Relax, Reflect and Explore: Thailand and Cambodia

 

Daily Summary

Nestled between rice paddies and stretched along the Siem Reap River, the small provincial town of Siem Reap, Cambodia serves as the gateway to the ancient temple ruins of the Khmer Empire. Excursions are available to the surrounding paddy countryside as well as boat trips on the great Tonle Sap Lake and visits to fishing villages and bird sanctuaries. Siem Reap is the hub for the Angkor Archaeological Park, designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, which encompasses dozens of temple ruins including the legendary Angkor Wat whose archaeological significance and visual impact includes it among the great wonders of the world.
The first stop in Thailand is Chiang Mai, a city in mountainous northern Thailand. Founded in 1296, it was thee capital of the independent Lanna Kingdom until 1558. Its Old City area still retains vestiges of walls and moats from its history as a cultural and religious center. It’s also home to hundreds of elaborate Buddhist temples, including 14th-century Wat Phra Singh and 15th-century Wat Chedi Luang, adorned with carved serpents.
The trip continues to the city of Bangkok, Thailand’s capital, a large city known for ornate shrines and vibrant street life. The boat-filled Chao Phraya River feeds its network of canals, flowing past the Rattanakosin royal district, home to opulent Grand Palace and its sacred Wat Phra Kaew Temple. Nearby is Wat Pho Temple with an enormous reclining Buddha and, on the opposite shore, Wat Arun Temple with its steep steps and Khmer-style spire.
End your journey relaxing in Ko Samui, Thailand’s second largest island, which lies in the Gulf of Thailand off the east coast of the Kra Isthmus. It's known for its palm-fringed beaches, coconut groves, dense, mountainous rainforest, luxury resorts and posh spas.

Day 1:
Arrive Siem Reap, Cambodia

Upon arrival your private driver and guide will meet you for transfer to your hotel. On the way your guide will discuss the next several days' activities and customize the specifics to fit your needs.

Day 2:
Siem Reap: Visit Angkor Wat and Tah Prohm; Afternoon at Leisure; Evening Food Tour by Remork

Plan to rise very early for the 15 minute journey to Angkor Wat, a legendary UNESCO World Heritage Site said by some to symbolize the soul of the Khmer people. The magnificent temple was built during the reign of King Suryavaman II in the early 12th century.

Your guide will take you to a serene viewpoint where you can experience the dramatic sunrise as the first rays of the day enlighten the magnificent temple. Your guide will then take you on an hour-long tour of the beautifully decorated structure.


Continue to Ta Prohm, a beautiful temple that appears to have been claimed by nature thanks to the strangler figs and kapok trees that have entwined themselves around the crumbling stone ruins. After your exploration, return to your hotel for brunch or early lunch.


Tonight, get a taste of Cambodia and experience Siem Reap's dynamic dining scene on an exhilarating ride by remork (a kind of motorized trishaw typical of Cambodia) through different parts of the city.  Visit a variety of unique establishments to sample local cocktails, appetizers, dinner and desert in honor of Cambodian culinary heritage

Day 3: 
Siem Reap Bicycle Tour; Afternoon at Leisure; Evening Theatre Show

Today you will hop on bicycles for a guided ride to Angkor Thom and a  tour of this amazing temple in Bayon, the former capital, followed by an afternoon of leisure, perhaps relaxing by the pool.
This evening enjoy an energetic evening of theater, dance, contortion and acrobatics set to a musical score that transcends traditional and contemporary Cambodian music. The performance company was founded by eight refugees from Anchanh Village in Battambang. A big promoter of maintaining Khmer culture, the non-profit organization gives disadvantaged youth the opportunity to develop careers in the arts.

Day 4:
Siem Reap: Morning ATV; Afternoon Transfer to Airport; Flight to Thailand

Enjoy an exhilarating quad bike adventure through the Cambodian countryside. Zig and zag your way through the captivating landscape filled with picturesque rice fields, villages and palm trees. The thrilling two-hour ride takes you along quiet country roads and past local villages. Return to your hotel to freshen up before meeting your guide and driver to return to the airport.

Day 5:
Day at Leisure to Explore Chiang Mai; Massages, Food and Shopping; Evening  Dinner Show

Enjoy a lesiurely day by the pool, walksthrough the old city to enjoy the shops, restaurants and myriad of massage options.
Enjoy a traditional Khantoke Dinner this evening that features Northern Thai folk dancing and performances of different hilltribes in their natural, colorful costumes; each tribe differs in costumes, dialects and superstitions.

Day 6:
Chiang Mai: Bicycles and Waterfalls; Afternoon Cooking Class

Transfer to a beautiful waterfall where you will begin your relaxing bicycle ride on the quiet country roads, passing paddy fields and orchards under the backdrop of stunning mountains and the lush, exotic forest. Passing into the peaceful Sri Lanna National Park, you will ride along the Mae Ngud Somboon Chol Dam to enjoy spectacular views of the surrounding valleys and mountain peaks. Your guide will then bring you to a stop to change from peddling to paddling.


Late this afternoon enjoy immersion into the world of Thai cuisine at a private Cooking School. Set in a classic teak wood house, the school is family run and surrounded by beautiful gardens and an organic farm where many of the ingredients are grown.


You will each have your own cooking station, stocked with ingredients for 4-5 dishes. After the chef's demonstration and some hands on participation you will roll up your sleeves and copy the prep at your own station under the chef's observant eye. 

Day 7:

Chiang Mai: Elephant Camp; Afternoon at Leisure: Sunday Night Market

Today visit an Elephant Rescue to experience an unforgettable day with the elephants. Join a small group to spend quality time with the elephants and learn about the farm’s conservation philosophy. You also gain an in-depth understanding of how to care for the elephants, with an emphasis on taking care of pregnant elephants and mothers with young babies.

Take part in the farm’s daily health care routine which includes a regular health inspection and feeding. Then enjoy walking with the elephants for exercise before heading to the water where you have a chance to bathe the elephants and learn about elephant skin care. Return to the hotel mid day to enjoy the rest of the afternoon at leisure.


Tonight enjoy the lively Chiang Mai Sunday Night Market. The local night market is legendary and is certainly one the cheapest places for tourists to shop in Thailand, partly due to its close proximity to product sources and its appeal to locals, who come out in droves with their families to enjoy street food, foot and neck massages, libations, music and of course shopping.

Day 9:
Bangkok Day Tour; Depart for Koh Sumai

Discover Rattanakosin Island, one of Bangkok's oldest regions. starting your tour at the Golden Mount Temple before taking a tuk tuk to visit the magnificent Grand Palace and the Emerald Buddha. From there, visit Wat Pho to see the Reclining Buddha.

After, resume your tuk tuk experience and travel the short distance to the Bangkok Flower Market or Pak Klong one of Bangkok's most lively, colorful marketplaces.


Stop for lunch on your own arrangements, under suggestion by your guide. Enjoy a foot or back massage as time permits.


After lunch, your guide will take you to the pier to explore the Thonburi Klongs. Criss-crossing Bangkok, the complex network of klongs (canals) highlights the traditional Thai way of life that once gave the capital the nickname "The Venice of the East".


Stop for an afternoon cocktail on the famous Khao San Road, before  returning to the airport by BTS skytrain (Phaya Thai Station) and connecting to Airport Rail Link to Suvarnabhumi Airport.  Your guide will accompany you on this truly "local" way to quickly get around the traffic-congested Bangkok.

Days 10-12:
Koh Samui: Relax, Rejuvenate

Upon arrival in Koh Samui you will be met by a driver and transferred to your hotel for early check in. Spend the remainder of your stay enjoying the resort and spa, and perhaps venturing out to explore the  island.

Day 13:
Depart for Home

Your private transfer to the airport will assist you with check in.

 

Pricing and Accommodation

Accommodations

Siem Reap

The itinerary includes a boutique resort centrally located in the leafy French Quarter between The Royal Gardens and the Old Market Area just 15 minutes from Angkor Wat. The courtyard-style resort’s 62 spacious rooms have direct access or first floor balcony views over the stunning swimming pool and flourishing tropical gardens.

Chiang Mai

Located in the heart of this historic city this unique and charming  property is surrounded by ancient temples and quaint shopping streets. Set among a series of garden courtyards,  the rooms reflect the rich ethnic diversity of northern Thailand with the use of fabrics and patterns drawn from various tribes of the region. An outdoor pool, spa and charming restaurant complete the experience.

Koh Samui

A secluded resort on the North side of Koh Samui, this boutique hotel has 45 villas and 24 suites. The stand alone villas boast king size beds, a separate living area, modern luxuries and traditional styling. Each has a private balcony facing the sea. The resort is situated on the beach and has an infinity pool, 2 tennis courts, offers watersports, golf, boating and elephant excursions.

Pricing

2020 est. $6,000 per person,  Double Occupancy inlcuding regional airfare between Cambodia and Thailand and within Thailand. Excludes International Flights, gratuities, most meals and beverages unless included in itinerary. Final pricing on customized proposal.

 
Image by Sumit Chinchane
Image by Mathew Schwartz
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Image by Jeff P. Bangkok
Image by Florian Hahn
Image by Pawel Dotio
 

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