Public bus,Sleeper train,Songthaew,Taxi,Tuk-tuk
*prices below are guide onlyBangkok - Grand Palace
Grand Palace- US$12 (THB350)
- Jim Thompson’s House - US$3
- National Museum - US$2
- Royal Barges Museum - US$1.50
- - $US1.50 (THB50)
- Doi Suthep Temple - US$1.00 (THB 30)
- Tribal Museum - Depends on group size
- Vehicle to Tribal Museum and Doi Suthep Temple - US$55 (approx THB 1800)
- JEATH Museum - US$0.80 (THB 30)
- Thai-Burma Railway Centre - US$ 2 (THB 60)
- Elephant Riding - US$25 (THB 800)
- Park Entrance Fee - US$6 (THB 200)
- River Tubing – 1.5 hours - US$7.50 (THB 250)
- Day trip to Ang Thong Marine Park by slowboat - US$25 (THB 800)
- Day trip to Ang Thong Marine Park by speedboat - US$65 (THB 2200)
- Day trip to Koh Phi Phi by slowboat (incl. lunch) - US$38.00
- Day trip to Koh Phi Phi by speedboat (incl. lunch) - US$48 (THB 1800)
- Diamond Cave - US$1.25 (THB 40)
- Rock Climbing at Rai Leh – Full day - US$55 (THB 1800)
- Rock Climbing at Rai Leh – Half day - US$25 (THB 800)
Responsible Travel - Travellers' Guidelines
At Imaginative Traveller we love helping our clients experience the beauty and cultures of the destinations we visit. However, hand in hand with this we have always been aware that we have a responsibility to minimise any negative impacts that tourism can bring.
Responsible Travel is twofold. It’s about taking people to the places they want to go in a safe and responsible manner but also about respecting and maintaining the natural and often delicate balance of the destination. Economic gain from tourism is often fundamental to a country, but 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.
- Whilst it is our aim to show destinations and cultures in a positive light, we do not believe in papering over the cracks or shielding visitors from the realities of life. This does not mean, however, that we condone or endorse certain situations or regimes that may be in place.
Our guidelines are meant not as rigid instructions but rather as suggestions to make our holidays more enjoyable – for everybody. As cultural and environmental sensitivities vary from country to country more specific guidelines can be found in our individual country and trip dossiers.
Before you depart try to spend some time familiarising yourself with the destination you will be travelling to – their culture and customs. The country dossiers on our website offer detailed information about all the regions we visit. They also include some useful phrases in the local language for you to use on your trip! A few words of the local language can open up many more opportunities for you to interact with the people you will meet.
Although it is tempting to give out pens, sweets and money to people begging, and particularly tempting to give to children, we feel that this encourages a begging mentality and has a long-term negative impact on communities. If someone begging earns more than someone in the same community who works this can discourage local employment. If children regularly bring home money it may discourage their parents from sending them to school. It is of course your own personal choice but you could consider giving to registered charities or contributing to our Responsible Travel fund instead. Money donated through our fund to our worldwide projects is matched pound for pound by Imaginative Traveller and used to help local grassroots projects.
Always ask permission to photograph local people and respect their decision if they would prefer not to have their picture taken.
Respect local dress codes, especially at religious sites. Our tour leaders are always on hand to give you advice about this.
In many of the countries we visit you might see examples of animal cruelty (for example dancing bears, performing monkeys and snake charmers). Please do not take photographs of this or offer money as it encourages the activity.
Respect the environment you are in. It sounds obvious but do not throw litter, take it with you or use rubbish bins! You may see locals throwing rubbish on the street but do not follow their example!
When shopping in countries where haggling is the norm – enjoy it and only pay what you feel is a fair price for the goods you are purchasing. However, remember that the shopkeeper does have to make a living so do stop once you have reached a price you are happy with. Bargaining should be fun but always remember that a small amount can mean much more to the vendor than to you.
Endeavor to take home souvenirs made locally; the money you spend can be very important to the local communities. However, do use your common sense and don’t buy anything that you think might be made out of endangered animals or plants.
To help keep as much money as possible in the host country - try to eat in locally owned restaurants and order local drinks and produce rather than international brands.
In hotels do be conscious of how much water you are using. Many of the areas we visit regularly have shortages; try not to have hour long showers! Don’t leave lights, air conditioners or fans on when you leave the room – you wouldn’t at home!
Respect the environment you are in, especially when in national parks or reserves. Pay attention to rules about keeping on paths, keeping a distance from animals and not removing any of the natural habitat.
Relax and immerse yourself in the differences of the culture you are in – you’ll be back home in the familiar soon enough (and wishing you were still on holiday!). These cultural differences are part of what makes your experience special.
If you would like to offset the carbon dioxide that will be produced on your flights you can do this on our website (on our Responsible travel page). We work with climatecare, who will reduce the equivalent amount of carbon dioxide that you produce in another part of the World through their emission reduction projects. These projects are low carbon efficient technologies in developing countries and not only serve to reduce emissions but also help to spread the adoption of low carbon technologies and improve the quality of life for local communities. Details of climatecare’s projects can be found on their website.
If you would like to contribute to our Worldwide projects, helping communities all over the World, you can also do this on our website or with a sales consultant. Please refer to our responsible travel page on the website for details of our current projects. Any donation you make will be matched £ for £ by Imaginative Traveller (up to a maximum of £1000).
Have a great trip!
Please do let us know if you have any comments about responsible travel at firstname.lastname@example.orgThe Imaginative Traveller & Gecko's Adventures This trip is operated by our partner company, Gecko's Adventures. Gecko's is an Australia based company with more than 10 years experience in adventure travel and they share our ethos for offering unique holiday adventures. As this is a code shared departure you can expect there to be both Imaginative Traveller and Gecko's travellers on your trip.
Last updated: 16/07/2012