Day 1: Depart U.S. for Bangkok, Thailand
Day 2: Arrive Bangkok We arrive in the Thai capital late this evening and transfer directly to our hotel.
Day 3: Bangkok After meeting our fellow travelers and Odysseys Unlimited Tour Director at this morning’s briefing about the journey ahead, we set out to explore, beginning at the colorful Bangkok Flower Market. Then we ride “tuk tuks,” traditional three-wheel open-air taxis, to Wat Pho Temple, home of the Reclining Buddha. Covered in gold leaf, the icon measures some 49 feet tall by 151 feet long. Next we visit the immense Grand Palace complex where we see the elaborate Temple of the Emerald Buddha, with its venerated 31-inch-high statue carved from a single piece of jade. Then we board boats for a tour of “hidden” Bangkok. Tonight we enjoy a welcome dinner. B,L,D
Day 4: Bangkok/Ayutthaya Today’s first stop is Bang Pa-in, the historic summer palace of Thai royalty. Then we continue on to Ayutthaya, Thailand’s ancient capital that in 1700 was the largest city in the world – and that by 1767 lay in ruins. It’s the evocative remains of the palaces, pagodas, and monasteries that once stood here that we encounter today as we explore the historical park, now a UNESCO site. B,L
Day 5: Bangkok/Kanchanaburi This morning we visit the Damnoen Saduak Floating Market, where vendors aboard hundreds of sampans laden with fresh flowers, fruits, and vegetables traverse the canals selling their wares. Then we travel on to Kanchanaburi, where we visit the infamous bridge that spans the River Kwai, part of the World War II “Death Railway” project and whose story is immortalized in book and film as The Bridge on the River Kwai. We end the day’s touring with a long-tail boat ride along the River Kwai to our floating hotel. B,L,D
Day 6: Kanchanaburi A look at Thai farming life is on tap as we visit the village of Nong Khao for a tour by local truck. We pay our respects at the village shrine then head out to the fan-palm orchard to see how locals collect the palm products for market. We sample some of the local goods and tropical fruits, and learn about the important role rice plays in Thai life. Before returning to our hotel, we see the wooden bridge of the Tham Krasae Death Railway, and stop at the Cemetery of the Allied Prisoners of War, burial site of WWII prisoners who perished as forced laborers on the construction of the notorious Burma Railway. B,L,D
Day 7: Kanchanaburi We travel downstream to witness another poignant scene from the Death Railway: Hellfire Pass, where prisoners had only hand tools to cut through the largest rocks on the entire route of the Burma Railway. Named for the look of the prisoners (as if they had come from Hell), the pass today features a museum and memorial. Following our tour here we visit a tribal village of the ethnic Mon people. B,L,D
Day 8: Kanchanaburi/Chiang Rai We depart this morning for Bangkok and our early afternoon flight to Chiang Rai, the relaxed town near the border of Laos and Myanmar. Upon arrival, we visit the Baan Dam (“Black House”) modern architectural complex. B,D
Day 9: Chiang Rai This morning we drive along narrow mountain roads to the Doi Tung Royal Villa and Gardens, former home of the king’s mother who lived here and led efforts against deforestation and also the heroin trade. We tour the home and grounds then continue to the infamous Golden Triangle, where the Ruak and Mekong rivers meet, and where we see sweeping views of Thailand, Laos, and Myanmar. We tour the Opium Museum here to learn about the once-thriving drug trade in the region before enjoying a leisurely boat ride on the Mekong. B,L
Day 10: Chiang Rai/Phrao This morning we visit the contemporary Wat Rong Khun, the unusual “White Temple” celebrating Lord Buddha’s purity. We continue on to Khum Lanna, our country retreat set amidst emerald-green rice fields and lush orchards. This afternoon we learn about and participate in Khum Lanna’s sustainable permaculture projects; the hotel grows fruits, vegetables, and herbs, many of which will be used in tonight’s dinner. B,L,D
Day 11: Phrao We rise early for a sunrise biking trip to see the colorful rice fields. Then we visit the morning markets, where we offer alms to the Buddhist monks. Back at our lodge we enjoy a late breakfast and hear about the “Rice for Life” ethos practiced here. This afternoon we visit a local rice mill and temple to learn about daily life in rural Thailand. B,L,D
Day 12: Phrao/Chiang Mai En route to Chiang Mai today, we stop at an elephant sanctuary where we can bathe and feed the magnificent creatures. Later, we visit a hill tribe agricultural village before continuing on to our hotel. B,L
Day 13: Chiang Mai Our day begins with a drive to the sacred 14th-century Wat Phra That Doi Suthep temple, with incomparable views of Chiang Mai below. Next, we learn about the local gem trade with a visit to a working jade factory. After lunch together, we discover Chiang Mai’s old city by rickshaw, traveling past medieval city walls and monasteries. Our tour ends with a visit to the Wat Phra Singh temple complex, where we see a revered Buddha statue and the lovely Viharn Lai Kham gilded hall decorated with murals of daily life. Tonight we celebrate our Thailand adventure at a farewell dinner. B,L,D
Day 14: Chiang Mai/Depart for U.S. This morning we visit the “lost city” of Wiang Kum Kam, the royal capital that was abandoned some 700 years ago. Here we take a horse-and-carriage ride to see the archaeological site. Then we return to our hotel for an afternoon at leisure (our rooms are reserved for late check-out). After dinner here we transfer to the airport for our overnight flight to the U.S. B,D
Day 15: Arrive U.S. We arrive in the U.S. and connect with our return flights home.
B = Breakfast included L = Lunch included D = Dinner included