Day 1: Beginning Wellness
You land at Bangkok Suvarnabhumi airport and find the bustling city outside almost overwhelming; however, that feeling quickly subsides as you are met by your private transfer and taken to your tranquil accommodation at The Peninsula. There is a serenity to the streets from above as you watch over the movement like a choreographed dance, each person, tuk-tuk, and car playing a central role in the city’s endless vitality. You can see the Chao Phraya River trickling through the center of the city.
In the distance the reflective spire from Temple of Dawn glistens beside the waterway. You can breathe in the calm while watching out over Bangkok’s evolving dance, mixing modernity and history, where its culture can still be seen within the tranquil spaces of cobblestone walkways and a colorful palace complex sitting beneath the expansive reach of skyscrapers. The air is scented with coconut oils and pineapple. The city glistens beneath the setting sun. Whether climbing through the shaded pathways leading to the summit of the Golden Mountain or sitting beside the river at the River Café and Terrace sipping a cold drink in the warm afternoon, you can breathe easy and know that the best is yet to come.
What’s Included: transfer, accommodation
Day 2: Finding Dawn
The morning breaks over the distant horizon. The light begins to filter through the window and you can imagine the sweet pineapple and fresh squeezed orange juice waiting for you. After a delightful breakfast you will venture out into the city, cruising on the Chao Phraya River, once the busiest highway in the city. The air is cool on your cheeks and the sunlight shines off of the large spire in the distance. The Temple of Dawn is considered one of the most beautiful temples in Thailand with a spire that rises over 210 feet high. Colored glass and porcelain create intricate patterns on the temple’s façade that also catch the light in the dawn and dusk. Climb the spire for a fabulous view, not just of the city, but of the temple itself, where you can feel the smooth stone, the cool porcelain, and look out over the Grand Palace. Inside the ordination hall you can see a golden Buddha and intricate murals which have helped express cultural and religious dedication throughout the centuries of the temple’s existence.
On the palace grounds you will find the lovely manicured gardens which house opulent halls and the façade of the royal living quarters, along with stunning temples that contain some of the most iconic relics in Thailand. The outer spire of Wat Pra Keaw looks like a bell with a golden bronze sheen that catches the light and washes over the steps before it. Once inside of the temple you will see the series of platforms that raise the Emerald Buddha high above the floor; as the most important image in Thailand, the only person allowed near the Buddha is the King himself.
The murals along the wall tell the entire epic of Ramayana, a great Hindu tale. The opulent nature of the temple, the palace, and Bangkok seems to surround you, welcoming you in a pleasant and gracious manner. In the evening you will return to Lebua to enjoy a relaxing introduction to the essentials of Thai Massage before luxuriating in a 90-minute experience that will relax you. As the evening rolls in you will sit in the celebrated rooftop restaurant of Sirocco, enjoying a tasting menu of the chef’s favorite dishes that range from the delicate noodles of traditional Thailand to rich mixtures that have become new customs within culinary delights.
What’s Included: breakfast, dinner, tour, accommodation
Day 3: A Local Flavor
The busy lifestyle of the locals of Bangkok is balanced with a tranquil side seen in their traditions which can be seen throughout the city. At the Golden Mountain you can experience just how serene the city can be. The artificial hill is topped with a glistening golden pagoda standing 260 feet. There are over 300 steps to the summit but the shaded stairway is part of the splendor. Brass bells line the walkway at the top for prayers and blessings, like a parade of sound and color. The gilded spire was once the highest point in Bangkok, overlooking the river and the expanding capital city. Now the mountain gives a sense of peace within the fast-paced world that never seems to stop.
Wat Suthat is a large and distinguished temple, celebrated for its lovely roofline and magnificent golden Buddha. You can see a giant red tower in the front courtyard. It was previously used as a large swing to celebrate festivals and bountiful rice harvests. The main hall holds a 13th century bronzed Buddha image that stands 25 feet tall, said to contain the ashes of King Rama VIII, the current king’s brother. Notice the wall paintings that extend around an area almost 27,500 square feet. The paintings range in styles from traditional Thai to those noticeably influenced by western art. Each image depicts a story from one of Buddha’s 24 earthen lives. After lunch you will make your way to the airport and soon be luxuriating in the Le Meridien Chiang Rai, overlooking the tranquil river that rushes beside the forest.
What’s Included: breakfast, lunch, transfer, tour, accommodation
Day 4: Around the Forested Lines of Unique
The city of Chiang Rai is the most northern city in Thaliand and is considered the birthplace of the nation, founded in the late 13th century. The temples within the city are more than inspiring; they are absolutely moving. On a tour of the city’s pristine history and vibrant culture you will visit the temple Wat Rong Khun, known as the most unique temple in Thailand. The structure was built in 1997 using white glass and an angular shape, giving the outward appearance of a snow castle, frozen in time and summoning you inside. Arrive through the dangling entryway and find an interior decorated with surprising paintings.
Superman flies across the wall. Demons tower over you gripping swords. Artist Chalermchai Kositpipat created the statues and paintings found throughout the temple. Large hands reach up from the ground and border the pathway to the main temple hall. The hands represent the cycle of rebirth and the vases they hold are for collecting alms. The sanctuary’s facade shows the predator emerging from the ground. The interior wall has Spider Man jumping to the rescue. Light shimmers in the central hall and spotlights the simple artistic details filled with the weight of religious symbolism and the attraction of modern whimsy. There is a distinct beauty in the temple’s elegance and an individuality that is a perfect parallel to what you have seen of the country thus far.
After lunch you will find yourself at the famous and oftentimes infamous Golden Triangle located at the meeting point of Laos, Cambodia, and Thailand, and known to have been at the center of the opium trade for centuries. You can overlook the Mekong River and watch as the water winds through the landscape, carving the riverbanks and fields. Once in Mae Sai, the northern point of the country, you can see the traditional life that has taken root on the shores. The city is the official border crossing point for Burma, filled with precious stones, the scent of charred wood and grilling fish, and vibrant textiles. There is a controlled boisterousness to the streets. Stroll through the market and find glittering jade stone and shimmering turquoise clothing before returning to Chiang Rai by evening.
What’s Included: breakfast, lunch, tour, accommodation
Day 5: Cultures and Forest Abound
Today you will depart from the northernmost city and make your way to Chiang Mai, considered to be the capital of the north. On your way you will venture deeper into the forest to experience some of the serene landscapes and the persistent cultures that have remained amidst outside influences and destabilized empires. The Akha people trace their roots back centuries to Tibet but now have a large connection with Southeast Asia and Southern China. The forest rises around their village that oftentimes sits on stilts and undulates with the landscape. You can hear the chickens clucking from the open space of the. Farther down the journey you can see the Kayan people, known for their women who wear brass rings around their necks, giving them an elongated look. The cultures are as diverse as day and night, both peoples residing in the hills with little else in common. But here you can experience the unique splendor of both cultures first hand.
In the evening you will arrive in Chiang Mai and let the comforts of The Chedi Hotel wrap around you. The image of serenity will stand before you, from the tranquil pool to the peaceful ambiance, all situated within the modern luxuries that await you. In the evening you will enjoy a meal at Khantoke Dinner Show. The social gathering helps display the traditional foods and dances found throughout northern Thailand, all within a relaxing atmosphere. Delight in the fragrances and tastes of fried vegetables and sticky rice, pork curry and fried chicken all while the movement from dances such as the the fingernail dance, brings a charming dash of history to the meal.
What’s Included: lunch, dinner, tour, transfer, accommodation
Day 6: Past Prevalence
The majesty of Chiang Mai is situated within its organic charm, a city that feels like a town spread throughout the jungle that has made its way through the streets. Elegant trees are everywhere, shading the streets and disguising ancient temples. After breakfast you will make your way through the historical relics that reside in the city and offer extra magnetism to the already splendid expanse. Wat Phra Singh is a monastery and temple build in the 14th century and continues to reign in importance.
The exterior has a triangular shape with tiered fringe, gilded and shining in the daylight. The interior is unique in its coloration and structure, where large pillars rise to the red-wooden ceiling. The Lion Buddha, originally a 14th century icon, sits before opulent murals that line the wall. The murals date back to the 1820s illustrating the Jataka, the previous births of Buddha. The aroma of incense drifts through the room and graces your clothing, adding a deeper sense of your surroundings and a lighter touch to the ornate decoration of the hall. For lunch you will have the luxurious flavor of khao soi, a regional specialty of rice noodles and curried gravy.
What’s Included: breakfast, lunch, tour, accommodation
Day 7: Enjoying the Flavors
There is nothing more precious than the flavors of the food you love; here you can drift through the streets finding new and exciting restaurants to savor. Today the flavors of Thailand will come to you as you experience the Chiang Mai Organic Cooking Experience. Your guide will pick you up from your hotel and take you to a local market where you can see the extensive selection of vibrant produce. The scent of herbs such as lemongrass and ginger linger in the air. The vivacious reds and greens of curries have your mouth watering already.
Once at the farm you will be guided through the fresh crops, witnessing the beautiful organic nature that is associated with the food you are about to prepare. From jackfruit to melons, herbs to spices, the farm is majestic and overflowing with lushness. A quick demonstration will have you diving into the tastes of the region, learning to wrap a spring roll or simmer a curry. Your instructor helps you to ensure that all the bright flavors associated with the cuisine are represented, building on top of one another. Your reward will be a chance to settle down next to the fish pond to delight in your culinary creation. Your fanciful tastes can always go with you, never again needing to step out when you crave Thai cuisine.
What’s Included: breakfast, lunch, tour, accommodation
Day 8: Feeling Well
Today you will have another luscious breakfast with the scent of fresh orange juice readying you for the day. Eventually you will make your way to the airport and onward toward home, leaving the sensational and sensual flavors and sites of Thailand behind you. From elegant cooking courses to the animated Grand Palace, curious villages to vibrant jewelry you have explored the diversity Thailand and found a different world that has brought you in, fed you well, and made sure you that you experienced every ounce of its splendor.
What’s Included: breakfast, transfer