From market to table, learn about key elements of Thai cooking: purchase fresh produce at a local market; prepare (and eat!) 4-course meals and popular Thai desserts in Central and Northern traditions, meet a winemaker and enjoy an exclusive winery tour and tasting lunch. You’ll even explore the importance of culinary ingredients in Thai healing. Along the way, visit key historical and cultural attractions, such as Grand Palace, Ayutthaya Ruins and Doi Suthep Mountain. Connect with the region’s natural beauty with a visit to an elephant conservation project and bamboo rafting through the jungle, and on exploration of Khao Yai National Park, Thailand’s oldest.
Moderately Active. May involve some moderate hikes in forests and nature reserves, getting in and out of vehicles and rocking boats, and walking in uneven pavement in archaeological sites, in some cases in extreme weather conditions, heat, high elevation and humidity.
This area of Southeast Asia is comprised of some warm and rather humid tropical countries. The climate is marked by a pronounced rainy season lasting from about May to September and a relatively dry season for the remainder of the year. Best time to visit this area is October through March when it is not too hot or rainy. Cambodia is always hot and humid – the coolest months are January & February.
Arrive in Bangkok where you are met and escorted to your hotel by Bangkok’s legendary River of Kings. The next day visit the iconic Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaew, the Hall of the 14th century Emerald Buddha. Walk to the Royal Navy Club for lunch and continue to the fragrant and colorful Pak Khlong Talat Flower Market. Every day as the bite of the hot sun dissipates, the roadside of Pak Khlong transforms into a kaleidoscope of color as vendors from across the country meet to trade. Walk through Chinatown, a network of tight streets and alleys lined with shops. MONTIEN RIVERSIDE. (Meals Aloft; B,L)
Take a class at a Bangkok cooking school and learn how to create a 4-course Central Thai Cuisine. Conducted in English, the lesson features a brief lecture, ingredient preparation, hands-on cooking demonstration (yes, you’ll be participating!) and time for questions and discussion. After enjoying the fruits of your success for lunch, have an afternoon at leisure. MONTIEN RIVERSIDE. (B,L)
Drive to the Jim Thompson house. Working first for the American CIA, Thompson gained worldwide recognition for his success in rebuilding the Thai silk industry and for his impressive art collection. After lunch at a local restaurant, board the Mekhala for a magical cruise along the Chao Phya River. Converted from a traditional teak rice barge, the Mekhala graces the river as a unique floating hotel. This scenic journey retraces centuries of royal processions, out of the bustle of the city through the tranquil countryside. Dinner is served on board and you will dock overnight near a Buddhist temple. MEKHALA RIVERBOAT. (B,L,D)
After breakfast on board, disembark in Bang Pa In and drive to Ayutthaya to explore the ruins of Siam’s ancient capital. Surrounded by rivers and a canal, it flourished under 33 Siamese kings from 1350 until the Burmese destroyed it in 1767. Continue to Khao Yai, Thailand’s oldest and most revered national park. Khao Yai has a variety of terrains from deciduous forest to savannah and houses some 3,000 species of plant, more than 70 mammal species including elephant, white handed gibbon, gaur, Asiatic black bear and wild dog, and over 350 species of birds, including a wide variety of hornbills. This evening set out on a night safari in search of the resident wildlife. BOTANICA RESORT. (B,L)
After another safari in the morning, proceed to Gran Monte Winery to meet the Winemaker, Ms Nikki, who loves to share her knowledge and passion about wine. On an exclusive tour, learn the various processes she uses in creating her wines and enjoy an Italian lunch and tasting with Nikki. Then, head to Bangkok to board your flight to Chiang Rai, where your evening is at leisure. LEGEND CHIANG RAI RESORT. (B,L)
Visit the Population & Community Development Association and the Hill Tribe Museum in Chiang Rai town to learn about the work they’re doing to preserve native cultures. Continue to Baan Lorcha Akha Tribal Village, a model of successful community-based tourism. Then head to the Golden Triangle – where Thailand’s borders with Laos and Myanmar connect, and the point where the Ruak River flows into the mighty Mekong River. Enjoy a scenic boat ride along the Mekong to the provincial riverside town of Chiang Saen. LEGEND CHIANG RAI RESORT. (B,L)
Begin your drive to Chiang Mai and visit Wat Phrathad Doi Suthep – a challenging flight of over 300 walking steps – flanked by enormous mythological Nagas, for the most panoramic view of the city. In the late afternoon, head to the market and select the ingredients for the meal you will cook tonight. Enjoy the dishes you cooked in the charming surroundings of the roofed dining terrace, gazing out across the neighbouring rice paddies as day fades to night. DE NAGA HOTEL. (B,L)
Rise early and drive to Doi Suthep to participate in the Kingdom-wide tradition of Buddhist Almsgiving. Return to your hotel for breakfast, before heading out to an elephant conservation camp to learn about these magnificent creatures. Take a ride on elephant-back; then prepare to get wet! Ride a bamboo raft down a jungle river. Return to Chiang Mai after lunch, and spend the rest of the day exploring on your own – known for its eclectic cultures, scenic beauty and historic architecture, Chiang Mai has more than 100 temples and other attractions, and the shopping is superb. DE NAGA HOTEL. (B,L)
At a local market this morning, select the vegetables, herbs, roots and spices being sold, so you can actually see what these raw products look like before they are cooked. At your cooking school, prepare and devour a four-course lunch, using some of the ingredients found during your market trip. In the afternoon, create and enjoy two traditional Thai desserts. Hone your bargaining skills this evening at the Chiang Mai Night Bazaar and get a glimpse of local culture. DE NAGA HOTEL. (B,L)
You have some leisure time to explore more of Chiang Mai before boarding a flight to Bangkok where you’ll transfer to the MIRACLE SUVARNABHUMI AIRPORT HOTEL. Next day, return to the airport for your flight home, bidding farewell to exotic Thailand. (B; Meals Aloft)
Explore the mysteries of the ancient temples and monuments of Siem Reap, including the largest temple in the world – Angkor Wat. Unlike other Khmer temples, it faces west and is inspired by 12th century Hinduism. Other ancient wonders include Angkor Thom with its stunning Bayon temple, Ta Prohm, known as the ”Kingdom of Trees,” and Banteay Srei, the citadel of women. Go boating on the largest fresh water lake in Southeast Asia, Tonle Sap Lake, among floating homes and small fish farms.
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