Bangkok’s soundtrack blends ancient melodies with techno-beats within a whirl of neon lights that glow in the thick Southeast Asian air. Leave the city and the pace slackens, as you float languorously down rivers, trek through ancient forests, and explore the archaeological vestiges of Thailand’s past, still inextricably connected to its present. Travel to the high country and witness how formerly isolated tribes maintain their cultural heritage in the face of encroaching modernity. In a special post extension, visit the expansive ruins of the Angkor Archaeological Park and navigate the largest fresh water lake in Southeast Asia.
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.
Board your flight to Bangkok where you will be welcomed by your Classic Escapes specialist guide and transferred to your tranquil hotel situated along the Chao Phraya River – the legendary River of Kings. En route, view the mercurial metropolis of Bangkok and its idiosyncratic blending of the traditional and modern. MONTIEN RIVERSIDE HOTEL. (Meals Aloft)
Navigate klongs (canals) by boat to the iconic temple of Wat Arun. Continue on to the Grand Palace, the most important center of Thai culture. The Palace was once the royal abode, but today is used mainly for ceremonial functions. Marvel at the Emerald Buddha, the displays of royal artifacts and memorabilia, and wall decorations. Enjoy lunch at the Supatra River House Restaurant before visiting the Jim Thompson House, an architectural gem and former home of the mysterious H.W. Thompson. This evening enjoy an authentic Thai style dinner accompanied by Thai classical music and dances. Marvel at the graceful movements of the beautiful dancers in their glittering costumes. MONTIEN RIVERSIDE HOTEL. (B,L,D)
Board the Grand Pearl for a trip along the Chao Phraya River. Highlights include sights of the Grand Palace and the Temple of Dawn. Lunch is served on board. Disembark and continue on to Ayutthaya, the ancient capital of Siam where the afternoon is at leisure. KANTARY HOTEL. (B,L,D)
Explore the ruins of Ayutthaya, a UNESCO World Heritage Site – the once magnificent capital of the Thais, praised by foreign emissaries as the finest city they had ever seen. Surrounded by rivers and a canal, it flourished under 33 Siamese kings from 1350 until the Burmese destroyed it in 1767. Enjoy lunch at the PB Valley Khao Yai Winery on your way to Khao Yai National Park, Thailand’s oldest and most revered national park. Next day, explore the spectacular Park, home to some 3,000 plant species and 70 mammal species, including Asian elephants, white handed gibbon, gaur, Asiatic black bear and wild dog. Search for over 350 bird species from the brilliant colors of the Redheaded Trogon to Thailand’s national bird, the Siamese Fireback Pheasant. Hornbill entertainment can be found from the Austen’s Brown, Great, Oriental-pied and Wreathed. See also the spectacular 260-foot-high Haew Narok waterfall. BOTANICA RESORT. (B,L,D)
Return to Bangkok and fly to Chiang Rai. Next day, enjoy the sites of this fascinating area. Drive to the Golden Triangle in the far north where Laos, Myanmar and Thailand meet, and where the opium trade once flourished. While here, visit museums dedicated to the now defunct opium trade then head north toward the Laotian border. Travel by boat along the Mekong River with spectacular views of the Laotian countryside. Next, drive to Mae Sai, the northernmost point of Thailand, and one of the few official land crossings between Thailand and Myanmar – formerly Burma. Visit the Hill Tribe Villages to enjoy an Akha cultural and lifestyle show at Lojas Village. Learn about the w o m e n who wear brass rings around their necks at the Karen Long Neck Village, the elaborate, colorful dresses of the Lisu at Ban Bangjars, and the only Hill Tribe to have a written language, the Yao, at Ban Pong Takham. PHU CHAISAI MOUNTAIN RESORT & SPA. (B,L,D)
Transfer to Chiang Mai, founded in 1296, renowned for its historic temples and scenic beauty, and visit the 600-year-old Buddhist temple Wat Prathat Doi Suthep. After a winding drive, continue the final climb to the site via a Napa staircase and enjoy the incomparable view over the city. Light candles and bow to Buddha and walk to the nearby Jade Factory for some superb shopping. Your afternoon is at leisure – you may wish to visit Studio Naenna to learn about traditional textile weaving, as well as various handicraft factories on Sankhampaeng Road – Chiang Mai is a shopper’s paradise! Early this evening visit the bustling Night Bazaar and return by tuk tuk to your beautifully rustic hotel, featuring a 200-year old Tamarind Tree. EMPRESS HOTEL CHIANG MAI. (B,L,D)
Begin the day with a drive to Lampang to visit the Elephant Hospital and Conservation Center, run by Mr. Richard Lair, Thailand’s leading elephant expert. Watch the elephants demonstrate their logging and painting skills, and even their musical talents. Venture into Lampang, where you can take a carriage ride, view some of the finest Burmese Temples in Thailand, and see the stunning Thai temple of Wat Prathat Lampang Luang and its Emerald Buddha House. Continue to Lamphun, the oldest continuously inhabited city in Thailand dating back to 663 AD, with its Wat Phrathat Hariphunchai, one of the most striking temples in all of Thailand. EMPRESS HOTEL CHIANG MAI. (B,L,D)
Visit a Thai cooking school where you will prepare and eat a simple and delicious Thai meal. Continue to Ban Tawai, Thailand’s largest handicraft market. Transfer to the Chiang Mai airport, where you’ll connect with your late evening flight to the USA, arriving Los Angeles the next morning, bringing with you incredible memories hospitable Thailand. (B,L, Meals Aloft)
Travel to the ancient kingdom of the Khmers in Cambodia and explore one of the greatest architectural achievements of the world, the Angkor Archaeological Park, declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1993. Visit the walled city of Angkor Thom, the last capital of the Khmer Empire and the awe-inspiring temple complex of Angkor Wat, pass floating villages and small fish farms as you navigate Tonle Sap, the largest fresh water lake in Southeast Asia, and shop for local wood-carved treasures in Siem Reap, while supporting a local development project.
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