Bangkok, Damnoen Saduak, Kanchanaburi, Ayutthaya, Sukhothai, Lampang, Chiang Mai, Siem Reap, Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom
Dates are flexible and customizable for private departures.
Temples shimmer at sunset as tree roots wrap themselves around the ancient city remains while monks chant, kingdoms extend, and traders shout in floating markets. Welcome to Thailand and Cambodia, where treasures whisper of an amazing millennium of history and legend. Culture embeds itself in every day, and you can go exploring with two weeks to discover how the past has informed the present. Handcrafted to include the best of both countries, this luxury tour celebrates both history and modern...
Bangkok – Cultural Welcomes in the Thai Capital
Bangkok is often a misunderstood city and sometimes passed over by most. It is big and bustling, and not always too inviting after a long flight, but the city is full of secrets to discover and is a place that excites the soul. You will be greeted at the airport by your guide and spend the afternoon relaxing, the hotel having a rooftop pool high above Bangkok’s artery, the Chao Phraya River. Go exploring around dusk and dip into small temples, walk through streets of food stalls, join the locals along the riverbank, and discover what hides behind the city’s busy facade. Bangkok is a wonderful city when you have a good guide, and this will be the first day of three you will spend in the city.
Bangkok – Exploring Old and New in Bangkok
Begin with a leisurely start as you ease into your cultural experience. A lot happens at dawn in Thailand, but that can be saved for future days after you have settled in. Feel the energy return after your flight as you set off in the late morning, beginning at the famous fruit and flower market, Pak Klong Talad. The Emerald Buddha shimmers evocatively in Wat Phra Kaew while the Grand Palace presents a journey through royal tastes. At Wat Pho, the Buddha is some 170 feet long, a prostrate figure surrounded by a sense of humility. These historic sites juxtapose with modern shopping malls, streets packed with traders, and suggestions from the 21st century. Spirituality connects the old and new in Bangkok. You can feel it in the air, something intangible that makes this the country of smiles, and you too will be smiling as you explore the best of Bangkok today.
Bangkok – Thai Recipes and More Iconic Experiences
Wake for an early start, and you can join the locals in Lumpini Park, thousands of them practicing tai chi as sunrise colors drift through the sky. From that moment of harmony to another, move next to a Thai cooking class that will show you how to balance the exotic Thai flavors. Dine on your creations and discuss contemporary Thailand with the chef, and your afternoon will be flexible. Keep some room in your stomach for a night market, an iconic Bangkok experience where meat sizzles beneath paraffin lanterns and aromas drift into the night’s sky with chatter is all around as there is no end to the food stalls. Night markets are where locals go to hang out and are a great way to view family and friendship in the capital.
Kanchanaburi – A Floating Market and the Famous Railway Line
Vibrant hues fill the boats as traders shout as they gondolier themselves down a canal. The smells are as exotic as the clothes, as the colorfully clad merchants fill the congested canals. This is Damnoen Saduak, a floating market that is inscribed in local heritage, and where sturdy canoes sell to shoppers all along the canal banks. From here, you will head towards the jungle, stopping on route to see how palm trees produce sugary sap. Kanchanaburi is inscribed in history for the wrong reasons as enormous World War II camps were located here, the prisoners building a railway line that eventually went nowhere but the jungle. Visit the Thailand-Burma Railway Museum for a background to the story before checking into your lodge that is deep amid the trees.
Kanchanaburi – Hellfire Pass and the Kwai River
Follow the railway and through the thick trees to Hellfire Pass, where it seems impossible that they have made any progress at all with the train line. But this railway does go somewhere, and you can board your train, taking it over wooden viaducts as the Kwai River snakes far below. Disembarking, you can take a walk over a viaduct as monkeys natter in the distance and you appreciate the remoteness of the jungle. Communities live amid these thick trees, and you can visit one of them, learning how things have not really changed along the river. Like yesterday, the evening is relaxed as your lodge is an escape from the rest of the world and a good place to catch your breath after the action in Bangkok.
Sukhothai – Remains of the Siam Capital and Sleeping Besides the Temples
Walking the lanes of Ayutthaya, you can see its significance all around you. Stupas are cracked but not bowed with spiritual lessons inscribed around their frame. Temples stand in a state of ruin, redolent and resplendent as they suggest the 14th century. This was Siam’s second capital, and the scale is unfathomable with many of the temples now shrouded in trees and jungle. You can spend most of the day in Ayutthaya to follow red-robed monks down the old lanes. From here, it is a short drive back to Bangkok and a flight to Sukhothai, the most ancient of the Siam capitals. Sunset is a breathtaking time here with exotic colors bouncing off temples that rise above the treeline.
Sukhothai – The Exquisite History of a 13th-Century Capital
Deep within the trees sits a Buddha, 15 meters in size yet hidden from the world. Tree roots cling onto temple foundations, an alliance between history and nature. Some stupas have been restored, suggesting the opulence of their past. Others are cracked and ruined, indicating the scale of what used to be here. This was the first Siam capital, and it remains the most exquisite of Thailand’s historical sites. Choose to explore by bicycle, an excellent way to visit off the beaten track remains, or take the small tram through the park, best for connecting the essential Sukhothai monuments. Both options showcase a world that no longer exists, a world that is not Thailand, but Siam.
Chiang Mai – Cultural Insights Across North Thailand
In a small village, the locals bathe their clothes in mud, an ancient way to prevent them from fading. In another village, they create gymnastic dolls, for reasons they will explain for themselves. At an eighth-century fortification, you can meet monks who are keen for a conversation with the topics ranging from politics to Buddhism. In Chiang Mai, you will enter Thailand’s most cultural city as it was cut off from the world until the early 20th century, only accessible by river or elephant-back. Such isolation helped Chiang Mai preserve its heritage better than almost anywhere else in Southeast Asia, and the old walled center is easy on the eye and easy to get around, so you can take some time at leisure to make your own first impressions.
Chiang Mai – Meeting With Monks and Sunset Above Thailand’s Cultural City
A new morning rises, and you will join the monks once more, a barefooted senior monk leading you through the incense-imbued rooms of Wat Suan Dok. Discuss Buddhism and its history here with an eye-opening experience as you get a look into everyday temple life. Meeting with a stilt house community is another cultural experience, although the discussions are very different. You will be able to eat lunch with a family and see how parts of the village’s lifestyle have not changed in centuries, and you can sense the incongruence of modern lifestyles that filter into this remote location. Returning to Chiang Mai, you will stop to meet an umbrella maker before ending the day at the temple above Chiang Mai, listening to gongs and bells as sunset pulls the curtain on the day.
Chiang Mai – Sacred Temples, Thick Jungle and Chanting Monks
Today is mostly left free, and the guide can tailor a program to your prevailing mood. You could head into a national park, where monkeys and gibbons swing through the jungle, and you are never far from elephant footprints. A visit to some of Chiang Mai’s sacred temples is another option, along with a visit to a Karen hill-tribe village north of the city. There are also options for food classes and spa relaxation, or perhaps this is a day where you do absolutely nothing at all.
Siem Reap – Sunset Over the Temples
Fly to Siem Reap via Bangkok and first impressions are always memorable. Temples cover the plains, standing proudly after nearly a millennia. The structures change with the setting sun, flowing through sandy orange to ochre and a deep red, before turning to silhouette as the crickets start to chirp. Over the next couple of days, you will really explore the world’s largest temple complex, visiting both the famous temples and lesser-known sections of the archaeological area. This afternoon and evening are all about the mystery of this place, sunset only increasing the impending sense of magic. Your hotel is perched on the edge of Siem Reap, as close to the temples as you can get, yet still within walking distance of the town’s restaurants. While it is a major tourist hub, Siem Reap remains very relaxed and ideal for the last few nights on vacation.
Day 12 - 13
Siem Reap – Immersive Angkor Wat Exploration
Temples hide deep in the jungle, their soft facades made brighter by the robes of a monk. Roots tie the stone in knots, an uneasy harmony of nature taking over the remains of culture. Grand hallways reflect past tastes, elaborately carved, and inscribed. Bas-reliefs and murals tell ancient stories, many of them wonderfully preserved. Start in Angkor Wat itself, the largest of the temples and best for providing a backdrop to the old empire. Then travel through the complex with a specialist guide, with Banteay Srei having some of the most expressive walls and sandstone carvings. Crossing Siem Reap River, you will find Wat Damnak, a temple still used by monks and locals.
Angkor Thom was the heart of the royal Khmer city and is where you will start the next day, its centerpiece being the postcard-perfect Bayon Temple. Monarchs would greet armies on the Terrace of the Elephants, a place of grandeur that best suggests the size and scale of the Khmer Empire. Around the trees and temples, you will also find villages, along with the mazy chaos of a local market, where vegetables and household goods topple off bamboo-framed stalls. Perhaps the most memorable of all the sites is Ta Prohm, the temple used in the movie Tomb Raider, and the one where the tree roots have enjoyed the most success. But over these two days, you will also visit some of the lesser-known temples and sites, the guide knowing some wonderful places to watch the sunset slowly over the plains.
Siem Reap – Departure
Siem Reap has an international airport, so it makes for an easy departure from Cambodia. You may choose to visit Angkor one more time to see some of the places that have escaped your itinerary so far. Late hotel check-out can be arranged dependent on your flight time, and Siem Reap provides many places to buy last-minute souvenirs.
- Immerse yourself in the wonder of Angkor with two days spent in the heart of the old Khmer Empire
- Discover the magnificent remains of Sukhothai, the 13th-century Siam capital
- Meet with monks and soak up the style of Chiang Mai, Thailand’s most cultural city
- Explore Angkor Thom, the royal city of the Khmer Empire, where tree roots merge with temple remains
- Visit a floating market in Damnoen Saduak, seeing how culture has hardly changed over the centuries
- Absorb the stories from World War II in Kanchanaburi, where a famous railway line spurts into the jungle
- Experience the vibrant mix of old and new that is Bangkok, a city that is full of surprise when you have an excellent local guide
- Take a Thai cooking class, explore Thailand’s thick northern jungle, and take a tour through the remains of Ayutthaya
Sonorous chanting rings through a hilltop temple as tree roots wrap themselves around the remains of an ancient city. A railway line surges through the jungle then stops while traders float through a market, their boats laden with fruits. These are the scenes of Thailand and Cambodia, two countries steeped into heritage. Here, the past becomes part of the modern day as even at ancient kingdom ruins, there is a sense of history that blurs into the 21stcentury. Even in a bustling capital city, you can feel the pull of yesteryear. Handcrafted to celebrate all of the cultural treasures, your two-week tour will cover the best of Thailand and Cambodia with five unique overnight destinations and many beautiful places in between.
Land first in Bangkok, a city of color and surprise. The past juxtaposes with the new here, as told through local markets, magnificent temples, riverside scenes and, a sultry evening atmosphere. With a strong local guide, you will find it to be a city full of surprises, and one that happily confounds some of its reputations. Stop at a floating market on route to two nights in Kanchanaburi, where World War II stories emanate from a jungle railway line. Ayutthaya is exquisite, an early Siam capital lost in a redolent state of ruin. Sukhothai is even more expressive, the earliest Siam capital a place of rising stupas, evocative temples, spiritual standouts and a real sense of past glory. You will have a couple of nights here to bask in a mostly 13th-century world.
From here, you will journey north to Chiang Mai, stopping to visit local villages and eighth-century remains. Meet with monks, visit stilt houses, and explore the ancient art of umbrella making, before several nights in Thailand’s most cultural city. Chiang Mai is relaxed, and the sunset from its hilltop temple is a great way to start the experience. The city epitomizes the blur of old and new, whether you are in the jungle or at a night market. Angkor completes this handcrafted tour as you fly to Siem Reap to spend two full days in this heart of old Khmer with one day dedicated to religious histories and another to the royal city. Find yourself alone in the incredible ruins, discover how the old empire influences today’s villages, and watch the sun come down across the temple-dappled plains – there’s nowhere else like it.
$2,795 per person (excluding international flights)
Your Zicasso trip is fully customizable, and this sample itinerary is a starting place for your travel plans. Actual costs are dynamic, and your selection of accommodations and activities, your season of travel, and other such variables will bring this budget guideline up or down. Throughout your planning experience with your Zicasso specialist, your itinerary is designed around your budget. You can book your trip when you are satisfied with every detail. Planning your trip with a Zicasso travel specialist is a free service.
- In-country transportation
- Some or all activities and tours
- Expert trip planning
- 24x7 support during your trip
Your final trip cost will vary based on your selected accommodations, activities, meals, and other trip elements that you opt to include.
Reviews of Zicasso's Referral Service
4.88 stars based on 193 reviews
"All four tour guides were knowledgeable and friendly."
Reviewed By Joseph S.
"[Our travel planner] made it easy to experience many more...
Reviewed By John K.
"The travel team created an absolutely incredible adventure,...
Reviewed By Suzann S.
"The trip planner and his team took care of my spouse and...
Reviewed By Greg N.
"This travel team organized a wonderful trip..."
Reviewed By Kathy H.
"Our experience was life-altering and we would recommend...
Reviewed By Theodora W.
Get Weekly Inspiration and Expert Advice on Travel
during the COVID and post-COVID era