Premium Thailand and Vietnam

Trip Type: Explorer
Thailand | 19 D | 1 - 12 People
Starts From:

NZD 8,150.00 /Person

Get to know the essence of local culture as you travel from the city streets to the mountain tops of Northern Thailand – a land of mouth-watering food, stunning landscapes, fascinating history and incredibly hospitable locals.

Premium Thailand and Vietnam

Get to know the essence of local culture as you travel from the city streets to the mountain tops of Northern Thailand – a land of mouth-watering food, stunning landscapes, fascinating history and incredibly hospitable locals. Explore the ancient temples of Ayutthaya, spend time with Lisu hill tribes, meet the experts at an elephant sanctuary in Chiang Mai and uncover the country’s past in Kanchanaburi. Then, hit the streets of bustling Vietnam and take part in enriching local encounters as your leader shows you the soul of this diverse metropolis. Get lost in the districts of Hanoi, cruise past the limestone karsts of Ha Long Bay on an overnight cruise, discover the old-world charm of Hoi An and navigate the winding streets of Ho Chi Minh City. With an unbeatable mix of culture, cuisine and history, your Premium journey through two of Southeast Asia’s hotspots will surely surprise and delight.

Welcome to Thailand! Your journey begins in Bangkok, where you’ll be collected at the airport and transferred to your hotel. After settling into your room, an important welcome meeting will take place at 6pm. Please check for the Intrepid Premium noticeboard in the reception area of the hotel. If you arrive early, take some time to enjoy Bangkok’s irresistible energy. By day you’ll encounter a city steeped with history and tradition, but by night Bangkok is taken over by a flood of music and neon lights. Watch torrents of tuk tuks zip by while traditional khlong boats slowly wind down the Chao Phraya River. After your meeting, join your small group for a welcome dinner at an excellent local restaurant where your leader will introduce you to a food scene that’s bursting with local flavour.

Rise early for an optional exclusive experience away from Bangkok’s well-trodden tourist track. Join the locals for to a visit to a temple along the Chao Phraya River, where you’ll ‘make merit’ by bringing an offering to the temple’s monks – a truly unforgettable moment. Today your leader will take you for a day of sightseeing and activities in lively Bangkok. Tour Wat Po, a larger-than-life temple complex in the city - home of the Temple of the Reclining Buddha. Also visit the majestic Grand Palace and learn about the site which has been the official residence of the kings since the 1700s, and enjoy a boat tour of the city's canals as your leader shows you how Bangkok’s locals live today. The afternoon is free to do as you wish, perhaps check out the art collection at the Jim Thompson house or relax with a Thai massage.

Unleash your creativity and learn about the history of Benjarong, a traditional style of painted Thai porcelain, with a visit to a ceramics community. The name literally means ‘five colours’ (although it’s not unusual to see up to eight) and artists use enamel to create intricate floral and geometric designs. This morning you’ll get to paint your own mug or teacup which will be fired and sent to you to take home as a unique and very special souvenir. There will be time to buy lunch if you wish, before you continue to Kanchanaburi to visit to the Kanchanaburi War Cemetery. This prisoner of war cemetery was one of the first museums to attempt to educate the public and keep the memory of the Asian and POW workers who died constructing the infamous Death Railway alive.

Start your day with a visit to Erawan National Park where you can explore the park’s famous seven-level waterfall or simply swim and relax. The falls are regarded as some of the most beautiful in the country, with glacial blue waters rushing through the forest into bamboo-shaded pools perfect for a refreshing dip. Many Allied prisoners of war and conscripted Asian labourers were engaged here to help build a rail route to Myanmar (Burma), including the passage infamously known as Hellfire Pass. Visit the memorial museum of the pass where your leader will provide more information about this chapter in history. Take a historical train journey across a portion of this 'death railway' along the Kwai Noi River and travel over the original wooden viaduct, known as the Krasae Bridge, constructed by the allied POWs. Pass through peaceful and naturally beautiful scenery as you learn of those who lost their lives building this rail route. The evening is yours to explore the town.

This morning head to Ayutthaya, one of the ancient capitals of Siam and a World Heritage site. On the way, visit Baan Nong Khao CBT Village, an agricultural village that is famous for its Pha Khao Mah hand-weaving. Visit the community’s museum, a palm sugar field and a local house to see how desserts featuring this famous Thai ingredient are made. Of course, you’ll get to sample these delicious, sweet treats. Then watch the weavers at work as they use more than 100 colours of yarn to create traditional Thai clothing. Upon arrival in Ayutthaya, explore the photogenic 13th-century ruins of Wat Phra Mahathat and discover rows of Buddhas beheaded by the Burmese. Look out for the displaced Buddha head suspended in the roots of a Banyan tree - one of the country’s most photographed images. Tonight, the past will come to life as you board a traditional rice barge and tuck into a delicious Thai dinner.

Today you will leave Ayutthaya and travel to the town of Phitsanulok by train. Sit back, relax and watch the scenery roll by. After arriving in Phitsanulok, change to a private vehicle and continue on this comfortable journey which will see you arriving in Sukhothai at approximately 5pm. The rest of the day is free for your own discoveries. You may like to relax by the pool or unwind with a Thai massage, and for dinner this evening be sure to ask your leader where you can get a bowl of Sukhothai’s famously tasty noodles.

Sukhothai, established in the 13th century, was one of the first ancient capitals of Siam. Start your day with an optional alms offering before visiting its famed World Heritage listed historical park, which captures the Golden Age of Thai civilisation. Visit the historical park, which spans the ruins of the town, where you will rent a bicycle and take part in a cycle tour. As you ride around, your leader will let you know more about the history of this former metropolis and its fascinating structures. Enjoy a picnic lunch in the beautiful grounds of Sukhothai Park. The rest of the afternoon is free to explore the town, or you might want to simply read a book by the pool back at your accommodation. This evening, regroup and head to the home of one of our local friends where you’ll enjoy a wonderful homecooked dinner and a unique insight into life in this part of the country.

Travel from Sukhothai to the Mae Taeng region. Draped between tranquil rice fields and fruit orchards, you’ll find the enchanting Lisu Lodge, your Feature Stay accommodation. The lodge is a community-based project that trains and employs Lisu villagers from the nearby hill tribe and aims to preserve their cultural heritage. The Lisu people are a Tibeto-Burman ethnic group and one of the six main hill tribes of Northern Thailand. Meet the colourfully dressed villagers and learn more about the Lisu way of life - a truly special experience that is sure to be one of your enduring memories of Thailand. The lodge offers gorgeous guestrooms decorated in the traditional Lisu style with modern comforts. Savour unforgettable views of the surrounding hillside and valley, and enjoy a tantalising dinner of Thai food mixed with traditional Lisu dishes. You don’t have to look for a cultural experience here - it’s all around you.

After breakfast at Lisu Lodge, it’s a quick trip to Muang Kued Village where you will meet with a local villager and enjoy a private guided tour. Learn about village life, the reforestation of the surrounding area and how produce is grown in the village orchards. Explore the organic farm and choose the ingredients for a cooking class where you’ll learn how to cook traditional Thai food. After a delicious lunch, join the villagers for a chance to learn how to weave palm leaves to create ornaments and accessories. You’ll also enjoy a tasty barbeque dinner at the nearby Mae Tamaan Base Camp.

Travel to the Elephant Nature Park - a unique project that provides sanctuary for elephants and other animals. Be greeted by an expert local guide and learn the stories of the rescued elephants and the issues they face in South-East Asia. Feed the elephants from a viewing platform, walk with the expert staff to watch elephants bathe and play, and enjoy a vegetarian buffet lunch. On arrival back in Chiang Mai in the late afternoon, the evening is yours to enjoy your way. You may like to visit the vibrant Night Bazaar or take a stroll around the old town which is bounded by moats. Your guide can give you recommendations on where to go for dinner.

Start your day with a caffeine hit and a visit to a sustainable social enterprise with a focus on all things coffee. From here, you will drive to the famous temple complex of Doi Suthep. Take in stunning views along the scenic and winding mountain road which brings you to an impressive 300-step Naga-guarded stairway. The rewards justify the ascent to the top, with one of the most beautiful temples in Thailand on display, not to mention the fantastic panoramic views of the city. Return to Chiang Mai where you will have time to relax before an exclusive farewell dinner cooked by a local chef. Dine on delicious traditional northern Thai food like kao soy, yellow wheat noodles in a curry broth, traditionally served with chicken or beef, as you reminisce about the wonderful adventures you’ve had in Northern Thailand.

Xin chao! Welcome to Hanoi, Vietnam’s vibrant capital city. When you arrive, you’ll be met at the airport by a representative and transferred to your hotel. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6 pm tonight, where you’ll meet your trip leader and fellow travellers. If you arrive early, Hanoi is the perfect place to explore on foot. Maybe head to the city’s colourful Old Quarter or check out the Vietnam National Fine Arts Museum, showcasing ancient and contemporary Vietnamese art. This evening, join your leader for a welcome dinner at a beautifully decorated restaurant resembling an old-fashioned Vietnamese house. Dive into the world of Vietnamese cuisine as your leader introduces you to a range of classic dishes made with the freshest local ingredients.

Depart Hanoi and travel to Ha Long Bay – one of the great natural treasures of Vietnam and a UNESCO World Heritage site. Board your Feature Stay accommodation for the evening – a gloriously beautiful and traditionally decorated junk-style boat featuring modern conveniences. Set sail in total comfort as unforgettable views of scattered islands and towering limestone karsts slowly unfold in front of you. Explore the bay and sit down for a seafood lunch onboard. Learn about the geography of the region, visit Surprise Cave where your leader will point out interesting rock formations and in the warmer months, maybe swim on Ti Top Island Beach or take an optional kayaking tour. Soak in the stunning surroundings with a candlelit seafood dinner on deck before settling in for a night of stargazing and swapping stories.

Start your day with a peaceful breakfast and maybe take part in some Tai Chi on board the boat before returning to Hanoi. This afternoon, you’ll take part in a once-in-a-lifetime experience and sit down to a soul-stirring traditional Hat Xam performance. Hat Xam is an art form of Northern Vietnam dating back to the Tran Dynasty. Originally, this was performed by blind performers and was enjoyed by local working-class audiences right up until the late 1950s, when a wave of communism deemed all art forms to be corrupting influences. Today, these performances are rare, but you and your group will be taken to a private club house and treated to an exclusive show in one of the few places where artists still sing acoustically. The performance takes around 60 minutes, and includes possible interaction with guests, so be ready to get involved!

This morning, you’ll get to know Hanoi on a half-day tour with your leader. Discover a captivating city where traditional and modern sit side by side as your leader shares knowledge on the Temple of Literature – an oasis of calm in the heart of town. You'll also visit the infamous Hoa Lo Prison, known as the ‘Hanoi Hilton’, which held American POWs. Today’s lunch is extra special as you’ll visit the fantastic KOTO cafe – a social enterprise that provides hospitality training and experience to disadvantaged youth in Vietnam and offers a creative menu of Vietnamese dishes made with local ingredients. This afternoon you’ll say goodbye to Hanoi and fly south to Danang. Drive on to Hoi An and take in views of lush scenery along the way. The rest of the day is yours to epxlore or chill out in the hotel’s pool.

Set off on a walking tour of Hoi An’s Old Town and discover a blend of traditional treasures and cultural influences from historical traders. Your leader will discuss the city’s history as you wander the pagoda lined streets, visit a Chinese assembly hall, cross the Japanese Covered Bridge, enter the ornately decorated historic house of a former trader and check out a local museum. Hoi An was once a great trading port for pottery, and centuries-old pottery villages still exist to this day. No trip to Vietnam is complete without trying its famed coffee – your leader will take you to a local coffee shop, where you can savour a delicious brew as you watch the hustle and bustle of Hoi An. Maybe try a traditional egg coffee or a refreshing iced coconut coffee. Your afternoon is free for your own explorations.

The morning is free for you to enjoy more of Hoi An and the surrounding area. Maybe browse the market for silk and other materials or collect any garments that you might have had crafted by the efficient tailors or hire a bicycle and ride along the lanes and out to a nice nearby beach. Your leader will have great recommendations for places to eat and drink. In the afternoon, transfer back to Danang and fly to Ho Chi Minh City. Check into your hotel and enjoy a free evening – the bustling food stalls at Cho Ben Thanh market might beckon you over with the sweet and savoury aromas of pho and bun mam.

Head out of the city to the nearby Cu Chi Tunnels – an extensive underground network dug by the Viet Minh and later expanded by the Viet Cong. Enter a widened section of the tunnels with your leader who will help you imagine what life underground must have been like and explain how the tunnels contained hospitals, accommodation and schools, and were used for refuge, storage and as a military base for the Viet Cong. Return to Ho Chi Minh City for a tour of the dynamic city where daily life plays out on the streets. Your leader will take you to the Reunification Palace – formally the Presidential Palace and the site of South Vietnam’s surrender in 1975 – before visiting the War Remnants Museum. In the evening, maybe spend some time with your fellow travellers and enjoy a final dinner at a local restaurant. Your leader will have some great options!

Your adventure comes to an end after breakfast this morning. If you wish to spend some more time in Ho Chi Minh city, we would be happy to organise additional accommodation for you (subject to availability).

Meals
17 Breakfast(s), 6 Lunch(s), 8 Dinner(s)

Transport
Boat , Plane , Private Minibus , Train , Bicycle

Accommodation
Hotel (15 nights), Lodge (2 nights), Overnight boat (1 night)

Included Activities

  • Complimentary Arrival Transfer
  • Bangkok - Welcome Dinner
  • Bangkok - Grand Palace
  • Bangkok - Wat Pho
  • Bangkok - Khlong boat canal tour
  • Bangkok - Temple Merit Making
  • Benjarong - Ceramics Workshop
  • Kanchanaburi - Kanchanaburi War Cemetery
  • Kanchanaburi - Bridge over the River Kwai
  • Kanchanaburi - Erawan National Park Visit
  • Kanchanaburi - Hellfire Pass Memorial Museum
  • Baan Nong Khao - Weaving Community Visit
  • Ayutthaya - Temple Visit
  • Ayutthaya - Traditional Rice Barge Dinner Cruise
  • Ayutthaya - Train to Phitsanuloke
  • Sukhothai - Morning Alms Offering
  • Sukhothai - Historical Park Visit and Bike Ride
  • Sukhothai - Dinner in a local home
  • Muang Kued - Village Visit, Cooking Class, and Handicraft Workshop
  • Mae Taeng - Mae Tamaan Base Camp BBQ Dinner
  • Chiang Mai - Elephant Nature Park Half Day Trip
  • Chiang Mai - Akha Ama Coffee Social Enterprise Visit
  • Chiang Mai - Doi Suthep Temple Visit
  • Chiang Mai - Farewell Dinner
  • Complimentary Arrival Transfer
  • Hanoi - Welcome Dinner
  • Halong Bay - Overnight Boat Cruise
  • Hanoi - Hat Xam performance
  • Halong Bay - Tai Chi
  • Hanoi - Temple of Literature
  • Hanoi - Lunch at KOTO
  • Hanoi - Hoa Lo Prison
  • Hoi An - Old Town walking tour
  • Ho Chi Minh City - Cu Chi Tunnels
  • Ho Chi Minh City - Reunification Palace
  • Ho Chi Minh City - War Remnants Museum
  • Ho Chi Minh City - Notre Dame Cathedral
  • Stay in the beautiful Lisu Lodge for your Feature Stay in Thailand. This community-based project employs Lisu villagers and allows you to immerse yourself in local culture while enjoying creature comforts.
  • Support an important animal welfare initiative, speak with local experts and get close to incredible creatures at the Elephant Nature Park.
  • Explore the cities of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City with your local leader, who will help you uncover the vibrant mix of influences, from the French to Asian traders, settlers and Indigenous peoples.
  • Enjoy an overnight cruise in Ha Long Bay on a boat as beautiful as its surroundings for your Feature Stay in Vietnam. Take in spectacular views while enjoying a candle-lit dinner on deck.
  • Sit down to a soul-stirring Hat Xam performance, your Exclusive Experience and an art form that dates back over 700 years to the Tran Dynasty.

In 2023, Tet (Lunar New Year) will run from the 21st to the 27th of January. This is a fascinating and rewarding time to see the region, however you do need to be prepared for some businesses to be closed, tourist sites to be very busy and for transport to be packed as many Vietnamese are travelling around the country. Please consider your travel arrangements carefully before booking travel for this period. You will visit a number of temples that require a level of modesty. All travellers must bring clothes that cover the arms and pants or skirts that go past the knees. The heat can be challenging, especially in April and May, so please pack accordingly. This trip includes a cycling tour around Sukhothai Heritage Park, so confidence on a bicycle will be required. The roads are quiet with minimal traffic, so it’s a leisurely ride.

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Destination Details
Thailand | 19 D | 1 - 12 People
Trip Location
Trip Starts:
Thailand
Trip Finishes:
Vietnam
Countries Visited:
Thailand
Vietnam
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