The heritage of two ancient kingdoms are traced along this pilgrimage through Thailand and Cambodia. Visit the spiritual centre of Sukhothai, explore the ruins of Angkor Wat and embrace the effervescent energy of Phnom Penh - a city that has emerged from the past to recapture its reputation as the 'Pearl of Asia'.
LOCAL SPECIALIST in Bangkok. (Day 3) in Angkor Wat. (Day 12)
CONNECT WITH LOCALS Join the Saiwangjit family who live in a wooden Thai stilt house for a traditional northern Thai-style meal. (Day 9)
STAYS WITH STORIES Relax at your charming hotel with its exotic Lanna-Burmese style architecture, perfectly positioned in Chiang Mai's Old Town. (Day 8)
VIEW the Bridge over the River Kwai and Hellfire Pass in Kanchanaburi and Wat Mahathat in Ayutthaya
DIVE INTO CULTURE Visit Lumpini Park in Bangkok and join the locals in their daily T'ai Chi practice. (Day 2) Enjoy a traditional Thai massage in the grounds of Wat Pho, a centre for traditional Thai massage. (Day 2) Learn the secrets of Thai cooking and visit a local market to buy fresh ingredients. (Day 3) Stop at a coconut palm sugar plantation and discover how the farmer extracts the sap from the palm trees to be turned into sugar. (Day 4) Join a cyclo tour around the streets of Phnom Penh. (Day 15)
VISIT the Grand Palace, the temples of Wat Phra Kaew and Wat Pho in Bangkok, Damnoen Saduak floating market, the ancient city of Ayutthaya, Sukhothai Heritage Park, Siem Reap Old Town, the temples of Angkor Wat, Banteay Srei, Wat Damnak, Angkor Thom, Ta Prohm and Peak Sneng Village, Wat Phnom, the Royal Palace, Cheung Ek Killing Fields in Phnom Penh
MAKE A DIFFERENCE Visit the village of Natonchan and the`Friends of the Asian Elephants', a Thai registered foundation looking after the welfare of elephants throughout Thailand. (Day 8) Visit a local primary school. (Day 9) Visit Artisans d'Angkor, where our visit contributes to creating job opportunities for disadvantaged rural youths (Day 12) and at Peak Sneng village, meeting local villagers and discovering some traditional Cambodian crafts (Day 14).
Say sawadee ka to the land of smiles, starting your Thai adventure in Bangkok. Transfer to your hotel where this evening, we meet our Travel Director and fellow guests for a Welcome Reception drink with local appetisers.
Day 2: BANGKOK SIGHTSEEING
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch
Rise early and join the locals for a graceful T'ai Chi practice in Lumpini Park to kick-start your day. Alternatively, enjoy a leisurely start before joining your fellow travellers on a City Tour, which begins with a visit to Bangkok's Grand Palace, where you'll visit the most sacred Buddhist temple in Thailand, Wat Phra Kaew. See the largest-reclining Buddha in Thailand in Bangkok's oldest temple, Wat Pho, and enjoy a traditional Thai massage in the temple's massage centre. Return to your hotel by express river boat, cruising down the Chao Praya past beautiful Wat Arun, the Temple of the Dawn.
Day 3: BANGKOK
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch
Immerse your senses in the five flavours of Thai as you join a 'Local Specialist' for a traditional cooking class in a colonial-style house. Visit a local market nearby to source the freshest ingredients that reveal the sweet, sour, salty, bitter and hot flavours of Thai cuisine. Sample the results later, then spend the afternoon exploring the City of Angels on your terms, or consider joining an Optional Experience to Jim Thompson's House, home to an impressive collection of Asian art.
Day 4: BANGKOK - DAMNOEN SADUAK - KANCHANABURI (2 NIGHTS)
Location: Damnoen Saduak, Kanchanaburi
Accommodation: Away Kanchanaburi Dheva Mantra Resort and Spa
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
A riot of colours greets us this morning as we embark on a visit to the famous floating market at Damnoen Saduak. Connect with the friendly merchants who paddle along the congested canals in their sturdy canoes, laden with fresh fruit and vegetables to sell to shoppers on the banks. En route, we'll 'Dive Into Culture', stopping at a coconut palm sugar plantation where we'll discover how the farmer extracts the sap from his palm trees to create palm sugar. After lunch in a local restaurant, we'll visit the Thailand-Burma Railway Museum, revealing insights into the history of the infamous railway line built during WWII by the Imperial Japanese army. Our final stop today sees us pay tribute to the thousands of allied prisoners of war who were laid to rest at the War Cemetery.
Day 5: KANCHANABURI SIGHTSEEING
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Regional Dinner
This morning, we visit Hellfire Pass, a section of the Thailand-Burma "Death Railway", so named for the tortuous conditions that prisoners of war endured during WWII to build it. After lunch, we embark on a thrilling train ride across wooden viaducts, skirting the winding waters of the Kwai River. We'll disembark and see the wooden viaducts first-hand walking across one. This evening, we enjoy dinner at a local restaurant.
Day 6: KANCHANABURI - AYUTTHAYA - SUKHOTHAI (2 NIGHTS)
Location: Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya, Sukhothai
Accommodation: Sriwilai Sukhothai Resort and Spa
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
After breakfast, we travel to the UNESCO-listed Ayutthaya, once the second-most important ancient capital of Old Siam and the largest city in the world. Here, we'll delve into the trading heritage of a mighty city that was all but raised to the ground by an 18th century Burmese invasion.
Day 7: SUKHOTHAI SIGHTSEEING
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch
Gain insights into a powerful kingdom that enjoyed its golden age during the 13th and 14th centuries and shaped modern Thailand as we know it today. Start the day with a visit to the UNESCO-listed Sukhothai Historical Park which reveals thousands of years of history and a 15-metre seated Buddha secreted within its walls. Your choice of exploring will see you engage with the historic complex by bicycle or on the internal tram. This afternoon, visit the home of a local family and learn how to make amulets which are thought to protect the owner from harm.
Day 8: SUKHOTHAI - CHIANG MAI (3 NIGHTS)
Location: Chiang Mai
Accommodation: The Rim Resort
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch
Our day begins with a visit to the village of Natonchan, where we 'Make A Difference' with our visit by supporting the community's eco-tourism project. We'll interact with the locals and meet one of the villagers to learn about 'gymnastic doll' making and the villagers' traditional cotton clothes which are soaked in mud to protect them from fading. We continue north, enjoying lunch en route and make a brief visit to the 'Friends of the Asian Elephant' Hospital, a foundation that cares for wounded elephants. Arriving in Chiang Mai, we enjoy an evening walk with our Travel Director and visit the colourful Sunday market. Our hotel tonight is located in the old town of Chiang Mai.
Day 9: CHIANG MAI SIGHTSEEING
Meals: Breakfast, Be My Guest
Admire the delicate hand-painted fans and colourful paper umbrellas that are famously crafted in Chiang Mai's Sankamphaeng district and meet the children and teachers at a local school to which Trafalgar will donate much-needed supplies. We continue to a small village nearby where we'll 'Connect with Locals', joining a family in their typical stilt house for a northern Thai-style 'Be My Guest' lunch. Next is a visit to Wat Suan Dok where we'll meet a local monk and learn about Buddhism, against the backdrop of the temple's magnificent golden chedi.
Day 10: CHIANG MAI
Meals: Breakfast, Farewell Dinner
Your morning is free to spend as you please or consider joining an Optional Experience to the Ban Tong Luang Hilltribe Village. Later, we visit Wat Doi Suthep, one of Thailand's most sacred temples. As the sun sets over this mystical temple, listen quietly to the tranquil sounds of the monks chanting. This evening, we join fellow travellers and Travel Director for a Farewell Dinner at a traditional Thai restaurant located next to the river.
Day 11: CHIANG MAI - SIEM REAP (4 NIGHTS)
Location: Siem Reap
Accommodation: Courtyard by Marriott Siem Reap Resort
Transfer to the airport for the short international flight to Bangkok and onward to Siem Reap. On arrival meet your Cambodia Travel Director and check in to your hotel. This afternoon is at leisure.
Day 12: ANGKOR WAT AND SEAM REAP SIGHSEEING
Today, we venture deep into the Cambodian jungle, through a pyramid-shaped gateway into an ancient world. A 'Local Specialist' and renowned Khmer scholar brings to life the stories behind the intricate carvings and murals along the abandoned hallways of Angkor Wat. Our next stop are the terracotta-hued walls of Banteay Srei Temple - the "Citadel of Women" dedicated to the Hindu God Shiva. We'll have time to admire the 10th century carvings of women, said to have been too delicate to have been carved by a man. This afternoon, we'll embark on a walking tour in Siem Reap and 'Make A Difference' with a visit to Artisans d'Angkor, where we'll witness the revival of Khmer arts and crafts. Later we'll visit Wat Damnak and participate in a private blessing ceremony during which a sacred thread will be tied around our wrists to protect against evil spirits. Our final stop today is to the labyrinthine Old Market, where the locals spend their early mornings shopping for fresh fruit, vegetables and spices.
Day 13: ANGKOR AND SEAM REAP
Our intimate encounter with a lost empire continues today, as we uncover other iconic sites of the ancient abandoned city of Angkor that have been devoured by the Cambodian jungle. We explore its ancient ruins in the company of saffron-clad monks and monkeys that clamber up and over the roots of centuries-old trees that have carved their way deep into the Great City's walls. Our first stop today is a visit to the fortified Angkor Thom, where we'll see such iconic sites as the Terrace of Elephants, the Royal Enclosure and the Temple of Bayon with its giant smiling faces of Buddha. We venture underneath the dense tree canopy to the crumbling, moss-covered ruins of the Buddhist temple of Ta Prohm, which featured as the location for the film 'Tomb Raider', exploring its towers courtyards and corridors to uncover the intricate stone reliefs that are shielded by the surrounding foliage. Enjoy an afternoon at leisure or consider joining an Optional Experience to learn the secrets of Khmer cuisine.
Day 14: PEAK SNENG VILLAGE
Meals: Breakfast, Farewell Dinner
We begin the day in the company of local Khmer villagers and 'Make A Difference' with a visit to their local school for an opportunity to chat to some of the children who will join us on our walk through the village to see how they spend their day-to-day lives. We'll 'Dive Into Culture', gaining insights into their time-honoured craft traditions, such as weaving Cambodia's national hats made from palm leaves, or folding Lotus flowers into delicate works of art. After the rest of the day at leisure, we'll join our Travel Director and fellow expeditioners for a Farewell Dinner with Apsara dance show.
Day 15: SIEM REAP - PHNOM PENH (2 NIGHTS)
Location: Phnom Penh
Accommodation: La Rose Suites
This morning we fly to Phnom Penh, once known as the 'Pearl of Asia' it is one of the loveliest French built cities in Indochina. Later we'll embark on a cyclo tour, exploring the city, which boasts a rich blend of Khmer and French colonial architecture. We'll discover the history and catch glimpses of churches and Chinese temples hidden down narrow alleyways.
Day 16: PHNOM PENH SIGHTSEEING
Indulge in the exotic flavours of Phnom Penh this morning, joining a 'Local Specialist' for an in-depth city tour. Our first stop is Wat Phnom temple where we'll delve into the legend of Lady Penh who discovered the four statues of Buddha deposited on this tree-covered hill. We'll continue to the Royal Palace and Silver Pagoda before visiting the National Museum showcasing centuries-old Khmer art and sculptures. Delving deep into the turbulent, terrifying history of the Khmer Rouge years, we'll travel along a dusty road to the outskirts of the city to visit the former school turned torture, interrogation and execution centre of Tuol Sleng. The history of that time is depicted in the thousands of S-21 portraits of victims that are on display at the Museum of Genocide, providing insights into the horrors of Cambodia under Pol Pot's rule. Finally, we'll take a journey back in time to the Cheung Ek Killing Fields, a memorial built to commemorate the 17,000 victims who died under the reign of the Khmer Rouge. The rest of the evening is spent at leisure.
Day 17: DEPART PHNOM PENH
Transfer to the airport for your onward flight
All hotel tips, charges and local taxes
Cherry-picked hotels, all tried and trusted
16 buffet breakfasts
Audio Headsets for flexible sightseeing
8 lunches (including Connect with Locals)
Airport transfers on the first and last day of your guided holiday
All porterage and restaurant gratuities
A Trafalgar bonus - all Intra-Air flights: Bangkok to Sukhothai, Chiang Mai - Siem Reap, Siem Reap - Phnom Penh
Must-see sightseeing and surprise extras
Daily breakfast and an average of 50% of evening meals
Optional Experiences and free time
Luxury air-conditioned coach or alternative transportation (such as rail journeys)
An expert Travel Director and separate Driver
Book with flexibility
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