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adventure travel trip to Thailand
Spend a day interacting with elephants and their mahouts (trainers) while in northern Thailand!
Dates
  • Dec 22-Jan 1, 2015
  • Jul 13-23, 2015
  • Dec 20-30, 2015
  • Privately on Request
  • Duration 11 days
    Group Size 2-16
    Land Cost $2,500-$2,850 Details
    Single Supplement $600
    Lodging 3 stars
    Grade I-II
    Best Time

    Elephants, Arts and Adventure for Families

    An active family adventure featuring highlights of Thailand

    Day 1      Bangkok

    Upon arrival at the airport in Bangkok, you will be met by your guide and transferred to your hotel for check-in.  The rest of the day is free to explore at your leisure.  Your accommodation will be at an attractive, small boutique hotel in the heart of Bangkok.

    Meals: None
    Lodging: Siam Heritage or similar

    Enjoy Bangkok's rich and varied sights
    Day 2      Bangkok City, Temple, and Canal Tours

    After breakfast at the hotel, visit some of the city’s most impressive highlights:  Wat Pho, home to an enormous reclining Buddha covered in gold leaf (and the largest in Thailand) and lots of interesting nooks and crannies around the site.  Next, head to the Grand Palace, Bangkok’s most significant landmark and a must-see for every visitor.  Built by King Rama I in 1782, it was the center of power for more than 150 years.  Today, the king uses the buildings of the palace for ceremonial occasions such as Coronation Day.  Within the compound is Wat Pra Kaew, "Temple of the Emerald Buddha," a fantastically-decorated building guarded by a pair of mythical giants. Wat Pra Kaew houses the temple’s main attraction, the Emerald Buddha, which is cloaked in royal robes which are changed with the seasons.  Enjoy lunch in a Thai restaurant near the busy and picturesque Mae Nam Chao Phraya River, the River of Kings. In the afternoon, travel at a relaxing pace on the river through the khlongs (canals) of Thonburi on the west side of the river, observing and photographing the serene family homes and temples along the waterways which gave the city the name "Venice of the East." While on the west side of the river, visit a major riverside landmark, Wat Arun, the Temple of Dawn, with a striking prang (tower) rising 270 feet into the sky, and decorated with glazed ceramic pieces from top to bottom. Return to your hotel in the late afternoon.
     
    In the evening, consider an optional visit (at additional cost) to the exciting Siam Niramit Show, a world-class performance showcasing Thailand’s arts and cultural heritage. With over 150 performers, 500 costumes, and enhanced high-tech special effects, this Journey to the Enchanted Kingdom of Siam is a spectacular, stimulating, realistic, and inspiring experience that should not be missed. The cost for this excursion is between $50-75 per person, depending on the number of participants, and includes transfers from/to your hotel.

    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch
    Lodging: Siam Heritage or similar

    Travel along the khlongs - the canals - of Bangkok
    Day 3      Bangkok/Half-Day Biking Tour

    Today we have combined a bit of light exercise with your sightseeing on a lovely family bicycle ride around Bang Ka Jao, the "green heart" of Bangkok.  Tour this small green area along a unique, scenic collection of waterways and small roads. On your bicycles, you’ll pass tropical jungle, temples, local markets, traditional houses, and the communities of Thai people who live and work here. This is an easy, very gentle 13-mile ride along country back roads, pathways, and picturesque alleyways, suitable for anyone who can ride a bike and excellent for families (recommended for ages 12 and up). Our experienced bicycle guides set a leisurely pace and stop often to visit points of interested along the way. Water, excellent mountain bicycles, and helmets are included. Return to the hotel to clean up, then the afternoon is yours to explore or shop at your leisure on your final night in the city. For those who prefer not to bike, plan on a visit to Siam Ocean World, one of the largest and best aquariums in all of Southeast Asia, with over 30,000 marine animals such as seals, octopus, sharks, and crabs. Your adventure takes you through seven different environments including "Weird and Wonderful," "Open Ocean," "Deep Reef," "Rainforest," "Rocky Shore," "Living Ocean," and "Sea Jellies." For more adventurous types, you will have the chance to climb into the Oceanarium and swim face-to-face with sea creatures with the assistance of fully-qualified instructors. For those not-so-adventurous types, you can take a ride on a glass bottom boat for a better view of the sea creatures.

    In the evening, consider another fun family excursion (optional, at additional cost), a dinner cruise along the Chao Praya River, where you can enjoy the scenery and spectacular night lights of the city.   The trip is on a beautifully-restored 50-year-old rice barge and features delicious Thai foods. Along the way, you will see some of Bangkok’s most picturesque temples and other city sights, all aglow on a warm Thai evening. The cost of this excursion is between $60-75 per person, depending on the number of participants, and includes transfers from/to your hotel.

    Meals: Breakfast
    Lodging: Siam Heritage or similar

    Visit Bangkok's gilded Grand Palace
    Day 4      Bangkok/Chiang Rai/Thaton

    After breakfast at the hotel, you will be transferred to the airport for your flight to Chiang Rai, Thailand’s northernmost province. On arrival, you will be transferred to Thaton and the Maekok River Village Resort, a beautiful, new, small hotel in a peaceful rural setting. On the way, you will visit the huge, modern “Hall of Opium” where you will learn about the long history of opium (including the Opium Wars between China and Britain); the beneficial aspects of the plant to humans; the history of legal opium product, trade, and use; and the many negative impacts of the illegal drug trade.

    Next, visit one of the nearby Padong refugee villages where “long neck” women live. These women wear a coil around their necks, and sometimes their limbs, that can weigh around 10 pounds but sometimes more than 40 pounds! The process starts at a young age when girls put increasing numbers of brass rings around their necks to compress the collarbone and rib cage, making their necks look very long. Despite the unusual appearance, there is no evidence that this practice impairs women’s health. Here at the village, you’ll have an opportunith to interact and get an inside look into their daily lives. Afterward, check in at the Maekok River Village Resort, ideally located on the banks of the Mae Kok River with sweeping views across the valley to distant forested mountains. Enjoy the panoramic view of the river and the valley over dinner in the resort’s restaurant before retiring for the evening.

    Meals: Breakfast, Dinner
    Lodging: Maekok River Village Resort or similar

    Get to know a Padong refugee woman
    Day 5 - 6      Thaton Adventure Activities

    During your two-day stay in this beautiful natural area, you are free to explore the area on your own, or to sign up for one of many optional excursions that can be booked on the spot at your hotel (at additional cost). Choose from a variety of half-day activities suitable for the whole family such as: a four-wheel-drive vehicle tour into the Wawee region, home to nine different ethnic groups; a trek around Baan Thaton village and Wat Thaton (with its impressive Buddha images spread over five hilltops); a mountain bike trip in the Fang Valley; a river trip by barge or canoe to different villages; a three-dish Thai cooking program; or a relaxing herbal steam bath and Thai massage. Your family may also choose to learn about community development by visiting the local hospital orphanage or an organic farming project. Dinners and overnights in Thaton at the Maekok River Village Resort.

    Meals: Breakfast, Dinner
    Lodging: Maekok River Village Resort or similar

    Take a river trip to see local villages
    Day 7      Chiang Dao / Mae Sa / Chiang Mai

    In the morning, you'll check out of your hotel and drive to Chiang Mai. On the way, you’ll stop to visit a Meo hill tribe village at Baan Huay Luek in the Chiang Dao region. After lunch at a local restaurant, visit Mae Sa Valley and its craft village where the entire family can select among any of several cultural activities, from watching artisans at work to hands-on sessions in various northern Thai arts and skills such as “saa” or handmade paper-making, parasol, and fan painting, batik dyeing, ceramic painting, candle-making, traditional Thai massage, and more. Afterward, drive a short distance to Chiang Mai and check in at your hotel, the lovely, small Bodhi Serene Boutique Hotel in the heart of Chiang Mai. In the evening, your guide will take you to a restaurant near the colorful night market and will assist you in choosing a delicious food combination of your choice (cost not included.) Afterward, wander around and enjoy the colorful sights, sounds, and bustling activity of the night market.

    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch
    Lodging: Bodhi Serene Boutique Hotel or similar

    Try your hand at cultural activities in Mae Sa Valley
    Day 8      Chiang Mai Arts and Crafts

    After breakfast, visit Doi Suthep, a 5,500-foot peak named after a hermit who lived on the mountain’s slopes for many years. Near its summit is Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, a 14th century sacred temple reached either by a 300-step staircase or tram. Easily the most sacred and legendary place in all of northern Thailand, Doi Suthep is a nature sanctuary, royal preserve, monastery, and very popular Buddhist pilgrimage site for believers from all over the world, especially those from Thailand. The temple at the top of the mountain offers something to hold everyone’s attention, such as exquisite scenes fashioned in gold, mythological figures, flaming lamps, wafting scents of incense, prostrating devotees, ringing bells, and a five-tiered gold umbrella stupa. Surrounded by ponds, canals, ornamental plantings, and agricultural antiques, you’ll hear rushing water and see bountiful earth all around. On a clear day, the views of Chiang Mai are fantastic.

    The afternoon is yours to relax by the pool or explore Chiang Mai at your leisure. Alternatively, you can take a short drive to nearby Tiger Kingdom to learn about these beautiful endangered creatures and efforts to save, rehabilitate, and breed them. Kids age 15 and under may interact and play with baby tigers, while adults may, at their option, interact with young adult tigers. At about US$15 per person (plus transportation), this is a great opportunity!

    Meals: Breakfast
    Lodging: Bodhi Serene Boutique Hotel or similar

    Pray at Wat Phra That Doi Suthep temple
    Day 9      Elephant Training at Maesa Elephant Camp

    In the morning, you depart your hotel for an exciting full day at Maesa Elephant Camp. On arrival, mahout (elephant trainer) instructors will greet you and you’ll change into a mahout uniform. You’ll then begin the Mahout Training Course, attend a briefing on Maesa Elephant Camp, and meet the Camp’s veterinarian and instructor team. You’ll also attend the daily elephant show and help with elephant bathing. After lunch at the camp, you’ll participate in a lesson, learn basic commands for elephants, check out the paintings of the resident elephant artist, and have your photo taken with one of the elephants. At the end of the day, return to Chiang Mai for your final night in northern Thailand.

    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch
    Lodging: Bodhi Serene Boutique Hotel or similar

    Help to bathe the elephants at Maesa Elephant Camp
    Day 10      Chiang Mai/Bangkok

    This morning will be spent at your leisure until it’s time to transfer to Chiang Mai airport for your flight to Bangkok. You will be met on arrival in Bangkok and transferred to a hotel near the airport.  If you have opted to add the Sukhothai excursion, you will begin that part of the trip today. See the Sukhothai extension description for details.

    Meals: Breakfast
    Lodging: Best Western Suvarnabhumi Airport Hotel or similar

    Visit Chiang Mai's Golden Triangle
    Day 11      Bangkok

    Transfer to the airport for your morning flight back to the USA, or consider a relaxing extension to one of Thailand’s beautiful beaches such as Ko Samui or Phuket.

    Meals: None
    Lodging: None

    Bid farewell to colorful, complex Bangkok - until your next visit!


     
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