Thailand and Cambodia Tour: Ruins of Angkor & Ayutthaya to Beauties of Chiang Mai & Wildlife

A 13 day trip to Cambodia & Thailand 
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Uncover the ancient landscapes hidden beneath lush jungles and around urban streets during your custom-tailored Thailand and Cambodia tour. The marvels of Angkor Wat shine with tremendous bas-reliefs spanning antique walls, where a variety of legends and stories collide beneath rampant stone towers. The flavors of traditional Thai cuisine bring the importance of tradition to the forefront and the preservation of heritage through flavor. From antique Buddha statues to the ruins of imperial capitals, you will witness serene mornings with devout monks and relax in quaint riverbank cafes within the remarkable world of Southeast Asia. 

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General Information

Photos
Monks walking along the railway along the Noi River.
Golden Buddha statues in Wat Arun in Bangkok, Thailand.
Angkor Wat in Siem Reap.
Golden Buddhas at Wat Phra That Doi Suthep in Chiang Mai.
Buddha head surrounded by tree roots in Ayutthaya.
The Golden Pagoda at Wat Suan Dok in Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Entrance to Preah Khan Temple in Siem Reap, Cambodia.
The Silver Pagoda at the Royal Palace in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
Golden Buddha statue in Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Temple of Ayutthaya in Thailand.
House boat on the Kwai Noi River in Thailand.
Wat Phra Kaew, Temple of the Emerald Buddha in Bangkok.
A row of Buddha statues at the Buddhist temple of Wat Yai Chai Mongkhon in Ayutthaya.
Ancient ruins at Angkor Wat.
Wat Po Temple in Bangkok.
Grand Palace in Bangkok, Thailand.
Railway over the Kwai Noi River.
The ancient Bayon Temple at Angkor Wat.
Detailed Itinerary

Places Visited 

Bangkok, Kanchanaburi, Ayuttaya, Chiang Mai, Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, Tonle Sap

Departure Dates 

Dates are flexible and customizable for private departures.

Detailed Itinerary 

Day 1: Bangkok – Arrive in Thailand’s Bustling and Notable Capital City, Bangkok

Welcome to the fabulous city of Bangkok, Thailand. Your private transfer will greet you at Suvarnabhumi Airport upon your arrival and escort you to a gorgeous hotel at the heart of the bustling city. The fast-paced metropolis displays the vibrancy of the urban life, with a constant, whiplashing urgency at first glance. However, upon closer inspection, you will peer down into the streets of the city and find the beating heart of culture hidden within the furious speed of the day. From the temples to the food and the hidden tranquil alleyways, which you will find winding beneath the banyan trees, Bangkok is an amalgamation of many things, all of which are surprising, enticing, and captivating. 

The National Museum and Wang Na Palace acted as the country’s only museum from the late 19th-century until the mid-1970s. The collection is spread across three permanent exhibitions that depict Thai history, archeology, and art. A specific gallery displays a selection of antique weaponry, as well as a preview of a Siamese war elephant dressed for battle. The structure stands as a testament to Thai history with religious and national regalia, ceramics, and musical instruments. A series of Buddha figures adorn the 18th-century Buddhaiswana Chapel amidst a mural of various important scenes from Buddha’s life.  

What’s Included: airport transfer, accommodation

Day 2: Bangkok - Venture through Bangkok on a Guided Tour of the Gilded City

The early sun sits on the horizon bringing vibrancy to the morning air. The scent of parrot flowers brings extra dimensions to the endless movement of Thailand’s capital as they grow along the hidden gardens throughout the city. Monks perform their morning ritual at Wat Po with the return of the sunlight. The temple is one of the oldest in the Bangkok and is home to the Reclining Buddha, which is over 135 feet long. The gold leaf Buddha glistens in the returning light as the monks’ orange robes shine with burnt sage hues. The hall is scented with fresh incense that wafts along the walls. The gentle hum of the monks’ chanting vibrates through your bones. They sit in rows in front of the admired statue, bowing and chanting in movements that turn the prayer into a gentle dance of which you feel lucky to be a part. 

Within the Grand Palace complex, you will come to Wat Phra Kaew, the Temple of the Emerald Buddha. The statue is the most revered image of Buddha in all of Thailand, now housed within the Grand Palace where the Thai royal family once resided. The outer golden spire ascends into the sky in concentric circles that give the structure a luxurious bell shape. A jovial exuberance spreads outside of the gallery with crowds of people excited to view the statue. Inside the gallery, silence sweeps across the room. The Emerald Buddha sits front and center glowing in opulence surrounded by lush décor. The statue’s dress changes once a season, dressed only by the king, to bring luck and prosperity to Thailand and its people. The glistening walls are adorned with traditional Garuda, a large mythical bird-like creature, that decorates the interior with outspread wings and protruding chest.

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast

Day 3: Bangkok – Find Remarkably Preserved History at Kanchanaburi

At breakfast, local tropical delicacies add bright color to the table, from sweet pineapple to ripe bananas. The aroma of freshly brewed coffee accentuates the saccharine flavors of the juicy fruits. After the meal, you will travel by private car to Kanchanaburi, located just west of Bangkok. The city sits peacefully beside the Kwai Noi River but was once at the center of Japanese control during the Second World War. The JEATH Museum, which stands for Japan, England, Australia, Thailand, and Holland, represents the disparate nationalities that were prisoners of war under the Japanese occupation. The POWs were forced to construct the bridge over the river and their story was commemorated in the 1952 French film, Bridge on the River Kwai, which was later translated into English in 1954.

The serenity of the city feels at odds with the tumultuous history that you will find within the museum. Located on the riverbank inside Wat Chai Chumphon, the museum showcases items used during the construction of what has become known as the Death Railway. The Japanese erected the bridge between 1942 and 1943 with the intention to connect Thailand and Burma. Then, you spend some time in the bamboo hut, which is a replica that displays the conditions of the prisoners of war during their struggle. It also has photographs of the prisoners, the guards, and the details of the years of war that you can view. 

What’s Included:  accommodation, transfer, tour, breakfast

Day 4: Bangkok – Discover Sensational Antiquity at Ayutthaya, the Capital of Siam

After breakfast you will make your way north through the rural outskirts of Bangkok and arrive in the tremendous remains of Ayutthaya Historical Park. Ayutthaya was once the capital of Siam before being destroyed in 1767 by the Burmese Army. Even with the collapse of the kingdom, the ruins continue their exquisite architectural reign over the city and the countryside. There is a pleasant blend of eastern and western architecture at Bang-Pa-In, the Summer Palace. You will see the iconic neoclassical statues on the bridge in the foreground with draped clothing and stoic faces. Then, visit Sage’s Lookout, a joyously painted lighthouse structure that once acted as a lookout tower for panoramic views of the charming countryside. 

Once you are within the historic ruins of Ayutthaya, you will see that the diversity of the stone structures reflects the site’s unique continued history. The variety of temples contains various statues and adornments that have persevered through time and the elements, which has given the shapely statues and towering wats more coarse but unique exteriors. One of the most famous images you can find is at Wat Phra Mahathat, where the famous tree planted roots that grew around Buddha’s head. The tree encompasses the stoic face within its trunk as it gradually overtook the ground and the sky. 

What’s Included: accommodation, transfer, tour, breakfast

Day 5: Chiang Mai - Venture to Chiang Mai, Capital of the Enchanting North Region

Trendy coffee shop culture has reached Thailand, which you can experience in the popular cafés in the Sukhumvit neighborhood. Locals, tourists, and students relax in the casual ambiance of Roots Coffee as they sip iced lattes or freshly-brewed espressos while the city reawakens. You will delight in the sweet and savory breakfast treats at the hotel before your private transfer escorts you to Suvarnabhumi Airport for your flight to Chiang Mai. The fascinating city was once home to the Lanna Kingdom and it retains a captivating energy that emanates from the antique walls, spiritual temples, and ample street food vendors.

The modern urban sprawl wraps around the ancient city center but history remains the focus of Chiang Mai, which dates back to the 13th century. Your private transfer will lead you to Wat Suan Dok for an introduction to the sensational history of the city and the spiritual center. The 14th-century temple combines a gold leaf chedi with immaculate white pagodas, as well as viharn, which refers to the secluded refuges in which monks can stroll.

Within the golden chedi, you will find a relic said to have been a part of Buddha’s hand. The chedi was erected in a style familiar in Sri Lanka and reaches nearly 160 feet tall. The bronze Buddha statue sits touching the earth and was originally cast in the 16th century. Then, you will continue your exploration of Chiang Mai’s fascinating history found in the diverse and stellar landscapes as you will ascend the 309 dragon-clad steps of Doi Suthep Mountain that leads to Wat Pra That. You will take in the impressive view that looks out over the vast city from the complex’s grounds that were first erected in 1383.

What’s Included: accommodation, transfer, tour, breakfast

Day 6: Chiang Mai – Blend Cultural and Contemporary Traditions in Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai has happily garnered the title of Thailand’s cultural capital and more recently received the designation of Thailand’s coffee capital as well. In the morning the variety of coffee shops scattered around the center of the city fill the streets with the aroma of freshly roasted beans that fades beneath the delicate scent of blossoming frangipani. After breakfast, your guide will greet you in the hotel lobby and eagerly introduce you to the captivating culture in and around the historic city, beginning with a visit to the ruins of Wat Chedi Luang.

The temple was erected at the heart of the city in the mid-15th century to house the famous Emerald Buddha. A jade replica now stands in its place after a 16th-century earthquake destroyed the original chedi and gave way to the invading Burmese. You will notice serpent creatures, known as naga, that decorate the four stairways facing the cardinal directions. Five elephant sculptures adorn the southern face of the stupa, while the single figure on the far right is an original. A standing Buddha statue ornaments the interior of the main prayer hall.

In the afternoon, you will meet your cooking instructor for a private lesson in traditional northern Thai cuisine. As you enter the instructor’s private home, you will notice the aroma of ginger and chilies. Your instructor will provide undivided attention as you learn the best methods to produce your favorite Thai dishes from around Chiang Mai. You will sip cold water infused with the Thai herb pandan, which brings a herbaceous aroma to the drink.

As you craft dessert, your instructor will guide you in making fresh coconut milk by squeezing grated coconut with your hands and watching the milk spill into the waiting bowl. The aroma of fresh, delicious coconut fills the room. After you mix the coconut, palm sugar, and egg to make a custard, you will top the dish with a bit of sticky rice before you stuff the mixture into a banana leaf to rest. The desert will chill while you eat the lunch you helped create, indulging in scents of basil, garlic, lemongrass, and kaffir lime. You will open up the banana leaf for dessert and bask in the perfectly sweet dish you made that reflects the local culture and culinary heritage of the region.

What’s Included: accommodation, transfer, tour, breakfast

Day 7: Phnom Penh – Travel to the Storied City of Phnom Penh, Cambodia’s Capital

You will enjoy your breakfast within the beautiful comforts of your hotel before your private transfer will take you to Chiang Mai International Airport to catch your flight to Phnom Penh, Cambodia. The capital of Cambodia is situated along the Mae Kong River. The city has held onto its illustrious French Colonial architecture mixed with the cultural traditions of the area, even through a tumultuous contemporary history. As you walk along the waterway, locals will smile and greet you while the water glistens beneath the warm tropical sunlight. You will notice the cultural and colonial pasts rubbing elbows beside the rushing current, from the traditional fishing boats to the grand façade of the Raffles Le Royal, a gorgeous hotel at the heart of the city.

Wide central boulevards contrast the hidden narrow lanes that reflect the newer designs versus the older architectural elements. The remainder of the day will be yours to explore the city at your preferred pace. Wat Phnom is a flat temple complex shining with lush greenery. The manicured landscape adds an extra luster to the temple beneath the nearly 100-foot tall hill that supports the main prayer hall and temple complex. The structure has been rebuilt since the 14th century but remains one of the most important Buddha temples in the city. Locals leave offerings and light incense around the various shrines and main sanctuary, which creates a spiced aroma.

What’s Included: accommodation, transfer, breakfast

Day 8: Phnom Penh - Traverse the City’s Varied History and Stunning Riverbanks  

There is a charm to Phnom Penh that sits between the elegant colonial facades and the wide gentle trickle of the Mae Kong. Trendy cafés and boulevards lined with shimmering frangipanis give a sensual light to the greenery. The National Museum of Cambodia has a regal design inspired by the surrounding receding pagodas, on a complex impressive and imposing at its center fans out as it works its way backward. The calm interior houses much of the antiquity collection transferred from Angkor in the northwest, including intricate bronze moldings that date back to the 11th-century.

One such relic is the Standing Adorned Buddha. You will notice how its image is woven and etched into the hard stone with gazing detail, from the headdress to the earrings, and the beaded design down the front robe. As the tropical sun glides over the sky you will see the sparkle of the Royal Palace and the tremendous design of the Silver Pagoda. The streets continue to bustle with people and bicycles. Cafes begin to crowd and you can relax beside the river while you watch the orange overtake the horizon as the sunset fade away.  

What’s Included: accommodation, breakfast, tour

Day 9: Angkor - Fly to Siem Reap, Adjacent to the Famous Ruins of Angkor Wat

The morning light reflects off of the rushing river as you make your way by private transfer to the Phnom Penh International Airport. The brief flight has you quickly nestled into the fantastic comforts of a grand hotel on the outskirts of the Siem Reap city center, situated beside the wondrous Angkor Wat. Your accommodation is filled with the lushness of elegant gardens, a grand lobby, and luxurious rooms brimming with comfort.

After you settle in, you will venture to Angkor Wat, where you can witness one of the most magnificent religious monuments up close with a celebrated Khmer Scholar. Stroll through the intricately carved hallways as your guide tells you the history of the complex, from its people to its architecture, and religion to culture. The grandeur of the main building will surround you with a tangible heritage that derives from the five ascending spires in addition to the solid, wide berth of halls and rooms to explore. The dark stone comes to life inside the main complex while the architecture, which dates back to the 12th century, has outer walls that reach over 3,300 feet long.

Your guide will point to the epic bas-relief that decorates the inner walls of the outer gallery. The large-scale military scene depicts the Hindu epics of Ramayana and Mahabharata, including animated images that remain as vibrant as ever. The display of religious and ancient battles shows warriors marching and fighting with rigor from the Battle of Lanka to the Battle of Kurukshetra, the latter of which refers to the mutual annihilation of two clans. You will climb through the various terraces to hear the splendid history ringing through the halls like secrets you are eager to know.  

What’s Included: accommodation, transfer, tour, breakfast

Day 10: Angkor - Angkor - Revel in the Preserved and Exquisite Complex of Angkor Temples

Today, you will venture further into the history of Angkor with a visit to the ancient royal city of Angkor Thom. From the distance, you can see the vast karsts that seem shapely but lifeless, glowing with dark stones that fills the empty blue sky. As you reach closer to the ruins, the incredible faces that protrude from the walls will become visible. The faces that decorate the structures overlook what was once a vibrant and affluent city. Angkor Thom was modeled after a square so that when you stand in the center of the walls, the openings will guide you north, south, east, and west.

The architecture dates back to the 12th century during the reign of emperor Jayavarman VII. Each of the large towers has a single face that gazes outward and keep watch over the four cardinal directions. Your guide will explain to you that the walls stretch for nearly two miles and reach upwards of 26 feet tall while the gates represent the cardinal points by which the roads traveled. Then, you will notice the exquisite collection of bas-reliefs that depict scenes of mythological proportions where legend and history intermingle with more than 11,000 carved figures lining a wall that stretch almost three-fourths of a mile.

The artwork shows the gods, goddesses, and mythical beings related to the centuries of ancient Hindu epics as well as regional animals, such as elephants, snakes, and monkeys. Continue to Prasta Suor Prat for insight into the 12 fascinating towers that reach north to south along the eastern edges of the royal city. The sandstone shimmers with red, which showcases the ruins of the Terrace of the Elephants, named for the elephant carvings that adorn the eastern façade.

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast

Day 11: Angkor – Relish an Extra Day Discovering the Temples of Angkor Wat

Many people pass through the rugged and grand terrain of Angkor Wat to witness the stunning and unparalleled majesty of the intricate and dramatic ruins. Preah Khan is a temple on the Grand Circuit often overlooked by visitors, which makes your time spent in the 12th century temple serene and unforgettable. The vast complex encompasses almost 140 acres and once housed over 100,000 residents. You will pass through the ominous entry gate that is half hidden by trees, with the opening looming at the fringes of the bridge. The ever-present face looks down on you from above, guarding the entry for millennia. Much of the temple remains unrestored, which creates the feeling of an undiscovered treasure.

One of the most iconic sights within the temple is the massive tree that has risen over the stone walls with roots that dangle to the ground while the trunk splits and rises in an exciting, powerful display of nature. You will find a collection of garudas wrestling with the nagas, which represents the passage between our world to the realm of the gods. The central shrines stand within a series of ceremonial gates while 72 garudas guard the outer temple wall, which stands 15 feet tall. The three imposing towers and pavilions at the heart of the complex reach over 300 feet long and are decorated with bas-reliefs. 

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast

Day 12: Angkor - Experience Traditions and Culture in Cambodia’s Countryside

Cambodia is filled with diverse worlds where culture has shaped and driven the landscapes as well as the people in time, from bustling cafes to jungle-hidden ruins, which makes Tonle Sap Lake a majestic and exotic destination. The floating villages hover along the reflective waters of the lake with ladders that lead up to housing platforms. From June to November the ample rain causes the Mekong River to reverse its flow. As a result, the lake floods and expands to over 1,000 square miles, which turns the lake into a precious sea. Then, the water drains back into the surrounding plains by the end of the season.

As a result of the rain, the lake can rise to over six feet from its natural height, which makes the elevated position of the historic homes necessary. The fishermen’s colorful boats and traditional hats bring the image of rural Southeast Asia to life. Over 300 species of freshwater fish swim beneath the surface of the lake including snakehead murrel and walking catfish. In the distance you will see the bumps of crocodile and turtles, possibly even a water snake from the local crocodile farm. Off the lake’s banks you will find lush hills and high grass, where the paddy fields stretch to the flat horizon. The beauty is unmistakable, offering a sense of the serene rural landscape as a backdrop to the fishing villages.

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast

Day 13: Angkor - Depart for Home 

The morning light winds through the slowly dissipating mist. The aromas of fresh coffee and brioche drift through the hotel lobby. Today, your private transfer will meet you in the hotel lobby and escort you along the streets of Siem Reap to reach the Siem Reap International Airport for your flight home. You will have witnessed temples and history, monks and monkeys. You will have experienced sensational architecture and lush jungles. As the flight ascends, you can look back on your trip and see the rising spires poking through the jungle canopy, standing tall and waiting for your return. 

What’s Included: airport transfer, breakfast

Price

Starting Price 

$2,595
This trip is customizable for your private travel.

What's Included 

  • Accommodations
  • In-country transportation
  • Some or all guided tours and activities (dependent on season)
  • Expert trip planning
  • 24x7 support during your trip
The starting price is based on travel during the low season for a minimum of two travelers staying in shared 3-star accommodations. Please inquire for a custom trip quote based on your travel preferences and travel dates.