Experience Ancient Kingdoms of Thailand
Experience the best that Thailand has to offer: a taste of its world-famous cuisine, a village homestay with a hill tribe community, and an exploration of the extraordinary ancient Thai kingdoms.
On this tour, we’ll travel from the pulsating modern capital of Bangkok to the ancient kingdom of Ayutthaya and its famous “Buddha head wrapped in roots”. In central Thailand, a stop at Sukhothai will show you why some are calling this site the “Angkor of Thailand” Then we’ll continue on to Chaing Mai to visit the famous night market and spend an unforgettable day with elephants in a humane way. Finally, a homestay in an Akha hill tribe village will introduce you to their way of life and cuisine, which you’ll discover through a cooking course. Returning to Bangkok before we depart, we’ll see the sights and get a chance to give back with our farewell meal at Courageous Kitchen. Our small group size of 12 or less will allow us more flexibility, and allow us to do things big groups simply can’t.
- Day 1Arrival in BangkokWelcome to Bangkok, Thailand! This is the the beginning of an incredible adventure around a country that has been on the top of the dream-list for decades now, and yet which still holds endless amounts of areas to be discovered and explored.
Today is an arrival day for many. There are no activities planned for today, as people will be arriving at different times throughout the day. An evening dinner meeting will be planned for the group to meet each other and your guide for the next two weeks.
Additional excursions may be arranged at the guest’s request, time permitting.
- Day 2Bangkok - Ayutthaya - SukhothaiToday is a long travel day, as we will be visiting two ancient kingdoms! We will leave Bangkok just after breakfast, and make our way to Ayutthaya, the former capital of Siam for several hundred years. Now the ancient capital is full of ruins, statues, Buddhist temples and the famous “Buddha head wrapped in roots”.
After a few hours of visiting some of the highlights of Ayutthaya, we will stop for a quick lunch, and then get back on the road - this time, onwards to Sukhothai. This was the former capital of Siam just prior to Ayutthaya, nearly 800 years ago. Sukhothai literally means “Dawn of Happiness.”
This ancient kingdom has sometimes been referred to as the “Angkor Wat of Thailand”. One of its distinguishing features is the endless number of Buddha statues which can be seen all around the city. We will arrive in the evening, which will give you time to settle into your hotel and wander the city a little bit, though we’ll save the historical park for tomorrow.
- Day 3SukhothaiAn early start today will allow us to visit Sukhothai Historical Park before the heat of the day. Bicycles will be provided so we can cruise between temples as we explore the ancient ruins. Unlike many other Thai historical sites, these structures have not been fully restored, so you may see them in their ruined state. It’s a photographers dream!
- Day 4Sukhothai – Chiang MaiToday is another travel day. We will leave one ancient kingdom to visit another. We will leave Sukhothai to make our way up to Chiang Mai today. It’s a slightly shorter journey (by bus) than that from Bangkok to Sukhothai, though will be without stops this time. It will be a good opportunity for most guests to catch up on some sleep, or write in their journals. The scenery is quite nice in many parts as well. We will arrive in Chiang Mai in the mid-to-late afternoon.
To welcome you to the ‘city of temples’, we will start by visiting one of the most beautiful temples, Wat Chedi Luang (which translates to ‘Temple with the Big Stupa’). You will have some time to wander around the temple, and possibly partake in a “monk chat”, where monks get to practice their English by answering questions you may have for them about Buddhism or life as a monk.
We will then enter the temple for Evening Prayer, where you will hear dozens of monks chanting together. The sound is ominous and will likely make your hair stand on end. It’s truly a beautiful experience.
No activities are planned this evening, so the city is at your disposal.
- Day 5Chiang MaiConsidered one of the most beautiful cities in Thailand, the old Lanna Kingdom of Chiang Mai is full of temples and history sure to quench the thirst anyone looking for cultural wonder. Today, we will explore some of the key highlights of the city, while taking a few treks down the ‘sois’, or back alleys, of the city. This tour will give you a glimpse into the wonder of the ancient kingdom, while seeing how it has also blossomed into a vibrant and hip new town, full of art galleries and cafes. Tonight, we will also visit one of the cities bustling night markets for an opportunity to try some fantastic local cuisines. A must for everyone visiting Chiang Mai!
- Day 6Elephant Nature ParkAnimal tourism is under heavy scrutiny right now due to the all-too-common animal abuse often associated with taming giant wildlife to be submissive to human interaction. One woman in particular has made it her life mission to change that. Known as “Lek”, which means small (especially compared to her giant friends), she founded Elephant Nature Park – one of the few legitimate sanctuaries in Thailand where former working elephants (rides and lumber mill workers) can retire and spend their final days in peace. Guests are only permitted to feed, bathe and observe these gentle giants in a sanctuary much more reminiscent to the wild than any of the work camps they had to endure in their lives. This day will surely be a highlight – being able to learn and interact in a safe and responsible manner with the world’s largest land mammal.
- Day 7Chiang MaiToday is a free day to explore, shop and relax around the city. You will receive a voucher for a Thai Massage as well to use during your spare time. No other activities are planned, but your guide will be able to assist in making any optional arrangements you need help with.
- Day 8Chiang Mai – Chiang RaiIt’s time to get back on the bus! Today we’re heading to another Lanna Kingdom, the city of Chiang Rai! Both Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai were not part of Siam, but rather part of Lanna. They were only proclaimed a province of Thailand in 1933, when Siam and Lanna joined to be what is now known as Thailand. Chiang Rai is a small city, and very walkable to some of the key attractions. However, one of its main attractions is the famous “White Temple”, which was designed by a local artist. Even to this day, the White Temple continues to grow and get more beautiful elements added to it. It is truly a unique site, and though a religious area, has become a tourist destination for foreigners, locals, and even monks alike! Once we have checked in, we will take a city bus out to the White Temple about 11 kms from the city center. Upon returning to the city, you will have some time to rest, wander some more or freshen up, and then have the option of seeing the Chiang Rai Night Bazaar which happens every night, and is a highlight of the city. There are lots of neat shops, and some great places to eat here, all accompanied by live musical performances - you might even see a lady-boy cabaret set if you’re lucky!
- Day 9Akha Hill TribeThis will certainly be a highlight of many people’s journey. Today we are fortunate enough to be visiting a responsibly operated hill tribe (local indigenous group), known as the Akha. This community-based project has been set up to help support the village, and also other villages surrounding it. Located in the foothills of the mountains, about an hour out from the city, it is a fascinating look into the rural life in northern Thailand.
Once you’ve settled in and had a chance to meet some of the locals and a wander around to explore the surrounding area, we will have a local traditional cooking class, where you will learn some very unique dishes you may not find anywhere else! The food is all fresh locally grown ingredients, and very tasty!
In the evening, some of the local hill tribe members will come perform a traditional Akha dance. It is customary for welcoming guests into the village, and if you wish to jump up and partake, they would be thrilled to share this part of their culture with you - or you can just sit back and enjoy the show.
The accommodation is a little more basic than we’ve been used to on the trip so far, but still quite comfortable.
- Day 10Akha Hill Tribe – BangkokIt is another beautiful day in the Akha Village. We will see a bit more about the local way of life here, which is predominantly focused around agriculture and nature. We will go for a walk through the village and out into some of the stunning natural surroundings, seeing where the Akha have lived for centuries, much as they still do today (though now with cell phones) ;) After lunch, you will be able to work off some of your meal by taking a hand at local farming tactics, and get to see some of the crops grown in the village. Farming and bartering have always been the primary source of revenue and trade for hill tribes. It is hard work, but they get to spend the day in nature and reap what they sow. It is an honor for us to share this part of their life with them. We will head back to the accommodations for a quick shower, and then we’re off to Chiang Rai again to catch our flight back down to Bangkok. Be prepared for a bit of culture shock upon returning! No activities are planned this evening.
- Day 11BangkokFinally, an opportunity to explore the Bangkok - Asia’s “City of Angels” and modern capital of the Kingdom of Thailand. With visits to some of the top highlights, such as the Grand Palace and Wat Pho (the reclining Buddha), Bangkok boasts an endless number of places to visit and discover. We will also take you off the beaten path to venture into some of the more local neighborhoods, and travel along the Chao Phraya river to see the lifeline to this old city, where most of its earliest villages were first settled.
Tonight we will have a final dinner of a special variety served. We will be hosted by a local project called “Courageous Kitchen”, which aids impoverished families seeking asylum. All proceeds from your dinner will go to helping those in need - and the food is cooked by one of the families (on rotation), giving them an opportunity to ‘work’ for their money, also helping establish and reaffirm their sense of self worth. It’s great food, a fun night out, and all going to a good cause! A perfect way to give back to Thailand after our adventure exploring it together.
- Day 12BangkokThis is the final day of the tour. We hope you enjoyed your experience in Thailand. We will provide a private airport transfer for your flight.
Packing List for Thailand trip (recommended)
- Weather in Thailand is hot and humid, so please pack accordingly. Lightweight long sleeve pants and shirts are also a good idea in case of mosquitos. And generally speaking, you’ll need your knees and shoulders covered to enter most temples and other religious building. It will be cooler at night when we visit the hill tribe in higher elevations, so bring a light jacket.
- Comfortable shoes or close-toed sandals (Keen/Tevas) for walking.
- Cash (credit card may be accepted in some places and ATMs are easy to find, but it’s always a good idea to carry some cash.
- Remember to pack light; we’ll be using some public transportation and you have to carry your own bags.
3-star accommodation throughout, as listed in the itinerary (+ Village Homestay). Cost per person is based on twin shared occupancy. A single accommodation supplement is available for $325.
Private minivans, public bus, taxi, rental bicycles, canal boat, and one domestic flight.
Travel Responsibly, Impact Positively (TRIP)
Part of taking a TRIP with Unquote Travel & Where Sidewalks End in Thailand is that we take a strong pride in Responsible Tourism practices. Not only do we try to educate all our guests on ways to be more culturally sensitive, and ways that they can travel with a lower environmental impact, but we like to try and leave a positive impact from our travels as well. One way we do this is through our Dollar-A-Day program.
For every single guest we host on the trip we will donate $1/day to a local social project, and another $1/day to a local environmental project in the country that is being visited. $1 doesn’t sound like much, but when every single guest is having a dollar donated on their behalf, for every day they are traveling – over the course of a year, those dollars start to add up.
With Unquote Travel’s tour, for example, being a 12-day tour – this means that $12 will be donated for every paying guest to each respective project. On a full group, this works out to $144 USD going to help both the people of the area, and the planet we all call home! Leaving a place as you found it is one thing – helping it grow and leaving it better than you found it is where the magic happens. And it doesn’t cost our guests anything more. We take this directly out of our own earnings on the guests behalf. When you take a TRIP – you Travel Responsibly, while you Impact Positively!
Our trip provider: This exclusive Unquote Travel tour is brought to you in conjunction with local tour provider: Where Sidewalks End Travel (WSE). WSE Travel has been on the ground in Thailand for a number of years and put together this wonderful, locally-focused tour especially for us. Experience Ancient Kingdoms of Thailand Tour is only available here at Unquote Travel and we’ve made it our top priority to keep this tour high on experiences with great attention to providing a high-value trip. Hope you’ll join us in Thailand!
Cancellations and Refunds
If you must cancel your reservation for a tour and/or its extension, we will refund your payment, less the following fees per tour and/or extension:
|Days Prior to Trip Start Date||Trip Cancellation Fee Per Person|
|31 – 60 days||50% of trip price|
|0-30 days||100% of trip price|