NORTHERN THAILAND& BHUTAn's Punakha Festival

Small Group Adventure:
February 20-March 3, 2023


12 days/11 nights for $3995 per person, double occupancy, land only,
starting in Chiang Mai & ending in Paro

 

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Includes:

  • 4 nights in Chiang Mai at the Thai Akara Lanna with breakfast daily, transfer from airport

  • Doi Suthep Monastery & the Chiang Dao hilltribes with lunch

  • Visit to the Blue Tao Elephant Sanctuary with lunch

  • Chiang Mai old city foodie tour by tuktuk

  • Local cooking class with a local family, including lunch

  • Tour of Celadon workshop & Umbrella workshop

  • Drive to Chiang Rai with visits to the Long Neck Karen hilltribe and the White Temple

  • 2 nights at the Legend Chiang Rai with breakfast daily, transfer to airport

  • Tour of the Doi Tung Royal Villa & Mae Fah Luang Gardens with lunch

  • Flight from Chiang Rai to Bangkok

  • 3 nights in Bangkok at the Amari Watergate Hotel with breakfast daily

  • Tour of the Grand Palace, the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, and Wat Pho with lunch, then a sunset cruise on a long tail boat through Bangkok's many canals.

  • Tour of the Damnoen Saduak Floating Market, Mae Klong Railway Market, and the Jim Thompson House.

  • Flight from Bangkok to Paro

  • Drive to Punakha with sightseeing & lunch

  • 1 night in Punakha at the Hotel Lobesa or Zhimgkham Resort with breakfast and dinner.

  • Visit to the Punakha Festival

  • Tour of Punakha before driving to Thimpu (lunch along the way)

  • 1 night in Thimpu with breakfast and dinner.

  • Drive to Paro with visit to the National Museum and Paro Dzong with lunch

  • Optional hike to the Tiger's Nest Monastery with lunch

  • 1 night at the Khangkhu Resort with breakfast and dinner, transfer to airport

  • English-speaking guides throughout

  • Visa to Bhutan

 $3995 per person, double occupancy, land only

Single supplement: $850

ITINERARY

Image by cheese yang

Day One:

Arrive in Chiang Mai

Upon arrival, transfer to the Thai Akara Lanna Hotel.

Image by Johnny Africa

Day Two

Doi Suthep & the Hilltribes

After breakfast at the hotel, visit the most famous temple in Chiang Mai - Wat Phra That Doi Suthep. Many relics of the Buddha are held in a sacred place in the golden stupa, but the temple also offers a panoramic view of Chiang Mai and its surroundings. After lunch, head to the mountains to visit the hill tribes of Chiang Dao. There are five different tribes living in the area, with the most colorful being the Silver Patong.

Image by Lydia Casey

Day Three

Elephants & Tuk Tuk Tours

In the morning, head to the Blue Tao Elephant Sanctuary, a humane sanctuary that focuses on caring for pregnant elephants and mothers with small babies. There you will learn about the sanctuary's conservation efforts, help with the elephant's daily healthcare routine, walk with these gentle giants (no elephant rides!), and bathe with them. Enjoy lunch in a tree house overlooking the waterfall, then return to Chiang Mai for a unique Tuk Tuk city tour that will take you around to several spots within the ancient walled city including temples, markets, and more. Along the way you can sample some of Thailand's famous street foods.

Image by Pablo Rebolledo

Day Four

Cooking & the Arts

After breakfast, join a local family for a traditional Thai cooking class, starting in the Hangdong Market. You'll be able to learn about the different kind of ingredients that are used in Thai cuisine. From there, you will receive a tour of their home and vegetable garden, and pick different fruits and herbs that you'll use to make your dishes. Prepare your lunch with guidance from your hostess, Mae Janfong, then enjoy a leisurely lunch with the family.

In the afternoon, you'll get the chance to visit a local Celadon workshop to see how this beautiful ceramic art is made. From there, head to an umbrella workshop where artists hand make and paint intricate designs on traditional Thai umbrellas.

Image by MARCIN CZERNIAWSKI

Day Five

Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai

In the morning, begin the drive to Chiang Rai, with plenty of sightseeing along the way. Stop at local hill tribe villages along the Kok River, and a Long Neck Karen village to see the famous long-necked ladies. After lunch at a local restaurant, continue to the stunning Wat Rongkhun, or the White Temple. Created in traditional Thai style by modern artist, Chalermchai Kositpipat, this incredible work of art will be unlike any other temple you visit in this trip. The inside is covered with paintings of modern-day figures from pop-culture and politics, while the outside gleams in the sunlight thanks to several thousands of tiny mirrors.

Overnight at The Legend Chiang Rai.

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Day Six

Chiang Rai to Bangkok

Visit the Doi Tung Royal villa, originally built for the Princess Mother, which is home to beautiful botanical gardens and a museum about local tribes.
 

After lunch, fly to Bangkok.  Upon arrival, transfer to the Amari Watergate hotel.

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Day Seven

Explore Bangkok

Start with a tour of the Grand Palace and the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, both strong symbols of the Thai people's faith and reverence for their monarchy. From there, head to the Temple of the Reclining Buddha, the largest temple in Bangkok with a massive statue of the Buddha. After lunch, take a long tail boat and cruise around the canals of the city, which will allow you to see more of local life than you would just getting around by car.

Image by Andrew Ly

Day Eight

Markets & Mysteries

Head to the Damnoen Saduak Floating Market on a motorized boat and experience Thailand like a local. Here you can shop for fresh produce, handmade sweets, and more from traditional canoes. From there, we'll head to the Mae Klong Railway Market south of Bangkok, where a train runs through the market, forcing the vendors to move their goods and umbrellas each time a train comes.

After lunch, return to Bangkok to visit the Jim Thompson House. Considered the father of the Thai silk industry, his disappearance in the Malaysian jungle remains a mystery. Now his beautiful Thai-style home is a museum of traditional Thai and Asian arts.

Image by howling red

Day Nine

Bangkok to Paro

Fly from Bangkok to Paro, Bhutan. Drive to Punakha and visit some of the local sights along the way such as Tacho Gompa Monastery, which is famous for it's iron bridge, and the stunning mountain ranges of Bhutan. Enjoy lunch along the way and dinner at your hotel.

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Day Ten

Festival Time!

Spend the morning watching the energetic and brightly colored dances of the festival in the Punakha Dzong. After the festivities, visit Chimi Lhakhang Temple, which is dedicated to the Divine Madman, Drukpa Kuenley, who used several unusual methods to teach Buddhism and enlightenment. After lunch, drive to Thimpu and visit the Giant Buddha. In the evening you'll be able to explore town at your leisure.

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Day Eleven

Paro

Return to Paro and visit the Paro Dzong and the National Museum of Bhutan to learn more about the history of the country.

You also have the choice to hike to the stunning Tiger's Nest Monastery or Taktsang Monastery, which is built into the side of a sheer cliff face high above the Paro Valley. It is one of the country's most revered pilgrimage sites.

Image by John McArthur

Day Twelve

Return home

In the morning, fly back to Bangkok for your flights home.

International airfare available upon request.