Discover Thailand

Thailand, the former kingdom of Siam, is a land steeped in ancient customs yet balanced with the conveniences of modern life.  As the most prosperous of SE Asian countries, Thailand offers a myriad of beautiful landscapes and friendly people, all known as the Land of Smiles. We take you to the less visited destinations where you will learn what makes this land so captivating and beguiling.

The tour begins in Bangkok, the magical capital of Thailand, and then journey north to the UNESCO World Heritage city of Sukhothai to Chiang Mai and then Chiang Rai in northern part of the country.  Crossing into Laos, we board our boat for a two day river trip down the mighty Mekong River, stopping to photograph and meet villagers in an undiscovered beautiful country with breathtaking mountain landscapes and friendly people. Our final destination is Luang Prabang, another beautiful UNESCO World Heritage site. Luang Prabang  is the ancient royal summer capital of Laos, an ancient city at the convergence of two rivers where we will experience the traditions and harmony of a country untouched by the western world.


Detailed Itinerary

Day One. Arrival in Bangkok

Bangkok skyline seen from the LeBua Towers

Arrive Bangkok, Thailand.  You will be met at the airport and taken to our hotel with free time in the afternoon to unpack and rest or explore on your own. Later we will meet for our Welcome Dinner in a restaurant overlooking the Chao Phraya River.

Hotel: Shanghai Mansion or similar.

Meal Included: Dinner


Day Two. Bangkok.

River taxis provide a efficient means of transportation through parts of downtown Bangkok ThailandFollowing breakfast, we will visit the Grand Palace with the iconic Emerald Buddha and Wat Pho to see the great reclining Buddha. We will walk to have lunch at a restaurant overlooking the Chao Phraya River, and then take a river taxi across to Wat Arun where we will have a panoramic view of Bangkok. Later we will take our own private long-tail boat to explore the river and adjoining canals. We return to Chinatown for dinner at an open-air seafood restaurant.

Hotel: Shanghai Mansion or similar.

Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner


Day Three. Bangkok.

Chatuchak Market is a shoppers paradise with more than 8,000 stalls.After breakfast, we’ll visit the Jim Thompson House and Museum. An American who lived in Thailand following WW II, Thompson is credited with reviving the Thai silk industry.  In the afternoon we will visit the sprawling Chatuchak Weekend Market. Its sheer size and diverse collections of merchandise will bring even seasoned shoppers to their knees. The 35-acre area of Chatuchak is home to more than 8,000 market stalls and sells everything from clothes to crickets. At sunset we will have drinks atop a rooftop bar with a panoramic view of the downtown skyline.

Hotel: Shanghai Mansion or similar.

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch


Day Four. Bangkok to Sukhothai

thailand-sukhothai-historical-park2You will have the morning free to wander and photograph the picturesque streets of the India Market which borders Chinatown. In the afternoon, we fly to Sukhothai, a UNESCO World Heritage site located about 250 miles north of Bangkok. Sukhothai was the first capital of Siam (which is now called Thailand) in the 13th century and is now a historical park with beautiful buildings and carvings.

Hotel: Ruean Thai Hotel or similar

Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner.


Day Five. Sukhothai.

sukhothai historic park, ThailandToday we will go on a half day bicycle tour of the Sukhothai Historical Park and the neighboring village, which is typical of the rice growing region of lower northern Thailand. We will enjoy a picnic lunch in the park. The afternoon will be free with time to wander the small city of Sukhothai or relax at the pool at our hotel.

Hotel: Ruean Thai Hotel or similar

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch,


Day Six. Sukhothai to Chiang Mai.

thailand-chiangmai-elephantsWe depart early in our private van to drive to Lampang where we will visit The Thai Elephant Conservation Center, which is supported by the Thai Royal Family. We will assist in the care of the elephants and marvel at the skills of these wonderful animals. In the afternoon, we continue driving for another hour to reach Chiang Mai, the second largest city in Thailand and the gateway to the northern part of the country. Check into our hotel which is ideally located in the middle of the old city..

Hotel: 3 Sisters B&B or similar.

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner.


Day Seven. Chiang Mai.

9-chiang-mai-temple-thailandAfter breakfast  we will walk across the street to tour the Wat Chedi Luang and then local art galleries and a documentary photography exhibition. Chiang Mai is famed for its artists and artisans, and we will immerse ourselves in seeing the art and enjoying a lunch of the typical northern Thai dish of Kao Soi. In the evening we will attend a Khantoke performance of traditional Thai dance and music of the Lanna Kingdom.

Hotel: 3 Sisters B&B or similar.

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner.


Day Eight. Chiang Mai to Chiang Dao. 

laos-luangprabang-food-vendorFollowing breakfast we will drive north for 1.5 hours to the third tallest peak in Thailand, the lovely limestone mountain of Chiang Dao. This thickly forested sanctuary is revered for its unspoiled nature and the cave shrine burrowed into its base. We will stay in a quiet resort which is a bird-lover and hiker’s paradise.

Hotel: Chiang Dao Nest or similar.

Meals Included: Breakfast , Lunch


Day Nine. Chiang Dao.

Beautiful waterfalls in LaosThis is a free day to for you to enjoy the nature and tranquility of the surrounding area. You might want to visit the famed cave at the foot of Chiang Dao mountain, or go for a walk, or do some nature photography. Great emphasis by the locals is placed on preserving the beauty and health of the farmlands and  jungles in this region. You will luxuriate in this pristine wilderness setting.

Hotel: Chiang Dao Nest or similar.

Meals Included: Breakfast


Day Ten. Chiang Dao to Chiang Rai. 

sunset over the lake of Phayao, ThailandAfter breakfast we will drive north for 3 hours to reach Chiang Rai, the gateway to the Golden Triangle of Thailand, Myanmar and Laos. Along this scenic drive we will stop to do landscape photography and also have a coffee since this is the center of the coffee growing region of northern Thailand. Arriving in Chiang Rai, we will check into the Chiang Rai Condotel where we are centrally located. We will go to the Saturday night Walking Street market and also learn a traditional dance or two from the locals at the large outdoor pavilion at the end of the market street.

Hotel: Chiang Rai Condotel  or similar.

Meals included: Breakfast, Dinner


Day Eleven. Chiang Rai. 

Cooking class learning Burmese recipes at Bamboo Delight on Inle Lake, MyanmarThis morning we will tour the vibrant downtown market of Chiang Rai along with Suwanee, our cooking instructor. Once we have purchased the best and freshest ingredients, we will go to her home studio where we will learn to cook delicious northern Thailand cuisine. After lunch of our freshly made dishes, we will visit two of the regions most unique architectural treasures: The White Temple and The Black House.

Hotel: Chiang Rai Condotel or similar.

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch (for those taking the cooking class), Dinner.


Day Twelve. Chiang Rai to Chiang Khong.

tuk tuk is a popular means of transportation in Thailand and LaosToday we drive further into the Golden Triangle area of northern Thailand. We will visit the Hall of Opium, an excellent museum founded by the Thai Royal family and then drive along the banks of the Mekong River to the ancient river port of Chiang Saen. We will walk along the wharf and capture portraits of the boats with cargo and crew at work. Continuing on, we arrive in Chiang Khong, our last stop in Thailand, and will lodge in pleasant rooms overlooking the river.

Hotel: Teak Garden Hotel or similar

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch.


Day Thirteen. Chiang Khong to Pak Beng, Laos.

Mingun, the ancient capital Burma, is close to Mandalay on the Irrawaddy River.Today, we say good bye to Thailand and hello to Laos when we cross  the newly built Friendship Bridge into Houay Xai, Laos. There we will board our river boat, The Shompoo, and begin our two day sail down the Mekong River. Later in the day, we will stop at a small Laos village where we support their local school with our donations of school supplies. Before dusk we will stop again at the small town of Pak Beng, where we will have dinner and spend the night.

Hotel: DP Guesthouse or similar.

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner


Day Fourteen. Pak Beng to Luang Prabang.

Laotians waiting to make merit at a Buddhist ceremony.Today we continue our river journey through the green valleys of northern Laos. We will see the local river traffic, farmers working the fertile land at the river’s edge and finally arrive in Luang Prabang, the crown jewel of Laos. As the former summer residence of the Lao Royal family, the small city is now a UNESCO World Heritage site with its own timeless feeling of past eras. We disembark from the boat and go to our hotel which is located in the old part of the city.

Hotel: Lotus Villa Hotel or similar.

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner.


Day Fifteen. Luang Prabang

Monks walk early in the morning to receive alms of food and money in Luang Prabang, LaosWe will have an early morning start to witness the Buddhist monks walking barefoot through the streets of the old city seeking alms and offering blessings to the people. We return to our hotel for breakfast and then have a morning city tour of the National Museum (formerly the Royal Palance), Wat Xiengthong, the morning market and then going up Phousi Hill. After lunch we will travel outside of the city to the workshops of Ock  Pop Tok where we will learn to dye scarves using traditional methods. In the late afternoon, we will walk to have refreshments and a conversation with noted historian, Frances Engleman, who has lived in SE Asia for over 30 years.

Hotel: Lotus Villa Hotel or similar.

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch.


Day Sixteen. Luang Prabang.

Kwang Si Falls outside of Luang Prabang, LaosWe travel by van to the village of Ban Thapene where we will visit a butterfly farm and then go to the majestic Kuang Si waterfalls. The emerald green pools and swirling waters will make a beautiful backdrop for our picnic lunch. In the afternoon we will return to Luang Prabang to have our Lao cooking class and farewell dinner.

Hotel: Lotus Villa Hotel or similar.

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch.


Day Seventeen. End of Tour.

After breakfast, we will be transferred to the airport for our return flight to Bangkok.

Meals included: Breakfast


What’s Included

(Almost everything once you’re there!)

  • Fifteen nights in boutique hotels, for two people sharing
  • Transfers to and from airports in Luang Prabang & Bangkok
  • All local ground  & river transportation with bottled water, driver, English-speaking guides.
  • Admission to attractions. Tips drivers  & 7 baggage handlers
  • Breakfast everyday, eleven lunches and ten dinners
  • A personalized packet of information including market buying tips, restaurant recommendations and information on places you will visit.

What’s Not Included

  • Laos Tourist Visa ($50), international airfare to and from Southeast Asia, trip insurance,  some meals as per itinerary, drinks, personal expenses and optional cooking class ($50).
  • Single Room Supplement for rooming alone.
  • Tips for English speaking guides
  • International airport taxes

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“Laos and Thailand are two of the most exotic countries in the world and it was wonderful to explore them through Benjamin’s and Myo’s eyes.”
– Judi, Asheville, NC