Highlights of Thailand

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Discover the exquisite 'Land of Smiles' in style. Thailand conjures up images of spicy delicacies, majestic elephants, golden Buddhas, colourful hilltribe villages, fantastic shopping and exotic hideaways - and we experience it all on this trip. Witness traditional hilltribe life in a H'mong village, support the rehabilitation of the endangered Asian elephant, step back in time in the ancient kingdom of Sukhothai and try your hand at creating some gastronomic delights - this is your chance to capture the adventure and essence of timeless Thailand.

Itinerary

Days 1-2 Bangkok

Bursting with life and colour, Bangkok is a modern city with an ancient heart. Visit the Emerald Buddha, housed beneath the gleaming spires of the Grand Palace. Take a boat trip through the khlongs to witness the remarkable contrast between city and canal-side life. Be whisked away to Thailand's lush north on an overnight train.

Days 3-4 Chiang Mai

Learn to whip up local delicacies at a Thai cooking class. Alternatively, take a guided bike ride to the ruined city of Wiang Kum Kam to explore its well-preserved ruins. Also included in the cycling tour is the partially ruined Wat Chedi Luang temple complex, where there's the opportunity for a chat with friendly monks, and a visit to the local market. In the evening, climb up to Doi Suthep, a sacred mountain famous for its wonderful copper-plated chedi and its sweeping views out over the countryside. Later, enjoy a traditional khan toke dinner while being entertained by Akha, Yao, Lahu, H'mong, Lisu and Karen tribal dances.

Day 5 H'mong Lodge

Travel to where the rice fields meet the forest and get acquainted with Thailand's second-largest hilltribe group - the H'mong. Admire the embroidered aprons, colourful sashes and silver jewellery worn by many H'mong females and gain a fascinating insight into local customs during a display of traditional song and dance. Complete the experience with a tasty barbecue dinner.

Day 6 Sukhothai

Nicknamed the Dawn of Happiness, Sukhothai still recalls Siam's golden age with its superb statues, marvellous monuments and lotus flowers in full bloom. Be bowled over by cute baby elephants at the Elephant Conservation Centre and maybe even take a ride on an adult.

Days 7-8 Kanchanaburi/River Kwai

Make a sobering visit to the Hellfire Pass Memorial. Board a train at Nam Tok station - the main terminal of the Death Railway - and take a ride along the historic tracks passing over the original wooden viaduct, the Bridge on the River Kwai. Afterwards, stop in to see the Jeath War Museum and the Allied War Cemetery.

Days 9-10 Bangkok

Returning to Bangkok, there is ample time for some last-minute shopping before a cruise and farewell dinner on the mighty Chao Phraya River.

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