Essential Thailand

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Essential Thailand

from £995
Duration: 16 days
Countries: Thailand
A super trip through Thailand. Temples in the north (Chang Mai, Chang Rai etc etc) to the sweet, sweet island-y beaches of the south (Koh Samui, Ao Nang,) . Rad.

Essential Thailand


Welcome to Bangkok, Thailand. There’s a welcome meeting at around 6 pm tonight. Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask the hotel reception where it will take place. If you're going to be late, please inform the hotel reception. We'll be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so please ensure you have all these details to provide to your leader. If you arrive early, perhaps take a riverboat to Chinatown and explore the crowded streets, or head to the magnificent Grand Palace. One of the world’s largest marketplaces, Chatuchak Market is also a great place to visit. In the evening, why not indulge in a Thai massage?

Notes: If you can't arrange a flight that will arrive in time, you may wish to arrive a day early so you're able to attend. We'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability).

Astera Sathorn or similiar


In the morning, take a six-hour local bus to the small city of Sukhothai (which translates to 'Rising of Happiness'). Arrive in the afternoon and head out on a guided cycle tour of Sukhothai’s Historical Park and World Heritage-listed ancient city. Roll your bike around the temples and other archaeological relics within the area. The rest of the day is free for you to do as you please.

Included Activities
Sukhothai - Historical park guided cycle tour

Sawasdipong Hotel or similiar Breakfast


Start the day early with a five-hour drive in a minivan to Chiang Mai. On the way, stop off at the Friends of the Asian Elephant Hospital in Lampang. This is a non-government organisation that aims to protect and conserve the welfare of elephants both domesticated and wild. Arrive in Chiang Mai late in the afternoon. You'll have the evening free to explore. Perhaps check out the night market for souvenirs and some spicy street food.

Included Activities
Lampang - Friends of The Asian Elephant Hospital

People Place 1 Hotel or similiar


Today is a free day to explore. Discover the northern city of Chiang Mai, which features over 120 temples in the centre alone. Take an optional excursion to the temple at the top of Doi Suthep, which offers fantastic views over the city. Perhaps spoil yourself with a traditional Thai massage or try your hand at a local cooking class. You might like to take part in one of our Urban Adventures, such as the 'Mind and Soul' or 'Mae Ping River Experience' day tours. To really get the blood pumping, head to the Flight of the Gibbon and negotiate the zipline and canopy course within the treetops.

Optional Activities
Chiang Mai - Thai massage - THB200
Chiang Mai - Doi Suthep temple - THB50
Chiang Mai - Urban Adventures - Mae Ping River Experience - THB2105
Chiang Mai - Urban Adventures - Mind & Soul - THB2300
Chiang Mai - Thai Cooking Class - THB800
Chinag mai - Flight of the Gibbon - THB3600

People Place 1 Hotel or similiar


Today travel by public bus and mini van to Doi Mae Salong via Mae Chan (approximately five hours in total). The atmosphere in the charming town of Doi Mae Salong is reminiscent of a small southern Chinese village. It's the perfect place to relax and kick back for the day. The region is famous for its Chinese tea traders, so make sure  you enjoy a cup of tea in a traditional Chinese teahouse overlooking the mountains. Check out the interesting market, which is full of produce and crafts made by hill tribe people. For something a little more adventurous, why not climb up the 719 steps to see the town’s Buddhist temple?

Baan Sue Sue Guest House or similiar


In the morning take a three-hour ride in a minivan to the Golden Triangle, which is where the borders of Thailand, Burma and Laos meet. Pay a visit to the House of Opium Museum for a deeper insight into this area's problematic past. Continue your travels for around two hours to Chiang Rai, where you’ll stay the night. Perhaps head to Chiang Rai's night market, which is a great place to pick up some hill tribe handicrafts.

Optional Activities
Golden Triangle - Opium Museum

Baan Warabordee Guest House or similiar


This morning visit the impressive Wat Rong Khun (commonly known as the White Temple). Although it can be crowded with tourists, this temple is a modern wonder. Art is continually being added to it. In the afternoon, take a three-and-a-half-hour public bus back to Chiang Mai and board an overnight train for Bangkok (approximately 13 hours).

Notes: Sleeper trains are clean and air-conditioned, and beds are padded berths with sheets, pillow and blanket provided (although some people prefer to bring their own sleeping sheet). Please note that you may be sharing compartments with locals of the same or opposite gender. Your baggage will travel in the carriage with you. There's also a food and drink service available on board.

Included Activities
Chiang Rai - Wat Rong Khun (famous White temple)



Your train is scheduled to arrive into Bangkok in the early morning on Day 8 of the trip. The rest of the day is free to explore. As this is a combination trip, your group leader and the composition of your group may change at this location. There will be a group meeting to discuss the next stage of your itinerary. You're welcome to attend, as this is a great chance to meet your new fellow travellers.

On Day 9, explore some of Bangkok's most famous sights, including the Grand Palace and the adjoining Temple of the Emerald Buddha (Wat Phra Kaew). Make an optional visit to the temple complex of Wat Pho, which houses the famous 46 metre-long statue of the Reclining Buddha. Enjoy a free afternoon to discover more of the city in your own time. You might even like to join in on one of our Urban Adventures day trips, such as the 'Bangkok Chinatown Food Discovery' or the 'Temple and River of Kings' experience. This evening, head south to Surat Thani on a 13-hour overnight train.

Included Activities
Bangkok - Grand Palace
Optional Activities
Bangkok - Thai massage - THB250
Bangkok - Wat Pho temple - THB200
Bangkok - Urban Adventures - Bangkok Chinatown Food Discovery - THB1870
Bangkok - Urban Adventures - Temple & River of Kings - THB2200
Bangkok - Urban Adventures - Tuk Tuk city tour - THB1400

Astera Sathorn or similiar Breakfast


Arrive into Surat Thani this morning, continuing by public bus and ferry to Koh Samui (approximately four hours). The island of Koh Samui has been a tourist hotspot for decades, and with good reason. Swim, snorkel or relax in the waterfalls at Na Muang. Take a trip with the group around the island in a songthaew (colourful van), visiting the 15-metre tall Big Buddha (Wat Phra Yai). In the evening, perhaps feast on a delicious curry with the group and then join in the carnival that is Koh Samui's famous nightlife.

Included Activities
Koh Samui - half day island tour

Lamai Buri Resort or similar


Spend a free day today swimming, lazing in the sun or exploring Koh Samui. You may like to take an optional day tour to Ang Thong Marine National Park by either slow boat or speedboat. The park is an archipelago of over 40 islands in the Gulf of Thailand, featuring pristine beaches, jungle, mangroves and limestone mountains rising out of the sea. Join the hoards of tourists tanning on the beach at Koh Mae island and check out the saltwater lagoon of Thale Nai (Emerald Lake). For a quieter experience and some great snorkelling opportunities, head to the nearby islands of Koh Tao and Koh Nang Yuan.

Optional Activities
Koh Samui - day trip to Ang Thong Marine Park by slowboat THB800
Koh Samui - day trip to Ang Thong Marine Park by speedboat THB2200
Koh Samui - day trip to Koh Tao & Koh Nan Yuan THB2100l

Lamai Buri Resort or similar Breakfast


Today travel to Khao Sok National Park by songtaew, ferry and mini van. The journey will take a total of about five hours. The park is the wettest spot in Thailand and encloses some of the oldest jungle in the world. Perhaps take an optional canoeing trip on Ratchaprapha Dam. See limestone islands rise out of the water and, if you're lucky, monkeys playing by the water's edge. Stroll along trails past waterfalls and spend the night in a guesthouse in the jungle.

Optional Activities
Khao Sok National Park - canoeing at Ratchapraph

Morning Mist Hotel or similar Breakfast


Depart by public bus from Khao Sok to the beach town of Ao Nang (approximately three hours). On arrival, settle into your hotel and hit the local beach. Swim or snorkel in the clear water, relax on the sand with a book and sip a cocktail as the sun goes down. You'll have plenty of free time to do as you please.

J Mansion or similar


This morning head out on a half-day sea kayaking trip to Ao Thalane. Transfer from your hotel in Ao Nang to Thalane Bay in a van, passing through rural villages on the way. Paddle through mangrove forests, coves and narrow karst-walled canyons, keeping an eye out for kingfishers, herons and crab-eating macaque monkeys. Be careful with your belongings, as the cheeky monkeys can steal them. After some time on the water, return to the pier and enjoy lunch at a local restaurant with great views over the area. After lunch, transfer back to your hotel in Ao Nang. Enjoy free time for the rest of the afternoon.

Included Activities
Ao Nang - Sea Kayaking

J Mansion or similar Lunch


Enjoy a free day to relax on the beach or participate in a variety of optional activities. Perhaps unwind with a massage or cook up something delicious in a Thai cooking class. Take a tour out to some of Krabi's naturally-formed crystal pools and hot springs, swimming in the clear waters of the Emerald Lagoon while fish nibble at your toes. You might like to take a trip out to famous Phi Phi island or to the more quiet, pristine island of Koh Hong, where you can snorkel in the shallow reefs and kayak past cliffs to a hidden salt-water lagoon.

Optional Activities
Ao Nang - Kayaking - Sea (Koh Hong) THB1500
Ao Nang - Cyrstal pools and Hot Springs THB1800
Ao Nang - Cooking class THB1000
Ao Nang - Thai Massage THB200-300
Ao Nang - Phi Phi Island day trip THB1500 (includes park fees)

J Mansion or similar


Today your Thai adventure comes to an end. There are no activities planned and you are free to depart at any time.

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Further Details

More information about this gap year opportunity...

Price details:

from £995


Call 0333 333 9923 to enquire or book


• Gecko’s expert English-speaking local tour guide throughout the tour, and professional local site guides at some sites.
• Sightseeing (including entrance fees where relevant): Bangkok - Grand Palace and Koh Samui island tour.
• Bicycle tour around the ancient capital of Sukhothai.
• Sea Kayaking around Ao Nang
• Stay in a jungle guesthouse in Khao Sok National Park.
• Free time to explore Bangkok, Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai.
• Time to relax in Koh Samui and Krabi area
• Overnight sleeper trains from Chiang Mai to Bangkok and Bangkok to Surat Thani.
• Public bus from Bangkok to Sukhothai.


Aircon bus
Local bus
Local fan bus
Long-tail boat
Sleeper train


2 nights Sleeper train
4 nights Guesthouse
6 nights Hotel
3 nights Beach resort


5 breakfasts
1 lunch

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