Highlights of Thailand
from $2810
Duration: 10 Days
Thailand's stunning beauty and charming culture are ever present on this ten-day small-group adventure. The welcoming nation conjures up images of spicy delicacies, majestic elephants, golden Buddhas, colourful hilltribe villages, fantastic shopping and exotic hideaways – so why not experience it all at once. Witness traditional hilltribe life in a Hmong village, support the rehabilitation of the endangered Asian elephant, step back in time in the ancient kingdom of Sukhothai and try your hand at creating some delectable Thai dishes. This is your chance to capture the adventure and essence of timeless Thailand.
  • Whip up a culinary storm in Sukhothai, creating and tasting delicious local dishes at a cooking class with a local host.
  • Pay your respect at the memorials by the infamous ‘Bridge over the River Kwai’ – learn about its dark history and the construction of the death railway in Kanchanaburi during the war.
  • Immerse yourself in the wonders of an ancient tribal culture with a night in the Hmong lodge, treated to a barbecue dinner and Hmong cultural show.
  • Experience an unforgettable day in the company of the giants of the jungle, Asian elephants, on a journey that will teach you about conservation and animal protection in this region.
  • Uncover the ancient charms of Siam’s capitals, Ayutthaya and Sukhothai, as you wander around the ruin-filled Historical Parks, full of temples and significant buildings.
  • Complimentary Airport Arrival Transfer
  • Bangkok - Khlong boat canal tour
  • Bangkok - Grand Palace
  • Kanchanaburi - Hellfire Pass Memorial Museum
  • Kanchanaburi - Historical train ride
  • Kanchanaburi - Erawan National Park & Falls
  • Ayutthaya - Historical Park
  • Sukhothai - Wat Yai Phitsanuloke
  • Sukhothai - Historical Park bike tour
  • Sukhothai - Thai cooking class
  • Sukhothai - Bike Tour Lunch
  • Hmong Hilltribe Lodge - Traditional meal & cultural performance
  • Chiang Mai - Doi Suthep temple complex
  • Chiang Mai - ChangChill elephant sanctuary
  • Chiang Mai - Coffee at Kaomai Estate 1955
  • Chiang Mai - ChangChill Elephant Sanctuary Lunch
  • Day 1 Location: Bangkok
    Sa-wat dee! Welcome to Thailand. Thailand's bustling capital is famous for its tuk tuks, khlong boats and street vendors serving up delicious Thai food. Your adventure begins with an important welcome meeting at 6 pm. Bangkok has so much to offer those who have time to explore, so perhaps arrive a day or so early and take a riverboat to Chinatown and explore the crowded streets, wander down the tourist mecca of Khao San Road, or indulge in some Thai massage. After the meeting tonight why not gather some of your travel crew together for a group dinner at one of the many restaurants surrounding your hotel.
    Day 2 Location: Kanchanaburi
    Begin the day with a river cruise of about an hour or so down the Chao Phraya River to explore the famous ‘khlongs’ (canals). Life along these canals seems a world away from the chaotic streets of the capital. Pay a visit to the magnificent Grand Palace and the Temple of the Emerald Buddha. The sprawling royal complex houses numerous ornate structures that highlight the grand architectural traditions of Thailand. Have some lunch at a nearby local restaurant, and then travel south by private minibus to Kanchanaburi (approximately 2.5 hours). Located where the confluence of the Khwae Noi and Khwae Yai rivers, Kanchanaburi is home to the infamous 'Bridge on the River Kwai'.
    Day 3 Location: Kanchanaburi
    This morning, make tracks for the Erawan Waterfalls. These terraced falls, named after the three-headed white elephant of Hindu mythology, cascade into a series of emerald green pools, and are a great place to walk around and discover the natural beauty in arguably the most famous national park in Kanchanaburi Province of Thailand. Enjoy lunch at the park, and then drive for an hour or so to the Hellfire Pass Memorial, built to honour the Allied Prisoners Of War (POWs) and Asian conscripts who died while constructing some of the most difficult stretches of the Thai-Burma Death Railway. You can head out to a teak observation deck and look across to Myanmar just kilometres away. You’ll also see the eponymous pass, cut through rock 18 metres deep, that got its name from the hellish fires used to light the work at night. Boarding at Nam Tok station, the main terminal of the Death Railway, take a ride along the historic tracks along the Kwai Noi River and travel over the original wooden viaduct (the Bridge on the River Kwai) constructed by the allied POWs. Pass through magnificent scenery and spend a moment reflecting on those who were forced to give their lives in the process of bending this environment to man’s will. Tonight, you can explore the rows of street vendors in town and perhaps grab a drink overlooking the River Kwai.
    Day 4 Location: Ayuthaya
    Head away from Kanchanaburi to Ayuthaya in a private minivan this morning (approximately 4 hours). You will most likely arrive in Ayuthaya just in time for lunch. In the afternoon, head with your group leader to the Historical Park, which is rich in ancient temples, historical ruins and Buddha statues. You will visit the site, seeing temples including Wat Yai Chai Mongkol, Wat Maha That and Wat Panun Choeng. Between the 14th and 18th centuries, Ayuthaya was considered the second capital of the Siamese Kingdom and grew to be one of the largest cosmopolitan urban centres in the world, and you’ll see its historic grandeur on full display today.
    Day 5 Location: Sukhothai
    Buckle up for a bit of travelling today. Take a traditional songthaew from your accommodation to the train station, then board a day train to Phitsanuloke (approximately 5 hours). From there, take a 1.5-hour minivan to Sukhothai, the historic capital of Siam, stopping off at Wat Yai Phitsanuloke along the way. Be sure to have your music, podcasts or movies downloaded or a good book handy, as you’ll be sweeping through the countryside on a relaxing travel day. Once arrived at your resort, spend some time in the open air and perhaps have a swim in the onsite pool!
    Day 6 Location: Sukhothai
    Located on a fertile plain, Sukhothai was established in the 13th century as one of the first ancient capitals of Siam, and the name means the 'Dawn of Happiness'. It’s now famous for its World Heritage-listed Historic Park that celebrates the Golden Age of Thai civilisation. Head out to the historical ruins of Old Sukhothai, set amid beautiful lakes and gardens. The religious art and architecture of the Sukhothai era are considered to be the most classic of Thai styles, and the Sukhothai Historical Park contains the remains of 21 historic sites, with striking Buddha images and four large ponds often filled with stunning lotus flowers in full bloom. Upon arrival at the park, hire bicycles and enjoy a few leisurely hours feeling the breeze in your hair and learning about the history of this fascinating place. Enjoy a delicious lunch at the end of your ride. Have some free time this afternoon before heading to a local house for a Thai-style cooking class. You’ll learn some traditional food from the Sukhothai region such as chilli pastes and fragrant curries, spicy soups, steamed fish cake and Thai custard. Your host will help you prepare these dishes and will assist you in making a delicious spread to share at the end.
    Day 7 Location: Hmong Hilltribe Lodge
    Take a minivan on a drive north to the Hmong Hilltribe Lodge in picturesque hilly countryside (approximately 4.5 hours). Set in a peaceful valley of a scenic mountain range and surrounded by stunning natural landscapes of jungle and mountains, the Hmong lodge offers a unique and tranquil experience. It's a great escape from the hustle and bustle of busy tourist spots. The rooms are simple and rustic, fitting perfectly with the natural environment. Be sure to pack a warm jumper as the weather will be mild and cool year-round due to the lofty mountain location. The Hmong are an ethnic minority in Thailand who originated in the south of China. Today they comprise the second largest hilltribe group in Thailand. After a barbecue dinner in the lodge's open-air dining area, the day concludes with a cultural performance by the Hmong people. You'll gain an insight into the traditional lifestyle of the tribe, with a wedding ceremony enactment, shamanic ritual and makong (cotton ball) throwing.
    Day 8 Location: Chiang Mai
    Transfer by private vehicle to Chiang Mai (approximately 1.5 hours). The most vibrant city in northern Thailand, Chiang Mai has many famous temples and an interesting old city area. Renowned for dazzling beauty and extremely welcoming locals, the ‘Rose of the North’ will leave you spellbound. Chances are, you won’t want to leave. In the late afternoon, embark on a scenic, winding drive up a mountain (approximately 45 minutes) to one of the country's most stunning temple complexes, Doi Suthep. A 300-step naga-guarded stairway leads you to the temples, and the climb is well worth the effort. The hypnotic atmosphere of chanting Buddhist monks and sweeping views of the city make this a memorable experience. Your leader can help you to arrange optional activities for your free time today – you can get active with a bicycle tour to discover the city and surrounding countryside from a different perspective, indulge in a Thai massage or a spa treatment, or just read a book by the pool.
    Day 9 Location: Chiang Mai
    Today, you’ll have a pretty special time visiting the ChangChill elephant experience. Take a 1.5-hour drive out of Chiang Mai to ChangChill, where you’ll begin to learn how this organisation supports the protection, conservation and lifestyle of free roaming elephants in the region. You’ll observe the daily patterns of these jungle giants from a safe distance, seeing how they graze and socialise with their other friends. The expert local guides will be able to give you a ‘live lecture’ on the elephants themselves, its sustainable tourism practices and conservation efforts in the area. Enjoy some refreshments nearby the elephant’s mud pit but be careful not to get a spray! Be treated to some lunch in a riverside sala (pavilion) alongside your giant friends, who will be enjoying a meal too. On your way back to Chiang Mai, stop by Kaomai Estate 1955 café for a coffee – this eclectic tobacco factory-turned-café hasn’t just got a Cultural Heritage Conservation for New Design accreditation from UNESCO for nothing! At night, get your travel crew together for a group dinner in town and celebrate today’s unforgettable experience.
    Day 10 Location: Chiang Mai
    With no activities planned for today, you are free to leave the accommodation at any time.
    Dates
    Prices
    Availability
    Departure Date:
    13NOV2020
    Return Date:
    22NOV2020
    2990NZD
    available
    Departure Date:
    15JAN2021
    Return Date:
    24JAN2021
    2810NZD
    available
    Departure Date:
    19FEB2021
    Return Date:
    28FEB2021
    2810NZD
    available
    Departure Date:
    09APR2021
    Return Date:
    18APR2021
    2810NZD
    available
    Departure Date:
    07MAY2021
    Return Date:
    16MAY2021
    2810NZD
    available
    Departure Date:
    02JUL2021
    Return Date:
    11JUL2021
    2810NZD
    available
    Departure Date:
    10SEP2021
    Return Date:
    19SEP2021
    2810NZD
    available
    Departure Date:
    15OCT2021
    Return Date:
    24OCT2021
    2810NZD
    available
    Departure Date:
    12NOV2021
    Return Date:
    21NOV2021
    2810NZD
    available
    Departure Date:
    10DEC2021
    Return Date:
    19DEC2021
    2810NZD
    available
    Last modified (date)

    18 Sep 2020

    Trip title

    Highlights of Thailand

    Trip code

    TTKK

    Validity

    Validity: 01 Jan 2020 to 31 Dec 2021

    Introduction

    Thailand's stunning beauty and charming culture are ever present on this ten-day small-group adventure. The welcoming nation conjures up images of spicy delicacies, majestic elephants, golden Buddhas, colourful hilltribe villages, fantastic shopping and exotic hideaways – so why not experience it all at once. Witness traditional hilltribe life in a Hmong village, support the rehabilitation of the endangered Asian elephant, step back in time in the ancient kingdom of Sukhothai and try your hand at creating some delectable Thai dishes. This is your chance to capture the adventure and essence of timeless Thailand.

    Style

    Comfort

    Themes

    Explorer

    Transport

    Train,Private mini van,Longtail boat,Songtheaw,Bicycle

    Physical Rating

    2

    Joining point

    Rembrandt Hotel Bangkok

    19 Sukhumvit Soi 18, Sukhumvit Road, Klong-Toei

    Bangkok

    10100

    THAILAND

    Phone: +66 2 261 7100

    Joining point description

    Centrally located in the Sukhumvit area of Bangkok, only ten minutes away from the Asoke Sky Train (BTS) and Sukhumvit Underground (MRT) stations, Rembrandt Hotel has easy access to Bangkok’s major shopping areas, parks and city landmarks. The hotel has 24 hour reception, restaurants, outdoor pool and a spa and fitness centre. All rooms have private ensuite, mini-bar, bedside remote control panel, work desks, 32-inch LCD flat screen television, free high speed wireless internet, cable and satellite TV.

    Joining point instructions

    An airport arrival transfer is included. Please advise your flight arrival details at least 14 days prior to your departure. If you plan to arrive earlier, this arrival transfer can only be offered in conjunction with pre trip accommodation booked with us. If you have advised your flight arrival details, you will be met after exiting the Customs Hall. A transfer representative holding a branded sign will meet you at Exit Door 4. If you cannot find your transfer representative, please go to the ATTA Counter (Association of Thai Travel Agents) near Exit Door 6. Ask them to call our transfer provider, World Travel Idea, on +66 81 658 2727 or +66 81 566 9324. Please note that neither the driver nor any representative should ask you for additional payment. Metered taxis are available outside the airport entrance on the 1st floor. Exit the Customs Hall, go down to the 1st floor and leave the airport at Gate 3, 4, 7 or 8. You will find a table with a “metred taxis” sign. The taxi fare will be the metred fare plus a surcharge of THB50-THB75 (depending on the driver’s use of toll roads). The total fare will be approx. THB400. Pre-paid taxis are also available, where you will be given a docket to pay the driver a set price of THB700. Please avoid taxi touts who tell you that they have a metered taxi parked outside the airport.

    Finish point

    Dusit Princess Chiang Mai Hotel

    112 Chang Klan Road, Amphur Muang, Chiang Mai

    Chiang Mai

    50100

    THAILAND

    Finish point instructions

    Normal check out time is 12 noon. If you are departing later, you can arrange luggage storage at the hotel. If you have a transfer to the Chiang Mai Airport your transfer driver will collect you from your Guesthouse 1.5hrs (90mins) before your flight time for domestic flights and 2.5hrs before your flight time for International flights. If your transfer has not arrived within 15minutes of the scheduled pickup time please call the Thailand 24hr emergency number +66 89 810 3722

    Alternate Finish point

    For trips departing on the following dates, use this finish point.

    13 Nov 2020 (TTKK201113)

    Dusit Princess Chiang Mai Hotel

    112 Chang Klan Road, Amphur Muang, Chiang Mai

    Chiang Mai

    50100

    THAILAND

    Important information

    1. A single supplement is available every night on this trip please contact your sales agent if you would like to book a single supplement. 2. A complimentary airport arrival transfer is included; valid if you are arriving on Day 1 or if you have booked pre-tour accommodation through us. You must provide your flight details to your booking agent at least 14 days prior to travel.

    Group leader

    All group trips are accompanied by one of our group leaders. The aim of the group leader is to take the hassle out of your travels and to help you have the best trip possible. Intrepid endeavours to provide the services of an experienced leader however, due to the seasonality of travel, rare situations may arise where your leader is new to a particular region or training other group leaders. Your leader will provide information on the places you are travelling through, offer suggestions for things to do and see, recommend great local eating venues and introduce you to our local friends. While not being guides in the traditional sense, you can expect them to have a broad general knowledge of the places visited on the trip, including historical, cultural, religious, and social aspects. At Intrepid we aim to support local guides who have specialised knowledge of the regions we visit. If you were interested in delving deeper into the local culture at a specific site or location then your leader can recommend a local guide service in most of the main destinations of your trip.

    Safety

    Most national governments provide regularly updated foreign travel advice on safety issues involved with international travel. We recommend that you check your government's advice for their latest travel information before departure and ensure that your travel insurance covers you for all destinations and activities on your trip. Please refer to our website's safety page for links to major travel advisories and updates on safety issues affecting our trips here: https://www.intrepidtravel.com/travel-alerts We strongly recommend the use of a neck wallet or money belt while travelling, for the safe-keeping of your passport, flight tickets, cash and other valuable items. Leave your jewellery at home - you won't need it while travelling. Many of our hotels have safety deposit boxes, which is the most secure way of storing your valuables. A lock is recommended for securing your luggage. Your leader will accompany you on all included activities, however, during your trip you'll have some free time to pursue your own interests or relax and take it easy. While your leader will assist you with the available options in a given location, please note that any optional activities you undertake are not part of your Intrepid itinerary, and Intrepid makes no representations about the safety of the activity or the standard of the operators running them. Please use your own good judgement when selecting an activity in your free time. Please also note that your Leader has the authority to amend or cancel any part of the trip itinerary if it's deemed necessary due to safety concerns. Intrepid's operational safety policies can be viewed on our website at the link below. We recommend that you take a moment to read through this information before travelling, and would appreciate any feedback on how safety is being managed on our trips.

    FIRE PRECAUTIONS: Please be aware that local laws governing tourism facilities in this region differ from those in your home country and not all the accommodation which we use has a fire exit, fire extinguishers or smoke alarms. SEAT BELTS: Please be aware that local laws governing transportation safety may differ from those in your home country and not all the transport which we use is able to provide seat belts. PETTY THEFT AND PERSONAL SAFETY: While travelling there is always the risk of pick-pocketing and petty theft, particularly in the more touristy cities. We recommend that you exercise caution when walking alone at night and encourage you to walk together and only on main, well-lit thoroughfares. Be particularly vigilant on public transport. Simple measures like carrying your day pack on your front, not hanging your bag over the back of your chair or on the floor and wearing a money belt will reduce any chance that your valuables should go missing. MOTORBIKE BAG SNATCHING: Be particularly aware of motorbike bag snatching, especially in the bigger cities.

    BIKE HELMETS: Please note bike helmets are provided on the included bike activity on this trip but may not be of the same standard as from your home country, if you have any concerns about the quality of the helmets, we recommend you bring your own from home.

    Visas

    PASSPORT You will need a valid passport to travel internationally. As a general rule, most countries require that your passport has a minimum of 6 months validity remaining. Your passport details are required to complete your booking. Please ensure the name on your passport matches the name on your booking and airline tickets exactly and contact us immediately if there are any errors. We recommend taking copies of the main passport pages and other important documents with you as well as leave copies at home with family or friends. VISAS Visas are the responsibility of the individual traveller. Entry requirements can change at any time. It is important that you check your government's foreign travel advisories along with the consular website of the country or countries you are travelling to for the most up to date information specific to your nationality and circumstances. Please be aware that not all visa information found online from other sources may be valid while COVID-19 restrictions are in place. Visas can take several weeks to process, so make sure you research the requirements as soon as you have booked your trip to allow for obtaining any necessary documents as well as the application and processing time. Your booking consultant can advise on a visa processing service or you can apply yourself directly through a consulate. Below you will find general visa advice about the destinations on your trip. Due to constantly evolving COVID-19 requirements and restrictions, please refer to your government's foreign travel advice for most up to date information. THAILAND: If entering by air most nationalities will be granted a 30 day stay on arrival. If entering by a land border, you will be granted a 15 day stay only (some exceptions are citizens of the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, France, Italy, Germany and Japan who are eligible for 30 day visa at land borders). A visa extension can be obtained in Thailand at an immigration office for approx. 2000THB or alternatively you can apply for a Thailand visa in advance from your embassy or consulate that will allow a 30 day stay when entering at an overland border. If planning to enter Thailand via a land border multiple times during your travels, we recommend you pre-obtain a 60 day multiple entry visa from you embassy or consulate before you travel rather than attempting to obtain a visa at the border on multiple occasions which may result in being denied re-entry into the country.

    Why we love it

    Whip up a culinary storm in Sukhothai, creating and tasting delicious local dishes at a cooking class with a local host.

    Pay your respect at the memorials by the infamous ‘Bridge over the River Kwai’ – learn about its dark history and the construction of the death railway in Kanchanaburi during the war.

    Immerse yourself in the wonders of an ancient tribal culture with a night in the Hmong lodge, treated to a barbecue dinner and Hmong cultural show.

    Experience an unforgettable day in the company of the giants of the jungle, Asian elephants, on a journey that will teach you about conservation and animal protection in this region.

    Uncover the ancient charms of Siam’s capitals, Ayutthaya and Sukhothai, as you wander around the ruin-filled Historical Parks, full of temples and significant buildings.

    Is this trip right for you

    There is an included bicycle ride around Sukhothai Heritage Park on this trip. It’s a leisurely cycle along quiet and flat roads, and one of the best ways to see the park. Less time spent in a vehicle; more time to explore each destination. This trip has been carefully designed to give you the best experience of a region by reducing the number of one-night-only stops, giving you extra time in the places that matter. As a shorter trip that covers quite a lot of ground, there will be travelling every other day to the next destination. Please note travel times on the itinerary days carefully for travel estimates.

    Health

    GENERAL HEALTH All travellers need to be in good physical health in order to participate fully on this trip. When selecting your trip please make sure you have read through the itinerary carefully and assess your ability to manage and enjoy our style of travel. Please note that if in the opinion of our group leader or local guide any traveller is unable to complete the itinerary without undue risk to themselves and/or the rest of the group, we reserve the right to exclude them from all or part of a trip without refund. You should consult your doctor for up-to-date medical travel information or for any necessary vaccinations before departure. We recommend that you carry a first aid kit as well as any personal medical requirements as they may not easily be obtained while travelling. Below you can find some further information about health issues relevant to the destinations visited on this trip. COVID-19 The safety and wellbeing of our travellers, leaders, crew, staff, and suppliers continues to remain our highest priority as we travel. You can read more about how we will keep you safe on our trips, including our COVID-19 Health & Safety Guidelines here: https://www.intrepidtravel.com/safe-travels We will not require a negative COVID-19 test before joining a trip unless it is a requirement of entry for the country. If you are unwell prior to travelling, please stay at home and contact us to make alternative arrangements. At the group meeting, you will be asked to complete a self-screening health form and report any COVID-19 symptoms as well as any close contact with someone who has suspected or confirmed COVID-19. If you are displaying any symptoms or have any health concerns at this time, we will follow the advice of local health authorities to determine whether medical assistance, isolation or further action is required. We ask all travellers to continue to monitor their health throughout their travels and report any relevant symptoms to their tour leader. DENGUE FEVER: Dengue fever occurs in Thailand, and is particularly common during the rainy season (November-March in Koh Samui and the south-east of the Thai peninsula and May-October in the rest of Thailand, including Phuket), peaking in July and August. There is no vaccination or specific treatment available for dengue fever. MALARIA: Malaria can be contracted throughout the year in rural areas, particularly near the borders with Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar. Speak to your doctor about preventative medication if you are concerned about malaria. OTHER: Other mosquito borne illnesses, such as Japanese encephalitis also occur in some areas. Always take preventative measures to protect yourself against mosquitoes such as wearing long clothing, using repellent and being indoors particularly around dusk and dawn. ZIKA VIRUS: There have been reports of transmission of the mosquito-borne Zika virus in this region and we advise all travellers to protect themselves from mosquito bites. Given possible transmission of the disease to unborn babies, and taking a very cautious approach, we recommend all women who are pregnant or trying to get pregnant to consult with their doctors before booking their trip. AIR POLLUTION AND SMOKE HAZE: Bangkok and other Thai cities experience high levels of air pollution, which may aggravate bronchial, sinus or asthma conditions. These can be particularly high between the months of December and February. Smoke haze, which usually occurs across parts of north and north-east Thailand during March to April, can also aggravate these conditions. Regular air quality reports are available from the following website http://aqicn.org/city/bangkok/

    Food and dietary requirements

    While travelling with us you'll experience the vast array of wonderful food available in the world. Your group leader will be able to suggest restaurants to try during your trip. To give you the maximum flexibility in deciding where, what and with whom to eat, generally not all meals are included in the trip price. This also gives you more budgeting flexibility. As a rule our groups tend to eat together to enable you to taste a larger variety of dishes and enjoy each other's company. THAILAND FOOD: One of the most popular take away foods in the world, you'll have a chance to try authentic Thai food, local and fresh, throughout this trip. Here's just some of what you can look forward to: https://www.intrepidtravel.com/adventures/best-food-thailand/ For vegans and vegetarians, you'll need to look out for ingredients like shrimp paste (often in curry sauces), fish sauce, dried shrimp and cooked egg added to stir fries and soups. If you are a vegan foodie, check out our Thailand Food Adventure trip: https://www.intrepidtravel.com/au/thailand/thailand-vegan-food-adventure-114827 Travelling in South East Asia with a food allergy? We have some advice for you here: https://www.intrepidtravel.com/adventures/travelling-food-allergies-south-east-asia/

    Money matters

    SPENDING MONEY When it comes to spending money on the trip, every traveller is a little different. You know your spending habits better than we do, so please budget an appropriate amount for things like optional meals, drinks, shopping, optional activities, and laundry. Make sure you have read the itinerary and inclusions thoroughly so you know what is included in the trip price and what you may need to pay for while travelling. MEALS NOT INCLUDED We recommend USD300 for meals not included The official currency of Thailand is the baht (THB). The most convenient and cheapest way to obtain local currency is via ATMs which are available in most towns and cities. Foreign currency notes that are old, torn or faded can be very difficult to exchange. Clean bills in small denominations are most useful. The use of credit cards is restricted, mainly to major hotels and more upmarket shops and shopping centres. CONTINGENCY FUNDS We try to plan for every eventuality, but there are still some things beyond our control. We reserve the right to change an itinerary after departure due to local circumstances or a Force Majeure Event. In such emergency circumstances, the additional cost of any necessary itinerary alterations will be covered by you. Please note we are not responsible for any incidental expenses that may be incurred as a result of the change of itineraries including but not limited to visas, vaccinations or non-refundable flights. Make sure you have access to an extra US$500 for emergencies (e.g. severe weather, natural disasters, civil unrest) or other events that result in unavoidable changes to the itinerary (e.g. transport strikes or cancellations, airport closures). Sometimes these things necessitate last-minute changes to enable our trips to continue to run, and as a result, there may be some extra costs involved. The recommended amount is listed in USD for the relatability of universal travellers, however, local currency may be needed once in the country to cover these costs. TIPPING If you're happy with the services provided a tip - though not compulsory - is appropriate. While it may not be customary to you, it's of great significance to the people who will take care of you during your travels, inspires excellent service, and is an entrenched feature of the tourism industry across many Intrepid destinations. Optional Tipping Kitty: On Day 1 your tour leader will discuss with you the idea of running a group tipping kitty, whereby everybody contributes an equal amount and then your tour leader pays the tips for drivers, local guides, and hotel staff (excludes restaurant tips). The leader will keep a running record of all monies spent which can be checked at any time, and any money remaining at the end of the tour returned to group members. This is often the easiest way to avoid the hassles of needing small change and knowing when and what is an appropriate amount to tip. Participation in this kitty at your own discretion, and you are welcome to manage your own tipping separately if you prefer. Please note the tipping kitty excludes tips for your tour leader. Optional tipping kitty for this trip: THB 640 per person Your Tour Leader: You may also consider tipping your tour leader for outstanding service throughout your trip. The amount is entirely a personal preference, however as a guideline US$2-US$4 per person, per day can be used. Of course you are free to tip more or less as you see fit, depending on your perception of service quality and the length of your trip. Remember, a tip is not compulsory and should only be given when you receive excellent service. Please don't tip with coins, very small denomination notes, or dirty and ripped notes. This is regarded culturally as an insult The receipt of commissions or kickbacks in exchange for recommending particular shops or services is ingrained in the culture of the tourism industry. Rather than turning a blind eye to this unavoidable issue in some areas, we have established a centralised fund whereby contributions from recommended suppliers are collected and distributed back into the business. We aim to provide the best value trips in the market, and this fund assists in keeping operating costs and trip prices low to you. A priority in establishing this fund is that the experience of our traveller - you - is not compromised in any way. Please let us know via the feedback form completed after your trip if we are successfully meeting this objective.

    What to take

    What you need to bring will vary according to the trip style you have chosen, the countries you are visiting and when you are travelling. Generally speaking, we recommend you pack as lightly as possible and make sure that you are able to carry and lift your own luggage, and walk with it for short distances or up or down a flight of stairs. Our travellers usually find the smaller their luggage is, the more they enjoy the trip not having to worry about carrying heavy bags! Aim to keep your main luggage under 15kg. Many travellers carry their luggage in a backpack, although an overnight bag with a shoulder strap would suffice if you travel lightly. Smaller suitcases or backpacks with wheels are convenient although we recommend your bag has carry straps or handles. If you are taking overnight trains, or primarily using public transport then the smaller your luggage the easier it will be to store under or above bunks. A lockable bag or small padlock will be useful especially when travelling on public transportation as well. You'll also need a day pack/bag to carry water, camera, and jacket etc. when you’re exploring during the day. Below we have listed the essentials for this trip:

    https://www.intrepidtravel.com/packing-list

    Climate and seasonal

    SONGKRAN FESTIVAL The Songkran Festival is celebrated to mark the New Year. The festival runs from the 13th to the 16th of April. Traditionally houses and villages are properly cleaned in preparation for the New Year, flowers are gathered to decorate Buddha images, young people pour water over the elders for good luck. Songkran Festival is often referred to as the “water festival” as it is now common to throw water over each other during the festival period. Our advice is to be prepared to get wet! Your leader will discuss the festival activities upon day one at the group meeting.

    A couple of rules

    Everyone has the right to feel safe when they travel. We don’t tolerate any form of violence (verbal or physical) or sexual harassment, either between customers or involving our leaders, partners or local people. Sexual relationships between a tour leader and a customer are strictly forbidden. Use or possession of illegal drugs will not be tolerated on our trips. If you choose to consume alcohol while travelling, we encourage responsible drinking and expect that you’ll abide by the local laws regarding alcohol consumption. The sex tourism industry is known to exploit vulnerable people and have negative consequences on communities, including undermining the development of sustainable tourism. For this reason, patronising sex workers will not be tolerated on our trips. By travelling with us you are agreeing to adhere to these rules. You must at all times comply with the laws, customs, foreign exchange and drug regulations of all countries visited, and you also agree to travel in accordance with our Responsible Travel Guidelines. The decision of the group leader is final on all matters likely to affect the safety or well-being of any traveller or staff member participating in the trip. If you fail to comply with a decision made by a group leader, or interfere with the well-being or mobility of the group, the group leader may direct you to leave the trip immediately, with no right of refund. We may also elect not to carry you on any future trips booked. If you feel that someone is behaving inappropriately while travelling with us, please inform your tour leader or local guide immediately. Alternatively, contact us on the emergency contact number detailed in the Problems and Emergency Contact section of this Essential Trip Information.

    Emergency contact

    While we always endeavour to provide the best possible holiday experience, due to the nature of travel and the areas we visit sometimes things can and do go wrong. Should any issue occur while you are on your trip, it is imperative that you discuss this with your group leader or our local representative straight away so that they can do their best to rectify the problem and save any potential negative impact on the rest of your trip. We recognise that there may be times when your group leader/local partner may not be able to resolve a situation to your satisfaction - if this is the case, please ask the leader to speak to their direct manager. You may also choose to provide details in your online feedback, which we ask you to complete within 30 days of the end of your trip. Please do be aware that it is very difficult for us to provide any practical help after the trip is completed, so informing us while still travelling will give us the opportunity to resolve the issue in real-time. For general contact details please use the following page: http://www.intrepidtravel.com/ourtrips/contact/ For general enquiries or questions about your booking, please contact your agent or adventure specialist, or visit us at www.intrepidtravel.com/contact-us In case of a genuine crisis or emergency, you can reach our local operator on the number below. Intrepid's Thailand Office: +66 898 103 722

    Responsible travel

    Our Responsible Travel Policy outlines our commitment to preserving the environment, supporting local communities, protecting the vulnerable, and giving back to the places we travel. All our trip leaders, suppliers, and staff are trained on these principles and are core to us delivering sustainable, experience-rich travel. Explore the different parts of our Responsible Travel Policy by visiting: https://www.intrepidtravel.com/responsible-travel ELEPHANT PERFORMANCES & ELEPHANT RIDING: While we respect each individual’s decisions while travelling, Intrepid does not include elephant rides or unnatural performance activities on any itinerary, and we recommend you bypass these activities should they be offered to you during your stay. Professional wildlife conservation and animal welfare organisations, including World Animal Protection, advise that contrary to common belief, captive elephants remain wild animals and despite good intentions, unfortunately, many venues are unable to provide the appropriate living conditions elephants require and this ultimately impacts their well-being. While there is some merit in the argument that the money you pay for the activity goes towards keeping the elephants and their mahouts employed, we know that it also fuels demand for elephants to be captured in the wild or captive-bred. We thank you for your support in improving the welfare of these majestic creatures. Further information is available on the below link: http://www.intrepidtravel.com/elephants-welfare LOCAL DRESS: When packing be aware that dress standards are conservative throughout Asia, especially outside major cities. To respect this and for your own comfort, we strongly recommend modest clothing. This means clothing that covers your shoulders and knees. Loose, lightweight, long clothing is both respectful and cool in the predominantly hot Asian climate. In many rural areas in Asia women will need to wear modest clothing even to swim. Singlets, tank tops and topless sun bathing are all unacceptable. When visiting religious sites men often need to wear long trousers and women a long skirt or sarong.

    The Intrepid Foundation

    Help us change thousands of lives by creating meaningful work and supporting skills training in communities around the world. The Intrepid Foundation is the not-for-profit for Intrepid Group. We work with local organisations around the world to improve the livelihoods of vulnerable individuals and communities through sustainable travel experiences. With our travellers’ help, we’ve contributed more than AU $6 million to over 100 community organisations since 2002. Did you know that tourism is one of the biggest contributors to the global economy, making up 1 out of every 10 jobs? That’s why we support local projects that create meaningful jobs and give people the skills they need to work in the destinations we take you to. And it’s why we exist – to make it easy for travellers to give back to the communities and places they’ve been in an effective and meaningful way. Intrepid Group covers all administration costs, every cent goes directly to the projects. Donating is simple and secure. Please ask your leader for information about the projects we support through The Intrepid Foundation or visit our website: http://www.theintrepidfoundation.org/

    Travel insurance

    Travel insurance is compulsory on all our trips for those travelling internationally. We require that at a minimum you are covered for medical expenses including emergency repatriation. If you are travelling within your home country or region please confirm before travel that you are entitled to access the public medical system easily should an accident occur. We strongly recommend all travellers have a policy that also covers personal liability, cancellation, curtailment and loss of luggage or personal effects. For international trips, you will not be permitted to join the group until evidence of travel insurance and the insurance company's 24-hour emergency contact number has been sighted by your leader. If you have credit card insurance your group leader will require details of the participating insurer/underwriter, the level of coverage, policy number, and emergency contact number rather than the bank's name and your credit card details. Please contact your bank for these details prior to arriving in-country. Travellers who reside within the European Union or Switzerland receive basic international health insurance, so travel insurance is not mandatory under European Union Law. However, as this does not cover situations such as emergency rescues, private health care, or repatriation to their home country, comprehensive travel insurance is strongly recommended. European Union or Swiss travellers who decline travel insurance when travelling outside of their home region must sign a Travel Insurance Waiver Form at the Group Meeting. For assistance with travel insurance or other services, please visit the link below: https://www.intrepidtravel.com/booking-resources/our-services

    Your fellow travellers

    As you travel on a group trip you will be exposed to all the pleasures and maybe some of the frustrations of travelling in a group. Your fellow travellers will probably come from all corners of the world and likely a range of age groups too. We ask you to be understanding of the various needs and preferences of your group - patience with your fellow travellers is sometimes required for the benefit of everyone's travel experience. Remember too that you have responsibilities to the group. If you are requested to be at a place at a certain time, ensure that you don't keep the rest of the group waiting. We have found time and time again that the very best trips we operate are those where the dynamics within the group work well - this takes just a little effort on your part. Due to privacy reasons, we are unable to provide you with contact details and any personal information about your fellow travellers booked on your trip prior to departure. SOLO TRAVELLERS This is the beauty of our style of travel: many of our travellers join because they are travelling solo and want to meet and share experiences with like-minded people. As a solo traveller, you will be paired up with another traveller of the same gender as per your passport information. Please note that this only applies to accommodation during the tour. Pre-trip and post-trip accommodation booked through us will on a single room basis. If you’re not comfortable sharing a room with someone of the same gender, you also have the choice to pay for a single supplement (available on the majority of our trips). If you don’t identify with the gender assigned on your passport, please let us know at time of booking and we’ll arrange the rooming configuration accordingly. Some of our itineraries have accommodation booked on an open gender, multi-share basis and where applicable this will be specified in our Essential Trip Information.

    Itinerary disclaimer

    ITINERARY CHANGES Our itineraries are updated regularly throughout the year based on customer feedback and to reflect the current situation in each destination. The information included in this Essential Trip Information may therefore differ from when you first booked your trip. It is important that you review this information prior to travel so that you have the latest updates. Due to weather, local conditions, transport schedules, public holidays, or other factors, further changes may be necessary to your itinerary once in-country. The order and timing of included activities in each location may also vary seasonally to ensure our travellers have the best experience. Your tour leader will keep you up to date with any such changes once on tour. OPTIONAL ACTIVITIES A selection of optional activities that have been popular with past travellers are listed in the day-to-day itinerary. This isn't an exhaustive list and should be used as a guide only for some of what might be available. Prices are approximate, are for entrance only, and don’t include transport to and from the sites or local guides unless indicated. All activities are subject to availability, and maybe on a join-in basis. It may not be possible to do all the activities listed in the time available at each destination, so some pre-planning for what you are most interested in is advised. When it's recommended that travellers pre-book these activities, look for a note in the Special Information section of the day-to-day itinerary. For most, they can either be organised independently on the day, or let your leader know you are interested in the Group Meeting and they can assist. Where activities are considered medium or high risk, we work with operators whose safety and credentials we have sighted and assessed. Although it is possible that you may find the same activity cheaper with another operator on the ground, we cannot vouch for the safety or quality of that operator. Medium and high-risk activities not listed above have not been assessed by us and as such our staff and leaders are unable to assist you with organising these activities. Activities that contravene our Responsible Travel policies are also not listed. Please remember that the decision to partake in any activity not listed is at your own discretion and risk.

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