Thailand, Land of Smiles

NEW for 2011 · A Great New, Exciting Destination

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Date No of nights Adult Child 12+ Child 3-11yrs Local Payment
9-22 April 2011
(Sun-Fri)
13 £1579 £1549 £1359 None

Flights and Transfers: Direct flights with Thai Airways from London Heathrow. Domestic flight between Chiang Mai and Bangkok with Thai Airways. Flight schedules and preferred airlines can change.

Transport included: Minibus, boat, tuk-tuk, overnight train, domestic flight.

Accommodation included: Hotels/guesthouses (5nts), bungalows (6nts), berth on overnight train (1nt) You’ll stay in well located properties, which reflect the character of the area you’re visiting. The overnight train has bunks with bedding provided.

Meals included: Meals included- 12 breakfasts & 1 dinner.

Approx Local Costs

11 breakfasts and 1 evening meal are included on this trip. You must pay for all other meals yourself (you can eat quite well for between £5-10 per day). Approximate average costs are given for guidance only, and may vary widely according to location and type of establishment.

  • Coffee/tea pound;0.50
  • Soft drink £0.50
  • Medium beer £1.25
  • Local snack lunch £2.00
  • 3-course dinner* £4.00 - *reasonable mid-range tourist class restaurant

Optional excursions

Some or all of the excursions detailed below may be available. Approximate costs are given for guidance only and may depend on the number of participants. Your Group Leader should be able to assist you in arranging them.

  • Jim Thompson's House Museum £3.00
  • Hill tribe trek, Soppong from £25.00
  • Elephant ride, Soppong from £5.50
  • Lod Caves visit from £7.50
  • Chiang Mai, traditional Thai massage £7.00
  • Cycle ride Chiang Mai from £11.00

After our overnight flight to Bangkok, our adventure in Thailand begins with an exhilarating ride by long-tailed boat along Bangkok's klongs (canals), remember James Bond racing through the Bangkok canals in The Man with the Golden Gun! . We will pause at fantastic temples with their golden spires, bizarre statues and saffron-robed Buddhist monks.

Heading south, we'll slow right down for a few days on the beautiful, relatively undeveloped tropical island of Koh Samet, smaller and quieter than its better known neighbours Phuket and Koh Samui. The warm seas and palm-fringed beaches provide the perfect location for adults and children to relax on white sand beaches or take part in water-based activities such as windsurfing, snorkelling or boat trips. Local restaurants on the beach provide inexpensive and tasty food and there are several easy walks to enjoy if anyone wants to explore the island further.

Thailand

We then head North travelling by ferry, road and finally in the evening we board a comfortable sleeper train and journey to the pleasant northern city of Chiang Mai. Dinner and drinks can be bought on the train, but most people prefer to buy a selection of local dishes from the numerous stalls in and around the station, and have a picnic dinner on board. The train is quite comfortable - bedding is provided and curtained bunks provide some privacy. Your children will love this journey!

Chiang Mai has a slower pace of life. Wander at your own pace and soak up the atmosphere of the most important of Thailand's northern cities, with a history dating back to the 13th century and beyond. Your Mango co ordinator can arrange an optional cycle tour of the backstreets and outlying villages giving a fascinating glimpse of ordinary Thai life. In the evening we can wander amongst the stalls and hawkers of the city's night market.

Thailand

In contrast to city life we head into spectacular mountain territory on our way to Soppong where you can join in one of the optional activities on offer. Elephant trekking is one possibility - much loved by adults and children alike (please advise our UK office when booking if you wish to take part in this optional activity as elephants may not always be available). The countryside is lush with vegetation, with rivers and streams to cross, and hills to climb - an adventure that will make your children the envy of their friends. A further optional trip takes you on a trek to one of the local hilltribe villages to spend an unforgettable night as guests of the villagers the interaction between their children and yours will become a highlight of the trip!

Thailand

Responsible Travel

Whilst in Chiang Mai we usually find time for an optional trip to visit a project we support – The Garden Orphanage. They would love to receive a gift!

Adventure Level

The walking and trekking are optional (as are the river tubing and elephant riding) so you can choose your family's level of participation; any healthy child or adult should be able to take part. It's really more a case of preparing and adjusting mentally to Asian culture and tribal life. Seasoned travellers are unlikely to have any problem with this. Minimum age: 5 years.

Climate

The climate is tropical with little fluctuation in temperature through the year.

Hot - March to May - average high in Chiang Mai is 34-36°C

Bangkok tends to be fairly hot and humid throughout the year, whereas the hills outside Chiang Mai are generally cooler and drier - it can get very cold at night during the cool season

Itinerary Summary

Day 1:
Depart London
Overnight flight to Bangkok.
Day 2/3:
Bangkok
After your arrival this morning, you transfer to your hotel and check in. Bangkok is full of sights and wonders; with its many temples and busy street markets it’s not a city any adult or child is likely to forget in a hurry.

The streets surrounding your hotel overflow with colourful stalls and activity, making them great fun to explore and many of the city’s main attractions are within walking distance. Your leader will of course be able to help you get the most of your free time here and guide you on a sightseeing tour by boat and tuk-tuk. During this trip you’ll explore the klongs (canals) of the city, bustling with traders and locals going about their everyday business. You’ll also see such world-famous sites as the Grand Palace – a vast complex of gilded spires and richly decorated temples; Wat Po – one of Bangkok’s oldest temples and site of a giant reclining Buddha and Wat Phra Keo – home of Thailand’s most sacred artefact, a small 1000 year old jade statue of Buddha. Each evening you’ll have a wide choice of restaurants to dine in; there’s something for every taste. Hotel – 2 nights (Swimming Pool) (B)
Day 4:
Koh Samet Island
This morning you make the four hour drive to the port of Ban Phe, where you’ll catch a ferry to the island of Koh Samet. Situated about an hour south-east of Ban Phe, this beautiful island is surprisingly small and quiet. In contrast to the better known southern islands such as Phuket and Koh Samui, Koh Samet is relatively undeveloped. On weekends it is popular with Thai city dwellers, but on weekdays it is much more tranquil. The warm seas and palm-fringed beaches provide the perfect location for adults and children to relax. Bungalows - 3 nights (B)
Day 5/6:
Koh Samet Island
You have two full days to relax on this lovely island - which is also a national park. You can be as active or as relaxed as you wish. There are plenty of water-based activities, i.e. boat trips, windsurfing and snorkelling, to keep you occupied. Local restaurants on the beach provide inexpensive and tasty food and there are several easy walks to enjoy if anyone wants to explore the island further. (Bx2)
Day 7:
Overnight Train to Chiang Mai
Leaving the beach behind, you head back to Bangkok by ferry and road and in the evening board a comfortable sleeper train to the pleasant northern city of Chiang Mai. Dinner and drinks can be bought on the train, but most people prefer to buy a selection of local dishes from the numerous stalls in and around the station, and have a picnic dinner on board. The train is quite comfortable - bedding is provided and curtained bunks provide some privacy. Children usually love this journey! Overnight train - 1 night (B)
Day 8:
Exploring Chiang Mai
Early in the morning you arrive in Chiang Mai, where the slower pace of life is in distinct contrast to Bangkok. You’ll be met at the station, and transfer straight to your guesthouse to shower and freshen up. The rest of the day is left free to wander at your own pace and soak up the atmosphere of this lively city. Chiang Mai is the most important of Thailand’s northern cities, with a history dating back to the 13th century and beyond. For 200 years the city was under Burmese control and much evidence of this period remains in both the architectural style of many buildings and in some of the rice and soup dishes found in local restaurants! Your Group Leader should be able to arrange an optional cycle tour of the backstreets and outlying villages; a gentle pace allows all members of the family to keep up on what is a fascinating glimpse of ordinary Thai life. Tonight you may like to wander amongst the stalls and hawkers of the city’s celebrated night market. Hotel - 1 night (Swimming Pool)
Day 9-11:
Soppong
Setting off early in a chartered bus, you head into spectacular mountain territory on your way to Soppong, set in the hilly wilderness of northern Thailand. The journey takes about five hours, but beautiful scenery and the chance to break the journey at a local market and orchid nursery, makes for an interesting and enjoyable day. On arrival in Soppong time has been left free, so you can relax or be as active as you want, joining one or more of the optional activities on offer. Elephant trekking is one possibility - much loved by adults and children alike (please advise our UK office when booking if you wish to take part in this optional activity as elephants may not always be available).

The countryside is lush with vegetation, with rivers and streams to cross, and hills to climb - an adventure that will make your children the envy of their friends. A further optional trip takes you on a trek to one of the local hilltribe villages to spend an unforgettable night as guests of the villagers. Many fascinating tribes live in the area, each with its own language, clothing and belief system. By staying with them, you are privileged to witness a way of life that has disappeared in the western world. During the trek, you only have to carry a light daypack with overnight gear, but you should be reasonably fit as the terrain is steep at times and there may be some shallow river crossings to make. You follow tracks which have been used for decades by the local tribes and stay overnight in bamboo huts in a village. While conditions are very basic, spending time with the hilltribes is a real highlight. Simple bungalows - 3 nights (Swimming Pool) (Bx3)
Day 12:
Chiang Mai
This morning you leave Soppong and drive back to Mae Hong Son and on to Chiang Mai (total driving time approx 4 hrs). Having got your bearings in the city earlier in the holiday there’s now plenty of time to explore. With over 300 temples inside its walls and some of the best food in Thailand, Chiang Mai is a fun and interesting place to spend some time. In order to get closer to Thailand's culinary delights you'll visit a local market to buy ingredients for an included cookery class where you'll learn how to make some mouthwatering dishes. Hotel - 2 nights (Swimming Pool) (BD)
Day 13:
Chiang Mai
Why not start the day off with a wander around the city? Exploring on foot is the best way to see Chiang Mai. This afternoon your leader will escort you on a visit to the Hilltribe Museum and towards the end of the day you’ll visit the magnificent gilded temple of Doi Suthep, whose golden spires can be seen for miles around. As well as providing a useful introduction to Buddhist worship, the temple’s hilltop location (with an elegant staircase leading to the top), makes it a good place to help you find your bearings in the city. You’ll also have time to do some shopping before perhaps going out for a final night’s celebration meal of traditional Thai dishes. (B)
Day 14:
Fly to London
Transfer to airport where the trip ends for Land Only clients. Those on group flights to the UK fly to London. (B)