Day 01: Arrive Bangkok
Arrive at Bangkok International Airport, meet and greet, and transfer (unescorted) to your hotel. Check in time starts from 1500 hrs. Rest of the day is at leisure. Perhaps you could indulge yourself with a traditional Thai massage, surprise your taste buds with the amazing local flavors and cap off the day by enjoying sunset in any of the stylish rooftop bars which have blossomed in the city’s skyscrapers in recent years… the options are limitless.
Overnight: Royal Hotel China Town, Bangkok (2 nights)
Day 02: Bangkok
Today’s tour includes three of the most important Buddhist temples in Bangkok. Wat Traimit, also known as the temple of the Golden Buddha, houses a three-meter-tall statue made from solid gold and weighing 5.5 tons. You will then pass through Chinatown on your way to Wat Pho, the temple of the Reclining Buddha and home to the Chedis of the Kings. At 46 meters in length and 15 meters high, the Buddha is the largest in Bangkok and illustrates the passing of the Buddha into nirvana. The Grand Palace is one of the most beautiful samples of an ancient Siamese court. It used to be the residence of the Kings of Bangkok. Here you will see palaces which were used for different occasions: the Funeral Palace, the Reception Palace, the Throne Hall, the Coronation Hall, the Royal Guest House, and Wat Phra Keo, the beautiful Emerald Buddha Temple. To round off the tour, we call in at a local lapidary factory and showroom, where you will be able to get locally made jewelery, handicrafts and silk at competitive prices.
Note: The Grand Palace is closed during special royal ceremonies and during visiting heads of state. (B)
Day 03: Bangkok/Ayutthaya/Kampheang Phet (Drive)
Pick-up from 0700 hrs at your hotel. Head to the former capital of Ayutthaya* and contemplate the ruins of this once-vast island city, which was mostly destroyed by an invading army 250 years ago. Today, the haunting ruins hint at its former glories, as can be seen in temples such as Wat Yai Chaimongkhon, Wat Phanan Choeng and Wat Mahathat – where the roots of trees have devoured the head of a Buddha. Hop aboard a traditional long tail boat and enjoy a scenic cruise around the island, observing the city’s ruins from a different perspective. After lunch in a local restaurant, continue to Kamphaeng Phet for check-in at the hotel.
Overnight: Chakungao Riverview Hotel, Kampheang Phet (1 night) (L)
Day 04: Kampheang Phet/Lampang/Chiang Mai (Drive)
Take to the road after breakfast at the hotel, heading towards Lampang. On arrival, visit Wat Phra That Lampang Luang. This large Lanna-style temple is prominently located on a hill surrounded by walls. Climb the naga staircase and explore the complex, which boasts seven buildings and a sacred tree. Admire the bronze Buddha statue in the ordination hall and the relic of Buddha in the golden chedi. Continue to the Thai Elephant Conservation Centre, which offers shelter and care to more than 50 Asian elephants in a natural rainforest habitat. The centre’s prize attraction, however, are the six elephants from the king of Thailand’s Royal Stables. Enjoy lunch in a local restaurant before continuing to Chiang Mai, popularly known as the “Rose of the North”.
Overnight: Holiday Inn, Chiang Mai (2 nights) (B, L)
Day 05: Chiang Mai
After breakfast in the hotel, visit Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, one of the most revered temples in the country. This sacred location is at the top of a mountain from where you can appreciate stunning panoramic views over the city. Reaching the temple requires a climb up a 309-step naga staircase. Alternatively, you can use the cable car (included) to reach the temple. This spiritual sojourn is followed by a visit to the shopping heaven that is the famous San Kamphaeng Road, a 10-kilometer-long stretch of road flanked by shops selling locally produced goods such as pottery, silverware, lacquerware, handmade saa paper, sculptures, jewelery, wood carvings and silk products. In some shops, you can even watch the artisans at work. Keep an eye out for the celadon pottery and the silver goods, which are both usually of excellent quality. After lunch in a local restaurant, return to the hotel with the afternoon free. (B, L)
Day 06: Chiang Mai/Lamphun/Sukhothai (Drive)
Bid farewell to Chiang Mai after breakfast at the hotel and head to Lamphun, home to one of the north’s most important temples, the 1,000-year-old Wat Phra That Hariphunchai. Visit the temple to admire the Buddha statues and impressive stupas, which include a 46-meter-tall Lanna-style golden chedi and 21-meter-tall Haripunchai-style chedi. Take to the road again and head south to Sukhothai Historical Park*, which covers the ruins of the first capital of Siam. Founded in the 13th century, Sukhothai means ‘Dawn of Happiness’. It heralded the beginning of a golden age for Thai culture under the rule of King Ramkhamhaeng the Great, who is credited with creating the Thai alphabet. The historical park has the ruins of almost 200 buildings, including dozens of temples. The complex, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is divided between the ruins within the walls and moat and those outside them.
Overnight: Legendha Hotel, Sukhothai (1 night) (B, L)
Day 07: Sukhothai/Lopburi/Bangkok (Drive)
Depart Sukhothai after breakfast at the hotel, heading for Lopburi. This historic city is famed for the troops of macaques that roam the streets as if it were the jungle. Visit the ruins of the ancient Khmer temple of Phra Prang Sam Yot and the adjacent Brahman shrine of San Phra Kan, which is known as the ‘Monkey Temple’. Lunch is in a local restaurant en route. Continue to Bangkok.
Overnight: Royal Hotel China Town, Bangkok (1 night) (B, L)
Day 08: Depart Bangkok
Following a unique exploration of Bangkok and the Ancient Capitals of Thailand, we are transferred to the airport. Ideal opportunity to extend your journey to other destinations in the region. (B)
Recommend adding beach stay in Thailand, or MALAYSIA or VIETNAM to the above tour
TOUR DATES & PRICES: BANGKOK AND THE ANCIENT CAPITALS Tour Dates – 2017/2018 Every Tuesday from Nov 01, 2017 to Oct 31, 2018 Tour Prices – 2017/2018 US$ 995 per person sharing Twin, US$ 230 single room supplement Peak Season Surcharge for traveling between Nov 01 to 07, 2017; Dec 19, 2017 to Jan 04, 2018; Jan 27 to Feb 18, 2018: US$ 105 per person sharing Twin, US$ 60 single room supplement. Supplements for Christmas & New Year Gala Dinner: Ranging from US$ 30 to US$ 100 depending on which hotel the dinner is at. Tour Size Minimum: 02 Maximum: 16