• Explore the evocative temple ruins left behind by the mighty Khmer Empire
• Enjoy a cruise along the Mekong on a converted teak barge, taking in stunning archaeological and natural sites
• Journey from Chiang Mai to Bangkok via the UNESCO cities of Sukhothai and Ayutthaya
Archaeologist with interests in Paleolithic and Mesolithic Europe
Depart London Heathrow 1605 on British Airways.
Arrive Bangkok 0945 and transfer to Khao Yai National Park for overnight at Atta Lakeside Resort Suite, Mu Si. Afternoon exploration of the park: superb views, evergreen forest (including possibility of seeing gibbons, hornbills and elephants).
Morning lecture followed by visits: Prasat Phanom Wan (impressive 11th century shrine), Prasat Phimai Historical Park (one of Thailand’s most important Khmer temples, linked to Angkor), Ban Prasat Archaeological Site and Sai Ngam (Thailand’s largest banyan tree). Continue to Buriram for two nights at Amari Buriram United Hotel.
Prasat Muang Tham (Khmer temple) and Phanom Rung (dedicated to Shiva; constructed between the 10th and 13th centuries and one of the most impressive Khmer temples in Thailand).
Transfer to Ubon Ratchathani (near the Laos border) with en route stops at smaller Khmer sites. Afternoon visit to Ubon Ratchathani National Museum (historical and cultural artifacts including Thai-Lao religious images and textiles). Two nights at Tohsang Khongjiam Resort and Spa.
Whole day at Pha Taem National Park to see the prehistoric rock art (forest-covered plateau overlooking the Mekong Valley with unusual formations and stunning views).
Transfer to Laos and embark the Vat Phou (converted teak barge) for two-night cruise on the southern Mekong. Afternoon: magnificent UNESCO-listed Vat Phou temple complex (10th century) and museum.
Morning: traditional ways of life at village of Ban Huei Thamo and Oum Muong forest temple. Cruise south past the ‘4000 islands’ (Si Phan Don). Afternoon: village of Ban Deau Tia.
Khone Island for old French railway and bridge, followed by Xieng Di fishing village. Afternoon: Pha Pheng Waterfall (‘The Niagara of the East’). Transfer from boat for overnight at Tohsang Kongchiam Resort, Ubon Ratchathani.
By air from Ubon Ratchathani to Chiang Mai. Visit to Wat Prathat Doi Suthep: stairs or cable car to summit of Doi Suthep Mountain for temple and spectacular views. Three nights at The Rim Resort, Chiang Mai.
Morning lecture followed by Chiang Mai city tour, including Thapae Gate and temples. Free afternoon followed by evening to enjoy the Loy Krathong Festival (honouring both Buddhist traditions and ancient veneration of the waters).
Visit to ancient city of Wiang Kum Kam (impressive archaeological remains dating back to the 8th century) and Lamphun (temple of Wat Hariphunchai).
FAE Elephant Hospital (founded in 1993) and Wat Phra That Lampang Luang (one of most magnificent temples in northern Thailand). Continue to Sukhothai for overnight at Sukhothai Heritage Hotel. Afternoon lecture.
Morning visit to Sukhothai Historical Park, former capital of the Sukhothai Kingdom (13th–14th century) and now a UNESCO World Heritage site, with temples including Wat Mahathat. Continue to Ayutthaya for two nights at Kantary Ayutthaya.
Morning visit to Ayutthaya Historical Park (capital of Thailand from the 15th-18th centuries) including royal summer residence of Bang Pa-In. Long-tail boat cruise on the Chao Phraya River followed by Wat Yai Chai Mongkol.
Depart Bangkok 1125, arriving Heathrow 1735.
22 Oct — 6 Nov 2020
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Participants should have a very good level of fitness for this tour. Activities will include a walk through Khao Yai National Park and to the rock art on the Laos border, a long walk up to Phanom Rung and Vat Phou temples, and 300 steps to Doi Suthep in Chiang Mai (with an option to take the cable car). The cities of Sukhothai and Ayutthaya have little shade and it will be hot. The ground will be uneven at times and there will be steps without handrails, as well as climbing in and out of small boats.
A FESTIVAL OF LIGHTS
Our stay in Chiang Mai has been planned to coincide with the annual Loy Krathong festival. Traditionally in Thailand, small leaf-made containers are filled with candles and other decorations to be floated down the river; however Chiang Mai celebrates by releasing illuminated lanterns into the night’s sky. The city also holds firework displays, parades, and traditional performances in public spaces. The festival offers an opportunity to experience one of Thailand’s most magical and atmospheric traditions. Please note that the streets will be crowded. As the time of the festival changes each year according to the phases of the moon, we cannot guarantee the precise dates until nearer the time.
Our journey will include a two-night cruise along ‘The Mother of the Waters’ – the Mekong – exploring the temples, traditional villages and relaxing scenery from the comfort of private cabins. We will stay on board the Vat Phou, a lovingly restored teak barge with air-conditioning and private facilities. Our accommodation here will be simple and characterful, with authentic cuisine served on board. Please contact the Sales team if you wish to discuss this accommodation further.
Cost of £4445 includes: return airfare, accommodation based on sharing a twin or double bedded room, four lunches, fourteen dinners with water, excursions & admissions, gratuities.
Not included: visa for Laos, travel insurance, single room supplement £695.
Own flight reduction: £575.