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10 Day Culturally Immersive Thailand Itinerary
April 29, 2020 | Guest Post by: Grace Homer
Known for its party islands, bustling capital, local markets, and beautiful scenery, Thailand is a wonderfully inviting country that often offers more to visitors than first meets the eye. Beyond the white-sanded beaches and popular tourist spots lie street food vendors with dishes to die for, one of the oldest evergreen rainforests in the world and monuments steeped in ancient history.
Known as the ‘Land of Smiles’, Thai people love to invite you to learn of their culture, traditions, and lifestyles. By going beyond the usual spots, you’ll learn all about Thai etiquette, a religion deep-rooted in every local and the respect they honor each other with.
A culturally immersive trip enables you to experience more than your typical tours in Thailand; you’ll embark on a cultural journey from the hustle and bustle of Bangkok to the ancient kingdom of Ayutthaya. You’ll head back to taste a different side of the metropolis before moving south through the countryside, rainforests, and epic scenery to arrive at a beachside paradise for your final few days.
Day 1 - Welcome to Bangkok
Upon arrival in Bangkok, you’ll be welcomed by your guide and driver who will be able to tell you all about your trip on the drive to your city center hotel.
En route, you’ll get your first look at the bustling metropolis of Bangkok - skyscrapers punctuating a skyline of temples, busy streets full of tuk-tuks and canals busy with longboats.
Day 2 - The Ancient Capital of Ayutthaya
Today, you’ll leave the hustle and bustle of Bangkok behind for the day and head to the ancient capital of Ayutthaya, just 1.5 hours from the city. Classified as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, Ayutthaya Historical Park is one of the two ancient capitals of ‘Siam’, the former name for Thailand.
In its heyday, Ayutthaya was complete with three royal palaces, 375 temples, and 95 entrance gates to this incredible city. Protected by 29 defensive castles, Ayutthaya acted as the capital of the country and was ruled by 33 consecutive kings until 1767.
You’ll spend the day learning the history of the city from your local guide while marveling at the ruins, the many beheaded Buddha statues, and the 42-meter reclining Buddha at Wat Lokaya Sutharam. You’ll also embark on a boat trip to enjoy the scenery of Ayutthaya from the water.
Day 3 - Explore Bangkok by Tuk-Tuk
One thing you’ll notice about Bangkok when you arrive is the amount of motorized, three-wheel rickshaws known as tuk-tuks. Today, you’ll explore the city in one of these unique vehicles which are perfect for nipping from attraction to attraction and squeezing through gaps in heavy Bangkok traffic.
You’ll begin by visiting the remarkable wooden house of Jim Thompson, the former WW2 American spy who disappeared in Malaysia. Moving on, you’ll immerse yourself in local life as you take a boat ride along Bangkok’s ‘klongs’ (canals) stopping at Wat Saket, also known as the Golden Mount, perched on the top of a hill boasting a superb view of the city.
Your tuk-tuk will then zip you to the backpacker district of Khao San for a delicious street food lunch before you hop on another water taxi down the river to Wat Arun, to marvel at its 79-meter tower decorated with millions of porcelain fragments. After visiting the impressive 45-meter reclining Buddha at Wat Pho on the other side of the river, you’ll take a tuk-tuk to the Talad Noi district, one of the oldest in the city, to catch the sunset at a riverside restaurant.
Day 4 - Bangkok Floating Markets & Night Train to Surat Thani
Today, your day will begin with a taste of Thai cuisine, but instead of sitting down at a restaurant and waiting for the delights to arrive, you’ll make it yourself! On the outskirts of Bangkok, you’ll spend the morning preparing a variety of popular Thai dishes under the guise of a local chef.
After lunch, you’ll visit the floating weekend market of Ampawa, favored by locals and in-the-know travelers for its more authentic feel than other floating markets in Bangkok. Here, you’ll admire the wooden stalls that line the canal illuminated by the afternoon light further magnifying its charm.
In the evening, you’ll head to the station to catch your night train to Surat Thani. Traveling by night train is a unique experience and one you’ll enjoy ticking off that bucket list.
Day 5 - Journey to Khao Sok National Park
You’ll arrive in the early hours to the train station where you’ll be met by your guide and whisked off in a private car to Khao Sok National Park. After lunch at the lodge, you’ll start the afternoon with a bamboo rafting trip which will take you along the river to discover the incredible flora and fauna of this park.
After relaxing at your hotel, you’ll enjoy a hands-on dinner during which you’ll learn how to make some traditional jungle meals. You’ll discover how bamboo is used to boil water and make soups while simultaneously experiencing how local people have long been combining the freshest of ingredients to make taste sensations. With your new skills, you’ll learn how to grill meat wrapped in palm leaves over an open fire.
Day 6 - Experience the Beauty of Cheow Lan Lake
After breakfast at your lodge, you’ll head off to another part of the vast Khao San National Park, Cheow Lan Lake. The rocky limestone peaks which emerge from the turquoise waters may remind you of the famous Halong Bay in Vietnam.
With your guide, you’ll hop in a motorized canoe to reach your floating lodge on the lake. After lunch in a floating bungalow, you’ll strap on your hiking boots and head off into the lush forest to the Coral Cave. The cave owes its name to the curious-looking stalactites within the cave which are reminiscent of coral branches.
You’ll have the afternoon to explore different caves, swim in beautiful blue waters and enjoy the beauty of the place before heading back to your floating lodge for a dinner of Thai specialties.
Day 7 - Onwards to Phuket
Before checking out this morning, you’ll have one final opportunity to explore the rainforest on a guided hike. Upon returning to your lodge, you’ll pack up and head to the pier where you’ll take a boat then a private car to your hotel in Phuket.
The rest of the day will then be free for you to explore the beautiful beaches of Phuket, have a massage, and perhaps experience the nightlife of this island.
Day 8 - Phuket Elephant Sanctuary
A sister park of the Elephant Nature Park in Chiang Mai in Northern Thailand, the Phuket Elephant Sanctuary is run by conservationist Lek Chailert. The founder of the Save Elephant Foundation, Lek has devoted her life to saving these kind animals.
The Phuket Elephant Sanctuary is a unique center in Phuket, and you can spend the day walking amongst rescued, retired, and rehabilitated elephants.
Day 9-10 - Relax on the Beach
The last days of the trip are for you to spend as you wish. Phuket is a brilliant jumping-off point for many island hopping tours where you can visit different beaches and spend the day diving and snorkeling. However, if the trip has already been active enough, you can spend these last couple of days chilling by the pool, soaking up the sun on the beach and sipping cocktails while watching the sunset.
Thailand presents travelers with so many different options. If you’re looking for a culturally immersive trip, an active adventure, a relaxing holiday or a little bit of everything, Thailand as a destination has got you covered!
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