Day 1: Bangkok
Start your northern Thailand adventure in Bangkok with a welcome meeting at 6pm. Arrive at your hotel at any time, as there are no activities planned prior to your evening orientation with your guide. Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask reception where it will take place. If you’ve chosen to upgrade your tour to include a round-trip airport transfer, a tour representative will meet you at the airport and transport you to your accommodation in Bangkok.
It is recommended that you arrive early to explore Thailand's magnificent capital. Located on the banks of the Chao Phraya River, Bangkok is famous for its tuk tuks, canals and street vendors serving up delicious Thai food. Consider taking a riverboat to explore the bustling streets of Chinatown, visiting the stunning Grand Palace and its Emerald Buddha, watching a Thai kickboxing match or simply indulging in a Thai massage in preparation for the journey ahead.
Overnight: Viengtai Hotel in Bangkok
Day 2: Bangkok – Sukhothai
Board a train for an approximate six-hour ride north to Phitsanulok. En route, get to know fellow travelers in your small group as you take in the scenery of the Thai countryside. Upon arrival in Phitsanulok, visit Wat Phra Si Rattana Mahathat (Wat Yai) -- one of Thailand’s most important and beautiful temples, known for its 14th-century bronze Buddha image cast with a flame-like halo.
After touring the temple with your guide, board a songthaew for the exciting one-hour journey to Sukhothai. Established as Siam’s first capital in the 13th century, Sukhothai is a friendly town with a wealth of fabulous sights to see, including the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Sukhothai Historical Park, which showcases some of the most impressive ruins in Thailand.
Relax in the tranquil town of Sukhothai, set amid leafy forests, perfumed gardens and fertile rice paddies on a fertile plain. If you’d like, head to the fascinating night market and try a local dish such as Sukhothai noodles, fried rice or even fried insects! Or, enjoy some pampering at Sukhothai's herbal sauna and massage center.
Overnight: Le Charme Hotel in Sukhothai
Day 3: – Lampang (B, L)
Board another songthaew for an approximate 30-minute ride to the historical ruins of Old Sukhothai, set amid beautiful lakes and gardens. Upon arrival at Sukhothai Historical Park, hop on a bicycle and enjoy a few leisurely hours touring the site. Ride past four large ponds often filled with stunning lotus flowers in full bloom, and learn about Thailand’s Golden Age from your guide.
Admire the Sukhothai-era religious art and architecture – including the ruins of 21 historical sites with awe-inspiring Buddha images – considered to be the most classic of Thai styles. Along the way, you’ll stop for a home-cooked picnic lunch and visit a local ceramics factory if there’s enough time.
Afterward, embark on a three-hour bus trip to Lampang, a northern Thai city where you can still ride a horse and cart for transport. Check out Lampang’s interesting temples, such as Wat Phra That Lampang Luang, or relax in one of its great bars.
Overnight: Riverside Guesthouse in Lampang
Day 4: Lampang (D)
Visit the Thai Elephant Conservation Center, Thailand's only government-owned elephant camp, located approximately 45 minutes from Lampang. Watch about fifteen elephants frolic during a communal bath, submerging in a beautiful pond and spraying water with their trunks as their mahouts (elephant handlers) scrub them clean.
Then, take a short elephant ride through the forest on the back of one of these majestic giants. Climb onto a traditional elephant saddle with one or two fellow passengers and sway safely from side to side as you enjoy an unforgettable ride.
After you disembark, your guide will take your small group to a small Thai village, located approximately 1.5 hours from the elephant center. Experience a warm welcome at your homestay and get a first-hand look at Thai rural life. Enjoy a traditional northern Thai khantohk dinner – a customary northern Thai style of dining with food served in large platters at low tables – accompanied by live music and traditional Thai dancing.
Overnight: Homestay in Mae On village near Lampang
Days 5-7: Lampang – Chiang Mai – Bangkok (Day 5 - B, L)
Rise early to offer alms to the monks before traveling by songthaew to nearby thermal hot springs, where you can soak in the mineral pools or enjoy a traditional Thai massage. After your relaxing morning, continue to Chiang Mai, located about 40 minutes away.
Known for its beauty and the friendliness of the local people, Chiang Mai is awash with stunning temples, fabulous markets and a lively city center. Situated at the crossroads of one of Southeast Asia's most important trade routes, Thailand's northern capital is a legendary center of ancient culture.
Enjoy hours of free time exploring Chiang Mai: go on a cycling tour, riding to gold-gilded temples; visit the hilltop temple of Doi Suthep for stunning views over the city; attend a Thai cooking class; browse the crafts markets; or take a river tour aboard a bamboo raft.
On your final evening in Chiang Mai, board an overnight train for the 13-hour ride to Bangkok. In your soft sleeper-class train, settle into your air-conditioned multi-share compartment and bunk bed. Sheets and a pillow are provided, and food and drink service are available for purchase aboard the train.
Overnight: People Place II Hotel in Chiang Mai (2 nights) and sleeper train from Chiang Mai to Bangkok (1 night)
Day 8: Bangkok
Arrive in Bangkok in the early morning and transfer back to Viengtai Hotel to conclude your trip through northern Thailand. You are free to depart at any time, with shared day rooms available for use until noon. Perhaps you’ll stay a few extra days to explore Thailand’s amazing capital!