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A Natural Adventure in the South
From the bustling streets of Bangkok to the beautiful beaches of Phuket, Thailand is full of delights and surprises. This adventure in southern Thailand encompasses everything from participating in the protection and rehabilitation of gibbons and sea turtles to learning how to cook delicious Thai dishes. Dig deeper into the daily way of life on a homestay with a local community. Wander through the crowded streets of Bangkok and Phuket, then explore the jungle waterfalls and snorkel in the warm waters to spot colorful fish.
Starting off in the capital city of Bangkok, you will explore this ancient city from the traditional waterways and stall-lined alleys. Then it is off to the sun-filled southern hub of Phuket to connect with wildlife protection projects, visiting the Gibbon Rehabilitation Center and spending a day at an elephant sanctuary. You will have the opportunity to spend time in a local village where you will get to know the traditions and customs of the local community on an immersive homestay. Finally, enjoy your final nights in relaxing beachside lodge.
PROGRAM PRICE INCLUDES:
- All accommodation as described in itinerary (based on double sharing room)
- All transportation as described in itinerary
- English-speaking guides
- All activities and entrance fees as described in itinerary
- All meals as mentioned (B=breakfast, L=lunch, D=dinner)
- 1st Class train ticket Bangkok – Chiang Mai
Program cost does not include domestic airfare, approximately $300 per person
Arrival in Bangkok, Thailand
Welcome to Thailand! Upon arrival at Suvarnabhumi International Airport, clear customs and immigration, then look for your guide bearing a signboard with your name on it in the pick-up area. You will then be transferred by private vehicle to the hotel. Get checked in, enjoy the pool and relax.
After breakfast at the hotel, travel by private car to the Pak Klong Dalat Flower Market - a fabulous market to witness in the early morning. Then, you'll board a longtail boat and spend a couple of hours navigating Bangkok's fascinating maze of waterways and canals, discovering why Bangkok is known as the "Venice of the East." Venture into bucolic backwater neighborhoods where life is slower and simpler. View traditional waterfront homes with their salas and spirit houses as well as a couple of neighborhood Thai temples.
Afterward, visit Wat Arun, the Temple of Dawn. This is one of the best-known temples in Bangkok and dates back to the ancient Ayutthaya period. After lunch at a local restaurant, you will visit Wat Po, one of Bangkok’s oldest and largest temples. The temple houses the gigantic gold-plated Reclining Buddha and is the headquarters for the traditional medicine practitioners of Bangkok. Transfer back to the hotel.
In the morning after breakfast, you'll head out on a bicycle trip to Bang Kra Jao.
Just across the Chao Phraya River, a short hop from busy Bangkok, Bang Kra Jao is known as Bangkok's “urban lung” - a hidden oasis filled with colorful birds and monitor lizards which is best reached by boat and incredibly has been left untouched by developers.
Crossing the river is like taking a journey back in time. You will find a peaceful place with lush vegetation, a maze of waterways, small villages, temples and real tropical jungle. If it wasn't for Bangkok's skyline, you would never believe you were so close to the city. (And, there is very little traffic)!
You'll ride through local communities, passing villages, schools and temples (there are over 30 temples in this area) and a delightful floating market (open on weekends only). On our journey, we'll introduce you to the various flowers and fruits growing along the path and stop for refreshments on the river before we visit a fascinating temple built in the Ayutthaya period that is more than 250 years old and has a unique roof made of teak wood.
The ride is about 20 kilometers in total. At the beginning of the ride, there is a short busy section in the city before we cross the river. We then ride along very minor roads, pathways, through alleys, temples, gardens and tropical jungle. There are no hills. Some of the canal paths are elevated and quite narrow and we advise caution on these sections. If you are terrified of heights or otherwise unstable while riding a bike you might want to choose a different activity. Otherwise, it is a nice, easy and super fun ride!
Afternoon and evening free to explore on your own.
Bangkok - Phuket
In the morning, you'll fly to Phuket. Upon arrival in Phuket, you will be met and transferred to the northeast side of Phuket, an area that has remained largely untouched. In fact, the only surviving track of rain forest is located here at the Khao Phra Thaeo National Park. Amid this lush rain forest is the Gibbon Rehabilitation Center, a private enterprise that aims to reintroduce wild gibbons that have been mishandled back to nature.
Then you'll be driven to Phuket Old Town for a guided walk. You'll be learning all about the local lifestyle, so first you'll go to a local shrine and pay respect to the spirits, followed by a visit to the oldest herb shop in town to learn about traditional herbal medicine. You'll also walk along the historic Chinese shop houses and old-style barber shops in the beautiful streets of Thalang and Soi Romanee. Try the Muslim-influenced ‘roti’ bread and some Chinese food as well, a cuisine brought here by Hokkien immigrants in the 19th century. With its printing shops, old sarong and cloth Indian sellers on Thalang and cluttered hardware stores, there is a nostalgic feeling to Phuket town that you should experience before modern times sweep it away.
Check into your hotel and enjoy an evening free.
Ban Talae Nok
In the morning your driver will pick you up and take you north to the friendly village of Ban Talae Nok, transferring by way of the town of Kuraburi (about 4 hours drive). Here you will stay in the community and learn about their culture and traditions. This community was among those gravely affected by the 2005 tsunami, and the community-based tourism project you are participating in sprang up in the aftermath as a means of helping locals rebuild while connecting with people from all over the world.
During your stay, you can learn how the locals fish and the style of weaving palm leaves for the roofs of their houses. Participate in a cooking class, and don't forget to try the local desert, grilled coconut. See how the community utilizes the art of Batik, with natural wax and dyes and learn about local culture through the eyes of your hosts. Finish your days enjoying the sunset over the Andaman sea, perhaps while eating a delicious barbecue dinner on the beach, or take a boat trip to the Gam Islands, famous for the white sand bays, perfect for swimming and snorkeling. (Activities depend on the weather and season.)
After lunch on your last day, you will head back to Phuket to your hotel for a free afternoon and dinner on your own.
Elephant Jungle Sanctuary
In the morning you will be picked up from your hotel and head up to the Elephant Jungle Sanctuary, where you will be greeted with an introduction to the work that they are doing at the center. Here you will be able to spend quality time with elephants in nature, as well as gain insight into their behaviors. Assist with the preparation of the natural dietary supplements for the elephants, making nutritional balls for them that you can help hand feed to them. There will be a “spa” treatment for you and them, helping them coat their hides with thick mud and washing it off with fresh river water. Prepare to get wet and dirty! Go on a walk with the elephants, and learn the special words that the
After a meal served out in the jungle, head back into town. Return to your hotel for a free evening.
*Note: Elephant tourism (like all animal tourism) is a sensitive and complex subject, and it's one we do not take lightly. We only select animal preserves and sanctuaries that we have vetted carefully, and we constantly re-evaluate these options as well as our greater animal tourism approach. We invite all of our travelers to engage in the important dialogue around the benefits and downsides of this aspect of tourism, and to utilize a visit to an animal preserve as a wonderful opportunity for learning and perspective. Read more here.
Today is for downtime to play at the beach and swim at the pool. You can set up kayaking, snorkeling and other adventures on the spot at the front desk. A day trip snorkeling trip to Koh Yao Hong Island or the National Park could also be fun!
Phuket - Bangkok - Departure
After breakfast and packing up, enjoy one last coffee or tea by the pool before heading to the airport for your flight to Bangkok and onward.
$1,725 based on double occupancy (prices vary according to season)
10D / 9N
Available year-round, customizable!
Bangkok - Phuket - Ban Talae Nok - Phuket - Bangkok
Customizable, Village Experience, Great for Families
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