Join us at the spirited and lively Yi Peng festival of Chiang Mai to witness the timed release of thousands of beautifully coloured, candle lit Lanna-style lanterns into the sky and local river. Kicking off in Bangkok, we see the famed Emerald Buddha before visiting the River Kwai, Erawan Falls and Chiang Rai.
Bangkok City Tour
This morning we visit the spiritual and religious heart of the city - the striking Grand Palace. Topped by golden stupas, the complex has been the site of royal coronations and is home to the legendary Emerald Buddha. We’ll also visit the House of the Reclining Buddha, the Original Thai Massage School and the 24hr Flower Market before boarding longtail boats to explore the city’s canals. Known as khlongs, the canals enable surface water to make its way to the sea and have long been a way of getting around Bangkok. On our journey we’ll glide by curious stilted houses and gleaming temples whilst old men fish and children folic about on the waters edge.
Our boats drop us off within walking distance of Khao San Road, popular with backpackers and hippies. Late afternoon offers free time for you to enjoy the many bars, restaurants, street performers, market stalls and tailors - that will measure you up for a new suit, that line this vibrant road.
Overnight: Bangkok | Breakfast
Bangkok - Kanchanaburi. It’s an early start today as we drive 2.5hrs west of the capital to the small town of Kanchanaburi. Here we pay our respects to the thousands of Allied POWs who perished in the area under the hand of the Imperial Japanese Army. After pausing at the Allied War Cemetery we continue to the infamous ‘Bridge over the River Kwai’, immortalised by the film of the same name. You have a chance to take pictures before you board a train for a 2 hour journey that crosses the bridge before following the tracks dug by the POWs and locals some 75 years earlier.
Disembarking at Nam Tok we have a short drive to ‘Hellfire Pass’ where the POWs dug through a mountain often using only their bare hands. A fascinating museum at the entrance details the region’s history.
After our day’s sightseeing a leisurely longtail boat ride leads us to our fabulous floating jungle raft hotel. To the beauty of a hundred softly glowing lanterns and the sounds of the tropical forest and cool water flowing by we enjoy dinner and a relaxing evening on the deck.
Overnight: Kanchanaburi Floating Hotel | Breakfast, Dinner
Erawan Waterfalls & Ayuthaya
Kanchanaburi - Ayuthaya. This morning we travel on to the beautiful Erawan National Park, to explore the rivers, waterfalls and trails on foot. The park boasts a stunning tiered waterfall and there’s time to swim in one of the many refreshing crystalline rock pools. After we travel on to Ayuthaya, the former capital and once one of the wealthiest cities in the world.
Overnight: Ayutthaya | Breakfast
Temples of Ayuthaya
Ayuthaya - Bangkok - Chiang Mai. Ayuthaya was sacked by the Burmese, leading them to abandon the site and relocate the capital to Bangkok. All that remains are the stone and brick temples from the era. Today we explore Ayuthaya’s famous ruins, visiting the magnificent stupas at Wat Phri Sanphet, the giant Bronze Statue of Buddha and iconic Wat Mahatat where the head of a damaged Buddha statue has slowly been embraced and lifted by a nearby tree. This is one of Thailand’s most religiously significant places.
Departing Ayuthaya we board a cruise ship on the mighty Chao Praya River, for a scenic cruise back to the Bangkok, enjoying lunch on board. On arrival there’s time to explore the nearby shops and bars before heading to Bangkok’s main train station to catch our overnight express sleeper train (2nd class A/C sleeper cabins) to Chiang Mai.
Overnight: Sleeper Train | Breakfast, Lunch
Yi Peng Festival!
This morning we arrive into the picturesque city of Chiang Mai, nestled in the foothills of northern Thailand. This afternoon we take a trishaw ride and explore the old city of Chiang Mai before driving up to the majestic Doi Suthep, standing like a sentinel overlooking Chiang Mai. The tranquillity of monks chanting as the sun slowly heads to the horizon is a highlight for many. In the evening we head into the night market to explore many of the street foods on offer and enjoy the festivities of Loi Krathong and Yi Peng.
Yi Peng & Loi Krathong Festivals Celebrated throughout the Kingdom on the evening of the full moon of the 12th month in the traditional Thai lunar calendar, the Loi Krathong festival is named after the floating lanterns, boats and ornaments that are set adrift onto rivers during the celebrations. For some, floating a Krathong, especially when lit, are meant to honour Buddha. For most Thais, it’s a way to thank the Hindu Goddess of Water, Phra Mae Khongkha, for her help in providing the most basic of all human necessities. The practice is also associated with creating good luck and ridding oneself of anger and negative thoughts. Some will cut their fingernails and hair and add them to the Krathong, to symbolise the letting go of the bad elements of one's self.
In Chiang Mai, the ancient capital of the former Lanna Kingdom, Loi Krathong coincides with the Lanna (northern Thai) festival known as ‘Yi Peng’ where a multitude of Lanna-style sky lanterns adorned with good luck wishes and prayer are released into the sky.
Tonight, as both Loi Krathong and Yi Peng are being celebrated at the same time, we will see lanterns floating on the waters, strings of pretty lights hanging from houses and temples, and hundreds of beautiful lanterns floating by in the sky. Setting out on foot with our guide, we'll aim to catch the lantern releases and join the other festivities which usually include fireworks, boat racing on the Ping River and parades through the streets.
Overnight: Chiang Mai
Today is free for you to enjoy at your leisure or enjoy more of the Yi Peng and Loi Krathong festivities. With our guide, we head to the market to stock up on all materials needed to make our own Krathongs, then learn how to make them ready to be sailed this evening. There will also be a host of other festival activities that we can enjoy during the day. Not to mention activities unrelated to the festival such as cookery courses and flying through the jungle canopy on zip lines!
Overnight: Chiang Mai | Breakfast
Chiang Mai - Chiang Rai. Our journey today takes us through stunning karst and jungle scenery. Stopping for lunch at Ta Thon we board private long tail boats for a cruise down the Kok River watching rural life pass us by. Farmers work the land where oranges grow whilst men fish along the banks and buffalo wallow in the shallow waters. From our arrival point continue to the unconventional Wat Rong Khun Buddhist temple (aka the White Temple) which depicts scenes from modern movies including the Matrix, Star Wars and Superman! Proceed to Chiang Rai where we wander the night market for last-minute souvenirs and tasty street food.
Overnight: Chiang Rai | Breakfast
Chiang Rai - Bangkok. The city of Chiang Rai is a great base for visiting local hill tribes and this morning we visit a Karen village where we may encounter the famous Long Neck tribe, so known for the neck rings that the women wear to elongate their necks. Continuing to the border frontier town of Mae Sai, we may have the chance to cross briefly into Myanmar and enter the Burmese town of Tachilek (optional). At Chiang Saen we stand at a viewpoint that lets us see both Myanmar and Laos. We take time to visit the Opium Museum before returning to Chiang Rai to catch our flight back to Bangkok.
On arrival in the city we transfer to our hotel arriving late in the evening - not really a problem in ‘the city that never sleeps’!
Overnight: Bangkok | Breakfast
Bangkok - your way
Friday 15th November 2019. Today marks the end of your Thai adventure. After breakfast and hotel check out we will transfer you to the airport in time for your onward departure flight. Your most welcome to extend your stay in Bangkok. If choosing to book post tour accommodation with us a departure transfer to the airport will be offered at the completion of your post tour accommodation arrangements.
Prices & Dates
Departure dates noted with a 'G' are guaranteed to operate. All other departure dates are guaranteed with a minimum of 2 persons. Prices shown are per person when there are 2 persons (or 3 persons if you wish to book a triple) sharing a room. The 'Single supplement' applies for single travellers who require their own room and needs to be added to the per person price.Read More
The hotels listed below are ones which we frequently use on this tour. We reserve the right to substitute these hotels to ones of a similar standard.
Royal Princess Larn Luang, Bangkok
Located in the heart of Bangkok Old City, The Royal Princess Larn Luang hotel offers stylish accommodation along with a range of facilities and, most importantly, comfort. The spacious guest rooms are decorated with neutral colours and equipped with modern amenities such as cable TV and internet access, with wonderful views of either the city or the pool area with its shady palms. The property has four restaurants, offering a range of delicious international cuisine, while tasty cocktails and light snacks are served in the lobby lounge and Princess Club. After a day of sightseeing guests can enjoy a refreshing swim in the hotel's large outdoor pool, or head to the spa and fitness centre, before listening to live music at the Princess Club.
River Kwai Jungle Rafts, Kanchanaburi
River Kwai Jungle Rafts Resort offers a unique accommodation experience right on the flowing Kwai Noi River. All floating rooms are tucked into a floating bamboo lodge moored along the historical River Kwai Noi surrounded by lush green mountains and jungle. The walls are weaved from local bamboo decorated with wooden furniture reflecting Mon living style. Each is appointed with en-suite private bathroom, balcony and a hammock. To work in harmony with the natural surroundings, the property does not use electricity and kerosene lamps are provided to light the rooms and evoke a romantic atmosphere.
Classic Kameo , Ayutthaya
The Classic Kameo Hotel features modern guestrooms and serviced apartments with contemporary decor in neutral tones with a good selection of amenities. The apartments have a kitchenette and seating area, and guests can use the outdoor swimming pool, fitness centre and sauna. Free WiFi is available in public areas.
Raming Lodge, Chiang Mai
Just a stone's throw from the bustling night bazaar, the elegant Raming Lodge is the perfect place to unwind after a day exploring the city. The spacious rooms are decorated with clear eastern influences and encompass beautiful wooden furniture, complimenting the rich fabrics that add a splash of colour to the room. Massages and other treatments are available at the spa and the pool is a great place to relax during your leisure time. A full breakfast is served in the morning and further food can be found in the hotel's gourmet burger restaurant.
Amora Hotel Chiang Mai, Chiang Mai
Close to the Tapae Gate, Amora Hotel Chiang Mai is a modern property with great amenities. Guest rooms are designed in the modern Northern Thai (Lanna) style and come with air conditioning, TV, mini bar and room service. The hotel also boasts a refreshing outdoor pool and fitness centre as well as Chili's restaurant - serving up a delicious array of transitional Thai and international cuisine. The Lobby Lounge Bar and Pool Bar are great places to enjoy a cocktail at the end of the day.
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Extra Tour Info
We would like to nominate Nui ( Yi Peng ) tour beginning on 30th of Oct as a tour guide of the year. We also recommend May who guided us in Sapa. These two guides are such an asset to your company.
Finally, Simon your Ops manager joined us on the tour as well and his professionalism, care, advice and sheer enthusiasm for his job and genuine interest in all members of the group was simply outstanding. What great staff you have in these 3 people. Thank you to all the team for the most amazing trip. ”