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Experience the Highlights of Thailand as you travel through northern Thailand from Bangkok to Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai. Starting in the bustling capital of Bangkok, explore the Grand Palace and the Chao Phraya River and its canals. At Kanchanaburi, appreciate the hardships experienced by Allied prisoners of war at Hell Fire Pass and the Bridge over the River Kwai. Journey to Chiang Mai, the jewel of the north, where temples, night markets, elephants and bamboo rafts await. Venture further north to Chiang Rai to see the Golden Triangle, the famed border area of Thailand, Laos and Myanmar (Burma), renowned for centuries as the centre of the opium trade.
Our Highlight itineraries cover the key attractions at a relatively quick pace. Enjoy them as they are or extend them to create your perfect holiday. Discuss itinerary options and extensions with our Asia Travel Experts.
You will meet your guide on arrival, transfer and check-in to your hotel. During the drive your guide will provide an introduction to Bangkok, answer any questions you have, and make arrangements for the following day. Enjoy free time for the remainder of the first day.
Situated on the banks of the Chao Phraya River, Bangkok, also known as the City of Angels, is a vibrant city with many and varied charms. From grand historic buildings to peaceful temples, from exciting markets to ritzy shopping malls and from towering skyscrapers to Chinese shop-houses, Bangkok is cosmopolitan and full of sharp contrasts.
Explore the streets by tuk-tuk, view the city by Skytrain or take to the water and cruise the river and its canals to experience traditional riverside life. Bangkok is never dull. Orange robed monks mingle with shoppers and businessmen, tuk-tuks weave in amongst limousines and fish is unloaded from wooden boats as the river flows through the centre of the city. In the evenings the streets are transformed into bustling markets and outdoor restaurants. The food choices are endless and range from fine dining in stylish contemporary restaurants to snacking with the locals at street hawker stalls.
Bangkok has many great restaurants, night markets and bars. Ask your guide for personal recommendations. It is also possible to unwind from your flight with a traditional Thai massage. Again your guide can advise you of options.
Itinerary Option: If you’re arriving to Bangkok in the morning, discuss additional day 1 activities with our staff.
Accompanied by your guide, enjoy a half day tour visiting two of Bangkok’s most notable landmarks, the Grand Palace and Wat Arun. Wander the peaceful grounds of Wat Arun, a Buddhist temple constructed between 1809 and 1851. Once the grand royal temple to King Rama II, Wat Arun, also referred to as the Temple of Dawn, is one of the most striking riverside landmarks of Thailand. The temple is decorated with pieces of porcelain previously used as ballast by boats coming to Bangkok from China.
Continue by boat over the river until you reach Ta Chang Pier and from there stroll to the Grand Palace or Wat Phra Kaeo. One of the most spectacular palaces in Asia, construction was begun in 1782 by King Rama I, after he moved the capital from Thonburi to Bangkok. The palace was the official residence of the Kings of Siam for 150 years and also housed the Royal Court and the administrative seat of government. Within the Grand Palace complex, Wat Phra Kaeo Royal Chapel houses the famous jade Emerald Buddha, the most revered Buddha image in Thailand, dating back to the 14th century. Thai people believe that as long as they remain keepers of the Emerald Buddha, their country will be safe.
After the city tour the remainder of the day is free to further explore Bangkok on your own or perhaps relax with a traditional Thai massage.
After breakfast, leave Bangkok and head to Kanchanaburi province. The provincial capital of Kanchanaburi is set in a lush landscape on the banks of the river and framed by limestone hills.
On arrival, visit the infamous Bridge over the River Kwai and the Death Railway, built by Allied Prisoners Of War (POWs) under brutal Japanese occupation. Continue to the Second World War Cemetery, the final resting place of nearly 7,000 Australian, British and Dutch POWs who lost their lives during their incarceration and forced labour. Afterwards visit the Thai-Burma Railway Museum to gain an insight into their daily hardship experienced by the POWs.
After lunch take a historic one hour train ride through the thick jungle on the infamous Death Railway where you will be driven to your riverside hotel with a twist. If there is any sunlight left in your day, consider swimming or depending which hotel you select, hiring a canoe.
Itinerary Option: Your itinerary can be altered to include the Buddhist Monk Tiger Temple and/or the Floating Markets. Discuss options with our staff.
This morning sees us visiting Hellfire Pass, also known as Konyu Cutting, a railway cutting on the former “Death Railway” built by Allied Prisoners of War (POWs) during the Second World War. The Australian built complex consists of a memorial site located within Hellfire Pass, a Memorial Walking Trail and a museum. The museum exhibits artefacts and relates the story of the Thai-Burma Railway and the hardships and suffering endured by those men who were forced to work in such extremely harsh conditions.
Later we head to the airport north of Bangkok for your flight to Chiang Mai where you meet your guide on arrival. During the drive your guide will provide an introduction to Chiang Mai, answer any questions you have, and make arrangements for the following day. Enjoy free time for the remainder of the first day.
Located in the north of the country, Chiang Mai is the ancient walled provincial capital. It has been an important Buddhist centre since the 14th century and is home to over 300 temples. Surrounded by mountains it offers spectacular scenery for trekking on foot and by elephant, with opportunities to raft on jungle rivers and meet the colourful hill tribe minorities that inhabit the area. Many visitors come to Chiang Mai to attend meditation retreats, massage classes or yoga lessons. For those interested in handicrafts there are centres which specialise in silverwork, wood carving, pottery making and weaving. The renowned Night Bazaar comes alive in the evenings, a great place to sample the distinctive northern Thai cuisine.
With an abundance of restaurants and bars as well as the Night Bazaar, Chiang Mai has plenty to see and do. Ask your guide for personal recommendations.
Start today’s trip with a transfer to Wat Suan Dok, just outside the ancient city walls of Chiang Mai. The temple was built in the 14th century by King Keu Na of Lanna to accommodate important priests visiting from Sukhothai, as well as a place for local monks to shelter from the rain. There is a 48 metre (157 feet) high Sri Lankan style bell shaped chedi or pagoda and an open sided prayer hall. Continue to Wat Chedi Luang where the Emerald Buddha was once enshrined. This impressive temple was built between the 14th and 15th centuries and nowadays houses a replica of Thailand’s most important Buddha relic.
Wat Phra Singh, with its impressive prayer hall, is the next stop, perhaps the largest and most interesting of the temples in Chiang Mai. Built over 600 years ago, it was carefully restored in 2006 and now houses a very sacred 1,500 year old Buddha image. The prayer hall has an intricately carved front and there is a small library built on a high stone base with beautiful carvings. End the trip with a visit to Wat Phrathat on Doi Suthep Mountain, which was founded in 1383 AD, and which is probably Chiang Mai’s most well known temple. Built as a Buddhist monastery in 1383, it is still a working monastery today. Funds raised by donations support the monks and the maintenance of the temple buildings. The temple is crowned by an elaborate golden chedi and is reached by climbing the 309 steps of the Naga Serpent Staircase or by taking a cable car for a small surcharge. The climb to the top is rewarded with a superb panoramic view over the city. Return to the car park for the transfer back to Chiang Mai.
The remainder of the day is free to further explore Chiang Mai on your own.
Today the focus is on elephants, Thailand’s most loved animal. Travel north of Chiang Mai to the Chiang Dao Elephant Training Camp, passing through the spectacular mountainous scenery that surrounds Chiang Mai. Arrive at the camp and watch the elephants taking their morning bath in a mountain stream, before seeing a demonstration which shows how elephants work in the jungle nearby and the kinds of tasks they undertake. Next it is time to enjoy a one hour elephant ride through the jungle that surrounds the camp, followed by lunch.
In the afternoon climb aboard the bamboo raft trip and float down the river taking in the tranquillity and beauty of the area. Set foot again on the mainland and transfer back to Chiang Mai.
Itinerary Option: Optionally upgrade to a visit to the Elephant Conservation project for the day where you spend time learning about the elephants, including bathing and feeding them.
Today you travel from Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai and visit the famous Golden Triangle where the borders of Thailand, Myanmar (Burma) and Laos meet.
Setting off early with your guide, you drive through beautiful scenery stopping at the Hot Springs of Mekajan where you can relax in the healing waters. Later you arrive at the top of a hill with magnificent views across the Golden Triangle, once the heart of the opium trade. At this point, the mighty Mekong River joins with the Ruak River and forms the "triangle" with Thailand, Laos and Myanmar (Burma).
After lunch at a local restaurant continue to Chiang Rai, paying a visit to the border town of Mae Sai and visiting Akha and Yao hill tribe villages along the way. Witness the lifestyles of these ethnic groups that make a living from the land in the same manner they've done for millennia. Mae Sai is the northernmost point of Thailand and the perfect spot to observe the trade between the tribes people and others that occurs on the border. Mae Sai is one of few official land crossings between Thailand and Burma and is therefore an important trade hub. Many Burmese come over daily from Thakhilek to work or do business before returning to Burma at dusk. Burmese lacquer ware, gems, jade and other goods from Laos and Burma are sold in shops along the main street. Arrive in Chiang Rai in the late afternoon and check into your hotel and enjoy some free time.
On your last day enjoy free time until your departure transfer.
Phone now to discuss options to personalise your itinerary.
Ideas to upgrade or extend your itinerary:
All Get About Asia trips have been designed to make sure you have an unforgettable travel experience. We have developed several trip styles to cater for our diverse range of travellers. Read what your ideal Get About Asia experience might look like here.
|Standard:||from AU $2,347|
|Superior:||from AU $2,775|
|Deluxe:||from AU $4,094|
All GetAboutAsia prices are based on twin share and depend on availability and season. All our itineraries can be customised including international flights and extra nights. For questions or further information, Enquire Now!
Hotels each night of the itinerary (excluding your departure day). All GetAboutAsia accommodation is handpicked by us. Upgrades are available for this itinerary.
This trip package includes 1 internal flight (Bangkok - Chiang Mai) which retails at about 200AUD.
Availability of accommodation and season.