Today is arrival day in Bangkok. You will be met at the airport and transferred by private air-conditioned vehicle to your hotel. In the afternoon, we board a private 'long-tail' boat and explore the fascinating 'klongs' (canals) of Thonburi that characterize this vibrant city. This tributary of the Chao Phraya River is alive with local life, stilted houses and little known temples. Finish your boat ride at the magnificent Wat Pho. Founded in the 17th century, this magnificent temple is older than the city itself and home to the magnificent golden reclining Buddha.
Please note: Bangkok has a wealth of fantastic dining options from mouth watering street foods to international quality fine dining establishments. We recommend to speak with your guide to find the perfect place for you.
Overnight in Bangkok.
After a light breakfast at your hotel, meet up with your guide in the morning and transfer to "Samyan Market" for a Thai fresh market experience. As you stroll through the market, meet locals on their morning shopping jaunts, learn about the ingredients used in Thai cooking and sample some tropical fruits. We continue to Nanglerng Market, nicknamed "Century Year Old" as it was one of the most important markets in inner Bangkok a hundred years ago when this area of the city was flourishing. Back then, the market was a major trade centre for all the various communities living in the city. It now offers a lot of historical insights in terms of both the food and the architecture - you will see old-style wooden shop houses in the neighborhood and please your palate with local sweets and delicacies.
A short ride takes you to a small but famous local restaurant near Bangkok City Hall to enjoy an authentic Thai lunch. You wrap up the meal with sarim, a popular Thai dessert made of colorful thin vermicelli served in flavorful coconut milk. After this tasty morning out in Bangkok, your guide will take you back to the hotel in the early afternoon. Next we will have a transfer to the Bangkok airport for your flight to Chiang Mai. Upon arrival in Chiang Mai, you will be met and greeted by our travel guide for transfer to your hotel in Chiang Mai.
Overnight Chiang Mai.
Today, we discover Chiang Mai by 5 different modes of transport! First we transfer by songthaew to the old trader community of Wat Gatekaram. After exploring the small alleys, a temple and market, we continue by songthaew to Wiang Kum Kam. Following a massive flood, the city of Wiang Kum Kam vanished without a trace and for over 200 years became a lost civilization buried under layers of earth. We explore the main ancient ruined temples by bicycle, before boarding a long-tail boat on the Mae Ping River that will bring us to the restaurant where we will have lunch. After lunch, a tuk tuk ride along Tapae, leads us to Wat Chedi Luang, one of the most spectacular ruins in the old city, where once the famous Emerald Buddha was enshrined. We end the day with a trishaw ride to Waroros Markets to join the bustle of local Thai's as they buy their fresh food and spices at this popular local market.
Overnight Chiang Mai.
In Thailand food is not just a passion it's an obsession! Today you will be treated to a cooking class to learn the secrets of this sumptuous cuisine so you too can cook like a pro (and impress your friends back home!). Following breakfast, we embark on a gastronomous journey at Chiang Mai Orchid cooking school. After enjoying the vibrant colors and flavors of a local market, where you personally select the ingredients for your dishes, you will learn the secrets of our internationally revered cuisine. By actively preparing a variety of Thai dishes, you will boost your cooking skills and knowledge. At the end of class you will be delighted by your own prepared meal. A gourmet's feast!
In the morning we depart for Lamphun following the old highway lined by beautiful 30m tall Yang trees often wrapped in decorative cloth. Lamphun was established around the 9th century by a group of former Buddhist monks who had travelled from Lopburi and founded the state of Haripunchai. We visit Wat Haripunchai and Wat Jamathewi, before enjoying lunch at a local restaurant. After a stop at the world's first elephant hospital we continue to the wooden Wat Phra That Lampang Luang, one of the most spectacular Lanna style temples in Thailand, dating back to 1486AD. From here we continue to Lampang, a large trading centre during the 19th Century, and wander along Taladkao Road where we can see old Thai, Chinese, British and Burmese merchant houses.
After breakfast, we will continue to Phrae, one of Thailand's oldest cities, founded in 828AD under the name Muang Phon and one of the most authentic Lanna towns. Phrae is packed with traditional Thai architecture in the form of beautiful teak houses, eclectic temples and quiet lanes as well as several large colonial period teak mansions. Spend some time visiting Vongburi House, a large two-storey teak mansion built in 1897AD for a family that held a large teak concession in the area. We will have lunch at a local restaurant. On the outskirts of Phrae is the beautiful Wat Phrae That Cho Hae. This temple is an important pilgrimage for northern Thai people, famous for its 33-meter high gilded Chedi. In addition, Buddha that sits within the temple is reputed to impart fertility to women who make an offering to it. The drive to the temple is very pretty also with lush green rice field and distant mountains ranges on either side of the road. From here we continue on the road to Nan after a visit at the unexpected "ghost land" of Phae Muang Phi, a natural phenomenon of erosion. We will arrive in Nan and check in at our hotel.
Overnight in Nan.
After breakfast, we head north of the city towards the village of Nong Bua where you visit Wat Nong Bua with its splendid Thai Lue mural paintings. A stroll in this neat and tidy place brings you to a silk and cotton weaving shop which is run by a women's cooperative. We return to Nan with a stop at the Riverside Gallery with paintings and sculptures of artist Khun Winai Prabripoo. After lunch at a local restaurant, we tour the town of Nan including visits to the National Museum and Wat Phumin. This can be done by private vehicle or you may like to do as the locals do and explore the town by bike!
Overnight in Nan.
After breakfast, we have an encounter with the Malbri, also called "Spirits of the yellow leaves", which is a unique opportunity to meet one of the most mysterious and rarest hilltribes of South East Asia with as few as 300 people estimated by the experts. From here we continue on the road to Chiang Rai. A stop will be made en route at the huge Phayao Lake for lunch at a local restaurant, and a walk along its popular promenade.
In the afternoon, we explore Oub Kham Home Collection Museum by Ajarn Julasak, where we will see a collection of objects from the areas once belonging to or affiliated with the Lanna Kingdom. Next you will transfer to your hotel in Chiang Rai, a city which was founded in 1262AD and once was the capital of the Lanna Kingdom.
Overnight in Chiang Rai.
The Golden Triangle is one of Asia's two main illicit opium-producing areas. It is an area of around 350,000 square kilometers that overlaps the mountains of three countries of mainland Southeast Asia: Myanmar(Burma), Laos, and Thailand. Along with Afghanistan in the Golden Crescent (together with Iran and Pakistan), it has been one of the most important opium-producing area of Asia and of the world since the 1950s. Following breakfast we visit the Opium Hall Museum an excellent, interactive museum, where you will learn about the history of opium and the problems caused by narcotics. The first part of the exhibition presents the 5000 year history of opium. The second part shows the effects of drugs on the mind and body, strategies throughout the world to control drugs, and international cooperation and efforts in dealing with drug addiction. Lunch is at a local restaurant followed by a 'long tail' boat trip on the mighty Mekong River to explore the area where Thailand, Myanmar and Laos meet. We finish the day with a visit to the beautiful Wat Chedi Luang.
Your trip concludes today after breakfast. If you are departing today you will be transferred to the airport for your onward flight.