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Setting off from the neon lights of bustling Bangkok, this comprehensive, eleven-day tour travels up through the ancient Siamese Kingdoms of Ayutthaya and Sukhothai, to the mountainous jungle landscapes of northern Thailand.
Depart London on your scheduled, overnight flight to Bangkok International Airport.
On arrival into Bangkok you will be greeted and transferred to your hotel. The day will be at leisure to settle in and explore your new surroundings. Originally a small harbour village, Thailand's vibrant capital infuses grand Buddhist architecture within an ultramodern metropolis interspersed by aromatic food markets and waterways that unite this Venice of the East. In the evening, enjoy a buffet dinner before witnessing the highly acclaimed Siam Niramit, one of the world's largest shows depicting each region's fascinating cultural heritage through music, dance and stunning visual effects.
Today's full day city tour takes you through Chinatown to the city's colourful flower market where beautifully scented jasmine buds are hand made for temple offerings. Visit Wat Pho, home to one of the country's longest and most impressive reclining Buddha images, before visiting Thailand's most important landmark, The Grand Palace. The royal complex displays European-inspired halls partitioned by tranquil gardens, ornate pavilions representing 200 years of successive Kings and the magnificent golden chedi of Thailand's most sacred temple - Wat Phra Kaew. In the afternoon board a traditional long-tail boat to navigate Bangkok's khlongs, where local wooden-stilted houses line the banks. Pass the domineering Wat Arun temple, encrusted with porcelain mosaics that reflect the sunlight with a lustrous glow, before returning to your hotel for an evening at leisure.
This morning, leave Bangkok to visit the famous floating market of Damnoen Saduak, a man-made river network populated by wooden canoes piled high with colourful produce. En-route, pass mango and lychee plantations and make a brief stop at a coconut farm to learn how the nuts are harvested and manufactured into a variety of products by hand. On arrival at the floating market, observe local traders paddling their fragile boats whilst preparing fragrant dishes within teetering woks. Continue west to the historical jungle town of Kanchanaburi to visit the humbling war cemetery and nearby Thailand-Burma railway museum which documents the brutal Japanese occupation and harrowing conditions faced by prisoners during World War II. Enjoy lunch at a floating restaurant overlooking the infamous railway bridge that inspired Pierre Boulle's novel and the film - the Bridge Over the River Kwai. Transfer to the city of Ayutthaya for dinner and a well-deserved rest.
Start the day at Ayutthaya's UNESCO historical park, an ancient royal capital that was once considered one of the region's most illustrious cities. Wander the Summer Palace, surrounded by rivers and lakes, the beautifully landscaped grounds boast romantic European style architecture, commissioned by the Royal family and still used on special occasions. After your guided tour, visit the ancient royal monastery of Wat Yai Chaimongkhol to see impressive constructions built after King Naresuan's victory over the Burmese in 1592. Departing Ayutthaya, journey through rural Thailand past typical Thai houses, peanut plantations and farmers working on the verdant rice paddies. A lunch stop will be made before continuing on to Phitsanulok for your overnight stay.
One of Thailand's most impressive UNESCO sites awaits this morning - the ancient Sukothai Historical Park. The peaceful surroundings contain ancient ruins hidden amongst lakes of lotus flowers, a stunning setting crafted during the country's golden era of religious architecture that formed the blueprint of quintessential Thai style. Continue to Si Satchanalai and cross the river to a local fishing village where women can be seen weaving cotton and men cast nets for the day's catch. Following lunch, journey into the jungle area, stopping at a local hill tribe to learn how native plants are used in traditional cooking. Arrive into Lampang late this afternoon.
After breakfast, drive to the Elephant Hospital and nearby Conservation Centre. Here you can observe these majestic creatures playing in the water with their mahout keepers and choose to take an optional elephant ride through the lush Thai jungle. Arriving into Chiang Mai, visit a gem and silk factory to see how these local handicrafts are produced before making a stop at Bo Sang's craft market, known as the 'umbrella village' after its ornate and vivid oil paper creations. This evening you can enjoy some free time to relax or experience a local tuk tuk ride to the nearby famous night market - head out after 7pm to explore the many stalls, restaurants and bars with live music and delicious street food.
Roll up your sleeves and try your hand at cooking the most famous food and desserts in the country at the Baan Hongnual Cookery School this morning. After being collected from your hotel this morning, you will visit a local market to learn how to choose fish, meat and vegetables whilst at the same time learning about the herbs and spices that are needed and used in Thai cooking. From the market you will proceed to the cooking school for your class followed by lunch before returning to your hotel. Late this afternoon, your guide will take you to Doi Suthep, a nearby mountain, for panoramic views at sunset over the city's vast tropical plains. Near the summit discover Wat Phra That, Northern Thailand's holiest shrine, where kneeling worshipers gather around the dazzling golden dome to light aromatic incense and lay lotus flowers before immaculate icons of the Buddha. As night falls, return to the city to sample a traditional Khantoke dinner and show, where food is served on large platters at low tables as you enjoy a performance by local Lanna dancers.
Today, begin your assent of northern Thailand's mountainous regions, through mist-coated fern forests to the charming town of Thaton. After lunch, board a traditional long-tail boat for a tranquil cruise along the Kok River; traverse slow moving waters to a chorus of cicadas to observe the thatched bamboo huts of the northern hill tribes dotted throughout the picturesque countryside. Disembark and drive to the infamous Golden Triangle, a mountainous range where Thailand, Laos and Burma converge which was once a prolific area for opium production. Continue to your hotel for a night in the laidback city of Chiang Rai.
This morning visit the stunning Wat Rongkhun, an art instillation in the form of a temple. Designed by visual artist Chalermchai Kositpipat, its striking white exterior is mixed with mirror fragments to create a mesmerising effect symbolising the Buddha's purity. Wander to the temples entrance over a sea of sculpted hands reaching out in desperation and admire the interior murals, an incongruous mix of traditional Buddhist images with modern icons including Superman, the international space station and George Bush. After lunch head to Chiang Mai Airport for your flight to Bangkok, where you will be met and transferred to your hotel for a farewell dinner.
Transfer to Bangkok airport in the morning for your direct flight back to the UK.
A visa is not required before you travel to Thailand; you will be issued with a tourist visa valid for 30 days on arrival into the country. Further advice should be sought from the applicable tourist authority for other nationalities and for general queries. We strongly advise you check your destinations' Tourist Board or Embassy for the most up-to-date guidelines regarding visas and passport validity.
You must obtain suitable travel insurance prior to departure. Mercury Holidays is partnered with Holiday Extras which offer insurance at the following prices:
|Age in Years||Up to 64||65 - 74||75 - 85|
|Up to 17 days cover||£42||£79||£135|
If booking more than 10 weeks before departure a deposit of £250pp will need to be paid at the time of booking with the full amount payable at 10 weeks prior to departure. The deposit applies to adults and children. If you are within 10 weeks of travel then the full balance of the holiday will be payable.
Your flight to Bangkok Suvarnabhumi International Airport is with British Airways (BA), departing from London Heathrow Terminal 5. Each passenger is entitled to 23kg of hold luggage. There is also an allowance of one cabin bag not exceeding 25cm x 45cm x 56cm in size and one personal bag not exceeding 45 cm x 36 cm x 20 cm that you can take on the aircraft as hand luggage. Weight restrictions will be finalized on your e-ticket receipt. Should you wish to take additional luggage you will need to pay an additional fee for this at check-in. Heathrow Airport advises that you should arrive at the airport at least three hours prior to your flight time for international departures.
It is your responsibility to check any health and vaccination requirements applicable to your booked arrangements. We can only provide general information about this. Health and hygiene facilities and disease risks vary from country to country. You should take health advice about your own needs as early as possible and in good time before your departure. Sources of information include; www.fco.gov.uk, http://travelhealthpro.org.uk/, www.hpa.org.uk, your General Practitioner or a specialist clinic.
This tour is accessible to most people with a good level of fitness and normal mobility. It involves climbing of steep stairs and getting on and off coaches and boats. This tour is not suitable for anyone with walking difficulties.
The minimum number of travellers in your group will be 11 and the maximum will be 30. In the unlikely event there are fewer than 11 passengers booked on your tour date, you may be asked to change to a different date. A full refund will be made available to you should this alternative not be suitable.
This is a fully escorted tour meaning that you will be met on arrival and will have a guide with you throughout your stay until you depart Chiang Mai, ensuring that you have first-hand knowledge at all times.
The currency in Thailand is the Thai Baht (THB). We recommend that you exchange you currency before you leave the UK, however cash machines are available in all the major cities to withdraw money in the local currency.
You will need to take some extra money with you to cover any dinners where these are not mentioned on your itinerary and personal purchases, such as souvenirs, extra drinks and snacks. Approximately £200-£300 per person should be sufficient for the duration of your tour.
|Depart UK||Arrive UK||Price|
|11 Sep 2017||21 Sep 2017||£1699pp|
|09 Oct 2017||19 Oct 2017||£1699pp|
|13 Nov 2017||23 Nov 2017||£1779pp|
|04 Dec 2017||14 Dec 2017||£1829pp|
|15 Jan 2018||25 Jan 2018||£1929pp|
|12 Feb 2018||22 Feb 2018||£1889pp|
|12 Mar 2018||22 Mar 2018||£1779pp|
|23 Apr 2018||03 May 2018||£1579pp|
|04 Jun 2018||14 Jun 2018||£1499pp|
|02 Jul 2018||12 Jul 2018||£1689pp|
|10 Sep 2018||20 Sep 2018||£1679pp|
|08 Oct 2018||18 Oct 2018||£1699pp|
|12 Nov 2018||22 Nov 2018||£1799pp|
|03 Dec 2018||13 Dec 2018||£1899pp|
Unfortunately, we do not have any places with no single supplements on this tour. However, if you are happy to share with another passenger of the same gender, then let us know at the time of booking and we will endeavour to find you a travelling partner. Alternatively, please ask about our single supplement prices in order to book your own room.
Travel Advice from the Foreign & Commonwealth Office
For the latest travel advice from the Foreign & Commonwealth Office including security and local laws, plus passport and visa information you can visit their website at https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice.
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